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Old 04-22-2008, 10:58 AM   #1
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Disc brake upgrade

We recently had a bunch of work done on our 1999 30’ Classic at Roger Williams Airstream in Weatherford TX. Pictures are more fun, and I can’t upload enough into a single thread. So I’m posting different threads covering 1) replaced axels, 2) upgrade to disc brakes, 3) wheels upgraded to 16” aluminum rims and Michelin LTX tires, 4) new stainless steel (rock guards, new access panels for propane heater and hot water heater, plus new kitchen vent). We also had Centramatics installed, but won’t comment on them – not enough mileage, and there’s lots of other threads on them.

DISC BRAKES.
My copilot will support any upgrade related to safety. That was good enough to get a Hensley, and it worked for the disc brakes (next on my agenda: LED lights!!!) We drive in Colorado a lot, so we appreciate good brakes. The old drums seemed to pull, no matter how much I tried to adjust them. I realize now some of that was because they didn’t work well, made worse by the ‘Hensley Bump’ as the hitch moved sideways because the truck was slowing faster than the trailer.

What we got (see pics): Kodiak disc brakes with ceramic pads and Actibrake activator. Our PO had removed the A-frame storage box to install a Blue Ox hitch (since removed). We had to get a new box to provide storage for the brake activator. You’ll note in the picture a thin rectangular aluminum unit fastened to the box next to the Activator – this was a ‘patch’ to make the brake controller work. See caveat below.

Results: Much better braking (duh!). I’m a bit surprised, however, that we still run the brake controller at a gain of 10 – and still the wheels won’t lock up at 20 mph when activated by hand. Is this normal?

Caveats: there are two here. First, there’s a slight delay in the activation of the brakes because the Activator has to build pressure. Its not much of a delay, but if you have a Hensley and need to brake quickly, you’ll still get the ‘Hensley Bump’ pushing you a little sideways. In non-urgent braking situations, I find myself applying very slight pressure to get the Activator pumping, then more when I actually need to slow. This avoids the annoying ‘bump’. Second, my Ford F250 Super Diesel (2006 model) with built-in brake controller, was confused by the Activator/disc brakes. It kept beeping at me and blinking “TRAILER DISCONNECTED”. Very upsetting! Apparently it was still looking for the electro-magnets on the old brakes. So David Tidmore sent me an adaptor module from Carlisle (model 400-1021) that had to be wired inline to ‘trick’ the Ford controller into thinking there was a magnet. This was supposedly fixed in the 2006 Fords, but I must have gotten a left-over controller! This issue is highly annoying to me. I don’t like patchwork fixes.
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Old 04-22-2008, 12:12 PM   #2
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So far, it looks good. It would be a good idea to try bleeding the brakes one more time, you may still have a few bubbles. That could cause both a delay in braking, as the system has to compress the air before anything moves, and reduced braking efficiency, for the same reason.
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Old 04-22-2008, 12:51 PM   #3
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hi tin

good upgrades!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tin diesel
...we still run the brake controller at a gain of 10 – and still the wheels won’t lock up at 20 mph when activated by hand. Is this normal?

with the 05 ford and the kodiak/actibrake set up i've had NO DELAY/NO BUMP...

the ford ibc is set at 6.5-7.0 over the last 50k miles of towing.

did you correctly CALIBRATE the controller/ibc as noted by ford and actibrake?

also the brake pads/rotors must be properly bedded/seasoned to get the best braking.

how quickly does the manual brake activator react? my is instantaneous, absolutely NO delay...

i c u have the newer (larger) actibrake reservoir and that may be part of the issue too.

the smaller (generation 1) fluid reservoir is no longer available.

i agree the inline adapter seems to be an odd extra.

have you contacted actibrake? they have been very helpful with other users on these issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
my Ford F250 Super Diesel (2006 model) with built-in brake controller, was confused...
It kept beeping at me and blinking “TRAILER DISCONNECTED”. Very upsetting!...
i had this issue a few times too and it had NOTHING to do with the ibc or actibrake bits...

it was a LOOSE connector INSIDE the 7 PIN ford base plug, and was easily fixed by cleaning/crimping the connection...

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:40 PM   #4
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What happened

Was this thread changed? What happened to the other post? just asking
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:55 AM   #5
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what it all cost...

In one of the threads I was asked what this all cost.
These numbers are rounded, so the totals may not add exactly:

Rock Guards: $1100 ($350 labor, $540 parts, $225 shipping)
Axels: $1800 ($350 labor, $1300 parts including shocks, $180 shipping)
Disc Brakes: $2800 ($880 labor, $1,920 parts)
Stainless Steel: $375 ($52 labor, $322 parts) for furnace panels, etc etc.
Replace tool box: $401 ($242 labor/welding, $145 parts)
Tires: Michelin LTX $139 x 5 = $695 plus $50 mount/balance
Aluminum wheels: $105 x 5 = $525 plus shipping ($75, I think)

A plain painted steel spare was $75, so I opted for a 'full-image' spare.

Hope this helps.
By the way, David Tidmore is no longer with Roger Williams Airstream.
Our loss. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors. He'll still answer questions from customers.

I'll post this in all the threads.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel

DISC BRAKES.You’ll note in the picture a thin rectangular aluminum unit fastened to the box next to the Activator – this was a ‘patch’ to make the brake controller work. See caveat below.

Ok explain the patch? Why? My actibrake works fine with my 06 F-250 with tow command. No patch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
Results: Much better braking (duh!). I’m a bit surprised, however, that we still run the brake controller at a gain of 10 – and still the wheels won’t lock up at 20 mph when activated by hand. Is this normal?

no. the brakes should lock up. I used 6.5 all the time for my 9000 lb classic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
Caveats: there are two here. First, there’s a slight delay in the activation of the brakes because the Activator has to build pressure. Its not much of a delay, but if you have a Hensley and need to brake quickly, you’ll still get the ‘Hensley Bump’ pushing you a little sideways. In non-urgent braking situations, I find myself applying very slight pressure to get the Activator pumping, then more when I actually need to slow. This avoids the annoying ‘bump’.

This is normal. A slight delay is what I experience about 1/2 second.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
Second, my Ford F250 Super Diesel (2006 model) with built-in brake controller, was confused by the Activator/disc brakes. It kept beeping at me and blinking “TRAILER DISCONNECTED”. Very upsetting!
The actibrake should work fine. Verify the ground from the truck to the actibrake. Mine has never given a trailer disconnected.
The actibrake is supposed to simulate the load of the magnets.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
Apparently it was still looking for the electro-magnets on the old brakes. So David Tidmore sent me an adaptor module from Carlisle (model 400-1021) that had to be wired inline to ‘trick’ the Ford controller into thinking there was a magnet. This was supposedly fixed in the 2006 Fords, but I must have gotten a left-over controller! This issue is highly annoying to me. I don’t like patchwork fixes.
I would consider a new tow command unit. If you have an early 06 unit you may have old code.
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:40 AM   #7
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Controller issues

Michelle, I'm wondering if my early (Feb) 2006 F250 might have had an older (2005) controller, as you said. Anyway, the 'patch' seems to have settled the problem just fine - I just don't like having a patch! I wonder if Ford will install a new controller for free? I doubt it!

I'm going to re-bleed the brakes, which hasn't been done since the new disc brakes were installed. I'll see if that improves the 'lock-up' capabilities.

David Tidmore says that its OK if they don't lock up at max-gain. Personally, I want them to have that ability! We'll see.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
Michelle, I'm wondering if my early (Feb) 2006 F250 might have had an older (2005) controller, as you said. Anyway, the 'patch' seems to have settled the problem just fine - I just don't like having a patch! I wonder if Ford will install a new controller for free? I doubt it!
You can always try! Is it still under warrenty?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel
I'm going to re-bleed the brakes, which hasn't been done since the new disc brakes were installed. I'll see if that improves the 'lock-up' capabilities.


David Tidmore says that its OK if they don't lock up at max-gain. Personally, I want them to have that ability! We'll see.
Mine will lock up at max gain.
So where did David go? He had a good thing going.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
...
So where did David go? He had a good thing going.
According to his post on another list, back into the technology industry, for whence he came.

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Old 05-12-2008, 12:14 PM   #10
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Thumbs up New Disc Brakes

On Friday, May 9 2008, Roger Williams in Weatherford, TX finished replacing the drum brakes on our 28 foot, 2008 International Ocean Breeze, with Kodiak disc brakes.

They installed Kodiak, silver cadmium plated with stainless steel calipers, model HRCM-12-SCAD-SS rotor/hubs, and a model AB-1-14 Actibrake actuator.

I use a Tekonsha Prodigy model 90185 electronic brake controller.

Interestingly, Tekonsha does not specifically recommend the Prodigy for elect/hydraulic brakes (in fact there is a warning against using the Prodigy with such brakes in the Owner's manual), but Actibrake does recommend the Prodigy.

During a telephone conversation with tech support at Prodigy I was told that they include the warning only because the Prodigy was specifically designed for elect/elect brakes and not elect/hydraulic.



They confirmed to me that the 90185 does in fact work with elect/hydraulic brakes, and also said if the manufacture of the actuator recommended the use of a Prodigy, that was the controller to use- which of course Actibrake does.


During the test/adjustment ride with the RW mechanic and after a couple of hard brake stops where the "Hensley bump" was noticeable, the boost was set to 6.1 and no more "bumps" and the AS stopped trying to shove the truck off line.


When I had the occasion to brake hard during the 183 mile drive home the AS likewise did not try to push my truck off line and there were no "Hensley bumps".


The truck is a 2008 Toyota, Tundra, crew max with the 5.7l engine.

The breaking was smooth, so smooth.

SRW
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Old 11-17-2008, 09:20 AM   #11
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FYI: I can not guarantee this, but the response time for an actibrake I beleive is in the area of 60 to 200 milliseconds range depending upon various installed sysem issues, meaning about one or two tenths of a second. In effect, that actuator is probably running before your brake pedal is applying any significant pressure to your vehicle brakes. If your delay is greater, you have a hydraulic issue meaning the time it takes to fill the calipers (just a guess) or perhaps air in the system.

Relative to the prodigy usage on hydraulic controllers and "disconnected" type of stuff, all these "different" brake controllers do "their own thing" to determine continuity of the brake wiring. These products were designed for the high blue wire current flows of electric brakes, and not the low current blue wire demands of hydraulic systems. Thus they were "not designed" to detect the connection of these devices. In fact Ford is different then Prodigy is different than bla, bla, bla .... My guess is prodigy makes their statements because some hydraulic brake controllers don't "filter out" this continuity pulse, or do it poorly, and thus some hydarulic brake actuators would actually "start the motor" which is not what you want. These actuator guys are often "shooting at a moving target" where these unique, unpublished test pulses can be rejected, if they know about them, and if they are consistent across brake controllers. So the vintage of the actuator, the specific brake controller and so forth are the real issue. My guess is some vintage of actibrake support the continutity pulses known at the time the products were manufactured. Adding the "load hardware" referencd previously just fakes out the brake controller by providing a load it was designed to detect.

Remember, you guys are in an industry without "common interface standards" and thus you have the pleasure of dealing with these product specific issues. We are doing some market research in the "off topic" forum to try to create standards you guys can live with, which means "plug and play" versus your current experience with brake controllers and other devices. As the customers you have more of a voice in what is done than you may know, so please convey your desires of "new" and "improvements to" your trailer systems in the referenced forum. The discussions in the referenced forum should be self explanatory.

Regards,
Don
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Old 11-18-2008, 11:00 AM   #12
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so what do I do?

Don,
it seems that there's a lot of gray area. Its not "it works or it doesn't work". There's a bit of "it kinda works, but could work better". Is that correct?

If so, where could I go to get everything working perfectly. After 6K miles, it seem that the brakes work better than when I started, but they definitely don't lock up, and I'm running the brake controller at 9.5.

Anybody I can contact who can get these things synchronized correctly?
(I'm in Houston)

Thanks.
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:14 PM   #13
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Disc Brakes

Call Actibrake and they will tell you that the trailer brakes are not too lock up.
I have the 2005 actuator and when I switched it too the 2008 F-250 it worked perfect.

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Old 11-18-2008, 08:35 PM   #14
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so what do you do?

Ya, call Active Technlogy and they can clearly help. If you can't lock up the brakes there is "clearly" a problem as you should be able to easily do that. The first and most obvious is bleeding the brakes and Mike at ATI can clearly tell you how to do that properly. Just make sure you have a full fluid tank so you don't get air in the lines during the bleed. Mike can probably tell you better than myself, but sometimes after a LOT of heavy braking the pads can get glazed or something, and then don't work as well. The type of pad used can also have a affect.

I don't recall if yours is a factory install or not, but the size of wire or bad connection could be dropping your voltage too much at high brake pressures, and thus you wouldn't be locking them up. However, if it is a good install that is highly unlikely. Most people don't realize this as they always measure voltages with the motor off, but you can get a 3volt drop in the supply voltage from the vehicle battery to the motor AND and 3 volt drop along a ground return wire (depdening up wiring). A quick calculation would indicate you would then have just over 7 volts at the motor when pulling say 20 amps or so. Now those types of motors will run down in the 6 volt range, but trust me, a bad connection or a wire gauge below recommended will make it worse!

Again, ask Mike because he probably has a better list of things to look at, but I would always start at the easiest item first and work my way to the more difficult items. For example, disc calipers can consume quite a bit of fluid to move them and it your reservoir is low, and you got some air in the lines, then that could be the problem. Like I said, ATI has probably seen almost everything, so I would ask them, as they are very helpful.

Regards,
Don
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