Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 01-26-2010, 11:39 AM   #1
Wise Elder
 
Jammer's Avatar
 
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,119
Disc vs hydraulic brakes on new 30' classic

It would appear that I'll be getting the self-adjusting drum brakes on my 30' classic. According to the dealer, disc brakes are no longer available as a factory option.

Over the years, I have had several trailers (non-Airstream) with electric drum brakes, and never had satisfactory performance. On one trailer, after getting rid of all the connectors and splices and soldering and shrinkwrapping everything, the performance of the braking system was OK, and I could skid all four tires with a full load.

I've read through the many threads on hydraulic brakes and am having a tough time sorting everything out.

There have been, historically, problems with brake controller/hydraulic actuator compatibility. Have these problems been solved?

There have been reports of excessive lag before brakes reach full pressure. Is this a problem of proper bleeding, bedding, and actuator selection or is it a problem inherent to the electric-over-hydraulic way of doing things?

How good are the drum brakes JC is installing on new classics? If the drum brakes are properly maintained and adjusted, is the performance satisfactory?

Is the advantage of disc brakes on an 'stream mainly in downhill performance where fade is a major problem? Or does it affect emergency stops as well?
__________________

__________________
Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 11:42 AM   #2
Rivet Master
 
2010 27' FB Classic
N/A , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,717
I might be wrong, but I thought that all the new trailers have electric drum brakes now.
__________________

__________________
Bluto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 12:15 PM   #3
Rivet Master
Airstream Dealer
 
Inland RV Center, In's Avatar
 
Corona , California
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 16,499
Images: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
It would appear that I'll be getting the self-adjusting drum brakes on my 30' classic. According to the dealer, disc brakes are no longer available as a factory option.

Over the years, I have had several trailers (non-Airstream) with electric drum brakes, and never had satisfactory performance. On one trailer, after getting rid of all the connectors and splices and soldering and shrinkwrapping everything, the performance of the braking system was OK, and I could skid all four tires with a full load.

I've read through the many threads on hydraulic brakes and am having a tough time sorting everything out.

There have been, historically, problems with brake controller/hydraulic actuator compatibility. Have these problems been solved?

There have been reports of excessive lag before brakes reach full pressure. Is this a problem of proper bleeding, bedding, and actuator selection or is it a problem inherent to the electric-over-hydraulic way of doing things?

How good are the drum brakes JC is installing on new classics? If the drum brakes are properly maintained and adjusted, is the performance satisfactory?

Is the advantage of disc brakes on an 'stream mainly in downhill performance where fade is a major problem? Or does it affect emergency stops as well?
Airstream "has" discontinued installing disc brakes in "production".

However, if someone has ordered a new trailer, and wants disc brakes, then the trailer is taken to the service department, who will install them.

Then the trailer can be delivered to a dealer, with the disc brakes ready to go.

Disc brakes are far superior to electric brakes, for many reasons, such as the costs to repair discs is less, and there is no brake fade, as there is with electric.

The time lag from application of the brakes to full braking, is less with the disc brakes, than electric brakes.

Once a person stops an Airstream trailer that's disc brake eqipped, they never want electric brakes again.

Whatever brake system the trailer may have, correct installation is always the key. A proper brake controller enters the picture as well.

Also, Airstream is now installing "self adjusting" electric brakes on all new trailers.

Andy
__________________
Inland RV Center, In is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 02:15 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
Wingeezer's Avatar
 
2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,709
I have conventional drum brakes on our Classic 30 and they seem fine to me - on the other hand I have never tried a trailer with disc brakes.

I did notice in the manual that came with our truck that the built in brake controller - which seems to work well - is not intended for use with disc type trailer brakes. I seem to recall seeing an article that said it could be modified for such use though.

Brian
__________________
Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
Wingeezer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 02:51 PM   #5
_
 
. , .
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 8,812
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
...If the drum brakes are properly maintained and adjusted, is the performance satisfactory?...
yes the performance is satisfactory for most owners who report about these things,

and drums have a long record of reliability...

but folks who swap out to discs (on all size trailers)... unanimously report just how much BETTER the discs perform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
..Is the advantage of disc brakes on an 'stream mainly in downhill performance where fade is a major problem? Or does it affect emergency stops as well?
many advantages...

-easier to inspect and service
-fewer parts to wear out/move around or fail
-no drum to balance
-less fade when hot
-better modulation
-flexibility in pad/material selections
-much MORE stopping power that doesn't vary with wear...
-SHORTER stopping distances by a significant amount.

and so on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
... problems with brake controller/hydraulic actuator compatibility. Have these problems been solved?...
depends on WHO is asked...

i've had ZERO problems with the controller OR actuator.

but alot depends on what bits are used and selecting a controller that the ACTUATOR maker recommends.

then understanding HOW to calibrate the gear and bed/temper the rotors and pads...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
...There have been reports of excessive lag before brakes reach full pressure. Is this a problem of proper bleeding, bedding, and actuator selection or is it a problem inherent to the electric-over-hydraulic way of doing things?...
understanding lag is like seeing the FOREST not one tree.

yes there is a short lag as the pump pressurizes the fluid and the pistons move the pads...

milliseconds.

milliseconds.

THAT is the tree.

and regardless of the so called lag time the STOPPING DISTANCE is still MUCH shorter with discs...

so the overall stopping time IS shorter and in essentially all conditions (depending on the tires/grip)

THAT is the forest...
_________

deciding about this as an UPgrade may depend on many issues like

the tv (and the tv brakes), the amount of travel and where (traffic, incline, winter), cost, and the size of the trailer...

and how much the driver cares about stopping on a dime.
_________

many many threads on this, here are some of the valuable threads...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...kes-36335.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...kes-28403.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ade-41447.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464...ump-58101.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...sic-27779.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ing-30369.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ics-30727.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...kes-19936.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ers-16852.html

and u've already seen the 'kodiak thread' right?

the o.p. note suggests a past history of NOT being satisfied with drum performance...

discs when properly set up perform a LOT better and the difference is tangible.

the cost, the install, the interface and the 'need' or value are all subject to debate and user preferences...

cheers
2air'
__________________
all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
2airishuman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 03:32 PM   #6
Rivet Master
 
TomW's Avatar
 
1967 26' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,918
Images: 2
You didn't ask me, but

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
depends on WHO is asked...
rluhr would be one of the first to extol the virtues of disk brakes. But after reading his blogs, I personally am somewhat agog at how much trouble he has had keeping a working hydraulic pump.

The working theory of disk brakes is excellent. A weak link appears to be the pump.

Tom
TomW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 04:19 PM   #7
Wise Elder
 
Jammer's Avatar
 
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,119
Do the Dexter, Carlisle, and Brakerite controllers now being sold have as poor a performance record as the Actibrake units did?
__________________
Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 04:23 PM   #8
Rivet Master
 
TomW's Avatar
 
1967 26' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,918
Images: 2
"Controller" or "hydraulic pump"?

I wasn't aware those companies made controllers.

Tom
TomW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 04:24 PM   #9
Wise Elder
 
Jammer's Avatar
 
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,119
I think the correct word is "actuator."
__________________
Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 04:35 PM   #10
Rivet Master
Airstream Dealer
 
Inland RV Center, In's Avatar
 
Corona , California
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 16,499
Images: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
I think the correct word is "actuator."
Carlisle appears to be the best deal for disc brake actuators.

Rich Luhr's problems were with the Actibrake, which is now out of business.

Perhaps that's why they are out of business.

Way to many failures, but all at the tail end of their existance.

Andy
__________________
Inland RV Center, In is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 05:04 PM   #11
Rivet Master
 
TomW's Avatar
 
1967 26' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,918
Images: 2
Aka

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
I think the correct word is "actuator."
FWIW, the hydraulic pump is the "man behind the curtain" of the "actuator".

Tom
TomW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 05:58 PM   #12
_
 
. , .
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 8,812
the problems have been related to the circuit board/actuator primarily.

now my experience has been ZERO issues with that bit and in spite of the warning it would NOT work with the ford itbc.

the set up has worked flawlessly for 5 years now and without ANY adjustments after the initial set up.

i spent time with ford and a/s brains and came away with a CLEAR understanding of how it would work and it has...

from my reading and direct communication with the folks who HAVE had issues with FAILED actib' circuit boards...

-ALL of the them were after market installs by dealers or diy owners...
-OR involved EURO shore power connected to USA spec'd trailers...
-and involved folks who clearly wired things wrong and blew boards before getting the wires right...

-yes, actib' may have made faulty actuators but after direct contact with their brains, the primary issue seemed to be...

that THEY included some protective circuits ON the boards for things like LONG stops or prolonged brake applications,

and those systems were defeated (unintentionally) or fried by the home installers or techs doing systems.
__________

actib' also had 2 versions of the PUMP and some folks had to swap pump versions to MATCH their brake controllers,

but these weren't failed pumps, they were INcompatible pumps.

regardless the company is OUT of BIZ now.
___________

we have yet to read ANY reports here about failures in the CURRENT crop of actuators available...

doen't mean there are NOT issues, we just don't have any reports about them yet.
__________

if/when my unit fails or i ever purchase another 'stream, i will continue to use disc brakes.

they are that good and for my needs WORTH the effort 2 sort out the related bits.

cheers
2air'
__________________
all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
2airishuman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 06:18 PM   #13
Rivet Master
Commercial Member
 
rluhr's Avatar
 
1968 17' Caravel
2005 30' Safari
Somewhere , roaming America
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,093
Images: 39
Terminology

It's probably a good idea to get the terms completely straight.

Brake controller: the electronic box in your tow vehicle that regulates the amount of electrical voltage sent to the trailer. Everyone with trailer brakes uses one of these, whether disc or drum. Sometimes these are built into the tow vehicle but more commonly they are added aftermarket. Example: Tekonsha Prodigy.

Brake actuator: usually a single box that combines three major elements:

--- a hydraulic pump to pressurize the brake lines and thus activate the disc brakes
--- a "computer" or "circuit board" that receives the voltage input from the vehicle's controller and tells the pump how much pressure to apply
--- a reservoir for the hydraulic fluid

Disc brakes: the rest of the system, including rotors, pads, calipers, and hydraulic lines.

Note that while a complete "disc brake system" includes all of the elements above, they often mix manufacturers. For example, my system includes a Prodigy controller, Actibrake actuator, and Kodiak brakes.

-----------------

The above posts are correct: the Actibrake was unreliable for myself and many other folks. Too bad, because otherwise it seemed to be a fine product. But reliability is obviously the most important element of a braking system. The failure point in my Actibrake actuators was the circuit board, both times.

Colin Hyde reports that he is installing the Brakerite SD because it has a separate circuit board, which can be easily swapped out in case of failure, for a much lower cost than the entire actuator unit.

Roger Williams Airstream told me they were installing Carlisle actuators with good success (so far).

I have not heard any reports about the Dexter actuator. No news is good news in the case of brake actuators, since people tend to talk about them only when they fail.

So I can't endorse any particular brand at this time. I'm curious to see if my Actibrake fails for a third time.

To the OP: disc brakes are great. Andy is right when he says that people who try them don't ever want to go back to drums. I am happy with drums on my tiny vintage trailer, but for a long heavy Airstream they are just the ticket.
__________________
Former full-timer | AIRSTREAM LIFE magazine | Tour of America (old blog) | Man In The Maze (current blog)

rluhr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2010, 06:35 PM   #14
Rivet Master
 
boondockdad's Avatar
 
2008 30' Classic S/O
Dearborn , Michigan
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,295
Images: 21
I had electric/drum on my 2005 31', and my 2008 30S/O has hydraulic/disc. Disc performance is superior. Actibrake actuator, P3 controller.
__________________

__________________
boondockdad is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Electric over Hydraulic/disc brakes Phil Gobie Brakes & Brake Controllers 12 10-13-2017 03:03 PM
1977 Hydraulic Disc Brakes? Atlantica Brakes & Brake Controllers 22 11-20-2007 10:49 PM
Hydraulic disc brakes failed Gator1 Brakes & Brake Controllers 1 03-13-2007 10:19 PM
Disc Brakes?...2005 Classic Limited w/Slide TomR Brakes & Brake Controllers 2 10-05-2006 09:46 PM
Kodiak Hydraulic disc brakes thenewkid64 Brakes & Brake Controllers 1 07-06-2004 11:48 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:23 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.