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Old 07-11-2006, 09:11 AM   #1
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Do I need a Brake Controler?

I have a 25 ft 1978 international. I am towing it with a 2004 chevy tahoe 5.3 engine. DO I NEED A BRAKE CONTROLER INSTALLED. The Dealer told me not for a 5000 lb trailer. What is your oppinions? Thanks for your help.

Bridger
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:26 AM   #2
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Yes, Yes, Yes!
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:27 AM   #3
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No need for a brake controller unless you intend to tow it. Seriously, the dealer is trying to get you killed!!!!! Perhaps he's the one who wired your trailer without a ground circuit. I would seek out a reputable RV dealer and have him inspect and wire your vehicle correctly. Someone else chime in here before this guy gets himself in REAL trouble--pieman
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:57 AM   #4
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Bridger,

Aside from the fact that running an Airstream without brakes is tantamount so suicide, most state laws REQUIRE trailer brakes on ANY trailer over a certain weight. That weight varies from state to state, but it generally applies on any unit above 2000lb. IIRC, that includes just about every Airstream ever made!!!

The other reason is the need to apply the trailer brakes independently of the tow vehile brakes in an emergency situation, especially while towing in the hills of Colorado. This could be a variety of scenarios, but controlling sway or a violent trailer swing are just a couple of reasons.

Good advise above!! Seek out a competant RV center, trailer center or Certified RV Tech and have them install the brake controller and verify your wiring and brake operation, and enjoy your Airstream.
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:58 AM   #5
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lease brakes

Not only is it unsafe (say you get into a sway condition or weather induced slide...) but you will cause premature brake wear to your tow vehicle. I was selling a truck with a Prodigy brake controller and had a vintage trucker looking at it. He commented that on rental trucks they would just use the cab/truck brakes becasue they didn't care about the wear on them. I would doubt most of what this dealer says.
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:08 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replys. I just ran down the street and had them install a prodigy brake controller. Took 15 min. and 150.00 Dollars. So to understand this more..... without the brake controller I was not engaging the trailer brakes?

(Mike- Just a side on the electrical. This morning I went out and actually hooked up the ball to the trailer and everything worked perfectly again. Is it possible that this is how the ground is completed?)
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bridger
So to understand this more..... without the brake controller I was not engaging the trailer brakes?

(Mike- Just a side on the electrical. This morning I went out and actually hooked up the ball to the trailer and everything worked perfectly again. Is it possible that this is how the ground is completed?)
Yes, without the brake controller, the electric brakes are not operating.
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:14 AM   #8
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The trailer ball will sometimes complete the circuit but that is not reliable or recommended. I have used the trailer brakes to actually stop the tow vehicle in the Rockies when the tow vehicle brakes failed. This is also not recommended but it worked that time going down the side of a deep canyon with no place to pull off or runaway lanes.
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bridger
I have a 25 ft 1978 international. I am towing it with a 2004 chevy tahoe 5.3 engine. DO I NEED A BRAKE CONTROLER INSTALLED. The Dealer told me not for a 5000 lb trailer. What is your oppinions? Thanks for your help.

Bridger

I read this and it scares the H3LL out of me to think of all of the other people not as smart as you, to get a second opinion on the forums... The idiot that gave this information to you has likely sent many others on the road towing in the mountains without brakes
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Old 07-11-2006, 12:07 PM   #10
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Factory controller?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bridger
I have a 25 ft 1978 international. I am towing it with a 2004 chevy tahoe 5.3 engine. DO I NEED A BRAKE CONTROLER INSTALLED. The Dealer told me not for a 5000 lb trailer. What is your oppinions?
That's pretty strange. Either the guys completely unqualified OR your '04 Tahoe has a factory tow package that includes brake control. If this is the case then I think you'd be better off with the fatory controller. I'd hope that the RV place that installed the Prodigy would have noticed this so my hunch is the dealer was wrong.
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Old 07-11-2006, 12:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bridger
Thanks for the replys. I just ran down the street and had them install a prodigy brake controller. Took 15 min. and 150.00 Dollars. So to understand this more..... without the brake controller I was not engaging the trailer brakes?

(Mike- Just a side on the electrical. This morning I went out and actually hooked up the ball to the trailer and everything worked perfectly again. Is it possible that this is how the ground is completed?)
The trailer ball and hitch are designed to couple the trailer to the trailer, NOT to provide an electrical connection. When the Ground circuit fails if the trailers is hitched to the tow vehicle the current seeking a return ground path will find one through the hitch. However this is an unreliable connection and is not intended to be used as such. One of the wires in your 7 pin connector is a ground circuit connecting the trailer frame and tow vehicle frame. If wired correctly this wire is the one in the 7 oclock position ,{bottom left} , when you open the lid on the tow vehicles {female} connector. The coresponding male end is connected to the trailer frame. NOTE , when looking into the end of the trailer connector{male end} this wire position will be bottom right or 5oclock. I could tell you how to determine which{the TV or the trailer is at falt but I think it best to have a reputable RV dealer check it for you.----Pieman
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Old 07-11-2006, 12:45 PM   #12
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You guys are great...Thank you. Controller fixes all

I can't thank you folks enough for your help. You probably have saved my family's lives. Just a quick update.... there was no factory controller so I did need the prodigy. I have an appointment to take everything in to get it checked out before we take it out this weekend. However, for now, it looks like the controller has fixed all. I hooked it up to make sure it was working and when I did that I got good ground without connecting the trailer to the ball. It seems that whatever they did when installing the controller has fixed the grounding problem. Thanks again.

Bridger
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Old 07-11-2006, 02:18 PM   #13
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Bridger.

It is also important (if you don't know this already) that the Prodigy or any other brake control device needs an initial "set-up". There is a Power knob and a Boost. You should have an instruction sheet for that. If you don't you can probably get one at Tekonsha's site or get some advice here.

It's also a good idea to check your settings once in a while too.

Jonathan
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Old 07-11-2006, 02:32 PM   #14
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Good job

Bridger,

During your appointment, have them check your 7 pin again just to make sure all of the connections are secure and clean. And your situation is a good example of why it is important to ask if you don't know. Good job.
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