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Old 07-02-2010, 09:12 PM   #1
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1971 27' Overlander
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Question God help us.

It's the Irwins here, still on our honeymoon. I finally got my electric brakes working and I kind of wish I hadn't. They are grabby, ill-tempered and awful. I've cleaned everything and scuffed the drums and magnets. We went down our first grade with them working and I had to take us into a runaway truck ramp and disconnect the brake wire. I stopped by an RV repair shop and and old guy there told me that some airstreams had a brake compensator installed with some kind of pendulum. I don't see one on the wiring diagram for my 27' 1971 overlander. Does such a thing exist? My new wife would like me to find it so she can chop it to bits with a hatchet.

-Jesse & Emmylou
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:21 PM   #2
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An accessory that airstream had was an anti-sway brake system I think, read it somewhere in my old manual, didn't have anything to do with stopping.

You note disconnecting the brake wire but had to use a runaway ramp ???
Did the RV guy look at the brakes and adjust them equally? Is your wiring correct?

Are the drums clean or oil/grease stained from leaking wheel seals, if so turning them at a brake shop may be the ticket?
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:30 PM   #3
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I have not read any place that you had a Trailer brake control box installed in your truck. Do you have one? If not you have probably wired the electric brakes to the truck brake lights ... This will be a nightmare to drive. Please tell us you have a control box for the trailer brakes.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Irwin View Post
I stopped by an RV repair shop and and old guy there told me that some airstreams had a brake compensator installed with some kind of pendulum.
Pendulum or inertial brake controllers are wired into your tow vehicle and are controlled from your driver's seat. Do you have a Prodigy or some other brake controller installed in your truck? There will be a socket under the dash somewhere to plug into. You need a pigtail to plug into this socket and a brake controller wired into the pigtail. I've used RJays -- they're very quick and inexpensive on mailing out. A mechanic at your Chev/GM dealer should be able to identify the socket to plug the pigtail into. This takes some wiring ability. Any doubts? An RV dealer could set up your truck this way for you.

Only a brake controller will pass the proper brake signal back through the 7-pin umbilical to the trailer brakes. Without it your trailer is an uncontrollable mass pushing you from behind when you have to stop quickly.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memgrove2000 View Post
I have not read any place that you had a Trailer brake control box installed in your truck. Do you have one? If not you have probably wired the electric brakes to the truck brake lights ... This will be a nightmare to drive. Please tell us you have a control box for the trailer brakes.
I too assumed you had a brake controller - maybe a Prodigy? It's absolutely necessary - you also adjust it periodically due to break wear on your tow vehicle, etc. Your trailer brakes IMHO should be a little "grabby" so that your trailer (a) acts as an anchor when you panic stop and holds the tow vehicle straight and (b) so that the trailer doesn't push you or bump you when you're trying to brake.

If you DO have a brake controller, back it off a notch or two.

Paula
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:00 PM   #6
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1971 27' Overlander
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I have a brake controller that was installed by uhaul. It's branded uhaul, but it's a Valley. They sent me out the door without it working. When I came back they said it was an internal issue with my truck. I took it to a chevy dealer who said I was missing a fuse because the truck didn't come with a tow package. He installed one and told me I had 12 volts to the plug. I thought this had resolved the issue. We took off on our honeymoon and I realized I had no electic brakes. A guy at a shop found a random light blue wire hanging and realized the controller was sending power to it. We jumpered that to the blue brake wire in the truck plug, which made the brakes work. They just work badly. They are engaging in fits and starts and too aggressively - hence me pulling over at the truck ramp and disconnecting the whole mess. Luckily I have a manual transmission and can use my gears to slow down.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:02 PM   #7
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Brakes are adjusted evenly, magnets and drums are scuffed with sandpaper. I rebuilt the hubs and installed new wheel seals before we left.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:13 PM   #8
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You might be wise to seek out a professional repair shop and purchase Prodigy and have it professionally installed. IMHO U-Haul should never have sent you out the door without the controller working, but I'm not surprised by what they said. They said the same to me a few years ago when I had them install an Accu-Trak in my new vehicle. for my SOB. They made me sign all kinds of liability waivers and truthfully I could have installed it myself. All I needed was a connection on the controller that fit into the supplied pigtail. A qualified repair facility can install a new generation controller on any vehicle. You and your bride don't need this kind of stress on your honeymoon.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:17 PM   #9
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The only other thing the "old timer" could be thinking of is the old hydraulic brake controller and the selective resister system that you surely don't have. I have a copy of an old Kelsey - Hayes brake manual and it talks about these parts. This stuff went out with Burma Shave and The Ed Sullivan Show, so your wife probably won't be finding and chopping it up. Sounds pretty scary to have to use one of those ramps!
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:28 PM   #10
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I second the PRODIGY! I had a Uhaul and didn't much care for it. The Prodigy is much better. There sound advice in finding a competent service tech and have him install, setup, and adjust the Prodigy.
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:49 AM   #11
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Mine are grabby to if I have them turned up to much. Sometimes at low speeds the wheels lock up. But then I don't have a prodigy brake controller. A wally world special. forget what brand it is. and I'm to lazy to go and look. Sorry. But with adjustment it works well.. get a professional to look at it...
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:53 AM   #12
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Rivet Hey Goober ever seen one of these?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Irwin View Post
I have a brake controller that was installed by uhaul. It's branded uhaul, but it's a Valley. They sent me out the door without it working. When I came back they said it was an internal issue with my truck. I took it to a chevy dealer who said I was missing a fuse because the truck didn't come with a tow package. He installed one and told me I had 12 volts to the plug. I thought this had resolved the issue. We took off on our honeymoon and I realized I had no electic brakes. A guy at a shop found a random light blue wire hanging and realized the controller was sending power to it. We jumpered that to the blue brake wire in the truck plug, which made the brakes work. They just work badly. They are engaging in fits and starts and too aggressively - hence me pulling over at the truck ramp and disconnecting the whole mess. Luckily I have a manual transmission and can use my gears to slow down.
EYEOOOOWWWW sounds like the Andy Griffith show, Hey Goober ever work on one of them airstreams? Nope Andy, always wanted to though, glad I'm a UHAUL place. The last trailer I needed to haul stuff UHAUL sent me out at night with reversed wiring for lighting, pretty bizarre, they came to my place and rewired the trailer to fix it then realized two wires were reversed by someone before, took 3 hours.

Airstream brake systems are the same as all other travel trailers, no magic here, no special brake sytems because it's an airstream. I suggest going to an RV shop so they can install a real honest to goodness brake controller before you go much farther, your lives and others are at stake.

Call corporate and get your money back from UHAUL they'll listen.

The Takonsha P3 controller ramps up voltage as braking is needed and will hold the trailer with 1.6 volts when stopped. Depending on how much braking is needed you can see the voltage go from 2.1 to 3.6 in a harder stop and decrease as you slow, pretty slick just don't stare at it and rear end somebody. Once it's setup and you adjust per the first drive test it's delightfull to drive, you'll forget about the trailer.
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