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Old 06-07-2006, 07:02 PM   #15
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Dexter makes a nice electric over hydraulic unit. Actibrake makes a nice one too, very similar to the Dexter. Both are pump type actuators. Towbrake makes one (two actually) that I like a lot too. They use a large linear actuator (like a radio control servo but on steroids) to power a conventional automotive master cylinder. Airstream is currently using the Actibrake unit. I think any of these three would do you nicely.

As for brakes, there is a complete disk retrofit kit available from Towbrake. Dexter makes a setup that you could order on your new axles (which you'll more than likely need), and Kodiak makes a nice setup.

For brake controllers, I personally have a Tekonsha Voyager, but I will probably be changing that out. Many people on here swear by the Tekonsha Prodigy. My dad has one for his fifth wheel and loves it. I like the Jordan brake controller and will probably get one of those. It works off a different principle. Rather than a pendulum inside the controller swinging and determining how much brake to apply, the Jordan has a cable that attaches to your brake pedal arm. The more you push the pedal in the truck, the more the brakes apply. It's a more direct link. Don't know if it's real world actuation is any better than the inertial type, but I'm going to give it a try. The engineering behind it is certainly sound.

Good luck whichever route you go.
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Old 06-07-2006, 07:42 PM   #16
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Hydra-Vac test data

Attached are some consumer report type test results of the Airstream disc brakes when they first came ou in 1978
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Hydro-Vac disc brake tests.pdf (457.7 KB, 158 views)
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'78 Excella 500,"The Silver Pullit". vacuum over hydraulic disc brakes, center bath, rear twin. '67 Travelall 1200 B 4X4 WBCCI 3737
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:17 PM   #17
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Thanks guys.I feel a lot better.Im sure I'll have a lot to share with you in the future.
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:42 PM   #18
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Brake Controller

Jim
I have used the "stupid" type and the Jordan Ultra. I have also used the older units that tap into the hydraulic system. The Jordan that ties to the brake pedal gives the same feel as the older ones that were tapped into the hydraulic system. Set it once and your done. No trouble so far.
When I called the company answer some questions for me I jot the owner of the company. His idea is to answer the phones and talk directly to his customers to keep abrest of what is going on out there
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Old 06-08-2006, 09:13 PM   #19
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Beginner, that's a pretty good endorsement. I always thought the older style that tapped into the hydraulic system were a good idea. I guess they're outlawwed now. Anyway, I'm going to get a Jordan in the near future. My Stream isn't ready for the road yet, and I'm only towing my utility trailer now and then, and the Voyager seems to work OK for that. But I'm going to have a Jordan soon.

Thanks,
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Old 06-08-2006, 09:44 PM   #20
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controller

There was a controller being sold by Hensley a couple of years ago, but they dropped the line. I'll try to remember or find the link to the mfg. This unit does tap into the hydralic line, but uses a an electronic pressure transducer to generate the braking effort input signal. Pressure in the puller's brake system seems like a good reference for a controller -pretty direct. The trouble with the old "wet" system was that the sensor was electro-mechanical and not as sophisticated, safe, or reliable as the newer type.
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Old 06-08-2006, 10:05 PM   #21
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I am using the Dexter disc brake system, together with the Dexter EH actuator, and all I can say is that it's a beautiful thing!
I had brand new axles and electric brakes on my previous trailer, and there's simply no comparison.
If there's a choice, I would invest a little and keep the discs, using an EH actuator by Dexter and a Jordan brake controller.
The less capable your tow vehicle's brakes are, the more you will appreciate the discs.
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Old 06-09-2006, 03:31 PM   #22
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Brakes

JIMGOLDEN
I think Brakesmart or something like that makes a system that ties into the brake system on the tow vehicle.
It is legal.
They are very proud of it.
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Old 06-09-2006, 04:33 PM   #23
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Brakesmart

BrakeSmart was one that Hensley was selling, but backe-out because the supplier couldn't deliver-so they told me. BrakeSmart had a web site during most of 2004, not before and not since. Their last rendition of a web page said they were still having trouble getting the unit from its manufacturer. Looks like they went bust. You can see their last web page by looking for www.Brakesmart.net on the internet archive pages. Too bad. It looked like a good idea.
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:43 PM   #24
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JIM GOLDEN You said I will likely need to replace my axles.Why?
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:42 PM   #25
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richnritab

Take some pictures of your unit from the side and post them in your gallery so we can see the position of the wheels in the fenders.
Go to my gallery and you can see what I am talking about.
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:42 PM   #26
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Hydra?

Never read this thread till tonight, though I saw it several times.

Dealt with hydrovacs in an old Diamond T truck so I know that coupling all that vacum/hydraulic power to disc brakes is like the best of the new and the old. You could always find your self a vintage tow vehicle you know. I think I still have one of the old tap in hydraulic actuators somewhere around here. The dual circuit "balancing" systems are what did them in. That was a generation Before the antilocks came out.
But that's not why I posted actually. When you start talking about Hydra I cant help thinking how appropriate it is to be talking about a multi faceted (or is it headed?) issue and I envision Heracles and Lake Lema and Iolaus burning the open wounds... http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/hydra.html

Jerry
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:18 PM   #27
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RichnRitab,

The axles on your '78 are just like the ones on my '77; they are not leaf springs but rather use rubber inserts for their springing medium. Rubber tends to take a permanent set over time. It also breaks down and gets weaker with age.

What tends to happen is that the travel trailers sit more than they're used. So the rubber rods inside the axle tend to take a "set" because they're not being exercised much. Further, a travel trailer (as opposed to a cargo trailer) has about 80-85% of its weight sitting on the axles all the time. So, you've got all this weight pressing down on the rubber rods all the time. As the rubber ages and weakens, the trailer settles down into a lower ride height, and the rubber gets hard.

Take a look at your axles from underneath. The swingarms of the axles should angle downward to the center of the wheel at about a 15 degree angle. In otherwords, the center of the wheel end of the swingarm should be lower than the part of the swingarm that fits into the axle mounting tube. They came from the factory with about a 22.5 degree down angle. Under load, they'd deflect upward some but you should still have a 10-15 degree down angle.

If you look at my trailer, the swing arms are pretty much parallel to the frame; that is, they have no down angle at all and are parallel. I also jacked my trailer up and the wheel did not come down any at all. The rubber is totally rigid. My axles are worn out.

I've looked at a bunch of 31' Airstreams of this vintage, and everyone I looked at had this same problem. My grandfather's '73 25' has this problem too.

So, not to alarm you. But odds are that your axles will be in the same boat as mine. If they are, and you need new ones, you could go several routes:

Dexter will sell you a set of axles with their brakes already installed and ready to go.

I believe you can buy the Henschen axles with Kodiak disks on them.

You can buy any of the axles bare, and then install either the Dexter or Kodiak brake setups on them.

You could also put your Ausco's onto a new axle. They all use the same size spindle.

Personally, if I could swing it, I'd put new brakes on new axles; unless your Auscos are in really good shape. To my knowledge, you cannot get new hubs to fit the old brake systems. So if you're on the road and you break a hub for whatever reason, you're done for. Well, not entirely, I do know that Inland RV has some of the old hubs that they've cleaned up and refinished. But you're still buying a 30 year old hub, and they're not cheap.

You can get the Kodiak setup for something like $350 per axle. So for $700 or so, you've got brand new disk brakes. The Kodiaks use a GM brake pad to so you can get pads at the local auto parts store.

Dexter, however, might cut you a good deal buying their disk brake setup on their axles new.

I've heard good things about both setups.

Hope that helps. Good luck with your project.
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Old 06-12-2006, 07:22 PM   #28
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Damn this is fun.I can't wait to get start this project.Jim I will check those axles first thing.So far I've purchased the dexter electric actuator and the
prodigy.I did read more about the jordan after I bought the prodigy.However,
after looking at the install Im not sure that cable system will last on a daily
driver.Besides if I don't like it I'll change it. Im going to get started some time this week.I'll be in touch and I can't thank you enough!
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