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Old 03-19-2013, 07:46 AM   #1
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Hydraulic Brake System Questions

I'm going to check out a 2008 Classic 25FB and understand they have hydraulic brakes. My current trailer, Casita, has electric brakes on a Dexter axle. I use a Prodigy 2 brake controller.

1. How does the brake controller interact with the hydraulic brake system on the trailer. I've read there is an actuator on the trailer so I guess it does the electrical to hydraulic conversion.

2. Is the Prodigy 2 brake controller OK to use with the the hydraulic system? Tekonsha states they haven't tested their controllers on a hydraulic system in their FAQs.

3. If I can't use this controller then which ones can be used. I don't have much space under the steering wheel area for a brake controller due to air bags in my 2010 Tundra so it would need to be about the same size as a PE

4. How long do you expect the brake pads to last. Can you inspect them without taking the wheels off?

5. How often do you replace the brake fluid?

6. is the disc brake system like on a car where you don't need to keep lubricating the bearings on a yearly basis like a trailer with electric brakes?

7. I'm I getting over my head on my first Airstream with it having hydraulic brakes?

6. I found the recall notice on the brake lines. I bet this unit needs the recall.

Thanks for your help

Kelvin
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:46 PM   #2
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JKRitchie,

Sorry, I don't have severral of your answers. I do have EOH (electric over hydraulic) brakes and I have had some issues for several reasons, but I feel that I can claim that those are behind me. Also ZERO electric drum brake experience.

Controller, must be EOH compatible. I'm running MaxBrake.

Pad life, no idea.

Pad inspection w/o removing wheels. I think you can get some view of the pads, also might depend on slots in the wheel that you can look thru.

Braking power. IMHO disc brakes are the automotive and light truck standard. Drums are a bit old school, but still servicable and have lots of trailer miles in the field.

Brake lag, sorry I really don't buy that one. If you have brake lag, something is not working correctly. I have worked on my brakes a lot and I don't have lag. I have controlled braking.

Bearings, sorry, no experience.

Disc brakes do not require adjusting, just like your car or TV does not.

The actuator (electric master cylinder) takes the controller signal and creates pressure via a pump.

Something that I recommend is an infrared thermometer. Shoot the tires, rotors, hubs and look for variations rather than specific numbers. For example, disc brakes must create heat while braking, otherwise its not working. That is normal.

I have personally worked on reconfiguring my hoses (per-recall notification) actuator replacement recall related, caliper repair and several rounds of bleeding due to these issues, some were my own doing trying to improve and repair. Not typical experiences.

Actuator wiring, ust be 1st class,no bad connections allowed of course.

It may take a bit of inspecting, but I think you'll have strong controllable braking if you select EOH. The hose recall must be attended to, it is important.

Good luck.

Gary
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:02 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply.

Where on a Classic is the brake actuator located?

Luckily, the Classic I'm going to see is at an Airstream dealership. I've already notified them of the recalls.

Another question is when it is time for pad replacements can the job be done by any RV repair shop that deals with Dexter? How common are trailer disc brakes?

Kelvin
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
I'm going to check out a 2008 Classic 25FB and understand they have hydraulic brakes. My current trailer, Casita, has electric brakes on a Dexter axle. I use a Prodigy 2 brake controller.

1. How does the brake controller interact with the hydraulic brake system on the trailer. I've read there is an actuator on the trailer so I guess it does the electrical to hydraulic conversion.
There is an actuator on the trailer that has connections to: trailer battery, ground, breakaway switch, and the brake wire from the brake controller in the tow vehicle.

The actuator is microprocessor controlled and has a pump and some electrically controlled valves, much like the ABS unit in a car or truck.

Quote:
2. Is the Prodigy 2 brake controller OK to use with the the hydraulic system? Tekonsha states they haven't tested their controllers on a hydraulic system in their FAQs.
Earlier actuators had poor compatibility with some brake controllers and with early integrated brake controllers (factory option on some pickups). Some brake controllers send a pulse down the brake line every few seconds to confirm that it's connected properly, and Actibrake and some other early actuators were being fooled by this.

It will probably work OK but I would suggest that you be prepared to replace the controller, especially if you leave the Actibrake in place on your new trailer.

Quote:
3. If I can't use this controller then which ones can be used. I don't have much space under the steering wheel area for a brake controller due to air bags in my 2010 Tundra so it would need to be about the same size as a PE
I always recommend the Maxbrake.

Quote:
4. How long do you expect the brake pads to last. Can you inspect them without taking the wheels off?
You can perform a basic inspection of the pads without removing the wheels, yes. But it's hard to see both ends of the inside caliper to check for uneven wear. Besides, it's probably time to repack the bearings.

Quote:
5. How often do you replace the brake fluid?
It's a hassle and there's the possibility of introducing an air bubble that is hard to remove. I wouldn't do it more often than necessary. I do it after 10 years on my cars, usually when I replace calipers, which I have to do by then since we have so much salt on the roads.

Quote:
6. is the disc brake system like on a car where you don't need to keep lubricating the bearings on a yearly basis like a trailer with electric brakes?
Depends which bearings you have. Airstream switched to the Dexter nev-r-lube sealed bearing cartridges in around 2009 but I'm not sure exactly when.

Quote:
7. I'm I getting over my head on my first Airstream with it having hydraulic brakes?
Nah. You'll do fine.

Quote:
6. I found the recall notice on the brake lines. I bet this unit needs the recall.
Probably.
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:53 AM   #5
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Kelvin,

The actuator is in the A frame of the hitch, behind propane and in front of the body, a hatch covers it.

Can't speak for commonality, EOH are the minority.

Pad replacement requires raising and removing the wheel. The pads are retained by a pin. Remove the pin's keeper, remove pad pin. The caliper pistons will need to be compressed, just like a car or truck would. Insert new pads, reinstall pin and pin keeper. Rotor removal requires caliper removal. Four bolts secure it to the caliper support. If you are a bit creative, I think it MIGHT BE possible w/o opening a line and carefully support caliper to prevent line damage. I have not tried it, line length may prohibit. Remove rotor, service and reinstall.

I have lots of pictures at home and the Dexter manuals I think can be found on their website. I have bought components from them direct. To my knowledge, there is no "can use" automotive equivalant components.

Gary
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post

5. How often do you replace the brake fluid?
Owners manuals for my automobiles have recommended changing the brake fluid every 2 years. I do this because brake fluid absorbs moisture and will rust the brake line from the inside out. I have seen this happen on my dad's truck. Changing it out is relatively easy, at least on a car.

Brake fluid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I would jump at the chance to have disc brakes over the mediocre and troublesome drum brakes. If I ever change axles this will likely happen.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:55 AM   #7
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Tekonsha claims that both P2 and P3 are compatible with electric-over-hydraulic brake systems. I know on the P3 you have to select that type when setting up, I suspect it's the same on the P2, so there would be an adjustment for you to make.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:28 AM   #8
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Hydraulic disc brakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
I'm going to check out a 2008 Classic 25FB and understand they have hydraulic brakes. ...Kelvin
Our 2006 30' Classic has hydraulic disc brakes (Dexter).

When you inspect the trailer, determine the following:

(1) Who made the hydraulic actuator? If it is Actibrake, then figure into the price what it will cost to replace the actuator. Actibrake is no longer in business. There have been a number of failures on the Actibrake system, and the older system may well be prone to a failure in the not too distant future.

(2) What type of wheel bearing does the trailer have? If it has Dexter Nev-R-Lube bearings, then you will not have to perform the annual greasing ritual.

We are well satisfied with the overall performance of the E/H disc brake system on our trailer.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:29 AM   #9
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... Is the Prodigy 2 brake controller OK to use with the the hydraulic system? Tekonsha states they haven't tested their controllers on a hydraulic system in their FAQs. ... Kelvin
I have an '07 Classic with factory disk brakes. I had an older Prodigy controller when I bought this trailer and it didn't work well with the actuator and I replaced it with the Prodigy P2 that is labeled for electric over hydraulic systems and it has worked well for me for the past 3 years. There are probably better controllers available but I'm satisfied with the P2.

The PO had the original Actibrake actuator replaced with a Dexter unit under warranty. If yours has the Actibrake actuator, be prepared that many have had problems with it and they aren't around anymore to provide support. Some have not liked the disk brakes and this may be in part to how they use their trailer and where they live. Some who have not been happy use their trailer less frequently and live in a higher humidity area, possibly near the ocean where corrosion builds up on the exposed disk surfaces. Ours sees road miles every month and has been coast to coast with several trips from TX to favorite summer spots in the Colo Rockies. That may make a difference.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:24 PM   #10
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Our 2006 30' Classic has hydraulic disc brakes (Dexter).


(2) What type of wheel bearing does the trailer have? If it has Dexter Nev-R-Lube bearings, then you will not have to perform the annual greasing ritual.

We are well satisfied with the overall performance of the E/H disc brake system on our trailer.
According to the 2008 Classic parts manual from the AS site they are Dexter Nev-R-Lube 3800 lb axles. Seems funny two 3800 axles yet the gross weight is 8000lbs. I guess the tongue weight takes care of the rest.

I'm going to try to negotiate a Dexter actuator if we decide to pursue a purchase. Performing the recall on the lines and replacing the actuator would get me fresh brake fluid. I doubt its ever been changed. Either that get a complete flush of fluid and then buy myself a Dexter unit to change out at a later date.

Kelvin
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post

According to the 2008 Classic parts manual from the AS site they are Dexter Nev-R-Lube 3800 lb axles. Seems funny two 3800 axles yet the gross weight is 8000lbs. I guess the tongue weight takes care of the rest.
...
Kelvin
Yes, you'll likely find that your tongue weight is in the 800-900# range. That will approximately leave 7200# max on the axles. After you get you WD hitch adjusted, it would be worthwhile to visit your local CAT scales and get some weight readings. I get a reading of the F and R axles on the solo TV, then hitch up and go back on to get the same readings for the TV plus the trailer axles.

From that you can judge how much weight you are putting on the TV and confirm that your WD hitch is distributing it appropriately across the F and R axles. You will also learn how much weight is applied to the trailer axles.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:54 PM   #12
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We have A 2008 25' FB Classic and love it --- After having some (a lot) of brake problems when it was new Airstream replaced the brake actuator with a Dexter brand pump while we were in JC....We have had no problems since with brakes...We had the brake lines fixed (the recall) by Saunders in Florida ... a couple hour job or so as I remember.... Our hoses looked ok but another one before us had problems...You will need a controller that is compatable with the hydrolic brakes... There are several....If you, as you say, are buying this unit from a Airstream dealer all of these problems should be able to be addressed and taken care of by that dealer....Any other questions or concerns that you may have, could be addressed by Randy or Dan Snyder at Airstream Customer Service in Jackson Center ... Dan used to work in the service center and I haven't stumped him yet....We haven't replaced the pads since they were all replaced in JC when we had our brake problems....They are a unique pad to this Dexter system (unlike the Kodiak pads that can be bought at automotive stores)and Dexter is VERY proud of them --something like $150.00 per axle plus labor....But so far we are doing OK with wear as most of our travel is highway and we aren't on them that much.. The bearings will Be Nev-a-lube and are grauanteed for 100,000 mi or 5 years or so.... We check them once a year---- Hope this rambling is of some help... I think you might truly like the unit....
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Old 03-20-2013, 01:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
Performing the recall on the lines and replacing the actuator would get me fresh brake fluid.
Kelvin

Kelvin,

Last weekend I finally got to see a trailer with the revised recall supplied brake hoses. These now have a short steel line section with a nut that threads into the caliper. This allows the line to be positioned and then tighten the nut. The old rubber hose had a crimped fitting on each end that had to be tightened into the caliper and the body fitting until tight, didn't offer a nice way to route line and then tighten. This also allows for cracking the inboard fitting as a part of the bleeding process.

I'll post a picture on the revised brake line later.
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:12 PM   #14
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Yes, you'll likely find that your tongue weight is in the 800-900# range. That will approximately leave 7200# max on the axles. After you get you WD hitch adjusted, it would be worthwhile to visit your local CAT scales and get some weight readings. I get a reading of the F and R axles on the solo TV, then hitch up and go back on to get the same readings for the TV plus the trailer axles.

From that you can judge how much weight you are putting on the TV and confirm that your WD hitch is distributing it appropriately across the F and R axles. You will also learn how much weight is applied to the trailer axles.
You missed part, unsprung weight is not carried by the axle so doesn't count against the weight rating, so that is at least another 500 lbs for the tires, wheels, and brake assemblies.
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