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Old 08-19-2009, 09:05 AM   #1
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Issue: Actibrake system shuts down

A problem that I had last year several times occurred again about two weeks ago. I am wondering if anyone with hydraulic brakes using Actibrake system has had this issue before. Here's what has happened and what has been done so far. For now the issue has been resolved with a new brake controller (P3).

I had been using a Brakesmart brake controlller with my 2006 34' with the Actibrake system. Three or four times last year, I would lose brakes on the trailer (both pedal and manual level) without notice. The trailer brakes could be restored by disconnecting the power from the TV and disconnecting the 2 coach batteries. The Actibrake would reset itself and be fine. One could go days or weeks before the issue occurred again.

Last year I had the factory check it out and they recommended replacing the brake controller with one listed on the approved Actibrake controller list if it occurred again. I didn't do that until 2 weeks ago after it happened again. This time it was after 3,000 miles towing and about 12 days of travel.

The P3 seems to work well up to this point but the jury is out to see if the Actibrake will still shut down with the P3. I've talked to Dr. Performance who sells the Actibrake and they have not had a similar situation before.

Yesterday, I had the brake pads and the rotors replaced on my TV, 2004 GMC 3/4 ton with 87,000 miles because they were shot. I don't know it that was excessive wear or not but the lack of trailer brakes may have be a factor or I may have had the gain on the trailer brakes set too low. The P3 is easy to set up and I can feel the trailer brakes take hold more so then the setting I had on the Brakesmart.

Has anyone had a similar problem with the Actibrake shutting down. I know it will do so with a leak in the line but I doubt that is the issue since it can work for days or weeks without an issue.

I'll post an update if the problem reoccurs with the P3 controller. Then I'll know that the Actibrake is the issue and not the controller.
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:58 AM   #2
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hookedonclassic,

Now on our fourth Actibrake actuator.

First unit would run on after releasing TV brake pedal and overheat trailer brakes.
Second burnt out the circuit board.
Third just stopped working when hooked up to tow vehicle - pulling breakaway pin wouldn't operate it either.
Fourth unit has been OK for 1500 miles.

If this fourth actuator were to fail and Active Technology were still in business, I would not fit another of their units (lost faith in them!). It will be a Dexter actuator next time.

John in the UK
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Old 08-21-2009, 08:27 PM   #3
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Well, it did it again with the new P3 controller as well. Therefore, the problem must be in the trailer. I wonder it the Actibrake computer board could overheat and shut down. I was driving in city traffic with mulitiple stop lights followed up by some hilly roads when I needed to use brakes frequently. Looks like a call to Mothership on Monday.
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Old 08-21-2009, 08:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hookedonclassic View Post
Well, it did it again with the new P3 controller as well. Therefore, the problem must be in the trailer. I wonder it the Actibrake computer board could overheat and shut down. I was driving in city traffic with multiple stop lights followed up by some hilly roads when I needed to use brakes frequently. Looks like a call to Mothership on Monday.
I had to go out into the desert to rescue somebody with a similar Actibrake problem. Theirs locked up, and would reset if everything was disconnected electrically. Remember, Microsoft didn't make these brake controllers. Rebooting is not a normal condition.
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Old 08-21-2009, 09:10 PM   #5
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Our brake controller locked up on us last summer in Colorado Springs. We were driving through downtown and the brake controller locked down our breaks. We were then stuck in the middle lane of the interstate. After approximately 15 minutes of terror, the brake controller shut off. We took it in to the Colorado Springs dealer and they replaced the controller. We haven't had any problems since.
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Old 08-21-2009, 09:11 PM   #6
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Sadly, the Actibrake controllers have not been reliable for me either. The first one simply stopped working right in the middle of a trip, while descending a wet bridge. Second one went on full and would not shut off. I'm on my third one.

Several times the Actibrake failed temporarily due to less-than-perfect main trailer ground, which fortunately is easily remedied. But like John in the UK, I'll be shopping for another brand when this one quits.

Shutdowns such as you've been experiencing are unacceptable. A brake actuator should be as near to 100% reliable as possible. I'd ask for a refund on the actuator and move to another brand. I've been hearing that Carlisle is a popular replacement, although I have no experience with that brand yet.
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:26 PM   #7
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I've had a conversation with Airstream Factory Service and they concluded that the Actibrake pump needs to be replaced. The computer board is in the pump itself and is likely the cause of the problem. Since Actibrake is not in business any longer, Airstream is now recommending Dexter pump be used as a replacement. I don't know if that is what the new trailers have on them or not but most likely if they have electric over hydr brakes.

I'm having the local dealer order a Dexter pump for me and we will give that a try.

Unfortunately, my trailer is out of warranty and Actibrake is not a solution for me so this will set me back a few bucks to say the least. I'll let you know if that cures the problem.
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:16 PM   #8
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I had a client here a couple of weeks ago that experienced similar issues with his Actibrake (now out of business) pump. He was on his third pump in two years & was very frustrated. I called my contact at Axis Products & he told me that they reccommend BrakeRite Actuators for their Kodiak equipped axles. I asked about the various models available & he told me that there was a version for "severe duty" that had an external ecm. Oddly enough it's called the BrakeRite "SD". I ordered one & installed it two days later. The "SD" version has a "plug & play" wiring harness, however it was really designed to be mounted on the tongue. As I was installing this unit in the rear storage area on a 2000 34'er, I had to modify the wiring to suit. I ran into a small glitch during the installation & had to call technical help at BrakeRite. The typical set up for the break away switch is to power one side of the switch with 12 volts dc from the house battery & when the switch is pulled, power would be sent to activate the brakes. The BrakeRite SD ecm has its own output to power the break away switch. I didn't think it would matter where it got the 12 volts dc from but it does. The basic technical help guy at BrakeRite couldn't help me however he did give me the number of the designer of the system. I called him & he confirmed that the break away switch needed to see power from the ecm not the house battery. It was actually a simple fix after that. I just figured out which side of the existing switch was the power input & clipped it off, then ran one wire from the ecm to the break away switch & bingo, everything worked perfectly. The designer told me that 99% of the problems with electric over hydraulic actuators was in the ecm, so by having an external ecm, swapping it out with a spare is only a minute or two. My client loves his new actuator & has asked me to get a spare ecm for him. He is a non technical type of guy however he said he could easily swap it out himself. I believe BrakeRite is the only manufacturer to offer actuators with an external ecm.
Hopefully this helps some of you out,
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Old 08-29-2009, 02:21 AM   #9
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Colin H

Brake actuator power source - interesting that the BrakeRite breakaway switch has to receive power from the actuator circuit board and not the trailer battery.

Our Actibrake has two power feeds plus a feed to breakaway switch.

Main feed to Actibrake via 7-way, secondary feed via trailer battery and breakaway via trailer battery.

So - the Actibrake circuit board is receiving 14 plus volts from tow vehicle, 12 plus volts from trailer batteries and the breakaway 12 plus volts from the trailer batteries (gradually depleting on a journey as there is no charge line from tow vehicle).

My thoughts are that a 2 volt difference might be enough to upset these sensitive electronics. I have since changed the wiring on our fourth Actibrake actuator and run the charge line from tow vehicle direct to the trailer batteries (as it should be). The actuator now receives it's two power feeds that are the same voltage.

Getting on for 2000 miles now on this fourth actuator and running OK.

hookedonclassic

Possibly this voltage imbalance supplying the circuit board has wrecked my last 3 actuators.

John in the UK
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:22 PM   #10
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Well, today had the Actibrake replaced with a Dexter brake actuator. Time will tell if this has resolved my problem. Certainly hope so as it didn't come cheap.
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:15 AM   #11
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Here a couple pictures. The first is the Actibrake removed and the second is the Dexter 1600 installed. Thanks to everyone who posted for your help.
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:41 AM   #12
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Rich,

Your new Dexter 1600 installation is a familure site since I also had to install one last month to replace my failed Actibrake controller. Ours failed while we were still in the driveway....suppose to leave the next day. Fortunately, the trailer is still under warranty and I installed the new one myself. AS tech center was a HUGE help!!
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Old 09-17-2009, 10:26 PM   #13
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My Actibrake failed and would not function with controller in any fashion even though controller numbers and activation looked normal. Temporarily removed power to the unit and it's working now but I have lost faith. For those of you who have installed the Dexter what operating differences from the Actibrake have you noticed, activation time? Noise? What modifications were necessary to the brake line and wiring?
How long has this unit been in production?

Thanks Pappy
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Old 09-18-2009, 03:18 PM   #14
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Pappy. My installation may be to new to help you (week ago). Our first trip out the it yesterday. Working fine. Dealer had to get install instructions from AS. Took about 4 hours for dealer to install. Had to rewire some. Retrofit looks good. I also changed brake controller. With changes made I noticed pump will not run when standing still (normal if brake controller doesn't provide enough current). This is different than my previous Actibrake-Brakesmart setup which would have pump running at stoplight. This may have caused my earlier problem --- could have been overheating the board causing it to shut down. My best guess for now.
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