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Old 01-04-2003, 09:57 AM   #1
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Magnetic Break Controller

Hi All,

My recently acquired '70 Caravel has electric breaks. I do not know if they work and will be finding out soon. What are the odds that they will work? What is.are the failure modes and how robust are magnetic breaks?

As to the controller, the 1972 service manual I just got says to make sure to use only a "Kelsey Hayes" controller. I'm guessing from reading the manual that the controller is a mechanically coupled, rheostat-type contraption. Back in 1972, I'm sure this was the state-of-the-art, but I wonder if that is still true?

So I need a controller and wonder about recommendations. Used vs. new (ebay vs. dealer), are there electronic controllers these days, etc. Is the Kelsey Hayes controller still the way to go?


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Old 01-04-2003, 10:27 AM   #2
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Brake Controllers

I would recommend the Jordan brake controller. ( It is the only one that has a cable going to your brake pedal. It applies current in proportion to the ammount of pressure applied to the brake pedal. Another highly recommended controller is the Tekonsha Prodigy. I have a Tekonsha Voyager, but I hate it, and it's getting replaced with a Jordan soon.

Most common failure points on electric brakes, is the wiring. Make sure your trailer plug matches your tow vehicle. It has been said that the magnets wear out 4 times faster than the brake shoes. First thing I would do is adjust the brakes and check the wiring.
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Old 01-04-2003, 10:28 AM   #3
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Like I said before, the majority of the problems with the electric brakes is wiring. Seems you are still working that out in regards to your posts on wiring and plug configurations so you are heading in the right direction. You will need to get a controller, I think it is safe to say the recommendations for controllers in the early 70's are outdated. The manual for my 74 Overlander shows a brake controller with something that looks like a toaster inline, various taps and resistors. Back then they were still even using ones that would tap into your vehicles hydraulics, a definite no-no in todays computerized ABS systems. There are several types and brands available and I am not partial to any particular one. Once you get your tow vehicle rigged hook the trailer up and pull it around an empty parking lot for a bit while applying power to the brakes via the manual slide on the controller. You should feel them pull and then go back and feel the hubs/drums for heat. They should get a little warm. This is not exactly a scientific approach but it should give you a general idea on their condition, you should still disassemble them, inspect everything and pack the bearings and change the grease seals while you are in there.

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Old 01-04-2003, 01:29 PM   #4
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Electronic Brake Controllers

RE: Electronic Brake Controllers

Greetings Matthew!

When you get to the brake controller, there are three that are frequently mentioned on both this Forum as well as on the Vintage Airstream Club Discussion List. These three controllers are variations of the "Pendulum Control" type meaning that the controller senses the rate of decelleration based on the swing of the pendulum which adjusts the intensity of the brake action.

1.) Jordan Research Ultima Brake Controller. It is my understanding that this controller relys on the cable mechanism attached to the brake pedal to sense the intensity of the stop adjusting the amount of current applied to the trailer brakes to reflect the sensed intensity. Jordan Research Brake Controllers

2.) Tekonsha Prodigy Brake Controller. This is one of the "Pendulum Types" that measures inertia via pendulum movement. Tekonsha Prodigy Brake Controller

3.) Hayes-Lemmerz Micro HD-Plus Brake Controller. This is one of the "Pendulum Types" that measures inertia via pendulum movement. It has the option of a remote emergency button that is very useful if the towvehicle doesn't have a suitable mounting place for the control that is within eas reach of the driver. Hayes-Lemmerz Micro HD-Plus Brake Controller

Personally, I use the Hayes-Lemmerz Micro HD-Plus brake controller on two of my tow vehicles and a Tekonsha Voyager (less expensive version of Tekonsha Prodigy with fewer features) on my '99 Suburban. The Voyager is an entirely acceptable controller, but it would not be my first choice - - it was installed by my Airstream dealer who does not handle Hayes-Lemmerz controllers. I have used the Hayes-Lemmerz Micro HD-Plus (or its earlier version) on three tow vehicles, and have been absolutely thrilled with its operation, and I like the idea of being able to have the remote control unit as close as the transmission shift lever on my tow vehicle (I loop the remote control over the transmission lever in my Cadillac and lay the remote control on the center console in my Dodge tow vehicle.)

Good luck with your project!

Kevin D. Allen
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