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Old 08-11-2013, 11:56 PM   #15
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This is a simple case of learning how to pull a trailer through the mountains. You MUST use your transmission to enable engine compression to hold your speed down a mountain. There is NO other safe way. Your vehicle brakes aren't strong enough to hold both itself AND a trailer coming down a 7% grade for miles...and, most trailer brakes are woefully inadequate to hold the trailer let alone help the vehicle as well when you're barreling down a mountain pass at 60mph.

I just got back from a trip out west...my SSR pulled my 75th up and down Monarch Pass, Vail Pass, Berthoud Pass, Loveland Pass, Raton Pass, and McClure Pass (which strangely was the steepest and hardest pull) over the course of nearly a month and I hardly EVER touched the brakes whatsoever on the way down; since my truck is a 6spd manual, I would usually cruise down in 3rd or 4th at a very comfortable moderate speed with NO feeling of the rig "getting away from me" with only a scant tapping of the brakes every now and then to keep momentum in check. Literally hardly had a need for them coming down ANY one of those passes, even with the switchbacks. Proper technique of utilizing correct downshifting at the right times will hold your rig back and save your brakes. There is NO other way to do it; if you try to rely solely on your brakes eventually they WILL overheat and you'll find yourself (and probably some innocent bystanders) dead off a cliff somewhere.

Simply put, it's best to learn how to properly pull a trailer both up and (more importantly) DOWN a mountain using your ENGINE to slow you, not your brakes.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
The gear you climbed the hill in is the gear you go down the hill in.

If you are descending a hill in D you may loose the the brakes altogether due to over heating.

Self adjusters will not correct the problem. If your TV does not have a Tow Haul Mode gearing down or an exhaust brake are the first 2 choices.

If you have Tow Haul tap the brakes just as you start down and the trans will come down one gear. If you start to gain speed in that gear hit and hold the brakes to cause slow down and the trans will comes down another gear. When using Tow Haul watch the engine RPMs and don't let it over rev. The Tow Haul will only do so much and brakes are required after that. If you have to use the brakes because of over rev stop all together and start off again in a lower gear that will hold your speed below the point of increasing speed.
I have been making good use of the F150's tow, haul mode. But as you say at some point one needs the activate the friction brakes.

With the original brakes most of the braking force was coming from the front rotors of the F150. Since I have swapped brakes I am getting better balance. But it's still less than what I would call ideal.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:47 PM   #17
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In the west, it is often not enough just to use tow/haul mode in the mountains! On downhill slopes, you'll need to downshift the automatic, forcing it into an even lower gear.

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Old 08-13-2013, 07:40 PM   #18
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:41 PM   #19
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Tow/haul mode does help some, but it is not a replacement for manually managing the transmission.

As mentioned before, even properly functioning truck and trailer brakes are not enough for an extended steep descent.

By moving the transmission selector from "Drive" to a lower setting, one is preventing the transmission from an upshift. Thereby keeping it in a lower gear and controlling speed via the back pressure of the engine.

Once the correct shifter setting is found for the steepness of the grade, one uses the brakes only for managing speed within the RPM range of that gear.



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Old 08-15-2013, 05:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reganzo View Post

I recently upgraded from a 2008 F-350 to a 2011 F-350 and a newer to me airstream with hydraulic disc brakes. My first trip the brakes didn't work well or smoothly and I had the gain set for 10. I figured out that I could select electric or electric over hydraulic and as soon as I changed it to electric over hydraulic it worked great. Maybe your computer is set for electric over hydraulic and you need to change it. I can access the settings under truck applications.

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Reganzo
Thanks for the suggestion. I checked the truck settings and it was properly on Electric.
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:28 PM   #21
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Perhaps I should have composed my original post differently. I didn't intend this thread to become a tutorial in how to descend mountain passes. Yes, one has to use engine braking. But that alone - at least for my rig is not sufficient. Coming down a a steep pass even in 2nd gear ( of 6) the friction brakes still need to be applied to control the speed.

With the original trailer brakes - which looked in good shape, the tow vehicles brakes were doing virtually all the work. Trailer drums cool when checked, but front disks very hot. This is with the controller on max gain.

Replacing the brakes made a difference - now with the controller on 8.5 / 10 the trailer brakes take some of the load.

Is this typical for F150 users with the integrated brake controller? I've read on F150 forums that typical good trailer performance can be had with a setting of 5 or so.

But looking for input from other Airstream / Ford users.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:13 PM   #22
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:34 AM   #23
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In our area of Arizona, there are multiple several mile long descents from high areas. There is usually a pull off at the top of the descent area with warning signs to check brakes and use lower gears. Pay attention!

Despite posted speed limits, your backside, TV, TT and family and those around you in their vehicles presuppose you are in control of your vehicle. Remember the speed limit sign is the maximum speed.

Your personal speed could be much lower and should be with TVs with gasoline engines with much less engine back pressure than diesel engines because of lower compression ratios. Also diesel engine may have a specific manually enabled engine brake function which is in addition to the back pressure drag.

So crowning the hill, one should already be at the target speed for the descent. If below the posted speed limit, turn on your flashers so the speeders are aware something is going on. LEOs would rather you get to the bottom safely with traffic moving along than have a wreck to close the road for an extended period of time.

At the bottom of the descent, you can always pull over to allow those in a hurry to get past. I have been behind huge oversized semi trailer loads where the descent speed was 5 mph. It is frustrating, but that driver made it home that night.

If you had to use brakes a lot on the descent, then check tire temperatures at the bottom on the vehicles to determine if the brakes were overheated.

A good check of the trailer brakes is a must for the pre-trip inspection when planning to drive in the mountains.
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Old 08-17-2013, 06:50 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxTow View Post
Perhaps I should have composed my original post differently. I didn't intend this thread to become a tutorial in how to descend mountain passes. Yes, one has to use engine braking. But that alone - at least for my rig is not sufficient. Coming down a a steep pass even in 2nd gear ( of 6) the friction brakes still need to be applied to control the speed.

With the original trailer brakes - which looked in good shape, the tow vehicles brakes were doing virtually all the work. Trailer drums cool when checked, but front disks very hot. This is with the controller on max gain.

Replacing the brakes made a difference - now with the controller on 8.5 / 10 the trailer brakes take some of the load.

Is this typical for F150 users with the integrated brake controller? I've read on F150 forums that typical good trailer performance can be had with a setting of 5 or so.

But looking for input from other Airstream / Ford users.
If you're brakes are working properly you should be able to lock up all 4 wheels.

My Tundra with the Tekonsha P3 will lock up the trailer brakes on the Safari at about 4, but this is a much lighter trailer than yours.

My father had a F250 with the integrated brake controller when he pulled his 5th wheel and hated it, he said the trailer kind of slowed down but the truck did most of the stopping, sounds similar to your problem. He said this was a common complaint among Ford owners he talked to at the trailer park. I also didn't care for the settings available when I used his truck to pull the enclosed car trailer. My set up makes me feel much more confident, even though the Toyota truck is so much smaller than the Ford.

Considering the relatively low cost of a brake controller (around $150) you may want to consider trying a different controller to see if it makes a difference.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:23 AM   #25
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Maxtow,

Couple of long shot ideas, and all of my braking background is from my EOH so these are untried by me ideas.

1. Often cited, use an infrared point and shoot thermometer to get temp readings on the trailer brakes. No idea what they should or could read, but the act of braking creates heat that must be dissipated by the drums. The absence of heat = not much braking, excessive heat = a different problem possibly.

2. Any chance to use your TV on a different trailer and more importantly use a different TV on your trailer to exchange w/o doing any parts swapping to cross check the systems?

Good luck.

Gary
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:33 AM   #26
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I tow through the Mountains all the time (& now with a 2010 F150).

My brakes in various trailers were always somewhat erratic. It is not enough to use Tow/Haul mode - you need your trailer brakes to be working reliably & well. (The Coquihalla Hwy for example is brutal on the long descents.)

Since replacing my manual Dexter brakes on the A/S with the NevR-adjust versions, I have a set of trailer brakes that seem to be finally doing their job & I feel much happier with their performance on the steep long grades. The Ford controller works a treat around 7.5 - 8.0 on my setup.

Get your trailer brakes checked. I suspect they are not working well; if at all.


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Old 08-17-2013, 09:02 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
Tow/haul mode does help some, but it is not a replacement for manually managing the transmission.

As mentioned before, even properly functioning truck and trailer brakes are not enough for an extended steep descent.

By moving the transmission selector from "Drive" to a lower setting, one is preventing the transmission from an upshift. Thereby keeping it in a lower gear and controlling speed via the back pressure of the engine.

Once the correct shifter setting is found for the steepness of the grade, one uses the brakes only for managing speed within the RPM range of that gear.



Regards,

JD
In tow haul mode on late model F150-F350's when you tap the brake pedal going down hill it will downshift one gear for each tap and hold in that gear until you accelerate.It is meant to assist with transmission braking on hills and steep grades that is its purpose when used correctly.Try it when used correctly you will like it.
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Old 08-18-2013, 07:29 AM   #28
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On some diesel vehicles, the engine brake can be disabled by a button, or must actually be turned on to be used. Always double check the engine brake idiot light on the dash is on along with the tow-haul mode light. It's possible to forget to do this in the excitement of finally getting underway.

Been there and done that!
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