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Old 05-27-2012, 07:48 PM   #1
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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Need to replace Brakes Shoes or Disk?

The brakes on my trailer are acting strange and are on a little all the time when properly adjusted. I can only assume it is either a feature of trailer drum brakes, which I have trouble believing, or some quality control issues with brake shoes, which I have no trouble believing. It could also be some issue with worn out magnets and springs causing the brakes to drag. I have worked on brakes for years including trailer brakes and I have never had problems with drum brakes accept when I got some cheap bottom of the line brake shoes on my Ranger truck. It would lock the rear wheels at the drop of a hat. Changing the shoes fixed it. Since all brake parts for trailers are made in China with little or no quality control, the questionable quality of trailer brake parts concerns me. I know for a fact that crappy shoes will cause brake lockup problems so I could spend $500 and be in the same place I am now.

As a result of the above, I am strongly considering upgrading to disk brakes. Replacing all the drums and backing places to stay with shoes is going to run me at least $500 in parts alone. A disk brake setup is going to cost me around $600 for the rotors and calipers and then another $700 or so for the actuator. Does the actuator require a reservoir or is that made into the unit? Also are the pads they use on the disk brake system common to a certain model car or truck? If not, then I am in the same boat or junk as before.

Perry
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:26 AM   #2
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Perry,

Upfront I have no experience with electric brakes, but I have been thru my disc brake system a whole lot more than I bargained for. More on that some other day.

If I was trying to learn more from the outside for example while towing, I think an infrared thermometer would be a tool of choice. The energy from the vehicle in motion by braking is transformed into heat by the brakes. Start by looking for uniform temp readings from drum to drum, look for hotter than the other(s) and cold drums too. We have many wiring and electric brake troubleshooters here on AF.

I have personally worked with two brands of hydraulic actuators and both had integral reservoirs. Mine is Carlisle.

If considering hydraulics finding one that had the possibility of automotive replacement pads might be a plus.

IMHO disc brake lag is not normal, thats what I'll report on later seperatly with my observations and backup.

Good luck.

Gary
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:12 AM   #3
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Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Perry,

I know your familiar with the Dexter shoe separation problem I had recently.
Dexter stood by their product and refunded my cost for the new shoes.

POI..although the lining is considerably thinner than a comparable auto shoe, Dexter insists their replacements are made in the USA, not so much for the on-line loaded assemblies that are available. (according to them)

We recently used the trailer for the first time since the repair. I did not arc the shoes and was anticipating some adjustment problems. Negative. Did notice one drum running 20 degrees hotter but re-adjusting took care of that. I also like the simplicity/reliability of the trailer drum brake system, willing to give up some efficiency for reliability.
A few years back I was considering the disk up-grade but after some research here decided to wait. When AS stopped offering them I thought that was a prudent decision.

I can appreciate your frustration in getting your system working properly. But I think if you get the drums and replacement shoes matched up, along with good magnets and clean, smooth plates everything should work properly.

Keep us posted...

Bob
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
The brakes on my trailer are acting strange and are on a little all the time when properly adjusted. I can only assume it is either a feature of trailer drum brakes, which I have trouble believing, or some quality control issues with brake shoes, which I have no trouble believing. It could also be some issue with worn out magnets and springs causing the brakes to drag. I have worked on brakes for years including trailer brakes and I have never had problems with drum brakes accept when I got some cheap bottom of the line brake shoes on my Ranger truck. It would lock the rear wheels at the drop of a hat. Changing the shoes fixed it. Since all brake parts for trailers are made in China with little or no quality control, the questionable quality of trailer brake parts concerns me. I know for a fact that crappy shoes will cause brake lockup problems so I could spend $500 and be in the same place I am now.

As a result of the above, I am strongly considering upgrading to disk brakes. Replacing all the drums and backing places to stay with shoes is going to run me at least $500 in parts alone. A disk brake setup is going to cost me around $600 for the rotors and calipers and then another $700 or so for the actuator. Does the actuator require a reservoir or is that made into the unit? Also are the pads they use on the disk brake system common to a certain model car or truck? If not, then I am in the same boat or junk as before.

Perry
The Carlisle actuator has a self container reservoir.

The only difference between replacing everything for electric brakes and disc brakes, is the cost of the actuator.

I am not aware of the Kodiak disc brake pads being from another vehicle.

Also, disc brakes, not only being superior to electric brakes, they are also cheaper to maintain.

Andy
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:47 PM   #5
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1981 31' Excella II
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You can also easily inspect the pads for wear without having to remove the hubs. I usually inspect brakes when I rotate tires on cars. That is why I take loose wheels to the tire shop. I get a chance to inspect everything.

I may get new axels at some point. I have not gotten that far. I am at about the $10K mark on what I have in my trailer. I expect I will be close to $15k when done but I will have a good solid trailer that will last another 30yrs.

I like disk brakes. I am going to have to do some research on them. I expect that I can use standard car type calipers and adapt them to the trailer as long as I have a way to actuate them. I can't imagine the trailer guys not using some sort of standard caliper. Disks are smoother and more linear than drums and they are self adjusting so each wheel gets the same amount of braking force.

Unfortunately, I think drums are a lost art. They worked fine in their day but I think that the folks making them now days don't understand how they work. They copy and change things without knowing why it was done that way in the first place.

Perry
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