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Old 06-25-2007, 12:50 PM   #1
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New brakes running hot!

We got an enclosed trailer to haul all of our Burning Man stuff. The trailer has electric brakes and they are running real hot. What I mean is that just driving down the road with the brake controller turned all the way down the drums and spindles get damn hot. I measured the drums at 400+ degrees on one side and 300 degrees on the other. The spindles themselves are running 250 and 200 respectively.

We put 130 miles on the trailer and stopped ever 30 miles or so, wherever we found a rest stop and I used an optical pyrometer to check the drum and spindle temps so that is how I know how hot they got. We first discovered this when we were taking the trailer home. We stopped and I could smell the brakes.

On the hottest drum I backed the brakes off a couple of clicks but it made no difference.

i think what is happening is that the electromagnets are being forced on the drum a little too hard and that is what is actually heating things up, not the brake shoes themselves necessarily.
Has anybody else had a problem like this with brand spanking new brakes?
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Old 06-25-2007, 12:57 PM   #2
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I have seen it, but not to this extent. Have you tried unplugging the umbilical from the tow vehicle? It is possible there is a short, or a wire is miswired, or touching inside the plug. If you can do this without running the risk of getting rear-ended, try unplugging, and drive a few miles. You will know almost immediately if the brakes start to cool off.
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Old 06-25-2007, 02:12 PM   #3
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You say NEW BRAKES. My first consideration would be the brakes were adjusted TOO TIGHT. If you can jack up the trailer and spin each wheel. They should spin freely and turn about 1 rev after you let go. If they do not spin back off on the adjusters until they do spin freely. Once they spin freely adjust them while turning the wheel until they just will not turn. Then back off the adjuster 3 or 4 clicks. Go down the road and check for heat. New brakes need to be adjusted a couple of times when first installed to seat the shoes to the drums. If adjusted too tight at first they will heat up. In the old days we used to grind the shoes to fit the drums but someone got excited about asbestos dust so no more grind in.

Another problem can be who's brakes are they? If the are Kelsey Hayes get rid of them and get a set of Dexters. KH uses only one spring as the shoe return system and they do not work. The single spring will return the forward shoe against the anchor pin while leaving the trailing shoe Jamed into the drum thus HEAT.

Unless voltage is being applied to the magnets I doubt they are the problem. If you do suspect this jack up the trailer while hooked to the TV and try and spin a wheel. If it does not spin disconnect the umbilical and tr again. If the wheel now spins voltage is being applied from somewhere.
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Old 06-25-2007, 06:43 PM   #4
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I agree with HowieE. The controller and the magnets are not the prob - the brakes are dragging all the time.

I would use my brake spoon - but without that, a wide screwdriver will do - and back the brakes off tremendously; not just a few clicks. After all - if your brakes are that hot, they won't work when you need them anyway.

If you have the time - and you should take it - go into a tire shop and jack up one side at a time. Spin the wheel and adjust until you hear just the slightest drag - then you are set.

Backing them off completely is better than risking a fire from overheating.

Pat
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Old 06-25-2007, 10:32 PM   #5
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Hi Buttercup

I had a similar problem and it was magnets dragging against the drum. I was doing brake replacements and did not want to take a chance on the "wrong parts", so ordered complete backing plates through our Airstream Dealer. The dealer ordered from Henschen, so I thought I should be ok. They acted up from the time I installed them - it was obvious something was dragging and they were getting way hot. When I tore them back down, the magnet had turned blue from the heat. I took one of the new plates off and set it side by side with one of the old plates - looked the same at first glance but when I started making some measurements, there was a difference in the depth of the plates. Long story short, I ended up ordering new Dexter drums and backing plates from a local horse trailer outfit and have not had a problem since. I've always had good luck with Dexter parts and if you call them with questions they will connect you right to one of their engineers. The other part I like is the Dexter's were stamped made in USA unlike the dealer parts that were stamped China. Good luck with yours.
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Old 06-26-2007, 12:31 AM   #6
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O.K. as a test I will back the brakes WAY OFF! and see what happens. That seems like a nice middle of the road approch. Besides, I have not towed with this trailer enough to know how it will respond in varied conditions. I would rather know that some brakes will be available to me if I need them.
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Old 06-26-2007, 10:08 PM   #7
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Here is an update - all ran cool after I backed the brakes off about 5+ turns each. I suspect the cheap version - one return spring, and the brakes were hanging on after released.
Now they sort of clank when released so I will start to adjust back a little and see if I can find a happy medium...
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Old 06-26-2007, 10:49 PM   #8
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I'm glad your hot running brakes did not cause a fire and burn you or your trailer up.

Are you going back to the firm that improperly installed your brakes and light their "brakes shoes" up? If not, please publish their names so I can avoid them in the furture.
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:57 AM   #9
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This is an Interstate trailer - standard 6x14 foot single axel model. I am going to start increasing the turns on the brakes to the point where they don't heat up but engage better. I think they were just misadjusted and yes they are cheap brakes and only one return spring. Maybe I can do something about that....
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:04 AM   #10
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Come on. If you suspect you have single spring return brakes it's time to remove a drum and check. If they are single spring they will never work right. If they are double spring then they were just missadjusted. In either case you need to see what shape the shoes are in, are they glazed over or cracked from the heat, are the drums discolored from the heat.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttercup
This is an Interstate trailer - standard 6x14 foot single axel model. I am going to start increasing the turns on the brakes to the point where they don't heat up but engage better. I think they were just misadjusted and yes they are cheap brakes and only one return spring. Maybe I can do something about that....
You can probably get Dexter loaded backing plates for about $65 each, and you will then know what you have. Are they 10" brakes?
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Old 06-27-2007, 10:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE
Come on. If you suspect you have single spring return brakes it's time to remove a drum and check. If they are single spring they will never work right. If they are double spring then they were just missadjusted. In either case you need to see what shape the shoes are in, are they glazed over or cracked from the heat, are the drums discolored from the heat.
No, I know they are single spring - I did pop off the drum already. In fact it was the first thing I did. The rear facing shoe was black and burnt and the front show was tan (mostly) so I first suspected that the magnet was being forced against the drum a little too tightly causing the brakes to be partially applied all the time.
but yesturday when I was backing them off I did some testing. I backed off a couple of clicks and then spun the wheel (it was already quite free) and applied the brakes. Once released the wheel was no longer as free. It was rubbing a little again. So I backed off more and tried again. This time no sticking. So I backed off about 5 turns. I wanted to be sure they were backed off. They ran cool this time.
Yes, they are 10" drums.
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Old 06-27-2007, 11:17 AM   #13
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Sounds like it's time for a disc brake conversion...
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Old 06-27-2007, 11:19 AM   #14
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Good job, Buttercup.
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