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Old 07-20-2003, 10:05 PM   #1
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Surge brake

On my 18' er I have hydraulic brakes. I have been thinking about the idea of changing my hitch to a surge brake and just keep the original hydraulic setup. I need thoughts and input from other members before I lop off the original hitch.

thanks
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Old 07-21-2003, 01:21 AM   #2
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Surge brake

Greetings Bugs!

While the surge brakes meet the legal requirements for trailer brakes, they do leave something to be desired in terms of performance in today's driving conditions (IMHO). The one thing that constantly worried me when I was towing a surged-brake car hauler with one of my prized collector cars was what would happen if I needed an emergency application of trailer brakes independent of the tow vehicle brakes - - surge brakes do not support this so about the only way to deal with "yaw" or "sway" is to accellerate out of it (if that is possible under the then existing conditions). Another issue to consider is the availability of parts - - since it seems that the vast majority of RVs have electric brakes it should be far easier to find a service technician familiar with electric trailer brakes when compared to surge brakes - - you would also be acquiring another hydraulic system to maintain. Something that bothered me, but friends who owned the car hauler that I borrowed say is something you become accustomed to, was the tendency of the surge brake to be inconsistent in their application when driving in city traffic - - to me they were VERY jerky when driving in heavy rush hour traffic - - traffic that wouldn't have adversely affected the electric brakes on my travel trailers.

Unless something has changed, my understanding was that utilizing a weight distributing hitch with surge brakes effectively disabled them because the weight distributing bars would limit the amount of fore/aft movement of the coupler on the ball.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin
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Old 07-22-2003, 02:52 AM   #3
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Surge brake - emergency strategy

Greetings forum,

Kevin suggested to accelerate out of a sway situation (referring to a surge brake equipted trailer set up).
Let me remark that _all_ european, korean and japanese brands of tow vehicles I have driven (approx. 5 or 6) - plus all "official" institutions (car and rv mags, german equivilant (typo?) of AAA etc.) - recommend NOT TO accelerate in sway situation (with the surge trailer brakes that are mandatory here in Euroope).
It is allways recommended to brake if sway occurs. This refers to all type of rig configurations I have heard of (sedans, vans and 4x4 - trailer weight up to 7500 lbs.) - also my Air Force driving instructor (for the 15 ton 6x6 trucks) recommended to brake (woulnd't accelerate much, anyway).

Hence, I would suggest to reconsider accelerating.

Also, my father commented on the concept of the trailer braking more/earlier than the truck that this is a dangerous one.
It is not realistical to ajust simple controllers (e.g. inertia type etc.) in such a manner that the trailer will not lock up _before_ the tow vehicle.
This lock up would be the worst case (rig will jack-knife)!

He was head of the world-wide service of the world's leading truck brake manufacturer, btw ;-)

just my 2 cents* (*: yes, we have em, too!)

BTW: Great forum - even for a wannabee, like me
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Old 07-22-2003, 08:57 AM   #4
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The first car trailer I had was equipped with surge brakes. After one year with the trailer I sold it and ordered a new trailer with electric brakes. One problem is to back up you have to get out of the tow vehicle and lock out the surge brakes otherwise as you start to backup you lock up the trailer barkes. The second issue is in hilly country or the mountains as you start downhill the trailer tries to catch the tow vehicle and applies the brakes and jerks the tow vehicle and then releases the brakes and does this over and over all the way down the hill.

Jim
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Old 07-22-2003, 01:54 PM   #5
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Most boat trailers that have brakes use surge type. Due water and electricity not mixing well surge brakes work well for that application. And like most things in life, if you maintain it and get used to it, the thing actually works.

I tow a 26' boat and trailer that weighs 7500 #'s. It has surge brakes. So this is what I know. It never sways. And unlike a travel trailer, most of the weight is in the rear. Also tongue weight is for the most part less than a travel trailer. - A weight distributing hitch can be used with surge brakes. Dico used to have a set up. From the boating mags that I have read, it's a pain in the rear. - Traveling in reverse can activate the brakes. And there is a way to drive (as in easy does it!) with out too much issues. - You will not have independant operation of the trailer brakes from the tow rig. And braking of the trailer is automatic based on speed of the tow vehicle vs trailer.

Tongue weight for travel trailer = 8 to 12% of total weight.
Tongue weight for boat trailer = 5 to 8% of total weight.

It can work and will it be as good as electric, not sure. Due to weights and applications I would think that there is a reason that Airstream switched to electric brakes. And with enough caution you could operate with the original equipment.

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Old 07-22-2003, 06:50 PM   #6
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thanks

Thanks for the input guys. I will definitely reconsider the conversion. I still havent found out how the original hydraulic brakes were actuated....I ve found the master cylinder but that is controlled by a hand lever...any ideas.
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:35 AM   #7
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Uhhhhhhhh.....

Have someone ride on the trailer, and when you give the hand signal they pull the lever?

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Old 07-23-2003, 09:32 AM   #8
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when you give the hand signal they pull the lever?

Go modern, tell them to watch the brake lights. It's a great way to check reaction time.

DavidZ posted some pictures of his vacuum hookup. That same thread has quite a bit of other good info. Search on surge or vacuum brakes, several members have them.

John
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