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Old 05-12-2005, 10:31 AM   #1
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Surge brakes

Surge type hydraulic brakes are a no no, for travel trailers, especially for Airstream and Argosy trailers.

Since both of those trailers are fairly aerodynamically clean, they offer little resistance to towing them at high speeds.

That being the case, it is extremely important to be able to apply trailer brakes only, should a sway occur.

Surge brakes, "WILL NOT" allow you to do that.

Andy
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Old 05-12-2005, 02:49 PM   #2
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Actually surge brakes will apply in a very gradual way once the driver of the tow vehicle takes his foot off the gas. As in coasting. Properly set up surge brakes will apply in a coasting situation to remove sway at highway speeds.

Or one could tap the tow vehicle brakes for added stopping force to the towed load.

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Old 05-12-2005, 03:20 PM   #3
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Another problem with Surge systems it keeping them from overheating on long down grades, especially those that are very steep. The only way to keep them from applying is to accelerate which in most cases is the oposite of what you're ttrying to do.-- Pieman
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Old 05-12-2005, 04:17 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mike Lewis
Another problem with Surge systems it keeping them from overheating on long down grades, especially those that are very steep. The only way to keep them from applying is to accelerate which in most cases is the oposite of what you're ttrying to do.-- Pieman
Hello Pieman,

please help me in understanding how an electric brake works. We overhere have only surgebrakes and electric brakes are unknown...

When we tow our gliderplanetrailer thru the Mountains we use a combination between motorbrake of the TV and the trailer surgebrake. If you use the motorbrake the surgebrake receives not fullpower (it gets warm but not too hot), when the car-trailer combo get too fast then we brake with the TV and the surgebrake brakes more, unless the carbrakes are loosend.

So my question is, how do you brake downhill? Does your trailer brake the whole time? Or do you switch between the car and the trailerbrakes?? If you use just one of both they should get hot (in my understanding).

If I understood the way a brakecontroller works, right, then you can give more power to the trailerbrake just as you need it. So do you level the brakepower downhill more to the rear?

Am I missing something?

Thanks for help!

Bjoern
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Old 05-12-2005, 04:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Pschoerrn
Hello Pieman,

please help me in understanding how an electric brake works. We overhere have only surgebrakes and electric brakes are unknown...

When we tow our gliderplanetrailer thru the Mountains we use a combination between motorbrake of the TV and the trailer surgebrake. If you use the motorbrake the surgebrake receives not fullpower (it gets warm but not too hot), when the car-trailer combo get too fast then we brake with the TV and the surgebrake brakes more, unless the carbrakes are loosend.

So my question is, how do you brake downhill? Does your trailer brake the whole time? Or do you switch between the car and the trailerbrakes?? If you use just one of both they should get hot (in my understanding).

If I understood the way a brakecontroller works, right, then you can give more power to the trailerbrake just as you need it. So do you level the brakepower downhill more to the rear?

Am I missing something?

Thanks for help!

Bjoern
Bjorn, (sorry, no umlaut key on a US keyboard) the electric brakes don't apply until you step on the brake pedal. Electric brakes use a sensor that is wired into the stoplights of the tow vehicle. Then, the pendulum allows more electricity to go to the brake magnet, which is forced against the inside of the flat part of the brake drum. A lever takes that force, and spreads the brake shoes against the round part of the drum, stopping the trailer.
If you are going downhill, the pendulum will swing farther front, incresaing stopping electricity. You don't level the brake power because going downhill, you need more anyway.
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Old 05-12-2005, 04:55 PM   #6
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My understanding is that electric brakes are illegal in Europe. So all travel trailers in Europe, including Airstreams, have surge brakes. But I am no expert on this!

FWIW: I had a German exchange student living with me earlier this year ("had" is a key word involving quite a story for another day, preferably with lots of beer to deaden the pain!). I visited her parents in Germany last fall. Her dad has a trailer ("caravan"). He was the one who told me that caravan's must have surge brakes. Here is a photo of their older SOB:
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Old 05-12-2005, 05:07 PM   #7
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Terrific slide outs.

Leave it to the Europeans for one upmanship.

Hey, whatever works.

Now if we could only get all of them to drive on our side of the street.

Andy
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:05 PM   #8
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Gee, what side of the street do Europeans drive on?

Here's some info on European driving requirements:

Trailers manufactured after October 1982, which require brakes, must be fitted with a braking system complying with EC Directives. Since 1989 only auto reversing brakes comply.

It is vitally important that the trailer coupling and the trailer brakes are compatible.

If brakes are required they must be fitted on all road wheels. Linings must be Asbestos free.

Trailers manufactured after October 1982 must be fitted with a coupling, which includes a hydraulic damper.

Spring overrun couplings can be fitted as a replacement item on Pre 1982 trailers.

All road going trailers/caravans must have a suspension system fitted between the wheels and the chassis frame except for Agricultural trailers used at speeds of less than 20 MPH and trailers used solely for hauling felled trees.

Tires must be capable of carrying the gross load of trailer Do not mix Radial and Bias Ply on the trailer

Current legislation on tire wear applicable to vehicles is also applicable to trailers.

Tire pressures should be as recommended by the manufacturer. A comprehensive guide is given in the Technical Section.

All radial tyres must be `E` marked.

Retread tires must comply with BSAU1446 and be so marked.

All trailers/caravans must be fitted with mudguards to catch grit and dirt and reduce spray thrown up by the wheels unless the body of the trailer gives adequate protection.

All trailers and caravans must be fitted with an approved style numberplate bearing the same number as the towing vehicle.

If brakes are fitted they must be in working order. Even on trailers where brakes are not compulsory.
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Old 05-12-2005, 08:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pschoerrn
Hello Pieman,

please help me in understanding how an electric brake works. We overhere have only surgebrakes and electric brakes are unknown...

When we tow our gliderplanetrailer thru the Mountains we use a combination between motorbrake of the TV and the trailer surgebrake. If you use the motorbrake the surgebrake receives not fullpower (it gets warm but not too hot), when the car-trailer combo get too fast then we brake with the TV and the surgebrake brakes more, unless the carbrakes are loosend.

So my question is, how do you brake downhill? Does your trailer brake the whole time? Or do you switch between the car and the trailerbrakes?? If you use just one of both they should get hot (in my understanding).

If I understood the way a brakecontroller works, right, then you can give more power to the trailerbrake just as you need it. So do you level the brakepower downhill more to the rear?

Am I missing something?

Thanks for help!

Bjoern
Pschoerrn----My comment about surge brakes resulted from a trailer I was towing in some Mountains. I would down shift the TV to use engine braking . With the weight of the trailer pushing the tow vehicle the trailer brakes were constantly applyed unless I would accelerate and pull away from the weight of the trailer. Electric brakes, {drum type}, work almost exactly like the parking brake on an auto except they are not actuated by pulling a lever with a cable. Rather than a cable there is an electro magnent that is attached to the lever. When the magnet is energized the magnet is attracted to the side of the rotating drum and is pulled in the direction of rotation applying the brakes in the same way the cable would if it was a mechanical parking brake.
The strength of the magnetic attraction is controled by current that varys. That comes from a brake controler in the tow vehicle. ----sorry for the lengthly explain. but thats' as simple as I can explain it---Pieman
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Old 05-12-2005, 11:40 PM   #10
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Surge barkes do have some use. One of my college buddies is a part-time farmer now. He has surge brakes on most of his agricultural trailers. I have never paid close attention to them as my minor was not horticulture when I was in college!
Every Airstream and Argosy I have owned, (on my fourth now), has always had electric brakes.
I do know the dynamics behind them. I can see that overheating can be a problem on a grade.
Don't know why this thread was started. I have not seen or known of anyone even wanting to put surge brakes on a travel trailer of any kind in the last 22 years.
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Old 05-12-2005, 11:55 PM   #11
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Don't know why this thread was started. I have not seen or known of anyone even wanting to put surge brakes on a travel trailer of any kind in the last 22 years.
There are several contributors here from Europe, and I enjoy reading about what they can (and can't) use.
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:06 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by markdoane
There are several contributors here from Europe, and I enjoy reading about what they can (and can't) use.
I was commenting on HOW the thread got started. Not WHY it is still going. Selective editing is awesome.
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:20 AM   #13
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Did you edit, or did someone else edit? Your post said you didn't know WHY it was started, and now the question is HOW it was started. Two different meanings.

The why it's still going is people are interested in the topic.

Confusioned I am.
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:32 AM   #14
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I am sorry. You are correct.
The question should be HOW it got started.
Strange but true.
I have been following this thread only because of Bjoern and his insight.
I have spent considerable amounts of time in Italy and Germany. I have travelled with a colleague using his trailer, uh caravan, from Turin, Italy up through France and Germany. We then came back down and went to bootheel of Italy. I loved it but there is nothing like home.
I never paid attention to his brakes or his trailer too much. I was awed by camping in what semed like a totally different world! Too awesome.
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