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Old 09-05-2010, 02:29 PM   #1
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Vacuum Brakes

I'm inquiring about a '77 Trade Winds 800 miles from my home and the seller said the trailer has vacuum brakes. I know nothing about those and am wondering how invovled it would be to hook those brakes up properly to my 2003 3/4 ton Dodge Diesel for the trip home. Also, on a different subject, is towing a 4200 pound trailer without a weight distribution setup OK? I presently tow a 10,000+ pound toy hauler trailer with all the right equipment but the smaller AS might have to be towed home without all that.

Also, Is there anyone on the forum in the Nevada City, CA area who could take a look at the trailer for me if I get to that point?

Thanks
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:54 PM   #2
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I had the same problem with my 77. Nobody will touch the vacuum system or attempt to add vacuum to your tow vehicle. It probably needs new axles (mine did) and the axles come with electric drum assemblies. That would be your best and cheapest bet. Around $1500 complete with installation.
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:06 PM   #3
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I'm inquiring about a '77 Trade Winds 800 miles from my home and the seller said the trailer has vacuum brakes. I know nothing about those and am wondering how invovled it would be to hook those brakes up properly to my 2003 3/4 ton Dodge Diesel for the trip home. Also, on a different subject, is towing a 4200 pound trailer without a weight distribution setup OK? I presently tow a 10,000+ pound toy hauler trailer with all the right equipment but the smaller AS might have to be towed home without all that.

Also, Is there anyone on the forum in the Nevada City, CA area who could take a look at the trailer for me if I get to that point?

Thanks
The original disc brake system is great.

However, it must have a source of vacuum in order to function.

Down grading to electric brakes, is a giant step "backwards".

You can change out the actuator, that's behind the LPG bottles, with a new style that "does not" need a source of vacuum.

That would save you considerable money, and still allow you to use the disc brakes.

Even if by chance you need new axles, changing out the actuator, is the best way to go.

Andy
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Old 09-05-2010, 06:05 PM   #4
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Thanks Andy. Where would I find the needed actuator and can a non-mechanical person change it out easily?
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Old 09-05-2010, 06:43 PM   #5
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Thanks Andy. Where would I find the needed actuator and can a non-mechanical person change it out easily?
A instruction manual comes with a new actuator.

Couple of ordinary tools, a lttle time and it's done.

Andy
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:43 PM   #6
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Andy,
Thanks for the PM!!
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:38 PM   #7
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Andy is correct about replacing the actuator. In fact that is what his shop did for my brakes and they work great. I debated with his staff whether or not to replace the original disc brakes with either electric drums or new discs. Since my trailer was my parent's trailer and I knew the repair history on it and knew the condition of the discs and calipers, I decided to keep them.

I saw the trailer you are looking at in Nevada City on craigslist and the axles look to be sitting low. You are at a disadvantage as you can not physically see the trailer. If the brake system is "all there" then the electric actuator is a good option for you. I believe the calipers can no longer be replaced although brake pads are available. Andy would know for sure. That being said, if you are planning to buy this trailer and tow it 800 miles over the Sierras back home my thought was that getting electric drums would be the easiest route. There has been debate on these boards in other threads about whether or not the original discs are worth saving or not and their safety vs newer disc systems. I concluded they are worth saving and safe.

It appears to me that the majority of people on these boards who purchase a 70s AS with the original discs replace them with electric drums. Ultimately it all comes down to how much money you want to spend to have your trailer in the condition you want. You may decide that you want to put your repair dollars towards the interior improvements or exterior polishing over 33 year old disc brakes? I spent the money to retain the brakes and am not sorry.

It would be most helpful to you if someone who knows something about the disc brakes could inspect the trailer for you. Nobody likes surprises and unforseen repairs. Good luck to you whichever way you choose.
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:23 PM   #8
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Doug, what is that you see that makes you say the axles are sitting low?
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:51 PM   #9
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Using my 77 as a guide and knowing how low it sat to the ground before replacing the axles, the trade wind appears to be sitting about as low as mine was. If you look at my images under my avatar and look at the bottom picture, you will see that the blue beltline trim of the trailer sat below the top of the tire rims like the trade wind. The rear end of the trailer was constantly bottoming out every time I pulled out of a driveway or went through a dip in the road. Using Andy's axle inspection guide on his website, I saw that my axle arms were slighly above parallel to the ground, in other words pointing upward instead of downward. The top image shows my trailer with new axles and the beltline trim is sitting slightly above the rims. My trailer sits a good 4 inches higher than before and I just finished a 1000 mile trip and the rear end never touched the ground once. Because rubber degrades over time, a 33 year axle is bound to be shot regardless of how many or few miles traveled. That was my basis for saying that. I have several missing interior rivets to confirm the axles were shot. I'm lucky I did not have frame sag. The trade wind is much shorter and lighter and if its axles are truly shot, might not be as susceptible to damage from worn axles.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:25 PM   #10
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Yes, I do see the difference in your last and first pictures. I think I've seen lots worse sagging on For Sale Airstreams than on the Nevada City one, but I'll read up more on what to look for. But, If I need new axles anyway, don't they come with new brakes?
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:29 PM   #11
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Yes, I do see the difference in your last and first pictures. I think I've seen lots worse sagging on For Sale Airstreams than on the Nevada City one, but I'll read up more on what to look for. But, If I need new axles anyway, don't they come with new brakes?
Replacement axles can be order "bare" or "complete".

Complete means with brakes, either standard electric or self adjusting electric, bearings, hub and drums.

Complete can also mean with a disc brake setup.

Andy
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:58 PM   #12
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There are trailers in worse shape out there for sure. Have you officially bought it? The axles can come either bare or with brakes.
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:33 AM   #13
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Thanks guys!!
No, I haven't bought the trailer. I've only had one communication with the seller. He sounds a little vague and thinks the 8 year old tires look just fine. I really hope to find one closer to home. I'm realizing how much I need to learn. I've had three new RVs in my life. Vintage is all new to me.
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:45 AM   #14
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Thanks guys!!
No, I haven't bought the trailer. I've only had one communication with the seller. He sounds a little vague and thinks the 8 year old tires look just fine. I really hope to find one closer to home. I'm realizing how much I need to learn. I've had three new RVs in my life. Vintage is all new to me.
8 year old tires are DONE even if they 'look good'.
Neil.
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