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Old 04-08-2012, 09:32 AM   #1
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1978 31' Excella 500
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Vacuum brakes

I have recently purchased a 1978 31 Excella trailer with vaccum assisted brakes. My Ford F250 diesel doesn't offer much manifold vacuum, so I will need to add a suction/vacuum pump to power the brakes. Can anyone tell me about the required capacity for such a pump, or recommend a particular pump that has worked for them?
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:40 AM   #2
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Couple of options for you, some diesels can have a cam driven vacuum pump installed.
You can install an electric over hydraulic pump to operate the disc, Carlisle makes a decent one, there are others
You can install a 12v Vacuum pump on the trailer, there is a vacuum storage tank under the floor, keep vacuum available for the system.
Convert to electric brakes and drums.

Greg
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:07 AM   #3
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conversion to electric brakes

This is the route that I took. It is cheap and can be done in an afternoon.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:20 AM   #4
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Also if you convert to electric brakes your system will be compatible with almost anything you need to hook to. The old vacuum system is pretty much an orphan.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:21 AM   #5
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You can also convert to an electric actuator for your disc brakes. The Dexter actuators are available from Airstream. You can remove the booster and master cylinder, and all the vacuum hoses, and install the electric actuator in its place. It will work from the signal from the brake controller on your truck
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNMARDALL View Post
I have recently purchased a 1978 31 Excella trailer with vaccum assisted brakes. My Ford F250 diesel doesn't offer much manifold vacuum, so I will need to add a suction/vacuum pump to power the brakes. Can anyone tell me about the required capacity for such a pump, or recommend a particular pump that has worked for them?
Using a vacuum pump, is a very bad idea.

In the past, when someone has done that, three applications of the brakes, totally uses all the vacuum, and then you have ZERO brakes.

Converting to electric brakes, is going backwards in the safety that your disc brakes offer.

An easy, but not entirely cheap fix, is to replace the actuator that's behind the LPG bottles, with a current style actuator. No vacuum needed and the disc brakes will work as good as ever.

Several owners have made that conversion, and they are all happy that they did.

Stay with the discs. Your family will be glad you did.

Andy

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Old 04-08-2012, 01:21 PM   #7
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I agree with what Andy said and did replace my vacuum/hydraulic actuator with a Carlisle 1600 electric/hydraulic unit installed behind the propane tanks. The original Ausco rotors I'm told are not available anymore but the brake pads are. Provided that your rotors and calipers are in good shape, you can get many more years of reliable service from them.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:08 PM   #8
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John

The other posters are correct that the vacuum system is obsolete and should be replaced with something else.

Current production Airstream trailers all ship with electric brakes. I would guess that the cheapest and most straightforward thing you could do would be to replace the existing brake system with electric backing plates and drums. You can check prices on etrailer.com but I'm guessing it will be around a $600 project all together.

If the calipers, lines, hoses, and rotors are in good condition you could also consider the electric actuators. There's the potential for better braking performance and less maintenance. On the other hand some members have run into a variety of difficult problems with controller compatibility, getting the brakes bled completely, and line failures due to abrasion from tires or suspension components.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:44 PM   #9
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As of now (granted no mountain towing yet) - the disc on my 2009 25 footer and drums on my 30 footer feel and appear to work about the same....

So, maybe electric drums are not as bad as I feared they would be!?
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:25 PM   #10
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If you go with a vacuum pump you can add a vacuum tank to increase the system capacity. Also, if you do opt to scrap the system, put the parts up for grabs on the forum, they are hard to come by these days.
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:29 PM   #11
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If you go with a vacuum pump you can add a vacuum tank to increase the system capacity.
That three times and the vacuum is gone, "IS" using the tank that came with the Airstream equipped disc brakes. Doubling the tank capacity, made very little difference.

Granted, maybe a 10 gasllon tank would work better, but where would you install it?

When it comes to brakes, GUESSING should never be in the formula. Facts and nothing more.

Also, disc brakes do not fade like electric brakes.

Andy
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:38 PM   #12
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It seems that everyone is making the assumption that the brakes are Disc brakes,is this indeed true. It will depend on which brakes they are before a solution can be suggested.
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:47 PM   #13
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It seems that everyone is making the assumption that the brakes are Disc brakes,is this indeed true. It will depend on which brakes they are before a solution can be suggested.
The vacuum assisted brakes are indeed disc brakes.

They were basically standard on many of the Excella models.

Andy
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:29 PM   #14
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Also, disc brakes do not fade like electric brakes.

Andy
True, but it's not the electric actuators that are the cause of the fading, it's the drum brakes.

-Hans
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