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Old 04-04-2014, 10:42 AM   #1
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2008 19' Bambi
Largo , Florida
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want to keep the original brakes, what do I need to do?

I'm a newbie. I just bought my first airstream, `1976 Overlander 27' with original brake system.


It's my first trailer but my family has had them forever and I'm familiar with many things but second hand.


My intended towing car has a hitch but not yet the electricals setup so that's high on my list.


I'm really unfamiliar with the brake system of the 76 Airstream but I am assuming that I need something done to my car in order to hook it up. What do I need to do to the car to connect to the system and what's the brake connection needed?


The standard connection to brakes, turn signals is easy, but the trailer brakes I hear on the airstream is a different story now.


Elijah
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:19 AM   #2
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If it has electric brakes you will have no problems, just the need for an electric brake controller in your tow vehicle and the connections to the trailer. Very standard and most any RV dealer can help you if you don't want to do it yourself.

If the Airstream has vacuum disk brakes (which was an option about that time) good luck. From what I know, the parts are essentially unavailable and the hookup to the tow vehicle systems are almost impossible.

A '76 Airstream probably is in need of new axles anyway, and if you are going to keep it and restore it, you can get new axles and full brakes at the same time, and be safe and current on the running gear systems.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:03 PM   #3
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South of the river , Minnesota
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Hi Elijah

Idroba's advice is essentially correct

Some photos will help us determine what you have.

If you have the optional vacuum-assist disc brakes that were common during that era then it would be difficult to use them. There are a handful of Airforums members who have and use those but parts availability is poor and it is a system that was discontinued because it was widely regarded as too much trouble for what it's worth.

If you have electric brakes you can reuse them although you should pull the drums and inspect the magnets and mechanism. In many if not most cases where a trailer has been sitting for quite some time it is best to replace the backing plates, shoes, and magnet as an assembly. These are sold as "loaded backing plates," and using them gives you all new brake parts (except for the drums) and would eliminate most of the parts compatibility hassles.

The bearings should be inspected and repacked at the same time.

You will also need an electric trailer brake controller in the tow vehicle.

As idroba has pointed out you may need new axles, which would include new brakes.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:28 PM   #4
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2008 19' Bambi
Largo , Florida
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So you have really convinced me that my initial idea that I need to have it towed to a trailer shop is a good one. I'll have them inspect the axels and at least get new brakes for it.


The rig itself is in excellent shape, some little cosmetics and fortunately always a California trailer.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:41 PM   #5
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Mid 70s trailers used a different umbilical connector with round pins instead of the current blade connector with a center round connector. The umbilical on my 77 had to be rewired to connect to the tow vehicle. As for the brakes, if you have vacuum discs at minimum you will need to replace the original vacuum over hydraulic actuator behind the propane tanks with a modern electric over hydraulic unit. I am one of the "handful" of people who still use the original disc brakes. Inland RV sells the brake pads and I have acquired a pair of brake assemblies to scavenge parts from. Eventually I will have to convert to new disc brakes but I don't want to give up the original rims just yet. Modern disc systems won't work with the 70s aluminum rims. When I replaced my axles I had the choice of keeping the brakes and replacing the actuator for $600, converting to a new disc system with new rims plus actuator for over $2500 or switching to drum brakes that come with the axles for a fraction of the cost. I chose to keep the original brakes and replace the actuator.
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Old 07-11-2014, 08:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4RXLA View Post
. I chose to keep the original brakes and replace the actuator.
I just bought a 1978 Airstream Sovereign with the vacuum brakes. Can I keep the brakes (which are still working well)? I noticed you mentioned a new actuator? Could you share with us which system/brand it is?
Is it similar to the Hydrastar system?
Do you have any other suggestions to keep the original vacuum brakes?
Thank you in advance for your help!
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Old 07-11-2014, 09:55 PM   #7
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Replace the actuator with a new electric over hydraulic one, such as from Dexter. I replace the axles on both of my trailers last year and installed Kodiak disc brakes with the Dexter actuator. The brakes are fantastic.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattinv View Post
I just bought a 1978 Airstream Sovereign with the vacuum brakes. Can I keep the brakes (which are still working well)? I noticed you mentioned a new actuator? Could you share with us which system/brand it is?
Is it similar to the Hydrastar system?
Do you have any other suggestions to keep the original vacuum brakes?
Thank you in advance for your help!
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:48 PM   #8
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Hi Bill,
Thanks for the advice.
Is the Dexter Actuator compatible with a 2008 Chevy Tahoe?
I noticed that the HydraStar Actuator needs an additional Adapter Module to work with 2007+ Chevy.
Is removing the original vacuum system and installing the new Dexter Actuator (K71-651-00 E/H1600 I'm guessing) something that can easily be done? Or would you recommend taking it to a mechanic? I cannot tow the trailer as it is since I do not currently have a vehicle compatible with the vacuum brake system...
Thanks
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Old 07-11-2014, 11:18 PM   #9
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I believe that the Dexter actuator is compatible with any vehicle. I use a 1977 Lincoln Continental and a 1973 Dodge PowerWagon, both have Tekenosha P3 controllers which have both electric and hydraulic modes. The issue is more the brake controller than the vehicle. I am not familiar with the vacuum system. but the actuator receives an electric signal from the brake controller and electricity from the batteries to operate a pump which pushes the hydraulic fluid to the disc brakes. If you are comfortable with the electric connections and bleeding hydraulic brakes, then you should have no problems. I had Uwe at Area 63 run the brake lines and electric lines on my new brakes.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattinv View Post
Hi Bill,
Thanks for the advice.
Is the Dexter Actuator compatible with a 2008 Chevy Tahoe?
I noticed that the HydraStar Actuator needs an additional Adapter Module to work with 2007+ Chevy.
Is removing the original vacuum system and installing the new Dexter Actuator (K71-651-00 E/H1600 I'm guessing) something that can easily be done? Or would you recommend taking it to a mechanic? I cannot tow the trailer as it is since I do not currently have a vehicle compatible with the vacuum brake system...
Thanks
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http://billbethsblog.blogspot.com/
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