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Old 07-15-2008, 12:25 AM   #1
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What would happen to trailer brakes if the engine dies suddenly?

Hello,

My tow vehicle had started to behave erratically recently. A couple of times over the last week, I experienced the engine to die suddenly while cruising on highway, and the vehicle would lose all the power for power-assisted brakes & steering. The wheels becomes quite heavy to turn, the brake pedal hard as rock to step on. Both times I would somehow manage to pull over by summoning all my arm/leg strength to steer and stop. Very scary.

According to the car dealership, the ECU board was fried (how?) and needed to be replaced. So I had it replaced and the repair performed... yet there's no way for me to know if it will not happen again.

If the tow vehicle experiences a similar case of total power loss while towing my airstream (07, 28' Intenational CCD), what would happen? Would the electric trailer brake engage?

Thanks for your attention.
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:26 AM   #2
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Good question...I believe though, that as long as your ignition switch is still in the run position, you will still have power to the trailer brake circuit...

However, since the alternator is not operating with the engine stalled, your braking 'power' would then depend on the strength of your battery...and for normal situations, I still believe your trailer brakes would function properly...sure hope I never have to 'test' that therory....
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:38 AM   #3
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hi astro' and welcome to the forums...

r u pulling a 2007 twentyeight FOOOOOOOOOOT stream...

with a 1999 grand cherokee?

i'm NO mechanic, but to answer your question about the trailer brakes activating...

1. turn the ignition OFF, while parked.
2. have an assistant depress the brake pedal then do 3, 4, 5 or 6...
3. check the 7 pin with a voltmeter (power and brake prongs)
4. listen to the drum brakes, or
5. check the trailer brake lights or
6. jack up one side and try to spin the wheels
7. with the ignition still OFF try using the manual lever for the brake controller too...

i suspect the brake pedal WILL activate trailer brakes, even in the off position but NOT the manual lever...

and the tv brakes will continue to function also, just not the power/assist feature.

the trailer brakes can receive power from trailer battery, so all the tv needs to provide is a 'signal' for braking...

again, a grand cherokee and a 28 ft trailer that could weigh up to 7400 lbs and have a 900+lb hitch?

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:31 AM   #4
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We are talking about electric drum brakes I assume...
The trailer brakes would still work through the brake controller which is independent of the ignition switch. The unit is always hot. One problem is the signal to my prodigy only knows if you hit the brakes or not. It applies power to the trailer brakes in proportion to vehicle's deceleration. If I understand this correctly, if the truck is not stopping only minimal braking will be performed by the brake controller. At this point the manual lever on the brake controller would be your best option and this will still be functioning.

I have to disagree with the previous statement that the trailer battery would help the braking. Based on the wiring of my trailer, the only way that the trailer power is going to the brakes is in the event the brake away switch has been engaged.

I would also share the concern of a GC pulling that big of a trailer or maybe I mean a GC stopping that big of a trailer...
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:31 AM   #5
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As long as you have power 24/7 to your electric brake box you will have stopping power. It should be wired this way for safety.
The only problem is that you will lose vacuum to the power brake booster in the tow vehicle if the engine actually stalls. Then your going to have to push the brake pedal with all your muscles to get the vehicle to slow down. You could also help yourself by manually depressing the brake lever on the trailer brake box.
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:50 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies, folks.

It's good to know that I can just flick my finger and activate my trailer's brake anytime that I choose to.


---------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post

r u pulling a 2007 twentyeight FOOOOOOOOOOT stream... with a 1999 grand cherokee?

...again, a grand cherokee and a 28 ft trailer that could weigh up to 7400 lbs and have a 900+lb hitch?
Darn it, I was hoping not to call attention to this fact... and it's my 1st post, and I get caught with it

Well, I did pull my new 28' from a dealership to my home for 5 hours a few weeks ago with my Jeep Grand Cherokee. The facts are: the vehicle is V8 rated to tow 6500 lbs, the trailer is 5600 lbs @ Dry, Hensley-Arrow hitch, stiffened rear suspension with airbags, tires with good sidewalls, Prodigy brake controller. Neverthless the wheelbase is short @ 105.9, and the vehicle only weighs about 4000 lbs.

The discussion on this calls for a new thread, which I'm not exactly ready for at this time.

I appreciate your concerns, and I've read up and thought hard about what I'm doing. The 5-hour drive home was my first time pulling a large trailer, and my heart raced when I was pulling up & coming down the Tejon Pass on I-5. But I believe the TV + trailer combo performed well, and was under control at all times.

I've looked into buying a new truck, and I'm now taking time deciding if it is what I really need for my lifestyle and for the rare occasions to pull my trailer.

Again, thanks.

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Old 07-15-2008, 09:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
It's good to know that I can just flick my finger and activate my trailer's brake anytime that I choose to.
that makes for a nice backup, too. Instead of having to pile on the brake pedal, you can bring the rig to a stop with the manual trailer brake over-ride in many cases.

Quote:
The discussion on this calls for a new thread, which I'm not exactly ready for at this time.
amazing how this topic touches some folks nerves. Good move setting it aside until you have your asbestos suit and related equipment ready.

I hope the new ECU fixes your problem. A 'dead stick' landing in a modern vehicle is no fun. It does provide the opportunity to see just how much power assist there is in your vehicle control. Maybe that's a stimulus for physical fitness as a RV driving prep activity?

Richard has it right, I think. As long as you have engine battery you should be able to activate the trailer brakes.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster View Post
...The trailer brakes would still work through the brake controller which is independent of the ignition switch. The unit is always hot...
well, that's how i would want it wired too...

but given these things are installed by aftermarket follks, it would be wise to confirm this,

before assuming the manual lever is hot always....

i'm not even sure the oem controller in the ford is wired this way, but i'll check it later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astroboy View Post
...Darn it, I was hoping not to call attention to this fact...
hey good info and it reads like u are working through the process.

payload is a big issue, the the tongue + haha maxes this out, before putting people or gear in the j'p...

so let us know how it goes, and stops!

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:16 AM   #9
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Trailer brakes.

Good example of what "can" happen to a tow vehicle.

For the benefit of those that are down grading their trailer brakes from 12 inch to 10 inch, lots of luck, should you esxperience tow vehicle brake failure.

Brakes are a extremely important safety device.

Down grading their ability to stop, the trailer AND tow vehicle, is pure foolishness.

But, is does save a couple of dollars.

Andy
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:52 AM   #10
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Sorry if this is hijacking but I need to ask Andy if he has actual proof, showing how much better 12" brakes stop than 10" brakes. You mention it all the time in other posts when it come to axles, regarding the brake size. I do not have actual numbers myself, but can honestly say the 10" brakes on my A/S will lock up the tires if the brake control box is turned up enough.

Derek
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnrtheil View Post
Sorry if this is hijacking but I need to ask Andy if he has actual proof, showing how much better 12" brakes stop than 10" brakes. You mention it all the time in other posts when it come to axles, regarding the brake size. I do not have actual numbers myself, but can honestly say the 10" brakes on my A/S will lock up the tires if the brake control box is turned up enough.

Derek

You don't need proof.

All you need is the manufacturers specs.

A set of 10 inch brakes has a maximum stopping power of 3500 pounds, or for a tandem 7000 pounds.

A set of 12 inch brakes has a maximum stopping power of 6000 pounds, or for a tandem, 12,000 pounds.

That extra 5,000 pounds that the 12 inch brakes provide, will also stop your tow vehicle.

With the tandem 10 inch brake setup, hold on to your hat, because you won't stop probably before it's too late.

Doesn't leave much to question, or to prove.

Locking up your tires, doesn't prove a thing.

The statement remains, that a pair of axles with 10 inch brakes can't begin to compare with the stopping power of 12 inch brakes, as per every brake manufacturer.

I don't ever want brakes "MAYBE", but I do want them "FOR DARN SURE".

Of course, the 10's are cheaper, but so is life, in some circles.

Andy
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Sorry if this is hijacking but I need to ask
let's not go there, please. It gets into some rather ticklish issues for folks here, like the disc brake advantages.

I think we should be able to agree that a 12" hub will provide more surface area for braking. That would imply a greater braking force and a greater heat dissipation ability.

That raises the question of how much you really need and that, in turn, leads to circumstances, conditions, and many other factors. In this case, we are talking about a single priority event. I don't think a difference of 20% is likely to be significant in this circumstance. 10" brakes may not be quite as effective as 12" but either is likely to be much more effective than trying to stop a vehicle after the power assist has gone.
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