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Old 09-07-2017, 10:53 AM   #1
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Trailer Roll Over due to... drum brakes?

Before disc brakes for automobiles and trucks were... drum brakes.

On a light snow on the road surface or water... the drum brakes on my 1964 Corvette were an accident waiting to happen. Each brake wore differently and also preformed differently. One time on a light snow on the road surface, driver's ahead were 'hitting the brakes'. I did the tap and light braking to find myself spinning off the paved road into the median. Instantly.

With a couple of volunteers, they pushed and I was back on the road... but the recent Thread about THREE Airstream roll overs and tow vehicle reminding me of this incident. All it takes is ONE brake to lock before the other three (or one in the single axles) to cause uneven braking.

On a straight road, dry pavement... some blame the HITCH.
On a straight road, dry pavement... some blame the DRIVER.
On a straight road, dry pavement... I am now considering the DRUM BRAKES

We all remember when ONLY THE FRONT DISC BRAKES were possible and the rear brakes were left as Drum Brakes. Later it was determined that FOUR DISC BRAKES were best.

Considering our Airstreams are electric brake technology, disc brakes must become hydraulic actuated(?). I have seen disc brakes and axles installed in 2008 at Jackson Center, Ohio on trailers in their shop. So... can someone explain WHY not DISC Brakes... or is this the future 'new upgrade' on our and other brands of trailers?

In stop and go traffic, if you need to apply your brakes... hard, could this create a problem with the uneven braking of each wheel on a trailer being towed?

On I-25 between Castle Rock, Colorado and towards Colorado Springs the speed limit goes to 75mph. We have had three, and maybe more trailer roll overs on a straight road at Titan Road / I-25 south. It is now often, Stop and Go traffic, 75mph to 0 mph, then 45mph to 5mph... daily. Hmmm. Seeing a trailer on its side, jack knived in the median, straight dry road... gives me the idea that there is more than operator error working here.

Maybe the drum braking system used in ALL BRANDS (or most?) of trailers has something to do with this. Try hitting your brakes on your street at 5 or 10mph. One, two or NONE lock up? What do you say?
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Old 09-07-2017, 11:06 AM   #2
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Ray,

Glad no serious issue with the Vette and you.

My rig does have dexter 4 piston discs, factory installed. I think they are stronger than you'll ever need.

You do raise an interesting sidebar about how well and uniform drum brakes are working. I still stand by the statement that braking makes heat. Anybody care to dispute that?

Ok heat can be checked with an IR temp gun. No specific values look for uniformity. Cold drums are not contributing to braking and might create pull on trailer.

Want to test the pull theory?

Didn't think anybody would want to.

Gary
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Old 09-07-2017, 11:29 AM   #3
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The best you can do is keep the drum brakes adjusted properly. I do it at least 1x per year with the amount I travel. If properly adjusted they do seem to work well.
With the HAHA hitch I can tell when the brakes are out of adjustment. When coming to a stop you can see the front of the trailer move to one side. When this happens it's time to get out the brake spoon.
I thought seriously about disk brakes when I swapped in new axles but there was just no place to put the actuator. Also I assumed the calipers would likely get more rusty being exposed all the time vs the protection that a drum offers. My brother once had a pickup truck (2005) that was driven on every other weekend but stored in a pole barn. This truck had several sets of calipers over the 6 year period it was owned likely due to non-use.
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:24 PM   #4
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Drums are what you use when there is no alternative.

In terms of confidence: they sorta work.
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:25 PM   #5
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Ray I think you missed something. Drum brakes on a trailer are not supposed to lock up. Locked brakes become a skid hazard and the trailer is likely come around and kiss you where you don't want to be kissed.

As for trailers rolling over on a 75 mph road my first guess would be the driver was over driving his load and did not have stopping distance. This would cause a panic stopping with the TV brakes attempting to do too much of the job. The trailer goes into sway and then rolls over.

Unfortunately once the sway has started the driver doesn't have the distance required to get the trailer out of swaying before hitting the car in front of him and swerves thus increasing the problem.

Know your stopping distance at all speeds and don't drive into it.
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:46 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
Ray I think you missed something. Drum brakes on a trailer are not supposed to lock up. Locked brakes become a skid hazard and the trailer is likely come around and kiss you where you don't want to be kissed.

As for trailers rolling over on a 75 mph road my first guess would be the driver was over driving his load and did not have stopping distance. This would cause a panic stopping with the TV brakes attempting to do too much of the job. The trailer goes into sway and then rolls over.

Unfortunately once the sway has started the driver doesn't have the distance required to get the trailer out of swaying before hitting the car in front of him and swerves thus increasing the problem.

Know your stopping distance at all speeds and don't drive into it.
"Answer" around here is to just keep buying bigger TVs. Never scale the combo nor test the brakes. Run 75. All is good. Can't feel a thing back there.

Sage advice, Howie. In a manner of speaking, the best day on the road is the one you have no reason to remember.

.
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:47 PM   #7
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I wonder if you did an inspection at a rally of drum brakes equipped trailers how many would need adjustment or actual repairs vs good working order?
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:57 PM   #8
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Hi

Having some guy named Bob zip past you, pull in 2 feet off your bumper, and then decide he needs to slow down for this exit is depressingly common. There are a lot of ways to get into a panic brake stomp situation. There also are a lot of rigs on the road set up in "interesting" ways .....(10" down at the front looks so much better ....). Lots of combinations.

Could brake lockup be an issue? Sure. I'd expect to see a tire messed up (or at least a telltale skid mark) as a result. As with all the post crash stuff on trailers, there is are a lot of possibilities and pretty much zero hard data.

Bob (the guy in the Yugo ....)
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:01 PM   #9
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Couldn't have been a Corvette being driven on snow and ice......

No, not that.


Regards,


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Old 09-07-2017, 02:02 PM   #10
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I wonder if you did an inspection at a rally of drum brakes equipped trailers how many would need adjustment or actual repairs vs good working order?
Let's see: adjust drum brakes and drive three block loop. About six stops. Return, re-adjust brakes. Repeat Ad Infinitum

Tear down every 5k. Might be often enough.
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:02 PM   #11
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Hi

Having some guy named Bob zip past you, pull in 2 feet off your bumper, and then decide he needs to slow down for this exit is depressingly common. There are a lot of ways to get into a panic brake stomp situation. There also are a lot of rigs on the road set up in "interesting" ways .....(10" down at the front looks so much better ....). Lots of combinations.

Could brake lockup be an issue? Sure. I'd expect to see a tire messed up (or at least a telltale skid mark) as a result. As with all the post crash stuff on trailers, there is are a lot of possibilities and pretty much zero hard data.

Bob (the guy in the Yugo ....)
When they cut in they either clear my bumper or they don't. I'm not gonna wreck letting someone in.
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:33 PM   #12
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Disc brakes stop better, but probably aren't the reason for the crashes. I would guess that brake bias could more likely cause a "tail happy" or oversteer condition. Assuming that our tow vehicle brake bias is OK, we then move to TV to trailer bias, which we can all adjust on our trailer brake controller. Most people just do a simple adjustment to insure they get some pull when operating the manual lever on the controller. If one wanted to go farther to dial it in they could find a safe place away from traffic to perform some tests at moderate speeds to test how the trailer behaves when mashing the TV brake pedal. Do the first tests in a straight line and observe the trailer's actions in the mirrrors. The trailer should not pull either way, nor should the trailer brakes lock either wheel. Adjust bias down on the trailer to stop wheel lock up. If TV feels like it is being pushed by the trailer, then adjust bias up and retest. Once it feels balanced you can do some further tests while going around gentle curves and try the stops. If the trailer steps out sideways during the curve tests, try a little less trailer brake bias and retest. Wet, dirty, icy pavement will amplify any bias problems, and may require a little less trailer brake bias.
The Corvette mentioned in a post above may have had a Positraction limited slip differential which makes acceleration more touchy in reduced traction surfaces.
Russ
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crispyboy View Post
The best you can do is keep the drum brakes adjusted properly. I do it at least 1x per year with the amount I travel. If properly adjusted they do seem to work well.
With the HAHA hitch I can tell when the brakes are out of adjustment. When coming to a stop you can see the front of the trailer move to one side. When this happens it's time to get out the brake spoon.
I thought seriously about disk brakes when I swapped in new axles but there was just no place to put the actuator. Also I assumed the calipers would likely get more rusty being exposed all the time vs the protection that a drum offers. My brother once had a pickup truck (2005) that was driven on every other weekend but stored in a pole barn. This truck had several sets of calipers over the 6 year period it was owned likely due to non-use.
To clarify not argue, calipers do not rust rotors [disk] do as drums rust also. Most times calipers are replaced is pistons stick causing pads to contact rotors causing damage to rotors or complete failure. Disk brakes are very easy to work on but most people don't no how. I find disk easier to work on than drum brakes but I have both w/years of working on them, one tool that is dif. is c clamp to retract piston in calipers.
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:36 AM   #14
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.......

Tear down every 5k. Might be often enough.
Hi

How far would you guess *most* TT's get driven in a year? Not the "hey I went from Miami to Alaska" year. On average, is 5K miles a year or is it more like 5 years (or ten)?

I have a nasty suspicion that it's 1K a year or less. A 5K tear down at 5 years would be a long time to just let the brakes and tires sit and rot. I'd bet it's very common though. Can't do it in PA ( we get to do / pay for yearly state inspections ...) but common elsewhere.

Again, another variable to toss into the great big pile of ambiguity over why stuff happens.

Bob
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