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Old 07-29-2003, 12:27 AM   #1
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1998 28' Excella
Pensacola , Florida
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Hydraulic versus electric brakes

Looking at a '77 Excella 500. Owner says hydraulic better than electric! What to lookout for? Which system easier to maintain, and which functions better?

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Old 07-29-2003, 06:06 AM   #2
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I would say an electric system is easier to maintain. The new line of electronic brake controllers makes it a breeze. Hydraullic might be better, but I can't see it being easier to maintain and the electrics do a fine job at that.

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Old 07-29-2003, 08:21 AM   #3
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Hydraulic versus electric brakes

Greetings Jalewis!

Welcome to the Forums!

The Excella HydraVac brakes were considered the premium brake product in their day. They are still a superior brake product today, but they are no longer a current stock part so repair parts are not readily available beyond an Airstream parts source - - and not all Airstream dealers will stock the parts either (Airstream dealers can obtain them, but not all dealers stock them). Inland RV is probably the most recognized source of parts. Another consideration is that not all brake controllers are designed to function with the vacuum control necessary to actuate the HydraVac brakes (Inland RV usually stocks the controller best suited to this application). A final consideration if you tow with a diesel tow vehicle is whether an adequate vacuum source is available to operate the vacuum booster found on the trailer that is connected to the tow vehicle via a special vacuum line run from the tow vehicle's engine back to a quick connect coupler at the tow vehicle's rear bumper.

When I was searching for my first Airstream, I considered a couple of units with the HydraVac brakes but reconsidered when I realized that the repair parts may be difficult to obtain while on the road. There is a little more maintenance with the hydraulic system, but if the parts availability issue doesn't worry you too much it is a very good system when it is fully functional.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
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1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
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Old 07-29-2003, 08:23 AM   #4
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It is true that the cost to repair the "disc brake" system on an Airstream, is higher than electric brakes.

However, the performance of the "disc brake" system leaves "ALL" electric brake sysytems "in the dust."

To put it another way, the cost to maintain superior performance brakes will be higher, but so is the performance.

Ask those that have the disc brakes.

They wouldn't leave home without it!!!!

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Old 07-29-2003, 12:41 PM   #5
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1998 28' Excella
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Thanks all for the replies. The Excella in quesiton has been immobile for 20 years, used as a vacation home in Fl. Has original tires, etc., and my concern is a Hydravac system which has not been used in a long time. I have a 1953 Chevy truck I'm restoring, so know about old hyd lines, etc., (I am going to replace the entire brake system) so may have to on the Excella as well. Problem is, getting it roadworthy enough to get back home.

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Old 07-30-2003, 08:49 PM   #6
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I had Hyd. brakes on my 7 horse trailer that I towed with a Dodge 1 ton with a Cummins turbo. They were more of a pain that I felt they were worth. I had the system installed new by a major truck and trailer dealer but it was always quirky. Brake fade. They would probably have been fine in an all new system from truck to trailer. But the new truck to the old trailer brakes just never seemed to mesh well. I got a new horse trailer with electric brakes and no probelms ever. Cheaper and easier.

'89 32' Excella 1000
98 3/4 ton 4x4 Chevy Suburban
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