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Old 07-26-2023, 10:27 AM   #1
2018 19' Tommy Bahama
Warwick , Rhode Island
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 111
How high a setting for brake controller

I have a 2018 Tommy Bahama 19 ft that when i am towing and step on the brakes, i get a pulsation from the trailer brakes. I have the controller set on 5-6 when this happens. I read on this forum that I should be setting the controller on 2-3 to save the brakes. So today while going to the beach, I set the controls on 3 and there is min to no pulsation. When I step on the brakes with the controls set on 3, I can feel the brakes from the AS come on but not as strong as when set on 5. So how do I know when the setting is right but not too tight to wear out the brakes quickly?
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Old 07-26-2023, 10:51 AM   #2
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2000 25' Safari
2007 27' Safari FB SE
1995 25' Excella
Woodbine , Georgia
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When someone says "my brake setting is 3 and it works perfectly" or " my setting is 7 and it's perfect"--all that means is that is correct setting for their setup (yours might anywhere in between). Too many factors determine your correct setting and the only way to know for sure is to try different settings. I am most comfortable when I feel my Airstream and truck breaking together with the trailer a little stronger than the truck. Brakes parts are replaceable items that wear as they work. My $.02.
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Old 07-26-2023, 01:29 PM   #3
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1971 27' Overlander
2023 28' Flying Cloud
Monmouth , Oregon
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 646
My integrated controller has heavy electric and light electric as two options. I use “heavy” with my 7,800 GVRW 28 footer. I have found that light works better on smaller cargo trailers or boats.

For Gain and I am 3.5-6 depending on driving conditions. Heavy traffic and stop and go I run more gain. I have the truck’s trailer memory to default to 5.5 every time I hook up. Slow speed hilly campgrounds and such again higher gain. Conditions when I know my truck’s exhaust brake will be efficient and predictable like highway speed and mountains I run a less gain and have a lighter foot on the service brakes with the knowledge that I can always manually grab for more.

My truck’s brakes are much more robust than the trailer’s so I prefer to have them be secondary to the exhaust brake and the trailer in the third position since I know I will experience brake fade on the trailer much quicker than the truck. Nevertheless, I too know that not enough trailer brake will comprise the truck brake.

Another thing to avoid is too much gain for trailer brake that will cause skidding and flat spotting the tires. If an emergency skid is needed that is best for the manual applying and not the gain setting.

I think it is all a balancing act and I am sure sometimes I don’t have it perfect so adjustments as needed.
“Let’s be careful out there.”
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Old 07-26-2023, 01:47 PM   #4
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2022 25' Flying Cloud
NCR , Ontario
Join Date: Feb 2017
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Best to go to a reliable and knowledgeable RV dealer that KNOWS about hitches and trailers.
get them to show you how to set it up , change it or verify its setup correctly

we use CANAM RV in London, ON . Andy is very knowledgeable and everyone respects his input.

IMHO, best to get it setup properly than guessing
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Old 07-26-2023, 02:27 PM   #5
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2007 19' Bambi
1976 27' Overlander
2012 28' Flying Cloud
St Marys , Georgia
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I like to feel th trailer brakes actually working! My old fashioned way to set gain: I go to a dirt/gravel road(might be hard to find depending on your location !). Accelerate to 20-25 apply brakes ,add gain until brakes lock up. Usually around 5. Then I can adjust if needed on the road. Has worked well so far!
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Old 07-26-2023, 08:09 PM   #6
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2017 28' International
Jim Falls , Wisconsin
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This is what I have done:
1. Find a level spot to drive your camper at about a 15 mph speed.
2. Set the gain at 5.
3. Then start with the tow vehicle and camper at 15 mph. Then simply stop with the trailer break controller. If the camper brakes slow the truck and tow vehicle to a stop then that’s good. Go to the next .5 setting down and do it again. Go to lowest setting where you really get no braking of both hooked up.
4. Then find that setting which seems to do the best job. And you don’t get any locking of the brakes. Of course if it doesn’t at 5 then you need to go up in the gain by .5.

Every set up is different. Starting out at 5 is a good place to start. My guess is you will probably be in that 3 to 5 range with a 19’ camper.

Just a heads up, and that is at 20,000 to 25,000 miles on the trailer you should have your brakes inspected for wear and probably changed. That’s what I was told by an Airstream dealer.

I have a little bit of an advantage with a Propride Hitch, because if the gain isn’t enough I get a bit of a bump when I stop the pickup. I run mine at 5.5, but then I have a 28’ trailer not 19’.
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Old 07-27-2023, 07:53 AM   #7
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Tampa , Florida
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I set the gain to where the wheels don't lock up when I'm on a gravel parking lot.
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Old 07-27-2023, 09:10 AM   #8
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2012 23' FB International
Woodstock , Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Lower voltage is less brakes
Pulsing is not normal
I don’t have an answer for that
Andy Thompson recommends full voltage on the controller but in my experience you have to get the trailer weight setting right. That is the”b” setting on the Prodigy
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Old 07-27-2023, 09:42 AM   #9
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
Bandera , Texas
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For our set-up (Expedition towing a FC25FBT), our standard setting is 4.0, mostly flat terrain travel across the entire South. Over the past 6 weeks in MT, ID, OR, CA, and UT, it’s been on 5.0.
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Old 07-27-2023, 10:09 AM   #10
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2019 27' Tommy Bahama
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 164
Pulsing Brake

The pulsing brake comment got me wondering. Trucks have increasingly gone high-tech, and on our '20 F250 the ABS system works with the trailer system to monitor trailer lock up.

I'm wondering - if you are getting any alerts on your dash, this may be what's going on. If not, I can't help but wonder if your trailer wheels are "stuttering" between lock up and rolling - producing that pulsing effect?
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Old 07-27-2023, 10:12 AM   #11
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2005 25' Safari
palm beach gardens , Florida
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Lots of good advice here.
I was told to go 20mph and apply trailer brake only. You want to feel good braking without lockup. Adjust accordingly.
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Old 07-27-2023, 10:16 AM   #12
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Waukesha , Wisconsin
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Originally Posted by Starlight Mike View Post
Lots of good advice here.
I was told to go 20mph and apply trailer brake only. You want to feel good braking without lockup. Adjust accordingly.
If you're applying the trailer brakes only, then you're only testing the trailer brakes as applied through the manual lever/switch and not how they function through the normal application method. The manual lever that applies the trailer brakes only usually bypasses whatever settings there are on the controller.
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Old 07-27-2023, 10:33 AM   #13
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1999 28' Excella
Lake Mary , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 263
Brake settings

Originally Posted by RRHJR View Post
I like to feel th trailer brakes actually working! My old fashioned way to set gain: I go to a dirt/gravel road(might be hard to find depending on your location !). Accelerate to 20-25 apply brakes ,add gain until brakes lock up
RRHJR has it right,,,,a little skidding on the gravel by only one or two of the trailer tyres is the best setting. There is a balance point to ensure all wheels are braking equally, while not throwing too much load on the front wheels of the TV. And it may change depending upon how much gear was added or removed since the last outing. Ever notice how an empty 18 wheeler smokes the trailer tires when doing a sudden braking?
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Old 07-27-2023, 11:57 AM   #14
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2023 23' International
Calgary , Alberta
Join Date: Jul 2022
Posts: 300
Brake Control Setting

Attached is a “How To” for Fords. The section on how to set gain control will be the same regardless of vehicle make.

I also found on a new trailer that I started our with a family high gain setting and then needed to reduce it as the brakes wore-in.
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