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Old 05-07-2021, 06:14 PM   #1
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IMHO, Most Towing Threads Miss This Important Item.

Good Evening Everyone,

This evening I was looking thru a couple of the "can I tow this trailer with this vehicle" threads. In all the comments/suggestion, one item that I rarely find mentioned is the importance and safety of Disc Brakes on the trailer.

Seems to me, anyone towing near the tow vehicles max numbers, should consider disc brakes on the trailer.

My $0.02 FWIW.
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Old 05-07-2021, 06:56 PM   #2
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In a perfect world disc brakes would be standard but they add considerable cost to the units and electric brakes do a good job if setup and maintained properly. I don't have them and I'm not likely to spend money I don't really need to spend on them. I do think they're better but not by that much in my circumstance. I might change my mind someday - you never know.
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Old 05-07-2021, 08:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cru-in View Post
Good Evening Everyone,

This evening I was looking thru a couple of the "can I tow this trailer with this vehicle" threads. In all the comments/suggestion, one item that I rarely find mentioned is the importance and safety of Disc Brakes on the trailer.

Seems to me, anyone towing near the tow vehicles max numbers, should consider disc brakes on the trailer.

My $0.02 FWIW.
Not a bad thought. But not sure it's the right question?

Maybe better is - can I drive and stay within the performance envelop of my rig?

Plenty of rigs with drum brakes and less performance out there. Namely the hundreds of thousands of big rigs that rack up millions and millions of miles safely. All of which most any airstream rig will out-handle and out-stop.

To your point, perhaps more stopping power is always a good thing.
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:15 AM   #4
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Big rigs have air brakes and they are very good. Much better than electric brakes on a trailer.
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Old 05-08-2021, 03:53 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by tbrowne View Post
Big rigs have air brakes and they are very good. Much better than electric brakes on a trailer.
Interesting, but brings up another point: Why are Semi-truck (and trailer) air brakes "normally on" (i.e. without air pressure the brakes are applied) whereas other trailer brakes are "normally off" (without electric power the brakes are not applied & wheels are free to rotate)? From a safety perspective, I would think all trailers with brakes should be "normally on".

Back to the OP's point, having towed trailers with both electric drum and EOH disk brakes, I much prefer the disk brake performance. While the drum brakes are adequate, they can't compare to the performance of disk brakes.
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Old 05-08-2021, 06:37 AM   #6
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[QUOTE=oldenavy;2491621 Back to the OP's point, having towed trailers with both electric drum and EOH disk brakes, I much prefer the disk brake performance. While the drum brakes are adequate, they can't compare to the performance of disk brakes.[/QUOTE]

Yeap, I too have towed with both. The differences are truly dramatic.

In towing posts I find it humorous when folks say:

1) They brought a bigger truck for when they need to stop.
2) Say, while your 1/2 ton is good enough, you will be much happier with a 3/4 ton.

All the while they are using an ancient brake design that is "good enough"

A quick google search will turn up several test showing the dramatic improvement in stopping distance with disc trailer brakes.

Paraphrasing the argument the big truck proponents use: " Is your family's safety (and others) worth the dramatic improvement in stopping power of spending $3K on Disc brakes?"
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Old 05-08-2021, 06:47 AM   #7
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One example of the difference disc brakes make on the trailer.


https://www.irv2.com/forums/f44/trai...ce-272215.html
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:00 AM   #8
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Attached is a advertising flier citing the Canadian Study and a nearly 50% improvement in stopping power.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Disc Brake Conversion Flyer.pdf (472.7 KB, 12 views)
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:00 AM   #9
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Are there retrofit kits available to install disc brakes on an Airstream?
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Old 05-08-2021, 09:22 AM   #10
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Hi

Since pretty much everybody is asking the question: "can I tow this stock / unmodified trailer" with this "stock / unmodified tow vehicle", getting into this or that mod likely does not really address the question they actually are asking.

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Old 05-08-2021, 09:24 AM   #11
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I agree - however, disc brakes are not usually an option on "most" trailer and AS at this time does not offer such. I would suggest that is why it never enters the discussion. We work with what we can examine in the real world - i.e. what the manufactures offer and correctly marry the TV with the AS.

While adding such equipment (disc brake) would be nice as a third party install, IMHO 98% of folk would not consider the upgrade worth the expense until its time to redo the brakes. Also, I have never heard of "electric" disc brake available for trailers (yet?).

Just to be clear if your "brake controller" is set properly it all works together as fine as frog hairs. Just saying.
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Old 05-08-2021, 09:51 AM   #12
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My sweetie and I took our AS 27 to the International Rally in Salem several years ago. There, I got excited about retrofitting disc brakes, as there was a representative there from Dexter, which makes axles and brakes. Despite talking with him several times, I could never get him interested in providing me with information about his products to make the conversion. I figured if he wasn't interested in providing the information and parts, it wasn't worth bothering him further. He did tell me that when he returned to his office, he would send me the information; I never heard from him again. So much for the Dexter Co.
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:21 AM   #13
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During a stay at an RV park hosting a rally for Grand Design travel trailers I saw a factory service truck retrofit several trailers ( large 5th wheels) with disc brakes.
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:34 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post
Are there retrofit kits available to install disc brakes on an Airstream?
Yes, multiple vendors sell conversion kits. Here is a sample at etrailer.com; https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Bra.../T4843800.html
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Old 05-08-2021, 11:16 AM   #15
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Disc Brakes

I have done a number of disc brake conversions on Airstream trailers. There are 2 companies to my knowledge that offer such kits. Dexter and Kodiak. I have installed both. I believe the 6-bolt Dexter kit is amazing. It uses 4-piston fixed calipers per wheel, with massively large brake pads. The Kodiak kits use floating calipers with 1 piston per wheel, but are also very effective. One will need an E/H electric brake pump that works proportionally with most brake controllers. Incompatible built in controllers can be tricked by wiring a single brake magnet in parallel to the activating wiring.
The main advantage is of course the performance of such brakes. Stopping distance is much improved, and brake fade is all but non existent.
A side effect of the discs is their inherently close to perfect rotational balance. Drum hubs are shockingly out of balance, sometimes the castings are even out of round on the outside, with only the machined surfaces running true. This causes out of balance rotational mass which causes premature fatigue of everything inside and outside of the Airstream while towing at speed.
It is a bit of work to run hydraulic lines and perhaps wiring to the Actuator location, but a clean install will last the life of the trailer. Maintenance is easy, and consists of brake fluid changes bi-annually, and of Course checking of the brake pads periodically. No adjustments needed, ever. I always try and incorporate a hydraulic brake system in my restorations. I have ran disc brakes on all my personal trailers as well. It costs more, but to me it is well worth the price.
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Old 05-08-2021, 11:29 AM   #16
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I am surprised Airstream does offer discs as standard equipment. Most high end boat trailers use disc. It wouldn’t cost that much more. I have looked at adding them, about 600-1k in parts. I did need to slam on the brakes pulling my 25FB with my F150. It stopped really quite fast with the stock drums. Any faster and I probably would have locked them up.
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:31 PM   #17
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I agree - however, disc brakes are not usually an option on "most" trailer and AS at this time does not offer such. I would suggest that is why it never enters the discussion. We work with what we can examine in the real world - i.e. what the manufactures offer and correctly marry the TV with the AS.

While adding such equipment (disc brake) would be nice as a third party install, IMHO 98% of folk would not consider the upgrade worth the expense until its time to redo the brakes. Also, I have never heard of "electric" disc brake available for trailers (yet?).

Just to be clear if your "brake controller" is set properly it all works together as fine as frog hairs. Just saying.
Our Disc Brakes were installed by the Airstream Service Center.

They are electric over hydraulic brakes.

Electric drum brakes may work as fine a "frogs hairs". However several tests (I referenced one by the Canadian Standards Association) show disc brakes provide almost 50% shorter stopping distances over electric drum brakes on a trailer.

Folks (myself included) spend $3K for a PP or HA to increase towing safety and comfort. At about the same price of a HA or PP you can add disc brakes. The Airstream Service Center does this install and dis ours.
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Old 05-08-2021, 01:28 PM   #18
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I'm a disc brake fan. My rig came with them and when I bought I didn't even know what I got.

Can you convert from drum to disc? Yes several ways but I'll show a pic of a drum brake #11 Nev-R-Lube axle that I replaced the backing plates on a few years ago and just for grins I took some spare Dexter parts and installed them on the old drum brake axle. You can see the electric cable on the right side behind the rotor.

After removing all of the old drum brakes you have a #11 Nev-R-Lube axle stem looking back at you.

Install the bracket for the caliper, Nev-R-Lube hub, rotor and the 4 piston caliper.

The rest is hoses, steel lines, clips, T's and actuator.

A #11 Nev-R-Lube drum axle can be converted to the Dexter 4 piston disc brakes.

My rig is a pretty heavy 30' slide out plus Dodge Ram 2500. But those 4 piston Dexters haul it down with comfort and authority.

Gary
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:28 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by s1000pre View Post
I am surprised Airstream does offer discs as standard equipment. Most high end boat trailers use disc. It wouldn’t cost that much more. I have looked at adding them, about 600-1k in parts. I did need to slam on the brakes pulling my 25FB with my F150. It stopped really quite fast with the stock drums. Any faster and I probably would have locked them up.
I too am surprised that AS does not offer them as standard equipment. Given the cost of an AS, disc brakes (for a significant improvement in performance) would not add that much to the cost.
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:29 PM   #20
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My trailer has had Kodiak disc brakes since new production. I now have a Dexter elec/hyd pump. The original OEM pumps had a recall, then the manufacturer went belly up. I will use Dexter's components when overhaul time comes. With the engine brake system and disc brakes you need your shoulder harness to keep you in your seat when stopping.
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