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Old 09-11-2005, 10:01 PM   #1
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1971 21' Globetrotter
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Thumbs up Brake Controller

Would anyone like to recomend a low cost no frills Brake controller? Also, if you would please comment on the difficulty of the installation. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:06 PM   #2
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I'm pretty happy with the Prodigy. Depending on what vehicle you're installing it in, difficulty can vary. GM trucks as of say 2000 have pigtails that connect right up.

There are others that love the Jordan unit. Both come highly recommeded on this forum. If you have the power assited brakes on a GM called HydroBoost, really, the Prodigy is the one to have since the Jordan, from what I've read, won't work well with HydroBoost braking systems.

Do a search on brake controllers, you'll find lots of folks talking about the Prodigy and the Jordan units.

I would shy away from lesser units. I had one and the differences can be night and day...and frankly, IMHO, brakes are not a place to penny pinch.
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:29 PM   #3
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Prodigy -- Yeah!

I had a couple hard stops coming up 52 from Red Wing into the 494 area, then Crosstown to 169 to 94-West headed to St Cloud late this afternoon. The Prodigy is reliable, easy to verify amount of braking you want from it (so it doesn't push the tow vehicle (TV) around), and has been there every time for me.

Check out RJay's for usually competitive prices, complete assortment of pigtails, etc. It takes some figgerin' -- Airstream's FAQ page has some diagrams on where you want to end up. I know I had to take the pigtail to my TV dealer and double check just what wire was what under my dash.
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:59 PM   #4
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I had a cheap no frills unit and it ruined my brakes! When I pressed on the pedal it would ramp up to full on and hold it at that voltage as long as the pedal was depressed. This burnt out the magnets (or something to that effect). I replaced it with a Prodigy when I got the new axel and have had no regrets. It's worth a little extra money, and it's a far better controller. Do a search and read up on it. I wish I'd spent my money on it in the first place, instead of getting talked into buying a cheaper unit to start with.
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Old 09-12-2005, 03:21 AM   #5
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Another endorsement for the Prodigy. I used a cheaper one to tow my 68 Tradewind. It was adequate, but there's no comparison, the Prodigy does a far better job. When I bought the Bambi, I upgraded the same TV to the Prodigy and wish I had done it sooner.
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Old 09-12-2005, 04:14 AM   #6
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Prodigy and 2004 Dodge Ram 2500

I just ordered a Prodigy from Camping World (wish I'd seen Canoe Stream's post earlier). It hasn't arrived yet, but I was wondering do I need the extra Dodge pigtail or will it plug directly into my factory towing package connector located under the dash like the cheap one I switched over did? If anyone has had experience hooking one up to this kind of Dodge Pickup, the comments would be appreciated. I have an '86 - 34 foot Limited AS

Thanks,

Lee

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
I had a couple hard stops coming up 52 from Red Wing into the 494 area, then Crosstown to 169 to 94-West headed to St Cloud late this afternoon. The Prodigy is reliable, easy to verify amount of braking you want from it (so it doesn't push the tow vehicle (TV) around), and has been there every time for me.

Check out RJay's for usually competitive prices, complete assortment of pigtails, etc. It takes some figgerin' -- Airstream's FAQ page has some diagrams on where you want to end up. I know I had to take the pigtail to my TV dealer and double check just what wire was what under my dash.
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Old 09-12-2005, 04:56 AM   #7
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Lee,

The base unit comes with a connector with just wires and directions on how to splice into your trucks wire harness. They also have direct plug in cables for most major TVs. The one for my Toyota Tundra cost around $20, well worth the extra bucks. I had it monted and fully functional in less then an hour. I am very happy with the Prodigy unit.
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Old 09-12-2005, 05:17 AM   #8
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Uh...Me too!

I also have the Prodigy, and like it very much. But make sure to read what Overlander64 posted about brake controllers before making a final decision.

Tom
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Old 09-12-2005, 05:47 AM   #9
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I am more than happy with the jordan.
This becouse my tow vehicle is a 1957 imperial.
The brakes on those old cars are marginal at best.
The jordan works with a cable on the brake pedal.
when something gets wrong with the cars brakes you still can brake mormal with the jordan.
On one trip out I lost the brakes of my car 100 %
Was able to come home with only the trailor brakes .
Remco
The Netherlands
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Old 09-12-2005, 09:26 AM   #10
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Lee,
I am very happy with my Prodigy. Smooth, strong braking for our 22' CCD. It is matched with our Dodge Ram 1500 truck, and works great. We have the factory tow package on the truck. I bought the Dodge pigtail with the Prodigy and installation was very easy once I found the location of the plug under the dash.
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Old 09-12-2005, 09:36 AM   #11
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I've got a Draw-Tite Activator II, and I have no complaints. I've used it in my 2000 Chevy Blazer, 1972 Suburban, 1997 Ram2500 and now my new 2005 CTD Ram2500. Lee, as you know the Dodge is wired differently for whatever reason. What I did was change the wires around to match the stock underdash harness, and I have had no problems. In fact, when I bought my new Ram, I thought I might have to rewire the thing, but Dodge still wires their trucks the same way. What I like about the Activator II is that it is a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) brake unit.

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Old 09-12-2005, 09:56 AM   #12
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Thank you all very much for your valueable input.

Steve
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Old 09-12-2005, 12:22 PM   #13
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Prodigy is great

I have a 2004 2500 Dodge Ram ordered a Prodigy and the the Dodge pigtail from Sowthwest Wheel (very good price and service). Very easy to install just plug into the factory connection under the dash by the brake and attach the unit. Took about 15 minutes and this was my first brake controller install. Worked very well on a trip thruogh the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico
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Old 09-12-2005, 06:57 PM   #14
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For a short while yet I do have a Nissan Titan. The under dash wiring scheme needed to be understood wire for wire so all would be proper at the rear plug-in.

Realize that with modern electric brakes you don't want their coils activated for a long period, lest they burn out (totally different issue than burning out your brake rotors & pads on long downhills). This can happen if you allow the breakaway switch to be pulled much approaching or in excess of 5 minutes.

For all the kudos certainly due for Kevin Allen (overlander64), I owe to him the idea of at least evaluating the effectiveness of your breakaway switch by placing a compass near the brake drums, then pulling the breakaway toggle out. If you see a swing of the compass needle you can be assured the brake electromagnets have activated. I have found this is inconclusive with a tire mounted. I removed one tire and positioned a horizontal compass right up against the inside of the brake drum -- was I ever glad to see that my rehabbed wiring functioned as designed!

I think it was Jack Canavera (kudos to all the midwesterners!) that pointed out the Prodigy circuitry will fry every time you pull the breakaway switch with the trailer umbilical attached to your tow vehicle. Fine if that happens in an emergency -- you have much bigger things to replace than worrying about your brake controller.

BTW - My two quick stop situations yesterday both involved stoplights turning yellow on busy boulevards (40+mph) where I'd have been going through on a pink light (yellow turning to red). I didn't want to risk a "California stop" ("stop" nothing!) while returning my brand new 2006 25' Safari SE to its new home -- and my tow vehicle is at its upper limit of towing such a heavy trailer. You've got to trust yourself to carefully chosen equipment -- and your family comes in there pretty high on the list too.
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Old 09-12-2005, 07:12 PM   #15
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Bob,

Not to get off the subject, but I thought the Titan could handle a 25' Safari?!?!?

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Old 09-12-2005, 07:39 PM   #16
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Ohmigosh, not again!!

Please search on 'Titan' or 'Armada' and find my frequent input on Titans. The TV's GVWR is between 1200-1600# depending on model. The 25' Safari FB empty is around 6200# if I remember correctly. Figuring 800+ pound tongue weight without weight distribution gear right at the ball, this gives me only 400 pounds to work with for passengers and anything else I want to put in my fully-equipped Titan.

'Tow capacity' of 9000# is realistic only with Eddie Arcaro riding and a quart of gasoline in the tank at most! The drive train may be up to it but not the suspension. I can definitely tell the difference between the Safari and my 3900#-empty Argosy! In some ways it seems like some of the GM & Ford HD offerings, then again it doesn't all add up...
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Old 09-12-2005, 09:05 PM   #17
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I use the Tekonsha Sentinel. I can switch between a 5000# 2 axle trailer and a 9500# 3 axle trailer with a turn of the gain dial. The braking is smooth even and reliable. The installation was as easy wiring 4 color coded wires from the brake controller to the color coded pigtail supplied with my truck (2002 Chev) and plugging it into the fuse panel. The hardest part was selecting the best place to mount it. Calibration is easy and explained well in the directions. I used an inexpensive controller prior to the Tekonsha and it grabbed to hard in city traffic and not enough on the hiway. The install my be more complicated if your tow vehicle is older.
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Old 09-13-2005, 11:05 AM   #18
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Again, not to get off the subject, but an empty 25' Safari FB weighs 6200#????? That thing weighs more than my 71 Sovereign!!!!! What the heck is Airstream putting in these new rigs to make them weigh so much? Airstream's claim to fame was the fact that its trailers were light. If I remember right, my Sovereign only weighs about 4950# empty, give or take.....that's a 1300# and 6' difference!


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Old 09-13-2005, 08:13 PM   #19
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Umm, Frederic....

I spoke too hastily! I added 1200# and the sum was 1000 pounds overweight!! Sorry Airstream. The actual unloaded base weight of the FB SE is 5210 pounds. Recall that options are extra -- (I'm going to shoot from the hip again). The whole LS upgrade package includes the better Fantastic fan I believe. The LS package adds weight at the front of the trailer with the spare tire and the electric hitch jack. Then I went overboard and ordered the option of the front bow windows too -- and that is also a weight penalty at the very front of the trailer. I really feel I need to take all pieces of my Reese Dual Cam Hi-Performance and weigh them. I believe that'd weigh in at something approaching 150# -- again all at the front of the trailer.

I'd still stand by the statement that tongue weight approaches 800#. I don't feel I can really travel until I have a truck cap (200#?). I still can't put my bicycles and canoe on the truck without going over weight. To say nothing of carrying Aunt Duanna's traveling fruitcake to another unsuspecting relative for yet another year....

I really, really, really love the light and air provided by the window placement in this new trailer!!!
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Old 09-14-2005, 07:27 PM   #20
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Canoe,

Okay, so it ain't 6200#....still 5210# is a lot of weight, if you think about the fact that mine is 6' longer than yours. I can only assume that the extra weight on yours is from the extra width and from the beefier frame? Have you thought about what your new tow vehicle is going to be then?

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