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Originally Posted by cvpfl
Here is my question upon review of the manual they state you should only use a Kelsey Hayes controller. For short term temporary use is it ok to use a non Kelsey Hayes controller or does it not really matter.
In the days when our coaches were new, the Kelsey Hayes controller was state of the art and considered the "Cadillac" of its domain. It was a controller that required tapping into the tow vehicle's hydraulic brake system as well as special electronic "resistors" mounted to the tongue of the coach or under the hood of the tow vehicle to modify the signals sent to the trailer for proper braking. The last tow vehicle that I had with a Kelsey Hayes Controller was a 1983 GMC G20 VanDura -- and it illustrated the problem encountered when trying to "marry" old and new technology -- the hydraulic brake tap for the controller displaced too much brake fluid and the van had greatly reduced braking ability so the controller had to be abandonned. My understanding is that the Kelsey Hayes trailer brake controllers disappeared from the market close to 25 or 30 years ago. Even if you happen across a used Kelsey Hayes trailer brake controller, I would suggest letting it pass as they are not compatible with our tow vehicle's modern braking control systems.
Originally Posted by cvpfl
Second question: Does anyone have a recommendation for a brake controller for long term use.
A search of the Forums will turn up a number of trailer brake controller discussions, and you will find that there are three or four controllers that account for those chosen by most Forum members. Like many things in Airstreaming, feelings about particular brake controllers can run very deep. Among the more popular brake controllers are:
There are several variants of controllers from each of the above companies as well as several others out there. Most of these controllers are proportional controls that utilize a pendulum function for their operation. I am not certain, but my understanding is that the Hensley Tru-Control might be the only one that taps into the tow vehicle's hydraulic brake system -- I have Hayes-Lemmerz units on my tow vehicles so am not as familiar with the other two popular choices.
You may find that you have the remnants of an old Kelsey-Hayes system on your coach. Should you have the "resistor" hardware mounted on the hitch and connected to the brake wiring, it could explain some problems with braking effectiveness. It is also possible that your trailer brakes may just need to be adjusted as they are not "self-energizing/self-adjusting" like modern automobile drum brakes; rather, electric trailer brakes do require periodic adjustment unless they have been upgraded to the recently released self-adjusting electric drum brakes for trailers. A third possibility would be that your trailer brakes may be in need of replacement -- something that is not uncommon with a recently acquired vintage unit -- in that case, fully-loaded backing plates are usually the way to go as they typically represent a cost savings over purchasing the various parts individually -- and also insure that all wear parts have been replaced other than the drums themselves.
Good luck with your research and investigation!