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Old 07-28-2006, 09:53 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
ogden , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13
Help - brakes!!!

Hello all, i was wondering if maybe you guys could spare me some of your airstream knowledge as i am a absolute newb when it comes to anything other then modern electric brakes. We have a 77 airstream excella with what i have been told has surge brakes?? its a unit that is mounted behind the propane tanks and has a master cylinder, a power booster, and some wires. It looks much like something you would see in your car underneath the hood.....brake resevior and all. well attached to the power booster is a line....a rubber one which connects to this large white egg looking thing, then on the opposite end of the egg looking thing is a looks just like a air hookup that you would hook into a air compressor or something like that for a air gun, air hose, etc. any idea with what i am dealing with here and how i can hook it up to my truck to make these brakes work?? also...its has disc brakes.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:36 AM   #2
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,236
Hi, and welcome to the forums! What you are describing, is a hydraboost (or hyrdovac) unit. It uses vacuum from the tow vehicle to actuate the brakes on the trailer. A forum search of the two terms should net you more info.
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Old 07-28-2006, 01:03 PM   #3
1 Rivet Member
ogden , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13
Whew we finally got these brakes working and man they work great!! thanks a ton guys!! now i have one last question.....the valve that send the vacuum pressure to the brake system, what wire do you hook up to power it?? we had it hooked to a turn signal wire since they also double as brake lights, but it also activates the brakes when you turn on the turn signal. should we pop out the light and find the stop light and splice into that wire?? thanks alot....also where do you guys get replacement pads for these??
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Old 07-28-2006, 04:38 PM   #4
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1977 31' Sovereign
1963 26' Overlander
1989 34' Excella
Johnsburg , Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,943
You need to install a brake controller for your tow vehicle. There are several types. Check at an RV or trailer retailer. You could also order on line from several on the net. You then will have to properly wire the umbilical cord to the car and install the connector on the car. If you can not figure it out, there are usually several trailer places in any town that can do the job right and ensure you do not kill yourself.
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Old 07-28-2006, 04:58 PM   #5
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1975 27' Overlander
fort wayne , Indiana
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 184
man i'm glad my brakes are simple electro-magnet only. easy to work on!
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Old 07-28-2006, 05:36 PM   #6
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Inland RV Center, In's Avatar
Corona , California
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 16,497
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Originally Posted by crowbar68
man i'm glad my brakes are simple electro-magnet only. easy to work on!
Yeah, but they don't work as well as disc brakes, never can, never will.

Granted, the old Airstream system may have some problems, but keep in mind, it was the first system ever used on a travel trailer.

Hardly anything made 3 or 4 generations ago, cannot compare with things made today.

Also, some parts for the electric brakes that used round magnets, are no longer available.

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Old 07-28-2006, 10:30 PM   #7
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1978 31' Excella 500
Goose Creek , South Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I replaced my hydravac unit with a dexter electric/hydraulic unit. If you want my old unit you are more then welcome to it for the price of shipping. PM me if interested.
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