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Old 02-27-2006, 06:10 PM   #1
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Hydraulic brakes?

Am thinking about buying this trailer. The owner tells me it has hydraulic brakes and not electric. Can anyone tell me what my truck as to have to operate hydraulic brakes?


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Old 02-27-2006, 07:32 PM   #2
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That trailer would not have hydraulic brakes. Probably he meant disc brakes which are operated with a vacuum line from the tow vehicle. If you have a diesel pickup, you will most likely have to have a vacuum pump installed and a different type of brake control. I would consider removing the disc brakes and replacing them with electric drum brakes. The vacuum control and connection at the hitch will cause you trouble in the future, guaranteed.
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:12 PM   #3
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Keep the disc!

If they are hydraulic or hydraulic disc - you can purchase an electric/hydraulic actuator for around $500.00 new. This will allow the brakes to function in conjunction with a standard brake controller. If they are disc's (I kind of doubt it) they will stop about 50% better than electric. If they are straight hydraulic (non-disc) I would most likely switch to electric.

Just two cents from a RETIRED axleman.

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Old 02-27-2006, 08:16 PM   #4
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Well I plan on towing this thing twice, once to my house and once to it's final resting place so there's no way I'd spend $500 on an electric to hydraulic converter. My truck has no hydraulic line to the back.
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darol Ingalls
That trailer would not have hydraulic brakes. Probably he meant disc brakes which are operated with a vacuum line from the tow vehicle. If you have a diesel pickup, you will most likely have to have a vacuum pump installed and a different type of brake control. I would consider removing the disc brakes and replacing them with electric drum brakes. The vacuum control and connection at the hitch will cause you trouble in the future, guaranteed.
Darol,

I disagree, if the trailer has disc brakes they should stay. Disc brakes are much better than drum brakes. The addition of a new master cylinder pump in the trailer and maybe a new controller in the tow vehicle is all that is needed. The pump is about $500 to $750. New Airstreams come with disc brakes, either standard or optional.

Bill
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wacnstac
Well I plan on towing this thing twice, once to my house and once to it's final resting place so there's no way I'd spend $500 on an electric to hydraulic converter. My truck has no hydraulic line to the back.
How far do you have to tow the trailer and over what type of roads?

Bill
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkerfoot
Darol,

I disagree, if the trailer has disc brakes they should stay. Disc brakes are much better than drum brakes. Bill
Well said Bill!

Henry
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:34 PM   #8
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Disc are definitely better than drums but I sure wouldn't put the money into an electric to hydraulic converter kit. The trailer would be towed a maximum of 500 miles total over 99% flat land. There are a few small river valleys that would need to be crossed but in Michigan they are nothing major.
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:35 PM   #9
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All that is required to operate the hydraulic is a source of vacuum, either from the engine or a pump. I kept my disc brakes and removed the vacuum/hydraulic unit. I replaced that with an electric/hydraulic.

I towed our trailer 70 miles, part over mountain roads, with no brakes and no sway bar. We made but admittedly we took a chance.

To get the hydraulic brakes working does take some effort and cost so it ultimately comes down to what you want to do.
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wacnstac
Disc are definitely better than drums but I sure wouldn't put the money into an electric to hydraulic converter kit. The trailer would be towed a maximum of 500 miles total over 99% flat land. There are a few small river valleys that would need to be crossed but in Michigan they are nothing major.
Then I would stay off of the interstates, take local roads, don't be in a hurry and leave plenty of room in front of you. You didn't mention your tow vehicle, that might change my mind. As did Buttercup, I towed my 1979 23' Safari home to So Cal from outside Sacramento, about 400 miles, without brakes behind my PowerWagon. Not something I would recommend. The only hills we encountered were Techapachi and the five mile Castaic grade coming into LA.

However, make sure that the wheel bearings are recently repacked.

Bill
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:57 PM   #11
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Would be towing with a 2003 Expedition with trailer tow package and 5.4 engine. Why the advise to stay off the interstates? It is because of passing tractor trailers? I would be using WD/anti sway. Seems like the interstate might provide more gradual braking situations.
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Old 02-27-2006, 09:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wacnstac
Would be towing with a 2003 Expedition with trailer tow package and 5.4 engine. Why the advise to stay off the interstates? It is because of passing tractor trailers? I would be using WD/anti sway. Seems like the interstate might provide more gradual braking situations.
One the speed will be slower, two if the trailer starts to sway you cannot stop the sway since you have no brakes on the trailer. I brought the 1954 29' Liner to So Cal from Tampa with brakes. I might have considered no brakes if the trailer had been shorter, but without brakes there would be no way to bring it back in line.

See: http://www.airforums.com/forums/163666-post1.html

Bill
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Old 02-27-2006, 09:40 PM   #13
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Won't the WD/anti sway hitch help out with this?
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Old 02-27-2006, 09:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wacnstac
Won't the WD/anti sway hitch help out with this?
Yes, it will help, but brakes or low speed will be an additional element of safety.

Bill
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wacnstac
Am thinking about buying this trailer. The owner tells me it has hydraulic brakes and not electric. Can anyone tell me what my truck as to have to operate hydraulic brakes?
You have Excella HydraVac disc brakes and they will outperform any electric drum brake on the market. The discs are huge/heavy and are awesome. How do I know? I had them on my '77 Excella 500. Andy at Inland RV in Carona, CA. has parts for the units. I used my 31' '77 coach for about 5,500 miles over a 4 1/2 yr. period and never had a problem. Matter of fact, I never noticed any wear on the pads when I was repacking the bearings over the ownership period. The brakes functioned flawlessly.

I used an engine vacuum port off the manifold on my '92 Z71 4X4 and the same off my '01 2500hd 4X4 Chevy trucks. I used Air Brake hose and a check valve about one foot from the engine manifold source. All brass connections were used except for the 1/2" industrial male/female couplings at the bumper where the vacuum source connected to the hose going to the vacuum booster system on the trailer tongue. This is also your emergency brake system should the trailer seperate from the vehicle. If you do a search for the HydraVac disc brake system you will find some of my posts on parts I used. I never had a problem. That trailer is in Hamburg, Germany now.
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:34 PM   #16
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Not likely that I'll find a vacuum line to run back there from my expedition.
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:39 PM   #17
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disc brake on airstreams....

hi guys i really like the discs for all the reasons listed...

while airstream is using them again (mid 05 up) on the classics...this isn't new...yes those mid/late 70s had 'em...

this is the 2nd or 3rd wave of airstreams using discs...for a few years then switching back to drums....hopefully they will move other models to discs as well...

i have seen a new bambi with a disc brake upgrade........sweet.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-27-2006, 11:31 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wacnstac
Not likely that I'll find a vacuum line to run back there from my expedition.
I don't understand your statement? If you have a gas engine then you have a vacuum port somewhere on the manifold. You tap into it with threaded fittings and use barbed fittings which slip into airbrake hose along with hose clamps. You run the airbrake hose inside the frame rail back to the rear bumper. Simple job. I posted pictures of the entire setup on the forum.
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Old 02-28-2006, 06:27 AM   #19
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Link please.....
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Old 02-28-2006, 06:28 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axleman
If they are hydraulic or hydraulic disc - you can purchase an electric/hydraulic actuator for around $500.00 new. This will allow the brakes to function in conjunction with a standard brake controller. If they are disc's (I kind of doubt it) they will stop about 50% better than electric. If they are straight hydraulic (non-disc) I would most likely switch to electric.

Just two cents from a RETIRED axleman.

Regards,
Henry
Henry, one of our unit members was attending the rally last week, and they had a 1976 Excella that was originally equipped with hydraulic brakes, IIRC they were discs. It is a rare feature, but they are out there. They converted to electric drum brakes, and were happy with the result, as the hydraulic system always gave them problems. Personally, I also would want to keep the discs, because they will stop better, and are easier to replace pads on when they wear out.
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