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Old 08-07-2019, 04:55 PM   #1
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2004 30' Classic
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Never-Adjust versus Disc Brakes?

Hi Team,

At the International Rally, the Dexter Rep said Never-Adjust Brakes were very good (always in adjustment). However, disc brakes were even better. He quoted a reasonable improvement in stopping distance with Disc
(don't remember what it was).

Looking at 15ish year old Classics, they have disc brakes. However, new ones only have Never-Adjust. I am surprised that Disc Brakes are not even offered as an option on a Classic.

With a $150K+ MSRP, I would sure like to have disc brakes...

Thoughts?

Thanks
Dan
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Old 08-07-2019, 05:42 PM   #2
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Dan

Two observations based on disc brake ownership on my 2007 Classic.

Airstream had two recalls first the actuator was failing and leaking internally. The fix was a new actuator.

Second the design of the hoses to each wheel was too short and linked under upward suspension travel and braking that could kink the hose or even burst.

Those are recalls not opinions.

Now for the opinion they looked at the situations and said no more disc brakes.

Iím a Dexter disc brake fan didnít even know what they were all about when I bought. Yes I had to replace actuator and made my own hose line combo from automotive brake components turned out very similar to AS fix.

Drum brakes are old school they do work. Got any in any vehicle other than an econobox rear axle?

But a 4 piston disc brake on a 12 1/4Ē ventilated rotor those rock.

And the Never-Adjust have had a few issues of their own. I replaced them in a rig in my driveway when the adjuster puked and checked out for a friend.

If you have room for the actuator preferably outside the trailer then itís only money and labor if you have Nev-R-Lube bearings. The discs are a bolt up run lines etc.

Gary
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Old 08-07-2019, 06:05 PM   #3
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I had Dexter Never Adjusts on my SOB. They were constantly over adjusting - I'd jack up a wheel and it was difficult or impossible to rotate the wheel manually. I figured that wasn't good for the brakes or my MPGs. Had Precision Braking Systems put disks on my trailer. They did the work at a park I was staying at for a few days. Took their installer about 5 hours to replace 4 brakes, which included new bearings. Very happy with the result. Trailer stops much faster. I also reduced the gain on my controller. No issues setting up on my F-150.
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Old 08-07-2019, 06:24 PM   #4
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Pretty sure the disc brakes are not available for the newer Airstream trailers. I have a 2014 with never lube bearings and hubs, and none were available a year ago. Ended up taking the auto adjuster brakes off, and installed manual adjustment brakes instead. At least they won't run hot now. Had an issue where individual hubs would be hot enough for grease to come out of the bearings. No way to put the grease back in, so that wasn't good. Once a year I get to jack up the trailer and adjust the brakes. And I got a spare bearing cartridge. Since I have a spare now, I will never need it.
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:50 PM   #5
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I also think it is sad that Airstream doesnít install disc brakes on all their trailers. Sure they had some problems with actuators and brake line routing initially. They should have fixed the problem instead of just throwing in the towel and going back to drum brakes.

I installed disc brakes on my 66 Tradewind when I installed new axles two years ago. The hardest part of the install was the routing of the flexible brake line. Installing the actuator and brake lines was actually pretty easy. The only difficulty was that I had never done it before.

I installed the actuator inside next to the fresh water tank in front. I like that location rather than outside. The actuator is state of the art. It gets its signal from the TV computer.

I have easy lube axles and they work great. I have 15,000 trouble free miles on the new axles with disc brakes and have had no problems. Time to lube the bearings now. That is now an easy job. Shouldnít take more than 30 minutes.

I have a thread covering installation of the disc brakes. Here are some photos from that thread.

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Old 08-07-2019, 08:15 PM   #6
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I have disc brakes on my 91 34' Classic.
Using Kodiak and Carlisle.
Stops with absolute authority!
I'll not tow a foot without disc brakes on an Airstream

Only maintenance is to clean and lube slide pins when I replace pads.
I've got a quarter million miles on my brakes, and have spent less than $100 to service the system.
Pads are available 100% of the time at every parts place in America!
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:32 PM   #7
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Without reading any of this, a good disk brake setup on a trailer is unbeatable, hyd drums are second place, elec brakes are third best....

My trailer has elec brakes, and they're good and safe enough so long as they are kept well tuned.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:07 PM   #8
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I put Kodiak disc brakes and the hydrastar actuator on my 2002 Classic. The discs gave ma about twice the stopping power I had with the original electric brakes.


Here's my post on the conversion:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ss-177345.html


Al
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:23 AM   #9
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Something to consider if the OEM's take a dump..."if it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is.🤓

The surge disc's on the Boatmate trailer have been trouble free and are an excellent option for a trailer that is submerged on a regular basis.👍

Bob
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
Something to consider if the OEM's take a dump..."if it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is.🤓

The surge disc's on the Boatmate trailer have been trouble free and are an excellent option for a trailer that is submerged on a regular basis.👍

Bob
🇺🇸
Believe it or not (and I am probably jinxing myself) my 2007 Classic is still OEM disc with the original (gen 2) Actibrake actuator. I did have to replace the too short rubber brake lines at the caliper. I do replace the fluid every 5 years or so (which reminds me...time to do it again).

My only complaints with the system are:

1) Dexter pads are very expensive and don't fit the caliper well. They rattle over bumps.

2) Dexter pads have become very squeaky upon application as they have worn...I mean really loud.

3) There is minimal lag time between pedal application and trailer brake application. This can never be fully eliminated, as there is no accumulator in the actuator, like automotive applications of electro-hydraulic systems.

4) They are very difficult to bleed, as the caliper design is not "bleed friendly".

All that said, with a couple quirks, they are almost automotive-like in their stopping performance and play very well with both the Tuscon aftermarket controller and the GM ITBC.

As Bob says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!".
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:54 AM   #11
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Never-Adjust versus Disc Brakes?

As the department of Overkill Engineering says, ďif it isnít broken, break it, and fix it to be even better...Ē
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
I put Kodiak disc brakes and the hydrastar actuator on my 2002 Classic. The discs gave ma about twice the stopping power I had with the original electric brakes.


Here's my post on the conversion:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ss-177345.html


Al
Thanks....your tests are an impressive testament to Disc Brakes....

Chatted with someone who had them installed on their AS at JC for about $3K.

If not standard, AS really should offer disc brakes as an option.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:36 AM   #13
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If it ain't broke, fix it till it is.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cru-in View Post
Thanks....your tests are an impressive testament to Disc Brakes....

Chatted with someone who had them installed on their AS at JC for about $3K.

If not standard, AS really should offer disc brakes as an option.

My DIY about $1200, $1500 if you pay someone like my guy to do it. And that's for axles and brakes. Should be less to unbolt original brake plates, bolt on calipers, install actuator and run lines.


Al
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:21 PM   #15
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Converted our 2014 Classic to Kodiak disc brakes a few months after taking delivery along with lots of other repairs to exceptionally poor build quality and failed OEM hardware.

The only negative aspect was the BrakeRite II manufacturer failed to disclose that their brake controller was incompatible with every builtin brake system on every truck. That made for a most interesting night time drive thru narrow two lane mountain roads on the way home.

After learning how to disable the 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins built in brake controller, our Tuson brake controller works very well and we have awesome braking power. That is important when our rig scales 19,200 pounds camping ready and we drive in the mountains coming and going from our home in the Phoenix area.

We upgraded our 2015 23D International Serenity to the auto-adjust 10" drum brakes. One would have thought that the multi thousand dollar increase in price from a Flying Cloud trim to the International Serenity would have included the $80 in parts to have auto adjust drum brakes.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
My DIY about $1200, $1500 if you pay someone like my guy to do it. And that's for axles and brakes. Should be less to unbolt original brake plates, bolt on calipers, install actuator and run lines.


Al


My DIY cost for axles, Kodiak disc brakes, Tuson hydraulic actuator and other parts for installation was probably about $3,000- worth every dollar!

Dan
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:01 AM   #17
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Bill Snider, the Dexter rep at the Doswell rally, knows what he's talking about. He looked at the calipers on my 2007 34SO and said they were Dexter calipers and that I had plenty of pad material left. I did replace the original actuator with a CTS (formerly Carlisle) actuator and had a shop do the work. Works great with the factory ITBC in my 2011 RAM 3500. The actuator fits perfectly inside the metal box on the "A" frame where the original actuator was located. Even the hole in the box lined up with the brake line to the calipers.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:56 AM   #18
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Dexter caliper is easy to identify right thru the wheels. Itís cast iron and each side has two circular areas for each piston.

A 34 would have 6 brakes X 4 pistons per wheel for 24 pistons total. Thatís a bunch of braking pressure that can be applied.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:27 AM   #19
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If you are not traveling in the mountains all the time the self adjusting drums are fine. If you are wanting the best then disk brakes are great. If you are running 80MPH with your hair on fire then you might need the disk brakes. Drum brakes are finicky and grabby sometimes but in general they will get the job done. Your average Joe only uses the RV a couple times a year. If you are full timing the disk brakes might be a better option. I just put the self adjusting drums on mine and they will stop the trailer and the tow vehicle. The worn out original drum brakes did not do much at all. All of this depends on proper adjustment of the brakes every time you hook up. If you don't have your controller adjusted just below the lockup point, you are not going to get all the braking power that the system is capable of. Also the type of controller is a factor as well. I have one of the Teconsha controllers that use g-forces to apply brakes and I am not sure that is the best way to control brakes but it is better than the on/off method that was used in the past. Drum brakes don't give you linear braking forces as a function of how hard apply them. The same goes for the controller. It can get g spikes and do odd things especially in stop and go traffic. I have been known to lower the max voltage on the brakes in heavy stop and go traffic.



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Old 08-15-2019, 11:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Dexter caliper is easy to identify right thru the wheels. Itís cast iron and each side has two circular areas for each piston.

A 34 would have 6 brakes X 4 pistons per wheel for 24 pistons total. Thatís a bunch of braking pressure that can be applied.
Ours were installed by the Service Center, around 2010, and they put Kodiak Disc/Calipers on it.
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