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Old 11-24-2019, 06:37 PM   #1
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Weak Trailer Brakes

Good Evening Everyone! Encountered a trailer brakes issue recently with our 2015 Coachmen Catalina 273TBS. The brakes worked fine since new until a few months ago. No matter what gain setting I use or even when I mash the panic lever, the trailer brakes only apply slightly. I thought maybe they were out of adjustment but found out it has self adjusting brakes. And turning the wheels when jacked up I could feel they seemed pretty tight. Then I thought it might be the brake controller so I got a new one and still have the same problem. So then I replaced the brake controller adapter. Still same problem. Used my friends truck to toe it and same issue. Only slight brakes. I crawled under today and thought I found the problem with a half broken white ground wire from the 7 pin harness to the frame. Fixed and replaced and still have the same issue. If it helps in diagnosing the problem, there seems to be considerable delay from the time I mash the panic lever to when the brakes apply. Iíve read about factory gauge wire not being thick enough so my next plan was to replace the blue wire with 12 or 10 gauge wire. Anyone had similar issues and figured it out?
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Old 11-24-2019, 06:50 PM   #2
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Good Evening Everyone! Encountered a trailer brakes issue recently with our 2015 Coachmen Catalina 273TBS. The brakes worked fine since new until a few months ago. No matter what gain setting I use or even when I mash the panic lever, the trailer brakes only apply slightly. I thought maybe they were out of adjustment but found out it has self adjusting brakes. And turning the wheels when jacked up I could feel they seemed pretty tight. Then I thought it might be the brake controller so I got a new one and still have the same problem. So then I replaced the brake controller adapter. Still same problem. Used my friends truck to toe it and same issue. Only slight brakes. I crawled under today and thought I found the problem with a half broken white ground wire from the 7 pin harness to the frame. Fixed and replaced and still have the same issue. If it helps in diagnosing the problem, there seems to be considerable delay from the time I mash the panic lever to when the brakes apply. Iíve read about factory gauge wire not being thick enough so my next plan was to replace the blue wire with 12 or 10 gauge wire. Anyone had similar issues and figured it out?
Brakes definitely will benefit with larger gauge wire but you problem may be more in the connectors between the supply wire and individual brake wires.

You might try this. with the trailer hooked to your tow vehicle pull the emergency cable so the brakes are "Full On". Then see how much resistance you have when you try to move the trailer. If still no adequate brakes run a new wire from the 7-wire's blue wire to the brakes. Better yet, run two, one for the right side and one for the left side and make each wire equal in length. Just zip tie any extra wire on the short side so it doesn't hang down. This will insure you have equal braking on each side and each wire will be carrying half the load that the single wire the factory most likely installed does.

Beyond that you may need to replace a magnet or two that no longer are "gripping" so the brakes get firmly activated. Disconnecting wires on each backing plate and checking resistance with a multi-meter is a good start. Compare with published readings for brake magnets.
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:09 PM   #3
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before running new wires, which you might do anyway, take off all of the wheels and expose the brake components... you may find the problem to be burned out magnets in one or more wheels... get measurements/visuals from each and compare to each other... hook the magnet to a 12V battery at the wheel to see how much grab happens, but do so for only a small amount of time as the magnets will heat up quickly...
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:20 PM   #4
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Roger. On it. Thank you gentlemen!
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:26 PM   #5
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Don't trust automatic adjusters......
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:28 PM   #6
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If you pull the drums to inspect behind them there’s a high possibility of seeing leaked grease all over the shoes. When my toyhauler showed, after only 2,000 miles of use, the symptoms you describe I found the right front and left rear brakes full of grease. They were useless.

I solved the problem by discarding all four brake assemblies and installing disc brakes.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:04 PM   #7
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Good point. Read about that too. I’ll get the hubs off this week.
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Old 11-24-2019, 11:25 PM   #8
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Glazed shoes are a possibility

Drum brake shoes have tendency to glaze compared to disk brake pads.

If this is the case, a light sanding might do it, but it's a crap shoot, so I'd just replace the shoes for simplicity and piece of mind.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:03 AM   #9
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I would first suspect grease from a blown seal and worn magnets or brake shoes. Pull the hubs and start there. Depending on how much you use the trailer and under what braking conditions a 2015 model is probably getting pretty worn magnets & brake shoes by now.

While you are in there, might as well do the routine hub maintenance also to get it out of the way. That includes inspecting/cleaning/packing the bearings, brake shoes, brake wiring at the hubs, etc...

If that does not reveal the problem, follow your wires all the way back to the 7-way connector. You could have more than one worn or damaged point in the wire. Some brakes ground to the frame so inspect those points and the main ground at the front of the trailer as well. And don't forget to inspect the 7-way plug for worn or bent contacts. I just had to replace my 7-way plug for that reason.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:13 PM   #10
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Roger. Good advice. I’ll get on it today after work. Thank you Sir!
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:15 PM   #11
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@dward51. I see you’re in McDonough! I’m right down the road in Senoia.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:52 PM   #12
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And don't forget to inspect the 7-way plug for worn or bent contacts. I just had to replace my 7-way plug for that reason.
Probably one of the most neglected items on any Travel Trailer.

The "socket" on the tow vehicle gets wet and filled with all kinds of road dirt even if it does have a good flip down cover.

The plug usually just hangs off the tongue (5-ers excepted) and rarely inspected when plugged into the previously described receptacle.

There are inexpensive cleaning tools made specifically for these connectors and people might be surprised how much better the battery will charge, the brakes will work, and lights won't operate intermittently or flicker.

Just saying.
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Old 11-25-2019, 01:02 PM   #13
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The plug usually just hangs off the tongue (5-ers excepted) and rarely inspected when plugged into the previously described receptacle.
Which is why I use one of these on every trailer I own.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 11-25-2019, 01:03 PM   #14
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Have you ever pumped grease into the end of the axle spindle using the "EZ Lube" feature? If so, possible grease contamination of the brakes.
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Old 11-25-2019, 01:23 PM   #15
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Which is why I use one of these on every trailer I own.



https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I like that idea..not available on the link you provided, ordered a couple from bendtrailers.com
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Old 11-25-2019, 01:26 PM   #16
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I like that idea..not available on the link you provided, ordered a couple from bendtrailers.com
Yep..just noticed that too. Still available at many places.
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Old 11-25-2019, 02:23 PM   #17
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I installed a 7-pin receiver on the front of the propane cover.
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Old 11-25-2019, 02:48 PM   #18
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I bought something similar that mounts on the tongue jack. IT's called a "hitchin post" and I got it from Tweety's RV in TX. Holds the 7-way and has 2 hooks for the chains to keep them clean also. Clamps around the jack body.

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Old 11-25-2019, 06:17 PM   #19
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Well this evening I bought a new 7 pin cord for the trailer. Got it all wired up and still have the same issue. Pulled the separation emergency brake pin and same issue. Very little braking. I guess my next move is to pull the hubs off and inspect.
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:26 PM   #20
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I would agree, time to pull the drums and check the pads and magnets.

Next is to go over every wire connection, any loose or corroded wire can mess things up pretty bad.
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