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Old 02-14-2019, 02:51 PM   #1
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no trailer brakes

I picked up my new TT last Tuesday and while pulling out of the sales lot, I did not notice the tug on my TV I thought I should feel when the trailer brakes operate. I pulled off safely onto a side road and operated the manual lever and felt a very slight brake drag..even at the most aggressive brake controller settings.
It was a long day, late and I was tired so I drove carefully to my storage lot and dropped the trailer off.
Today I did a "bench test" on the controller in my garage and it seems to operate normally. My test light starts out dim and increases in brightness as the output thumbwheel and sensitivity adjustments are advanced. All digital displays on the unit are normal. It's a Curt model #51140 and I installed the unit before purchasing the TT.
The test light was attached to the correct 4 o'clock male lug inside my 7 pin trailer plug.
Since I am getting slight trailer brake drag with a manual application, I am guessing the trailer brakes need adjustment. Are new Forest River TT's routinely delivered with the brakes opened to the maximum brake shoe/drum adjustment?
Due to snow, ice and bad weather, I am not able to crawl under the trailer to adjust the brakes. Are the brakes adjustable and is it a simple matter of turning the star wheel adjustment with a flat blade screwdriver through the slotted opening in the backing plate? I also assume I need to raise the wheel so I can turn it while I adjust it.
Other than appliance owners manuals, the trailer did not come with a FR owners manual. Does FR supply "generic" owners manuals that covers brake adjustments and general RV knowledge?
I am kind of ticked the dealer let me drive off without brakes but I assume they wash their hands in the matter since they did not install the controller.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:54 PM   #2
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What type brake controller? Sounds like you need to turn the brake controller up to apply more power to the brakes. There should be no adjustment to the brakes themselves needed.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:55 PM   #3
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since you say it's a brand new trailer i'd guess the brakes are just not adjusted.

Yes, they adjust just like drum brakes on a car. If it's not too far I would bring it back to the dealer.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:14 PM   #4
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Lippert Axle break in period and adjustment.
http://www.lci1.com/assets/content/s...ers_Manual.pdf

Break-in Period for Electric Drum Brakes The break-in period is a typical phenomenon with drum brakes and especially electric drum brakes. Electric drum brakes will require a break-in period to achieve full performance. This break-in period applies for new axles and any time new brake shoes and/or magnets are installed as part of regular maintenance. Lippert Components has found through extensive brake testing that the break-in period for our drum brakes can range from 20 to 50 brake applications. Brakes can be seated in by applying approximately 8-10 volts to the trailer brakes at an initial speed of 40 mph and allowing the truck/trailer combination to slow down to 20 or 25 mph. For best results do not use truck brakes during this procedure. The trailer brakes will seat in faster by using them to stop both the truck and trailer. The easiest method is to apply the trailer brakes using the manual activation lever located on the in-cab brake controller. Care must be taken to not overheat the lining material, therefore brake applications conducted at one mile intervals will suffice. The driver should feel a noticeable difference in the brake performance during this period, sometimes in as few as 10 applications. After 50 applications, the brake lining material will be fully cured from the heat and develop close to 100% contact with the brake drum surface. This break in period not only seats the shoe lining material but also seats in the brake electromagnets. During the break-in period, the linings will wear at a faster rate than they do after they are seated in. NOTE: Brakes should be manually adjusted after the first 200 miles of operation and periodically thereafter, approx. 3,000 mile intervals.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:19 PM   #5
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Something I do when leaving on a trip....and where I live helps a lot. I pull out of drive and I have a short hill to climb on my street and then a long downhill run to stop sign about 5 blocks or so. As soon as I'm heading down the hill, I activate the trailer brakes only and kind of pump them to heat them up. When I hit stop sign and turn, I can then run up to about 25 and test the brakes and adjust my controller if needed. My technique has worked well for the last 11 years for me.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabinfever97 View Post
What type brake controller? Sounds like you need to turn the brake controller up to apply more power to the brakes. There should be no adjustment to the brakes themselves needed.
I maxxed out the output, no change in brake application, just a slight drag. It's a Curt #51140.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mr Towed View Post
since you say it's a brand new trailer i'd guess the brakes are just not adjusted.

Yes, they adjust just like drum brakes on a car. If it's not too far I would bring it back to the dealer.
Thanks, I assume the PDI includes a brake adjustment but as I mentioned the self- installed controller means they don't have a reason to adjust the brakes.
My controller, my problem to figure out if I have brakes.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:35 PM   #8
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My TT was the same way when I picked it up, needed a lot of adjustment
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cabinfever97 View Post
What type brake controller? Sounds like you need to turn the brake controller up to apply more power to the brakes. There should be no adjustment to the brakes themselves needed.
I would have to disagree about "no adjustment to the brakes needed".
Our left side brake was far from being adjusted correctly. Left was loose and right was close to correct.

Go through the brake in procedure and then adjust the brakes manually.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:28 PM   #10
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While the brakes may need adjusting, don't discount the fact that it may be a loose connection in the wiring on the RV. I found ours had a very loose connection in the junction box at the front of the RV when we go it. It's a lot easier to check a few wire connections that to manually adjust brakes.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:30 PM   #11
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MtBiker nailed in his first post. Any drum brake system in the new condition, the linings will be ever-so-slightly smaller radius than the drum. We can't make the linings larger than the drum, or very strange things happen with end-contact (self-energizing, can't release, etc, not good). So, since we can't make them perfectly matched to the rotor, the tolerancing is such that they are always smaller. The break-in (burnish) period is to let the belly-contact wear in until the full lining is contacting.


So yeah, make sure that the pads are adjusted properly, then go out and do that break-in procedure, with the controller at a high setting. Then set the brake controller according to instructions.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MtBiker View Post
I would have to disagree about "no adjustment to the brakes needed".
Our left side brake was far from being adjusted correctly. Left was loose and right was close to correct.

Go through the brake in procedure and then adjust the brakes manually.
I said should not be!!
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:53 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone, once weather improves and I can belly crawl through the snow, I will take a look at the brake adjustment. I agree the shoes and drums need a break-in (pun), but they aren't being applied sufficiently for that to happen.
I will keep you updated on the results of the adjustment.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:42 PM   #14
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Congratulations on the new TT!
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:09 AM   #15
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some update on the status of the brakes..
Trailer has not been used since I bought it last month. It went into storage from the dealer and it came out of storage back to the dealer. Pulling the emergency breakaway cable resulted in a free-rolling trailer. I could hear the brake magnets actuating when I pulled the emergency cable. I did bench test my brake controller and it was working properly.
Yes, my PDI missed the fact I had no brakes. Not discovered until I started pulling it. My mistake.
Although I have the ability, tools and knowledge on how to adjust brakes, my 65 year old body, frigid temperatures, snow, ice and high winds quickly cooled any idea I had to adjust my own brakes. Lesson learned, do not buy an RV during the winter. Exterior PDI's cannot be performed from the warmth and comfort inside the RV.
Yesterday I had an appointment at the dealer to fix the brakes. I carefully pulled the trailer without brakes back to the dealer. Lesson learned, an appointment at the dealer to adjust the brakes only means you have an appointment to leave the trailer at the dealer.
Lesson learned, the dealer will not start working on the trailer to repair a warranty claim until they have authorization from the Goshen bureaucracy.
Based on the stories I've read in this forum, I now expect my trailer to be sitting there for days and perhaps weeks while my batteries go dead. Lesson learned.
All this for perhaps a simple 1 hour procedure of lifting the trailer and turning the star nut brake adjuster through the backing plates.
All this has taught me if you have a minor or simple repair, do not take it back to the dealer for a warranty claim. Fix it yourself. Lesson learned.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:19 AM   #16
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I picked up my new trailer last month and had the same problem. at full force they barely created any drag, couldn't even get them hot enough to get grabby. I was towing with a different truck than normal, so thought maybe it was on truck (2019 ford with other electrical issues) but when I got home I hitched ford to my car trailer and boom had brakes at the same power level as my other trucks.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:33 AM   #17
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I picked up my new trailer last month and had the same problem. at full force they barely created any drag, couldn't even get them hot enough to get grabby. I was towing with a different truck than normal, so thought maybe it was on truck (2019 ford with other electrical issues) but when I got home I hitched ford to my car trailer and boom had brakes at the same power level as my other trucks.
Kind of discouraged to hear that, besides stories of shoddy workmanship, RV consumers now have to worry about that silly safety item called "brakes" being improperly adjusted on a new trailer.
Does a dealer have any responsibility to sell products that have been safety checked and are safe to use?
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:17 AM   #18
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Kind of discouraged to hear that, besides stories of shoddy workmanship, RV consumers now have to worry about that silly safety item called "brakes" being improperly adjusted on a new trailer.
Does a dealer have any responsibility to sell products that have been safety checked and are safe to use?
I think the purpose of that story was to show you that improper adjustment of your trailer brake controller or a bad connection at the plug COULD cause you to have NO brakes...

If you installed a proportional brake controller I believe they have to be positioned properly to work correctly...

Quote:
Proportional brake controllers are also known as pendulum brake controllers because of the way they sense motion. These devices use the position of a pendulum as a motion-sensing device, and drivers typically need to calibrate them before using them. When the vehicle is on a level plane and the pendulum is pointing straight down to the ground, the brake controller doesn't sense any motion and won't send any signals to the trailer's brakes. When the vehicle moves, however, the pendulum points toward the rear of the vehicle. As soon as the vehicle brakes, the pendulum swings forward. Depending on how far the pendulum swings, the brake controller sends a degree of power to the trailer's brakes.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:03 AM   #19
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check voltage at the 7 pin compared to at the brake magnet. There will be some voltage drop as the wires are TINY. But it should be proportional and not extreme. My new 5er had a TERRIBLE connection from the umbilical cord to the brakes, they only caught a few strands of wire in the crimp, could not get more than 3.5 volts to the magnets. Once I fixed that connection they work great. My Duramax has the built in brake controller.
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Old 03-16-2019, 09:04 AM   #20
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a bit more update to this story..
Yesterday I received a call from the service "advisor" who advised my trailer brakes were working fine and they could not find a problem.
Skeptical, I drove to the dealer to pickup the trailer. I pulled it 6' from the service department and applied the manual control on the brake controller. No brakes. I pulled the breakaway cable, no trailer brakes.
I backed up to the service center and advised the service "technicians" I still do not have brakes.
Like a Chinese fire drill, they scrambled around the truck and trailer to find the problem.
Brake controller working normally, check
Power to 7 pin, check
Power to breakaway switch, check
Power to wiring at the brake backing plates, nope
I am guessing a sheet metal screw had damaged the brake wiring during assembly back in Goshen.
Trouble is the brake wiring is buried under some sort of expando-foam substance that is covered by sheets of black plastic. Good luck finding the wire brake. (intended spelling error)
My skepticism remained intact as I drove back home without the trailer.
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