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Old 08-06-2018, 02:43 PM   #1
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Electric brakes how effective are they.

Ok new post. My question is how effective are trailer brakes? My WD296 has 4 electric brakes. Assuming all are working and drag adjustment properly how much extra weight should the tow vehicle be stoping? I know 0% in a perfect world. But what should the expectation be?
I ask because of the very well respected saying ďitís not what you can tow but what you can stopĒ
I agree with it 100% but here is my thought. I have a 19ft boat that weighs in at 3,200 loaded with trailer. It has a surge hitch on it. Itís marginal at best honestly for braking. We tow it with out Toyota Sienna mini van. It has absolutely 0 issues. We still get 17mpg towing at high altitude. I know the surge hitch works with the initial braking but once the forward momentum has been absorbed by the hitch itís mostly vehicle braking. Again never a issue. So now lest say my boat has 4 eletric brakes how much better are they according to your experience? Iím trying to break down the ďitís what you canít stopĒ saying. By that logic EVERY vehicle towing a bumper pull or fifth wheel ďcanít stopĒ ie shouldnít be towing. However with electric brakes itís all good. Iím not out right saying Iím right or that the saying in wrong. However if you trailer has brakes does that mean you can stop?
My HW296 weighs 3,3400 dry (I called Rockwood/ forest river and gave them in serial number.). Ok my van tows 3,500. I have airbags, WDH and electric brake controller. Dry can I stop it? Im under no delusion that fully loaded or with water and gear that I can tow it completely safely. For that we use a truck but there will be times where we may use the van to go a short distance.
Thoughts?
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:54 PM   #2
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personally I don't agree with can you stop it phrase.
If the TV has to stop the trailer without the trailer brakes in a short distance there shouldn't be any semis on the road either.
Your electric brake controller should have a manual lever, apply it at a moderate speed and you should feel a fairly good breaking and the trail is stopping itself and the TV.

I am not a fan of surge brakes on anything that you use regularly. I had them on a toad when I lost the brakes on a class A, now you have zero brakes on either unit. I have used them a number of times on rental equipment and they seem ok for that.
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:57 PM   #3
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Surge brakes continue to be applied as long as there is stopping force.
Even though your dry weight is 3,340, if you weigh your trailer I'll bet it is a lot more, the hitch weight, propane, any personal items, etc. Your need to find the actual tow capacity of your vehicle, it is on a label on the drivers door frame. From GCWR, subtract all occupants, and anything put in the van, this is your tow capacity. As long as the trailer brakes are properly adjusted and you stay within you vehicles tow capacity it should stop fine. Don't forget tongue weigh limit of the vans hitch. I don't think your numbers are realistic.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:13 PM   #4
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My HW296 weighs 3,3400 dry (I called Rockwood/ forest river and gave them in serial number.). Ok my van tows 3,500. I have airbags, WDH and electric brake controller. Dry can I stop it? Im under no delusion that fully loaded or with water and gear that I can tow it completely safely. For that we use a truck but there will be times where we may use the van to go a short distance.
Thoughts?
OK, you only have 100lbs of towing capacity left, IF you have a full tank of gas and and only a 150lb driver in the car. Just adding a couple of kids in the car, will put you over the car's max towing capacity. Adding air bags does nothing to change anything except sag.

It definitely will wear out your minivan. Personally I would never let any family in the car, if I had that setup.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:17 PM   #5
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OK, you only have 100lbs of towing capacity left, IF you have a full tank of gas and and only a 150lb driver in the car. Just adding a couple of kids in the car, will put you over the car's max towing capacity. Adding air bags does nothing to change anything except sag.

It definitely will wear out your minivan. Personally I would never let any family in the car, if I had that setup.
Iím convinced and agree with everyone. Truck only. Ok do I return the WDH? Will I need one with a truck?
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:25 PM   #6
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Keep the WDH, you will need it with the truck. Your trucks owners manual will show how to set it up.
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:31 PM   #7
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I doubt you will need it with the truck if you go to a 150 or 1500. They pull fine up to 5000lb on a normal hitch. As far far as brakes I pulled an old pup with 12Ē tires and the brakes were crap. My new 823D has 13Ē wheels and it will tug on the van hard if you fully apply the brakes. I do not feel like I push on the brake pedal as hard with the camper on than when not towing. I did have to do a quick stop and I locked up on front wheel but it did stop. I would agree the HW is probably too much for the Sienna. I wouldnít do anything heavier than my 823.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:55 PM   #8
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Part of a longer rant on RV quality in general I posted in another forum:

Who the hell thinks it's still a good idea to be running electrically actuated drum brakes on a 15,000 pound trailer? This is insane. With today's electronics, we should have hydraulic disk brakes on RVs. All of them could easily be controlled by the same electronic trailer brake controller signal. More expensive? Sure. You'd need either an electrically activated master cylinder or a hydraulic pump supplying pressure to activate the master cylinder. Instead, however, we careen down the highway, often towing a trailer that outweighs our TV by a factor of 2 or 3, using brakes automakers abandoned decades ago. Oh, and by the way, who in hell has to repack wheel bearings on their TV every season or two? I thought not! I didn't have to repack the front wheel bearings on my (several) Beetles that often...even with drum brakes to overheat the grease.


So, yes, RV brakes suck. They are far better than nothing, but they don't work uniformly, and because each brake is actuated individually, they don't apply equal braking force. Hydraulics fix that. Electric drum brakes....just plain stupid and cheap.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:54 PM   #9
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Part of a longer rant on RV quality in general I posted in another forum:

Who the hell thinks it's still a good idea to be running electrically actuated drum brakes on a 15,000 pound trailer? This is insane. With today's electronics, we should have hydraulic disk brakes on RVs. All of them could easily be controlled by the same electronic trailer brake controller signal. More expensive? Sure. You'd need either an electrically activated master cylinder or a hydraulic pump supplying pressure to activate the master cylinder. Instead, however, we careen down the highway, often towing a trailer that outweighs our TV by a factor of 2 or 3, using brakes automakers abandoned decades ago. Oh, and by the way, who in hell has to repack wheel bearings on their TV every season or two? I thought not! I didn't have to repack the front wheel bearings on my (several) Beetles that often...even with drum brakes to overheat the grease.


So, yes, RV brakes suck. They are far better than nothing, but they don't work uniformly, and because each brake is actuated individually, they don't apply equal braking force. Hydraulics fix that. Electric drum brakes....just plain stupid and cheap.

Looks like someone is forgetting that just about every car and pickup has hydraulic anti-lock brakes and each wheel is not applying equal force in a panic stop. Just pointing out that if the trailer brakes fail to work, panic stop is exactly what you will be doing. It doesn't matter if you have electric or hydraulic brakes on the trailer.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:37 PM   #10
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It's a common misconception that drum brakes are inferior in terms of braking effort. Actually they have more braking surface than comparably sized disc brakes and are somewhat self-energizing with the leading shoe pushing the other shoe against the drum. Correctly working trailer brakes lock up the wheels any day.

Where drum brakes suck at is dissipating heat. With vehicles getting bigger and heavier and speeds getting faster disc brakes were the logical step, especially with spirited driving. Speed and spirited driving don't go along with towing a travel trailer though.
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Old 08-07-2018, 05:50 AM   #11
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It's a common misconception that drum brakes are inferior in terms of braking effort. Actually they have more braking surface than comparably sized disc brakes and are somewhat self-energizing with the leading shoe pushing the other shoe against the drum. Correctly working trailer brakes lock up the wheels any day.

Where drum brakes suck at is dissipating heat. With vehicles getting bigger and heavier and speeds getting faster disc brakes were the logical step, especially with spirited driving. Speed and spirited driving don't go along with towing a travel trailer though.
I would need to see documentation on these claims.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:21 AM   #12
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I have a 18,000 lb 5th wheel with electric drum brakes and they work fine - they will lock on dry pavement (and yes I have them adjusted correctly). No issues with my electric brakes.
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Old 08-07-2018, 06:51 AM   #13
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personally I don't agree with can you stop it phrase.
If the TV has to stop the trailer without the trailer brakes in a short distance there shouldn't be any semis on the road either.
Your electric brake controller should have a manual lever, apply it at a moderate speed and you should feel a fairly good breaking and the trail is stopping itself and the TV.

I am not a fan of surge brakes on anything that you use regularly. I had them on a toad when I lost the brakes on a class A, now you have zero brakes on either unit. I have used them a number of times on rental equipment and they seem ok for that.
There is a world of difference between hydraulic/electric brakes and the air brakes of a semi. Semi brakes are massive and are spring applied and air released. One of Newton's Laws of Motion is that an object in motion will tend to stay in motion until it is counteracted by an equal opposing force. So what it all boils down to is do you have enough brake to create that equal opposing force to stop it. Nothing on this planet in motion will stop instantly.
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:14 AM   #14
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There is a world of difference between hydraulic/electric brakes and the air brakes of a semi. Semi brakes are massive and are spring applied and air released. One of Newton's Laws of Motion is that an object in motion will tend to stay in motion until it is counteracted by an equal opposing force. So what it all boils down to is do you have enough brake to create that equal opposing force to stop it. Nothing on this planet in motion will stop instantly.


You are so right.
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:23 AM   #15
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OK, you only have 100lbs of towing capacity left, IF you have a full tank of gas and and only a 150lb driver in the car. Just adding a couple of kids in the car, will put you over the car's max towing capacity. Adding air bags does nothing to change anything except sag.

It definitely will wear out your minivan. Personally I would never let any family in the car, if I had that setup.
7 years with a Dodge Caravan, 2800lb popup and 6 people in the vehicle every trip. 15,000 miles and there were no issues. That's my personal experience.
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Old 08-07-2018, 08:34 AM   #16
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7 years with a Dodge Caravan, 2800lb popup and 6 people in the vehicle every trip. 15,000 miles and there were no issues. That's my personal experience.
apples to oranges, tow numbers are different between like vehicles and especially brands.
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:06 PM   #17
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It's a common misconception that drum brakes are inferior in terms of braking effort. Actually they have more braking surface than comparably sized disc brakes and are somewhat self-energizing with the leading shoe pushing the other shoe against the drum. Correctly working trailer brakes lock up the wheels any day.

Where drum brakes suck at is dissipating heat. With vehicles getting bigger and heavier and speeds getting faster disc brakes were the logical step, especially with spirited driving. Speed and spirited driving don't go along with towing a travel trailer though.
Heat dissipation is crucial. If you drive in the mountains, "spirited" or not, drum brakes are a poor option compared to discs. The drums also conduct heat to the hub and wheel bearings...thus the need to repack frequently.

Finally, correctly working and adjusted electrically actuated drum breaks may work well for a while, but each brake thinks for itself...easily leading to imbalanced braking on each wheel. But virtually all trailer drum brakes are NOT self adjusting, and if one is working harder than the rest, it does the lion's share of braking until the shoes wear down enough to balance out the rest.

I also noted that when my trailer brakes get wet, one of the electric actuators acts up and tends to apply the brakes AFTER I release the brake pedal. Perhaps that "self-energizing" feature you mentioned? Hydraulic discs suffer no such nonsense.
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:09 PM   #18
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I have a 18,000 lb 5th wheel with electric drum brakes and they work fine - they will lock on dry pavement (and yes I have them adjusted correctly). No issues with my electric brakes.
Tell me how they perform after a 5000 feet descent from a mountain pass in Colorado. Testing in a parking lot is fine as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far.
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:17 PM   #19
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Looks like someone is forgetting that just about every car and pickup has hydraulic anti-lock brakes and each wheel is not applying equal force in a panic stop. Just pointing out that if the trailer brakes fail to work, panic stop is exactly what you will be doing. It doesn't matter if you have electric or hydraulic brakes on the trailer.
Properly managed hydraulic brakes: a) apply equal hydraulic force through "dual-diagonal" hydraulic pressure lines; b) antilock control manages this force at individual wheels by measuring wheel rotation and RELEASING all or part of the hydraulic pressure at the individual wheel; c) and who the hell has hydraulic anti-lock brakes on their trailer???

On electrically actuated trailer brakes, a uniform electrical signal is sent to individual electric actuators that have NO ability to sense what the wheel is doing or what other wheels are doing. It's a poor substitute for what motorized vehicles have adopted as a minimum standard for braking since motorcycles gave up on cables and levers.
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Old 08-07-2018, 12:27 PM   #20
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I wish all trailers had disc brakes. But it’s all about the $$. Consumers, your average consumer will not pay the difference for hydraulic brakes they just don’t care. Every trailer with electric brakes will probably have an instant price jump of at least 1000.

https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Bra.../T4843800.html
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