Bush driving with electric brakes

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:00
ThreadID: 130972 Views:1956 Replies:4 FollowUps:14
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What is the best way to handle electric braking on an off road van down a muddy track. Should you manually override the trailer brake and let the trailer do the braking or let the low range gearing of the 4WD do the breaking.
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Reply By: gbc - Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:23

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:23
There's a few different correct answers to this depending on the car, the track conditions, the van traction etc. Is this a hypothetical or did you have an event?
AnswerID: 593091

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:37

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:37
We have had a camper trailer for over ten years and have travelled a lot with it. It has the conventional hydraulic disc brakes actuated by the brake cylinder on the towbar. Been down some hairy tracks with it and never had any issues. Prado with a Kimberley Kamper

We plan to upgrade to an off AOR road caravan next year and have just purchased a brake controller. New van will have electric drums.

Friend had an issue on the Bloomfield track a few years ago in very muddy conditions. Similar off road van with electric brakes ended up jacknifing but managed to get himself out of trouble by tying the back of the van to a tree and driving forward to straighten up. Wasn't with him when he did it. We met up in Cooktown a few days later.

He didn't use his over-ride and I was wondering if it would have helped in those conditions.
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 06:58

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 06:58
I would think over rides would have sorted this but there's no guarantee as that still depends on conditions - the whole rig could simply slip over the edge regardless of the over ride.
Needs a lot of common sense and advance track checking to determine the best option.

A problem with over rides is that most people (me included) seem to have mounted them down around the ash tray area. Its not always easy to engage the over ride whilst you are stressing and trying to keep the tug pointing in the right direction etc
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FollowupID: 861293

Follow Up By: gbc - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 08:12

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 08:12
I've gone close on the Bloomfield too. That was towing a campomatic coming around a corner to a descent and meeting a tour bus on a blind corner.
The main thing in mud (especially hard slippery stuff like the Bloomfield) is to keep all the wheels turning. One touch of the overrides could lock up the van and send you off the side. Your choice of tyres suddenly becomes extremely important and might make a big difference - not that I think putting mud tyres on trailers is especially smart, but on the tug in those conditions they can make all the difference.
Backing off the brake bias before you get into the trouble spots is the important bit - you want max trailer brakes without losing traction in mud, which isn't very much unfortunately, so that the towed wheels still turn and you are relying on the prado's electronics to do the best they can with what they have, which if it's the original grand treks, is going to be a rapid descent. The rest is fairly subjective depending on each hill, but for me a proper dodgy hill descent Involved generally both feet on the brake pedal listening to the abs scream and steer for the ruts while my sphincter tries to suck the seat off its mounts. The hill descent control in my ranger is top notch and it has proven time and again that it does a better job of keeping me straight than I do - I don't touch the brakes anymore.
I use gearing and engine braking regularly, but not in bad mud descents while towing - if a well sorted (current - not woeful old 105 series) abs/descent control isn't going to pull you up, you weren't going to do it on compression anyway.

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FollowupID: 861297

Follow Up By: Malcom M - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:13

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:13
Yup, momentum is the key here. Yanking on the over ride will only help by pulling the trailer back into line, however the tug needs to be moving forwards to achieve this.
If the tug is not able to move forward properly then you'll still jack knife (or worse)
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FollowupID: 861302

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:20

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:20
Thanks gbc. Descent control certainly good these days. Not having used electric brakes before, what do you mean by backing off the brake bias? Is that increasing the voltage to make the trailer brake more? Controller I have just bought is a Tekonsha P3 90195
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FollowupID: 861305

Follow Up By: gbc - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:45

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:45
No, you decrease the trailer voltage as soon as you head off the blacktop onto dirt, and continue to decrease in areas of less traction otherwise the trailer locks up and chews up tyres so you learn that one quickly ;). The exception is sand where locking up the trailer and having it drag its bum is a legitimate form of extreme braking.
I have redarc controllers so someone with a P3 could give you the heads up with rough settings. Just touching the brakes to get the brake lights going then adjusting the bias until it feels correct and the wheels aren't locking is my non scientific method......Brake controllers these days are getting a whole lot better than my redarc too though.
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FollowupID: 861306

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:11

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:11
That makes sense when you think about it. Best to know now before I start to scrub tyres.
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FollowupID: 861307

Follow Up By: Malcom M - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:28

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:28
Mines a P3, does the same thing.

You set the braking level via the front up/down switches. As GBC said, back it off for off road or it'll probably be locking up everywhere.
To lock it up on the blacktop or dirt, simply drag across the lever that lies along the front bottom.
This is all covered in the manual under setups.

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FollowupID: 861310

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 19:13

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 19:13
Ha ha, that's a really descriptive follow-up, gbc. Haven't been north of Port Douglas, but can picture that slippery soil from your words, and my own experiences over the years.

Feel the only bit you missed was when you managed to stop, with a tyre up against a tree root. You alight from the Ranger to check either x, y or z. Your right foot contacts the slippery soil, and as your body weight increases on said foot, it slips into the rut you intentially moved into, and disappears under said Ranger, with you following, so that you end up being rather muddy, right up your right side......and maybe elsewhere?

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: skulldug - Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:59

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 20:59
mepvic,

I'm happy to have a go and I'm sure I will be corrected. In this order....

Tyres down.
Low gear.
Gentle breaking.
Manual override, no car brakes to keep things straight if the trailer gets out of line.
If the hill is steep enough, I'd consider hooking a winch from another vehicle to the back of the trailer and doing it a few feet at a time.

Not sure how you get the last trailer down though.

I'll follow this with interest.

Skull
AnswerID: 593095

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 21:28

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015 at 21:28
Thanks Skulldug. That was my thoughts also. Gentle caravan braking with the over-ride. All other precautions a must.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:10

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:10
Hi Mepvic

If the tracks are thant muddy, do yourself and everyone that will follow a big favour........keep off them.

Cut up tracks ruin it for everyone that has to travel the tracks once they have dried out.



Cheers


Stephen
Simpson Desert Colours

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AnswerID: 593106

Follow Up By: Malcom M - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:15

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 09:15
Not really helpful mate.
You don't always know whats ahead and when you find an area you don't really want to drive, you may not be able to turn around anyway.
Sometimes continuing forward is the only solution.
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FollowupID: 861304

Follow Up By: Member - mepvic - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:16

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:16
Everyone knows the consequences Stephen but sometimes you get yourself into that situation because of a sudden downpour. You either settle in for a few days or try and get out. Settling in not always an option.
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FollowupID: 861309

Follow Up By: Gronk - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 14:29

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 14:29
As a followup to Stephens post, if you are unsure of correct procedures for braking while towing, do not venture onto tracks that are out of your comfort zone.

If it was a steep track ( greasy or not ) I would be in low range 1st with SOME brakes applied and a bit of over ride on the trailer. I MAY also be asking myself, do I really need to be doing this ??
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FollowupID: 861316

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 14:29

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 14:29
Hi Malcom

The question was "Bush Driving" and anyone that heads into the bush, no matter where it is must make sure that you do all your homework. It is always far better to sit it our rather than cut the hell out of a bush track, made even worse by towing.

Being a responsible bush drive is to make sure that you leave the area fit for the next driver.


Each to their own, but when you are a long way from help, it is always better to play it on the safe side. Get caught out in the bush for driving on muddy roads and you would better hope that the locals don't catch you.






Stephen
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Reply By: Member - mepvic - Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 20:11

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015 at 20:11
Thanks to all who have answered my question on the best way to handle electric brakes if you find yourself in an adverse position. You cannot always predict road conditions and it is good to know how to handle the situation.

I now consider myself a responsible bush driver having done my homework getting advice from fellow responsible drivers.

AnswerID: 593125

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