Caravan hand brakes

Submitted: Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 11:22
ThreadID: 138663 Views:1236 Replies:9 FollowUps:11
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Currently my caravan hand brake cables attach to only two wheels of the van, not 4 wheels. Does anyone know if and how, you can connect the hand brake cables to the four wheels.
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Reply By: RMD - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 11:58

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 11:58
Harry
Does it have 4 wheel electric brakes?
Most, if not all, do have electric brakes on 4 wheels but only one axle is made with the required parts to have a brake lever through the back plate.
If you did have both axles with a handbrake feature, then there would also have to be a tension divider mechanism to both axles and to each wheel so when the brake is applied, equal tension force is presented to all wheels evenly. If not, only one or maybe two wheels would have any brake effect applied.
AnswerID: 626564

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:47

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:47
Yes, it does have 4 wheel electric brakes and all the wheels have a lever on the hubs.
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FollowupID: 900427

Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 12:05

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 12:05
Harry - Does your van have brakes on all four wheels, or only on two wheels?

Tandem wheel 'vans and trailers up to 2 tonnes gross weight, only require brakes on two wheels.
Over 2 tonnes gross weight, brakes are required on all four wheels.

If your 'van only has brakes on two wheels, you will need to source and fit brakes to the other two wheels. Trailer parts suppliers will be able to help you with that.

If there are brakes fitted to all wheels on your 'van, you need to check to see if there's handbrake levers fitted as part of the two brakes, that currently are not being utilised in the handbrake setup.

If they do not have a handbrake lever fitted, you need to modify those two brakes to include a handbrake lever. Trailer parts suppliers will be able to help you, once again.

If you have the additional handbrake levers fitted - or once they are fitted - it's a simple enough task to fit another cable to your current handbrake cable arrangement, to enable all wheel brakes to be applied with the handbrake.

You will need to fiddle with the cable adjustment to ensure that the handbrake is locking all four wheels when it's applied.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 626565

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:51

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:51
Thanks, will try Trailer Parts. Not sure if others have had a similar problem and have solved it. I have trailing arm suspension, not sure if that makes a difference.
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FollowupID: 900428

Reply By: Shaker - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:07

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:07
Vehicles also only have a hand brake that operates on 2 wheels, unless they have a transmission brake.
AnswerID: 626572

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:53

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:53
Vehicle hand brake works fine. Caravan hand brake not very efficient.
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FollowupID: 900429

Reply By: RMD - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:51

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 16:51
Harry
Is the two wheels currently able to have the handbrake apply them, are they insufficient to hold the caravan? Why do you want the whole 4 wheels applied if two already do the job?
AnswerID: 626573

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:54

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:54
The current handbrake will not hold the caravan when I am using a power wheel to go down our driveway at home.
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FollowupID: 900430

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 06:35

Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 06:35
If it is for temporary manoeuvres as you mention, I would suggest a 12v battery a ‘stop’ button, and a pot controller hooked straight into the brake light line of the van. You already have good brakes, you just want to use them without a car.
If you already have batteries on board then you just need a lead to your new control box.
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FollowupID: 900449

Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 07:55

Monday, Jul 08, 2019 at 07:55
If you only need it while moving your van with your power wheel, why not buy a basic brake controller like the Primus IQ and use the battery of the mover to also run the electric brakes. Even a small 12V security alarm battery would do the job.

The Primus IQ has a slide control that could activate the vans brakes while you are moving the van.
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FollowupID: 900450

Reply By: Darian - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 18:40

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 18:40
Doubt if you would gain much from the exercise Harry, judged on my experience. My van is 2800kg ATM, has ALKO electric brakes on all 4 hubs, but like yours, has hand braking only applied to the front 2 hubs. I can pull the handbrake lever on as hard as I like but the result is a very average 'hold' (in 'engineering terms', poor mechanical advantage I presume). I would not trust the handbrake to hold my van on any degree of slope. As a result, I always use 4 of the yellow plastic serrated chocks in addition. Using more 'engineering terms' :-), my guess is doubling the required 'hold' from the one fully applied brake lever would produce negligible advantage, unless the brake lever was considerably lengthened...but then, I'm no engineer.
AnswerID: 626579

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:58

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 11:58
I have ALKO 12 inch electric brakes, - was thinking of extra cable and another brake lever---
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FollowupID: 900431

Follow Up By: Darian - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 16:16

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 16:16
Mine are 12" as well I should have said. Duplicating the handbrake assembly would be better than adding to the original I guess, but as has been commented elsewhere here:
a. The rear backing plates have to be 'handbrake cable ready' - they may be missing components...and;
b. Using chocks provides assurance way and above that provided by adding the proposed hardware...you might have to end up using them anyway. Good luck with the project.
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FollowupID: 900436

Reply By: GerryG - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 18:42

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 18:42
If the two wheels on your van are not holding when the hand brake is applied, remember there are possibly two places to adjust the brakes; at the hand brake handle and at the wheels.
If you just adjust the cable slack at the hand brake handle end sooner or later the shoe wear will allow the brake shoe arm to come against the backing plate and just sit there.
If you have adjustments on the brake shoes at the back of the wheel then you'll need to deal with them there as well.
Like RMD and others(?) have said, you only really need working hand brakes on two wheels . My two bobs worth.
AnswerID: 626580

Follow Up By: RMD - Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 20:43

Saturday, Jul 06, 2019 at 20:43
Unless the basic in the brake shoe adjustment is not done first and is correct, only then should the cable be adjusted to operate the handbrake.
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FollowupID: 900414

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 12:02

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 12:02
I have adjusted the hubs and the lever cable already, the brake shoe arm is not hitting the backing plate. The hand brake does not hold the caravan when I am using a power wheel to back the van down our driveway.
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FollowupID: 900432

Reply By: RMD - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 14:42

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 14:42
Harry,
It is good that now you tell us the reason for the question.

Unless you have released the handbrake lever to complete slack of the cable AND the arms do retract to base position and then adjust the drum shoe clearance it may not actually be applying the brake shoes very well.

Do you know if the brake arms in each side are free moving and return fully?
You must the mechanicals in a free and not partially seized condition.
After adjusting the brakes via the backplate holes and ensuring the shoe clearance is correct and all is free to move, then you may have a chance.

The cables must run freely through whatever guides the superb caravan maker provided. Often fitting a poly bush/plastic tubing or even a rotating wheel on tight large change in directions will ease the cable friction which often uses up handbrake lever effort.
If your adjustments are good you may be able to use the closest clevis hole to pivot on the handbrake lever, (if not there already), so the maximum human force is converted into cable tension at the now correctly adjusted, freely working brake components in the drum area.


The electric brakes can also be used. This can be done by using the onboard battery (or a remote battery) to activate the electric brakes via a switch. A substitute 7pin base can be wired to accept 12v house battery , through a press switch to bring on braking as required. Either a toggle switch AND/OR a press switch in parallel will allow pulsing of the brakes by finger on press Button or locking on via the switch if van used downhill where some surety is required. Gets scarey otherwise.

Multiple switches with varying ohms sized ceramic resistors can be used so a selection of braking force and subsequent control of descent can be achieved. Just have to make up the switch box and 7pin base to suit.
I imagine it is unhealthy to go under the van while it is moving. hence the above suggestions.
Cheers
RMD
AnswerID: 626591

Follow Up By: Harry B2 - Tuesday, Jul 09, 2019 at 17:28

Tuesday, Jul 09, 2019 at 17:28
Thanks for the advice. Will give the above a go.

Cheers,
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FollowupID: 900544

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 15:12

Sunday, Jul 07, 2019 at 15:12
Harry, I have never had a successful hand brake on a caravan.

I have adjusted them with good brake linings and it is always the same, they just don't hold the van moving forward let alone backwards.

I just use chocks, but in your case maybe a jury rigged electric brake controller on the handle of your power mover. You would just need 12 volts (maybe a resistor in the line to drop the voltage below 10 volts), a 7 pin socket for your van to plug into and a dead man switch.

The only thing that would be of concern is the brakes are not fail safe, so if your jury rigged controller failed no brakes.
AnswerID: 626592

Reply By: Harry B2 - Tuesday, Jul 09, 2019 at 17:27

Tuesday, Jul 09, 2019 at 17:27
Thanks to all who gave such good advice. Will follow up the tips and let you all know how I get on.

Cheers
AnswerID: 626643

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