Electric Trailer Brakes

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 05:08
ThreadID: 34492 Views:14174 Replies:12 FollowUps:16
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Does anyone know much about Electric Caravan Brakes [ where's Derek] I bought the Van from a Dealer in Maryborogh Qld about 2 years ago and the brakes never seem to work , it has a controller on the chassis , I don't know how they got the rego done because I have tried to get them to work and discovered that the blue wire [ blue = brakes] on my van is for the interior light and they had the brake light wire connected to that, I have tried hot wiring and get a response through the controller ie the tester light brightens and dims , 2 wires are running toward the tow hitch , and one of them is an earth , got me Bu*gered, might have to take it to an Auto elect' next time it's out on the road
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Reply By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 07:11

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 07:11
When I bought my Jayco I thought the brakes were a bit dodgy so I took it to a local caravan repairer and they diagnosed the problem for nothing. $5 parts and it has been working ever since.

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AnswerID: 176064

Reply By: Russel & Mary - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:23

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:23
Hi Doug, whether the controller is on the van or under the dash, they work like this.
When you put your foot on the brakes this gives 12 volts to the controller, and in turn powers the electromagnet in the brake drum where it tries to magnetically clamp onto the rotating drum. This effect causes the magnet to try and move with the drum and pushes on the brake shoe against the drum and hence slows the van down. The electromagnet doesn't always get the full 12 volts, this depends on two things. Most controllers are adjustable for the rate of braking depending on the load carried or conditions (the under dash variety can be adjusted as you go if you need). The other function of the controller has a small pendulum that swings forward as you brake and applies part voltage to the magnet. For hard braking, the pendulum will swing all the way and more volts are supplied to give more stopping power. A seperate power feed to the controller allows manual application of the van brakes if required. Hope this helps a bit. Rus.
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:42

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:42
Rus
Thanks for the expanation , I have copied/pasted it to a wordpad , I have towed the Van from Maryborough to Brisbane, to Mt Isa, to Alice Springs and band back to Mt Isa without the brakes working and I adjust my driving to suit in towns, soon will be heading to Perth and would be better if they were working, I will try doing a wire up as you explained and see what happens.
Thanks

Doug
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Follow Up By: Bob - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 12:37

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 12:37
Quote
"I have towed the Van from Maryborough to Brisbane, to Mt Isa, to Alice Springs and band back to Mt Isa without the brakes working"

GROSS IIRRESPONSIBILITY

I could think of a lot of other names but they get bleeped.

What are you going to feel like when the day comes that you can not stop in time and maybe take out somebodys child.

Get it fixed or get off the road.
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 13:21

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 13:21
Bob
seems your an expert , I did not ask for expert advice , I can remember only too well Bob on the 27th August 1988 at 1:49 pm near Calliope I was involved in an accident which took the life of a 21 y/o young lady , she drove her car straight out from the intersection in front of the truck I was driving , Trailer Brakes had just 2 weeks prior all been re-shod , all P/M were fully adjusted , good brakes did'nt save her. Don't tell me whats GROSS IIRRESPONSIBILITY and what's not , I have over the years taught myself to drive to road and vehicle conditions ,One thing you don't do is go like hell through towns,It also teaches you to be very very careful, and of course I would not dare ask you to do same as I know you could'nt , and would'nt, Road trains for instance many many years ago with 5 trailers had no trailer brakes . I also remember a time when I had to bring a 42 tonne truck down Cunningham Gap without trailer brakes , Common sense prevails Bob
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Follow Up By: Willem - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 19:21

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 19:21
Oh Bob, you are precious

I had an inherent problem with the cable brakes on my 27ft Viscount and gave up trying to rectify the problem. I towed it for around 200,000km without brakes without any incident whatsoever. As Doug says, you adjust your driving. I used the gears on the 4by to slow down, even in traffic and never had an issue.
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 19:25

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 19:25
Thank you Willem ,.......needed some help on that one , my van is 7ft shorter than yours
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 21:19

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 21:19
Oh Doug, Never admit your's is smaller than Willem's. It goes to his head....

:o)

Dave
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Reply By: Ray Bates - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:39

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:39
Your brakes will not work if you hot wire when the vehicle is stationary but you should hear a humming sound from them.
I have not had aany expirience where the controler is mounted on the caravan only when it has been mounted oin the towing vehicle.
You must check to see if you have a good return connection (white) and a good power supply (red) from your stop light system. The blue is the power to your brakes.
These type of brakes work on the system where the harder you try to pull up the harder the brakes apply. They do not work when the vehicle is stationary or going in revearse.
All auxillery power for your caravan, lights ect., must come off a seperate supply line and be completely seperate from the braking system.
Wiring for these controlers are:- +12v (red) to brake switch. Black to +12 to battery. Blue from controler to brakes. White to ground.
If I were in your position I would mount the controler in you car. This way you can control the caravan brakes and apply them without applying the car brakes. This comes in very handy at times believe me.
AnswerID: 176083

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:50

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:50
Ray
thanks for your input also, yeh i forgot about the pendulum which would swing forward when braking, I actually had both R/H side wheels of to re-grease the bearings and noticed that , all wiring is there ok , just a matter of connecting it up right because the seller did'nt, Ray i seen on the wiring diagram when I just bought a new 7 pin plug and the blue wire on the van goes to interior lights, Van is a 1987 model so wiring is codes are out of date i reackon , I will keep your post as well , thanks

Doug
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Reply By: Member - Reiner G (QLD) 4124 - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:48

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:48
The brakes should be wired at number 5 on your plug and the interior lights on number 2.
I would go from there and go for a drive. A good way to test is towing on a gravel road. You can hear the wheels lock.

Reiner
AnswerID: 176085

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:54

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 08:54
correct ... 5 and 2 is ok except as i said the blue on the van is interior lights and I have 2 thick reds from the brake drums and of course one is earth .

Doug
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Reply By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:02

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:02
Hi Doug,

I don't like trailer mounted controllers. They always lack power.

I would suggest 1 of 2 things...

1) Fit a anderson plug to the car and van to supply a good supply of power to the controller and pick up the stop light signal off the trailer plug to activate the controller.

2) Fit a new Prodigy to the car and remove the van set up.

When are you going to Perth, I will try keep off the roads. LOL ;-)

Regards Derek.
AnswerID: 176089

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:21

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:21
Derek
yeh ...ok thanks a lot, ya better keep out of the way too. and bout time you showed up . I just fitted a new plug on the van and a socket on the car , I got all the lights working ok , Truckies learn all that stuff ok but truckies don't have electic brakes , might have to convert to full air brakes ....lol.
This system on the van was ok before i bought it and must been ok , just that the dealer done some mods and stuffed it and now i have to sort it out ,If only i was closer to the Sunshine Coast eh
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Follow Up By: Flash - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 13:15

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 13:15
Dereck, I agree, but
Trailer mounted controllers SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.
What's the point of brakes which only go on at a preset level, which is usually adjusted very low to avoid harshness whenever the brakes are applied.
They are not much better than no brakes at all, and there is also no provision to apply trailer brakes on their own.
Even over-ride brakes are MUCH better.
And Doug, PLEASE get them fixed properly before venturing any further on the road..
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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:02

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:02
Just been installing a brake controller in my car for the trailer.
A freind who has used them a lot warned me about adjustment.
Electric brakes work a lot better when warm/hot.
I asked how much and was told 50% to 100% better!

Manual for adjusting them says to drive 400 metres with them on lightly betfore adjusting them. In otherwords do a full panic stop after warming up and see if they lock up.

I also used to tow a trailer with the controller mounted on the draw bar. It was set up to take the control and supply current from thestop light pin on the plug. This can be up to 15 amps. First couple of times the fuse on the car on trailer light circuit blew. This wiring confused me a bit at first, there is the stop lamp pin and the brake pin which controls the electric brakes.

Really the controller needs to be wired into the accessory pin, but on a 7 pin plug, there is no such thing. Some people however wire up the reverse pin as an accessory pin.
AnswerID: 176090

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 21:48

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 21:48
Yeh your right on that one, I think i have already used reverse light pin as an accessory pin/or should I say Brake Servo pin
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Reply By: Member - Reiner G (QLD) 4124 - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:03

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:03
If they wired the blue as an auxillary I be going back to the dealer and let them worry about it. You should have a blue and a white wire coming from the brakes. The interior lights should be a black wire .
I have never seen a blue wire going inside the van.
On the brake drums it doesnt matter which one you make positiv and make sure you run the brakes earth right to the plug.

Reiner
AnswerID: 176091

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:10

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 09:10
Reiner
Thanks mate but one thing i won't be doing is going back to the dealer at 1700 Ks, as for colors that don't worry me i can sort out that

Oldplodder
there is such a thing in 7 pin plugs , check out this web site
www.campertrailers.org/tech_tips.htm
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Reply By: Member - Charlie M (SA) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 18:17

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 18:17
Doug
Make sure the wire you use is heavy enough. 5mm for both power and earth lines
4mm will do it but 5 works a lot better. Make sure earth is good connection
Cheers
Charlie
AnswerID: 176169

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 18:53

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 18:53
Charlie
Thanks mate for your concern. I think the wire that is already there is quite thick , must be 10amp .I was interupted today because i had to go get my replacement phone in car kit , the other one died so been installing that and it works ok so tomorrow will tackle the brakes , I see in one of the answers someone said take it for a test and do a crash stop, yeh good idea , all the CDs and DVDs , dishes, TV, computer go spilling everywhere so I might just give that a miss, It's a blooody Caravan not a box trailer, anyhow you have a good evening
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Follow Up By: V8 Troopie - Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 23:47

Thursday, Jun 01, 2006 at 23:47
Doug, I measured the current the electromagnets take, its 4 amps each wheel when fully on. So, for a dual axle job, your wire and connectors have to pass 16A comfortably or you loose some braking power.

Also, Ray mentioned above that electric brakes do not work when stationary or in reverse. NOT true, the electromagnet activates the brake shoes in both cases. When stationary, the wheel might have to rotate 1/2 turn before the brakes lock up - and they WILL stay locked as long as there is sufficient current to the electromagnets.
Of course, your hand brake is usually NOT wired in to activate the trailer brakes but that could be done as most handbrakes have a switch that illuminateds a light on the dash.
What might not work in reverse is the controller, if its ONLY pendulum activated. I'm sure there is some way to override that on modern controllers ( I'm using a home built controller). Perhaps some early controllers only had a pendulum, where the not working in reverse myth originated. Having only a pendulum activation is a bad idea as the trailer brakes then could never come on before the car starts to slow down. On wet roads you really want the trailer to slow down first or you could just as well forget about electric brakes and install a simple override brake system.

You ought to, before embarking on a long trip, jack up each trailer wheel in turn and give it a spin after which somebody steps on the brake pedal. You should hear a 'click' and the wheel locking up instantly. Try that also in reverse, just to prove my point above. You hear another 'click' when the pedal is released, there is no 'hum' as somebody had suggested. I would not be happy with a controller that does not pass this test.
BTW, here in WA electric trailer brakes have to be controllable from the driver while underway, which means the control box needs to be on or near the dash somewhere. It is beyond me why somebody would want to install it elsewhere.
Klaus
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Follow Up By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 09:53

Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 09:53
Our Jaydo brakes "hum" if applied when stopped. It is how I do my hookup check before driving off. They probably hum when applied underway, but I'm not hanging off the van to find out!

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Reply By: Patrol22 - Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 09:22

Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 09:22
Don't know about you Doug but all this green stuff is giving me a headache....think I take my trailer brake problem off to the local auto sparky.
AnswerID: 176279

Reply By: mowing - Saturday, Jun 03, 2006 at 21:01

Saturday, Jun 03, 2006 at 21:01
Hi Doug, I won't go into the if you should drive or not without trailer brakes but you may have a problem with insurance if you hit something/someone. The insurance coy may say that the set up was illegal (and they would be right) and not want to know you.

Regards

Mark
AnswerID: 176560

Reply By: disco1942 - Tuesday, Jun 06, 2006 at 18:25

Tuesday, Jun 06, 2006 at 18:25
Doug

I am a little confused by your postings. A brake controller mounted on the chassis would be pretty useless by now – they are not waterproof and water ingress would have destroyed it by now. I suspect what you have is a brake away system. Is there a switch mounted behind the coupling with wires routed into the cables going to the vehicle plug? There should also be a thin steel cable with an eye on the end which is shackled to the vehicle when you couple up. The thread reads as though you don't have a brake controller – only a brake-a-way unit.

PeterD
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AnswerID: 177070

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Tuesday, Jun 06, 2006 at 19:36

Tuesday, Jun 06, 2006 at 19:36
disco1942
Peter
How in the hell can you see the thread reading as [ It does not have a brake controller] when I clearly stated in my original Post that there IS a brake controller on the Van ,Damn it man it is on the A frame , I ask a question if anybody knows about electric brakes on a trailer, all I needed was for someone to tell me White wire for this,red wire for that, blue wire for that, Ive had people say I have to but this and have to buy that brand and I still have not got the bloody brakes to work so I will have to take it to an Auto Electrician and get the job done , maybe a new controller might be better, I checked the internet about the subject and seems all the parts for electric braking systems are reasonably cheap.
sorry Peter I am not blaming you ,I guess you were trying to help but all the suggestions are getting no where so end of story,

Doug
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Reply By: OzRoamer - Thursday, Jun 08, 2006 at 21:37

Thursday, Jun 08, 2006 at 21:37
Doug

Are you in Maryborough?

We have recently been advised to send a customer with a similar problem to an Auto Elect there called "Crippy's Auto"

This may help.
AnswerID: 177540

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