How effective are Electric Trailer Brakes.

Submitted: Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 23:52
ThreadID: 92164 Views:3998 Replies:13 FollowUps:14
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I have just has a HR electric brake control fitted to my cruiser.
I connected up my trailer and was surprised how inefficient the brakes are.
I can feel them working but they will not lock the trailer wheels even on gravel.
Is this normal.

Cheers
Wayne B
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Reply By: Member - Royce- Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 00:07

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 00:07
All my units have adjustments to make the brakes work more or less depending on the load. If yours is a higher tech model, then maybe it's designed to respond to the amount of load.
After all, ideally you don't want the brakes to lock up but rather assist.
I like to be able to 'feel' my trailer brakes and am happy that it's the right setting...

Talk to your installer. I assume you have read the manual? :-]
AnswerID: 478883

Follow Up By: ozjohn0 - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:13

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:13
If it's an older Solid sate HR units tghen it has to be constantly adjust to suit the speed.
But if it's latter HR 'Guardian' then it's the same as the Tekonsha Primus and is a proportional controller where you set the current (Enery rating) and the harder you stop the harder the brakes are applied. Pendulum controllers are similar, but are not set and forget technology.
Proportional Controlelrs as by far the better units. Other higher quality examples are the Tekonsha Prodigy P3 & P3.
OJ
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FollowupID: 754419

Reply By: Member - Joe F (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 01:34

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 01:34
G'day Wayne B

I'm guessing the brake controler is a Hayman Reece unit (HR) and that its mounted and wired up according to the manufacturers recommendations.

These units are solid state and do not use a pendulum in the braking circuit.

If the brakes on your towed load are correctly adjusted and the HR unit also correctly adjusted, the towed load will slow or even stop your towing vehicle, very effectively ~ obviously it braking efficiency is multiplied accordingly if there are 2 - 4 or 6 wheels being electrically braked.

My vehicle has a Hayman Reece brake control unit fitted and it is simply excellent controlling either the single axle (2 brakes) trailer or the dual axle (4 brakes) caravan

Safe travels;
AnswerID: 478887

Follow Up By: Member - Wayne B (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 02:27

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 02:27
Yes Joe it is Hayman Reece unit. All fitted by a company here in Newcastle so I assume all is wired up correctly.

The brakes are working I have checked them with the trailer jacked up and also on the road. I can feel them slow the vehicle slightly. I would have expected better performance even to locking a wheel on loose gravel when applying the emergency brake lever on the side of the HR unit.

I have adjusted the brake shoes on the trailer so all that should be ok.

Is there any way of checking the strength of the magnets in the brakes

Cheers
Wayne B
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FollowupID: 754411

Follow Up By: R.J.W. - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 06:34

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 06:34
I have a similar problem, (don't have the same controller as you) One trailer I have I can lock the wheels up on but on the camper I can't. I have put it down to the fact I have changed the wheels on the camper to 17inch and the rolling resistance of the bigger wheels upsets things. Don't know if that's the reason or not interested in other peoples thoughts.
Cheers Rob
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FollowupID: 754412

Follow Up By: Member - Joe F (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 17:01

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 17:01
G'day Wayne B

One thing I should have stated in my initial response regarding your post, is that I have re wired the 7 pin trailer plug used on my 80 Series, using heavier guage wiring and a series of relays to supply the power out put to the unit attached to the Cruiser, so the Cruisers indicator wiring is purely the relay signal trigger and the relay in put and out put voltage is from a major 12 volt source.

All power out put to/through my trailer plug is relay switched ~ EXCEPT for the brakes, if you use a relay in the trailer brake supply wiring, you will have full on braking at the trailer wheels on every application of the brakes.

You may already know from experience the 80 Series Cruiser has inadequate wiring and suspect earthing or ground points throughout the vehicle, the crappy body earths may well lead to a deterioration of cooling system components or "electrolysis".

This electrolysis problem will cause poor power out put at any light ~ usually the further from the switched source the more the power loss/voltage drop.

Have you actually checked the supply voltage at the trailer plug on your vehicle? with a good quality Multimeter, if it is below 13.8 volts or even 12 volts, your trailer brake efficiency is compromised as the magnets that drag the brakes on require not only good voltage but also a very good earth/ground.

It sounds odd, because you can reduce or increase braking (voltage) efficiency by manual adjustment of supply voltage.

Lastly ~ I do not use the trailer plug earth return wire (white wire) as it is inadequate and there is to much resistance though the pins in the plug.

I use a Chassis earth strap between Cruiser and Caravan or trailer, this needs only one bolt to complete the earth path between tower and towed vehicles.
This earth strap is necessary on my vehicle set up as the Treg polly block hitch is technically an insulator.

Safe travels:
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FollowupID: 754443

Follow Up By: Crackles - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 22:31

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 22:31
" if it is below 13.8 volts or even 12 volts, your trailer brake efficiency is compromised as the magnets that drag the brakes on require not only good voltage but also a very good earth/ground."
Dissagree with your comment there somewhat Joe. The controller will adjust the output voltage to the magnets anywhere between 4 & 13 volts. (7 or 8 is a common setting) That's how it varies the braking force. Agree a good earth is required but that can be successfully acheived through the 7 pin plug direct back to the battery (not through the body) or better still heavy cabling via an Anderson plug.
Cheers Craig.........
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe F (WA) - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 11:40

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 11:40
G'day Crackles

I don't mind you disagreeing with my comment at all Craig, its always good to have several points of view and I to, appreciate yours.

Hopefully Wayne B can gather enough information to help sort his personal electric braking dramas out. I know from personal experience how frustrating this issue of low voltage supply can be, but I also know personal and practical experience how to get a result that suits my application.

Safe travels :
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FollowupID: 754475

Reply By: Ray - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 08:35

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 08:35
First of all you don't want the brakes to lock up. If the brakes do lock up the trailer will have a mind of its own and go to the point of least resistance like a ditch. Secondly you cannot check the brakes on the trailer if the wheels are not turning exept for shoe adjustment.Thirdly have the brakes been put on the right wheel as there is left and right hand brakes. You can check to see if the magnets are energised by putting a scew driver against the hub and your ear to check of they are humming (Two person job)
AnswerID: 478893

Reply By: Shaker - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:02

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:02
Electric drum brakes are archaic, inefficient & unreliable.
Who would drive a car with drum brakes?

Think about the mechanics of them .... a magnet sticking to the face of the drum & pulling on what is basically a handbrake linkage!

The sooner manufacturers realise that that they are just a relic from the past the better, as consumers we should be more discerning & point blank refuse to buy campers or vans fitted with them, we certainly wouldn't buy a 4WD with drum brakes, no matter how much we liked it, in a lot cases these brakes are being asked to stop more than our vehicle's power boosted, ventilated & slotted disc brakes.
AnswerID: 478897

Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:13

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:13
Who would drive a car with drum brakes - well I do and they work fine - just not after fording a river.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:25

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:25
.... or when they get hot, all drum brakes suffer from fade.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 12:41

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 12:41
Gotta agree with Shaker on the efficiency of electric drum brakes. The brakes on my caravan (2.5t loaded to max) can be felt operating if using the overide on the Tekonsha unit but I would not like to rely on them stopping the van by itself in a breakaway situation. While working and legal a lot more braking force is needed by the towing Cruiser to control the whole rig which is why I use the gears as much as possible (manual) and leave a lot more gap to the vehicle in front and do not exceed 90kmh even on flat, straight, dry roads. In an emergency I would just about be pulling the steering wheel out of the dash to push on the brake pedal...haven't had to do that yet but...
Yes the brake shoes are good, all linkages free and adjustments spot on and all four do operate.

Cheers
Pop
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FollowupID: 754428

Follow Up By: Ray - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 13:14

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 13:14
I have driven a c'van with drum brakes for years. You are talking as though you are a tear arse
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FollowupID: 754430

Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 13:46

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 13:46
".... or when they get hot, all drum brakes suffer from fade"

So do disk brakes when they get hot. Drum brakes just get hot earlier.
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FollowupID: 754431

Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 15:23

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 15:23
So Shaker, what is your solution? Do you have a design for an economical load proportioning towed vehicle brakes? If we refuse to buy a trailer with electric brakes what are our options?
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FollowupID: 754434

Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 20:29

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 20:29
Obviously I was referring to electric drum brakes.
The alternative is electric over hydraulic discs.
The trade off is that they are more expensive, but you would be better to spend the money on an efficient braking system, than say, having a winch hanging off the front that never gets used.
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FollowupID: 754455

Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 08:22

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 08:22
OK, thanks shaker.
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FollowupID: 754472

Reply By: macy - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:55

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 10:55
G'day I too was disappointed with the braking of our camper trailer, at first, but after a day of use they became progressivly better. Maybe they need "running in"
Cheers Mac
AnswerID: 478898

Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:02

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:02
Hullo Wayne

I have 2 trailers with electric drum braking systems - a single axle C/T (1.2 tonnes) and a tandem axle caravan (3 tonnes) - both work OK.

However, I find that after a period of not using them, their initial operation leaves a lot to be desired. What I have found works is to use a number of manual applications of the brakes upon starting off - say 3 or 4 times at about 30 to 40 kph. This seems to free them up, often to the point where they can lock the wheels.

With the added load behind, particulalry with the van, I drive with greater anticipation and gap distance and have not had a problem with brake fade. This is so even on steep slippery descents where the use of the manual override for the trailer brakes is necessary to keep the combination straight.

Cheers
Andrew

AnswerID: 478899

Reply By: Bushranger1 - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 13:21

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 13:21
G'day Wayne,
While you don't want to lock your electric brakes in normal operation if they are cranked up to maximum you should be able to lock them up on a camper trailer if they are working properly.
When I had a camper trailer I could make them lock up on bitumen if the controller was turned right up.
Are you sure you are not getting any voltage drop to the brakes? I used 6mm wire from the controller to the socket on the rear of the vehicle.

Cheers
Stu
AnswerID: 478903

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 15:01

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 15:01
No - not normal. I had electric brakes on my HD hard floor camper - now have them on my 'offroad' van - yes.... they work very well overall - IMV, they are designed to 'contribute' to the overall braking of the rig and if the whole system is adjusted properly, you should expect to lock wheels on gravel (especially the trailer, less so a weighty van) and to notice significant 'tugging' of a van on bitumen. That said, I agree with some of the above, in that the hubs and braking system seen commonly on vans these days looks to be quite primitive. There are better systems available as I understand it (such as electrically actuated hydraulic etc.), but they cost a lot more !
AnswerID: 478907

Reply By: Member - Vince M (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 16:04

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 16:04
they should work very well & if all is adjusted correctly they should even be capable of locking up (there not abs)
If the trucks locked up so should they & they should have become locked up just before the trucks
If you have a car without ABS & it does not lock up there is something wrong trailers are the same
The reason they have a over-ride is so you can control the braking including lock them up to help with a hill start etc (if your not good on the heal & toe method they help)

There are all types of electric brakes on the market now, but most are under sized for the load or use, i have several types fitted to trailers from basic std to a 3 axled electric hydraulic disc braked with brake aways & all work well on the little 20year old hayman controller
good luck
AnswerID: 478913

Reply By: snailbait (Blue mntns) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 17:24

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 17:24
Hi Wayne

There are two types of magnets used on Electric van brakes

The bigger magnets are called of road magnets or marine magnets

They do skid the wheels if the controller is not adjusted

Tekonshire Prodigy 3 Brakes advise how to set up the correct voltage to the magnets

That is set the controller to about 5 to 6 on the dail with the caravan on then take it for a run in a straight line then travel up to 25 klm / hr and apply the brakes

If the caravan tugs the vehicle then the brakes are set to high

Set the controller so that the vehicle brakes and the caravan brakes are balanced to brake together

Hopes this help

Terry
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AnswerID: 478920

Reply By: Member - Bucky - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:13

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:13
Wayne

Effective trailer brakes, take care of the trailer.
You should stop your vehicle normally, and the electric brake stops your trailer, ie you should never fell

Trailer brakes are not an anchor, or an extra brake for the vehicle.
However in sayinig that, I have wound them up and done just that during some off road steep jaunts, and done that effectively.
Cheers
Bucky
AnswerID: 478969

Reply By: Horacehighroller - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 14:45

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 14:45
Gday Wayne B,

You say you have just had the controller fitted so I wonder how far you have towed the van since. It occurs to me that if you just took the van for a test run it's brakes may not have even warmed up. I find on my cruiser, when applying the brakes from cold they are not so effective. When, for example, coming to a stop as I come off a freeway ramp I find I have to gradually reduce pedal pressure as the brakes start to "bite" as they warm up.
Is it possible that your van has heavy duty linings which need to be hot. If so that's what I would prefer if I was descending Cunningham's Gap (as an example).

I hope you discover what the problem is.

Peter
AnswerID: 478976

Reply By: Member - Wayne B (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 01, 2012 at 16:45

Thursday, Mar 01, 2012 at 16:45
Sorry I have been away for a couple of days so have not had time to read all post until now.
Thank you to all who replied. You have given me a few ideas and things tom check. I feel they should be better then they are at the moment and the first thing I will look at is the Voltage to the trailer connection. After I have read the user manual LOL.

Thanks again
Cheers
Wayne B
AnswerID: 479095

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