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Improving trailer brakes

Discussion in 'Trailers' started by fast_st, May 11, 2016.

  1. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    If you were using a typical class 3 truck to haul your GN and didn't have any axles, which way would you go?

    Working on the brakes on my 20+5 GN trailer, came with singles and I thought Dexter 8k axles, well they are 7k axles on a 18k trailer. Sheesh, can't trust anyone :) anyway, this trailer company built one frame for the 16-30k GN trailers 12" #16 I beam construction end to end. One reason I liked them. So I'm looking at picking up a slightly bigger machine next year and was thinking better brakes and axles would be good.

    I'd like to keep the same trailer versus buy / sell the current one.

    So looking over prices, (2 axles, 8 tires and all the fixins for the bouncy end right down to the lug nuts.)
    Base 10k axle kit $2600
    Hydraulic disc +1100
    Air brake +1900

    Base 12k axle kit $3600
    Hydraulic disc + 1300
    Air brake + 2400

    Dexter air/hydraulic unit runs $5-600 clams Plumbing, flex lines and adult beverages, Moxie! figure another $100.

    It looks like adding air to the truck including all the parts, relay valve, trolley valve, parking valve and such would run about $2500 and I have 2 trucks.

    Anyone running hydraulic trailer brakes?
     
  2. GregsHD

    GregsHD Senior Member

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    I take it you're running straight electric brakes at the moment? Adding an air system to the trucks (if the trucks do not have air brakes??) seems ridiculous to me. Have you checked into electric over hydraulic trailer brake systems? I pulled a triple axle boat trailer with elec/hyd disc brakes, they were very smooth.
     
  3. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    I screwed that up a bit, meant to say the Dexter electric/hydraulic yes indeed, I'm thinking of jumping up to E/H. Air seems like it has a coolness and stopping power factor but hydraulic is second best?

    right now yes, straight electric and they've had some gremlins.
     
  4. Legdoc

    Legdoc Senior Member

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    fast_st,
    Your post is interesting. I have the same situation. I have a 32' GN tandem dual with Quality axles that have always had poor braking despite numerous tow vehicles and tune-ups. My trailer is ready to be striped, sand blasted and updated. I am considering heavier EH axles. I am fed up with all electric and in this heavy of a trailer I would not consider all electric again.
     
  5. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    I have had good luck keeping the electrics working but its a good amount of effort. Thankfully the Tekonsha controller has a test mode where it'll show the amp draw, and I could see that it was 8 amps instead of 16 so two wheels were out to lunch. I have not yet cleaned up the brakes on this trailer and usually that's removing all the crimp splices and having two separate wires, one left, one right and run them right back to a weathertight junction box, giving each magnet a test on a battery with an ammeter as well. Often I find that its the pivots that get gummy and really steal a lot of the energy from a magnet, its not a very robust system. I did have an incident a while back involving a good load and a long steep downgrade, ruined a good pair of shorts, I'd like more braking. Often you'll see OEM trailer brake wires being 14 or 16ga all the way through the trailer, I like to up that with at least 12ga and good solid grounds all the way along.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  6. old-iron-habit

    old-iron-habit Senior Member

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    I was going to change by 3 axle trailer with singles to tandem 12,000 Lb axles. Found out the trailer frame is to wide on the single axle setup. Check before you buy.
     
  7. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    That's a good idea to check!! I think this company only made a couple different frames but its easy to give it a check... and indeed, the frame with is about one beam wider, hmmm, well that's interesting. Set of duals needs about 21 inches and there's just that between the frame and the deck, so yeah, stepping in the frame 4 inches on each side would be handy, easy enough to do, just a bit of welding. I do like welding. If there was enough overhang, I'd be happy to stretch the axle a little bit.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  8. JNB

    JNB Senior Member

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    Since your intent is to raise the GVWR higher than the manufacturer's tag, who would make the call on the actual safe rating at registration?

    If room were the limiting factor in running duals, how about swapping to higher rated axles and running super singles? Whatever you decide, it's be great if you document it (including electrical) so we can follow along.
     
  9. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    Yes indeed, good thought, the 17.5 tires fit on the typical 8 on 6 1/2 rims, so with a little stretch, the axle kits would work but that derailed my train of thought onto another track. All the disk brake systems out there ship with 'ceramic' pads, I really dislike ceramic pads for 2 main reasons, when overheated they turn to soup, and they will burnish rust without scrubbing it off, a feature to make your rotors last longer. I've had to remove ceramic pads from my fleet as if something sits for a month, the brakes are horrible and don't improve and after a year, I have to recut the rotors to get any good bite on them. Semi metallic pads has fixed all of this, wheels are more dirty but my shorts are more clean. I was trying to get brake shoes for the electric brakes, not the whole shebang, just shoes. Even with Dexter parts, shoes versus whole backing plates is almost a wash. Aftermarket shoes are 35 and backing plates complete are the same price.

    I've sent an email off to some of the axle/brake suppliers, I don't want ceramics and what I do want is parts availability. seems they sell pads for $100, egads. The derailed train took me down a spur, take dodge/gm dana 80 axles, cut out the pumpkins, adjust the length, seal the tubes and put on stemco brake caps, there, oil bath axle, 11k and parts availability up the wazoo along with gaining an inch or two on the brake discs. I'd have to put a tag on the frame rails noting what the axle fitment if I ever need parts. $50 a foot for 0.50 wall axle tubing, Dana rates the 80 series axles at 11,000 pounds, truck makers de-rate them to match tires.
     
  10. JNB

    JNB Senior Member

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    Yes, on the Dexter electrics I've always ordered complete from the backing plates out because of the shoe prices. Usually the magnets are worn and need replacing anyway. The pricing is pretty strange though.
     
  11. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    Yeah, my magnets are fine, they still had the dots, shoes are about 10% left, All the magnet pivots were sticky so worked them with pb blaster till rust stopped coming out, not serviced much in 15 years, it doesn't get a lot of miles. Everything swinging free, lubed and sharpened up the adjusters so the spoon gets a good bite, packed the bearings and tested everything for braking on the battery, works, set the brake shoe drag and called it good.

    I looked at the folks selling the disc brake 10k axles, so the flange to flange is the same as mine but yeah, the spring perch is 4 inches in on each side. Well, looking them over, there's plenty of room to move the spring perches outboard or just abandon in place and add a couple more, The super singles will be the way to go! Someone has mentioned that the hydraulic brake axles use standard GM parts in a pinch.

    Hopefully that's the case.
    First step:
    The plan is rewire the whole trailer, it has stupid 14ga wire all over with zany splices, make my usual proper harness and install, run power up to the neck where the electric/hydraulic unit will live, add a second battery for the E/H unit, just so there isn't any loss in a mile of wire. Attach battery charger units to both batteries to the truck power line.

    Order super single tires, my tires are shot anyway and its a 1:1 swap.

    Order axles, see if they'll move the perch outwards or just go with it and do it myself.

    Sell off a good set of 7k axles and tires to someone wanting to make a nice trailer.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2016
  12. JNB

    JNB Senior Member

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    That would be cool if the GM parts match up.

    Still wondering out loud, but will you be able to register at the higher GVWR? When I originally registered my 14k GN, they asked if I wanted to down rate the trailer to lower the tag price. I didn't since I knew I'd be running at max weight a lot of the time. I never thought about upgrading a trailer and raising it until you posted your idea.
     
  13. lantraxco

    lantraxco Senior Member

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    You can register it for anything you want, doesn't make it legal, just means you're licensed for that weight. Doesn't make sense, but the state is not going to take on that job of deciding if your equipment is legal. The driver is responsible for keeping it legal, the cop/weighmaster gets to make the call. If your trailer has a plate though, you're stuck with what's on it, though you may be able to retitle it as assembled with a new VIN under your name. That's how it works here in Orygun anywho.
     
  14. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    Well, when I bought my trailer its vin tag was a sticker that read #18K Well california is angry on trailers over 10k so I asked and they went into the office, made up a sticker with the vin that said 10k and stuck it on. The sticker was manufactured on an IBM selectric 3 typewriter. I had another tag to replace that one when leaving the state as it was a one way trip. Modifying or mutilating the VIN is bad news, so the vin is stamped on the trailer frame just like any other trailer should be. I can purchase a new trailer decal where I have to fill in the information myself or I can have one that's laser engraved on a stout metal tag, I like that idea more than the plain sticker. I'd almost like to find someone with a picture of an original Pro-trak trailer decal and copy that format. My original tag was about 6x8 and the replacement stickers were 3x4
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  15. JNB

    JNB Senior Member

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    Sounds like a plan. So you're another one that has fled the state? I left at the end of 2003.
     
  16. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    Indeed, I had my F250, 300 straight six, couldn't find a uhaul to leave, so picked up a 20+5 gooseneck and away we went. combo ended up weighing 24,500 it was heavy and slow.
     
  17. cannuck

    cannuck Member

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    fast:

    If you want to go to singles and 12k, there are not a lot of good disc brake axles available. I have used Timbren 12k, that are very compact, very pricey and require their aluminum wheel, but in general they are decent axles. You really can't get enough brake inside of a 16" wheel (duals from Dexter) to stop that much weight with two axles, thus 17.5 is the only option.

    If you were to go tri-axle, then Dexter 8k is a very nice brake, and six of them makes for good brake capacity. However, a single Dexter actuator means extremely poor application times (BIG delay). The only actuator I ever found that would do this fast with single unit was Brakesmart, but they are long gone. I now use one Dexter PER AXLE to get redundancy and fast enough response. BTW: the "nice brake" comment is due to the 8k Dex brake being four piston - only one in the business. Sliding calipers (other Dexter, Kodiak and all else) are fine on a car, but due to lack of ABS, flat spotted trailer tires will shake the sliding caliper brakes to bits. Only ABS option is Tuson (tucson?) but I don't like having to use their controller to run the actuator. If you are not using multiple trucks, though, it is the only ABS game in town (now that Brakesmart is gone) and an extremely good way of building. There is a reason you can't legally buy or build a trailer over 26k without ABS. Actually, a lot of them.

    Got to get to jobsite....later


    One thing I can tell you having built a lot of such trailers and hauled them for decades all over the continent is that the industry lies through its teeth about axle capacity. Yes, and 8k Dexter will carry 8k, but if you do that, tire wear (torflex), bearing life, etc. is miserable. IMHO, derate them to 75% and things will work for a lot longer and better.
     
  18. fast_st

    fast_st Senior Member

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    Looks like Dexter snapped up Alko brakes and parts, so everything is Dexter now. Was looking at the 10-12k axles, I like the dual actuator idea, I'll check the europe market as I bet they have plenty of hydraulic abs trailer options. I've been pretty good on feeling out the trailer and not making giant smoky slides to a stop.
     
  19. cannuck

    cannuck Member

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    I have been having trouble getting good search results for Euro ABS in medium duty hydraulic. They use a lot of hydraulic trailer brakes, and I think ABS is mandatory, but I can not seem to find vendor or manufacturer. Searches even labelled "European" just come back wtih US links.
     
  20. franklinute

    franklinute Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thread. I have been having similar issues with my PJ 30 gooseneck
    with quality axles and electric brakes. I too have considered going to electric
    over hydraulic brakes primarily for safety and reliability. I did a lot of research
    on this several months ago. Most trailer shops said cheaper to replace with new
    axles than to spend on labor to refit new brakes to old axles. Several trailer supply
    houses sell kits to convert to hydraulic and it is expensive. I did find a place called
    lugnut4x4.com and he sells kits to change an axle from drum to disc brakes. He
    sells a lot to the offroad guys but his kit should work for trailers also.