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surge brakes vs electric brakes

Discussion in 'Equipment Moving Questions' started by Reuben, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. Reuben

    Reuben Senior Member

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    we are in the market for a 14000 # trailer for hauling our 435. multiple trucks will be towing it. should we go with hydraulic surge brakes or electric brakes. I have always felt electric brakes need maintained alot.
     
  2. OCR

    OCR Senior Member

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    surge brakes vs electric brakes:

    I guess I could look this up some where, Reuben.

    But for my benefit, and other members....

    Will surge brakes work, in the reverse direction???


    OCR
     
  3. Reuben

    Reuben Senior Member

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    i often wondered that...what happens when I am backing up a hill with surge brakes...
     
  4. heavylift

    heavylift Senior Member

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    One company I work for removed all their surge brakes.... replaced them with electric.. but evidently they have changed the law again.. The part below is a little bit of the article....

    http://www.rentalmanagementmag.com/newsart.asp?ARTID=2678

    The new rules eliminate the guesswork in the selection of a braking system for rental trailers. Michael Graboski, a national trailer expert who worked with the Surge Brake Coaltion, said the FMCSA’s revised rule treats surge brakes as equivalent to other braking systems for trailers up to 20,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under certain conditions.


    According to the revised rule, if a trailer equipped with surge brakes is 12,000 lbs. or less, the allowed ratio of trailer GVWR to tow GVWR is 1.75 or less. As an example, Graboski said you could pull a 10,000-lb. GVWR trailer with an F-150 truck because the typical F-150 has a GVWR 6,650, making the GVWR 1.5.


    If a trailer equipped with surge brakes has a GVWR between 12,001 and 20,000 lbs., the allowed ratio of trailer GVWR to tow GVWR is 1.25 or less. In this case, Graboski said you could tow a 20,000-lb. GVWR trailer with an F-450, which typically has a GVWR of 16,000, making the GVWR 1.25.


    In each case, Graboski suggested checking the combined gross vehicle weight (GVW) to insure that you are within the manufacturer’s total weight rating for the tow vehicle.


    The new rules say the GVW of a trailer equipped with surge brakes may be used instead of its GVWR to calculate compliance with the weight ratios specified in the rules when the trailer manufacturer’s GVWR label is missing.


    Also, the GVW of a trailer equipped with surge brakes must be used to calculate compliance with the weight ratios specified in the rules when the trailer’s GVW exceeds its GVWR.
     
  5. nedly05

    nedly05 Senior Member

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    I know you didn't ask about brands, but we have a 14,000 lbs PJ tilt trailer that we have been very happy with, that has electric brakes. The trailer itself weighs 4,000 lbs. They are worth taking a look at.

    on edit, here is a pic from the PJ website, www.pjtrailers.com
     

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    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  6. lgammon

    lgammon Senior Member

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    i like the surge breaks on the road and hate them in tight/ bad places. if you are backing down a gravel road you can get killed it just drags you off the road. if you never leave the pavment with it you will be fine but the trailer we have will get you hurt if you are off road. and all of this is basec on gravel driveways that are steep
     
  7. Komatsu 150

    Komatsu 150 Senior Member

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    Surge brakes work fine in forward travel and the brakes themselves are better but they don't work in reverse and if your backing up much of a hill they will drag. I think there is supposed to be way to lock them manually when backing uphill but then you have no brakes. My one bad experience with surge brakes was trying to back down a hill with a loaded trailer. It was this time of year and I got on to some leaves - truck brakes locked up and sliding down the hill - maybe a 100 feet but felt like mile.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  8. 95zIV

    95zIV Senior Member

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    Reuben,

    My father and I have Electrics on our trailers, and while they are only 3500# trailers, the brakes have never given us problems. As far as I can remeber the only work that has ever needed to be done was just adjustments. Personally I would never buy a trailer with surge just for what I consider the inconsitency of them, at least with electrics you can decide how much you want. I'm not sure but I think that some of the surge brakes can be had with a lockout so when you are trying to back them up they don't give you problems.
     
  9. JDOFMEMI

    JDOFMEMI Senior Member

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    I have pulled both, and just this weekend pulled a boat and trailer with disc surge brakes. They were OK, but you could barely tell they were there, and not adjustable.

    I will not buy anything but electric. At least you can control them.

    One think about surge brakes is that you don't have to change shoes often. They would have to actually work in order to wear out the shoes, or even need them adjusted.

    My electric brakes need adjusted for the wear of the shoes from time to time, and need new shoes every couple of years, but that is a small price to pay to be able to get stopped when you need to.
    Make sure to buy a good controller. That is the heart of the system. There are some real duds out there, and most people I have known to complain about electric brakes not working very good have a cheap controller, or one they never adjusted to the truck and trailer combination they pull.
    I will not use anything but Tekonsha for my brake controllers.
     
  10. 95zIV

    95zIV Senior Member

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    I'll second that We had four different trucks and they all had the Tekonsha's in them we loved them. Pulling a larger trailer it is possible to get the brake controllers that can be set to only use one axle if it's slippery so your trailer doesn't go ballistic on you.
     
  11. JDOFMEMI

    JDOFMEMI Senior Member

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    That is a great feature. I did not even know you could do that. I am sure it makes winter towing much less exciting.
     
  12. adam21584

    adam21584 Well-Known Member

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    Electric is the only way to go if you ask me
     
  13. Digger Dan

    Digger Dan Well-Known Member

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    I find electric to be very maintenance intensive on my dump trailer, and if I had a choice I would switch it to surge brakes. One loose connection or faulty wire and you can loose the electric brakes whereas the surge brakes would by design be more reliable.
     
  14. Reuben

    Reuben Senior Member

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    thanks for the replys.....alot of great info!!! ..never thought of the backing down a hill thing either.lets say in the winter you are pulling a hill and dont make it(us winter snow ppl all know that that is a common thing) there is no way the truck alone is going to hold a trailer with a 435 on the hill.
     
  15. OCR

    OCR Senior Member

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    surge brakes vs electric brakes:

    :thumbsup... :thumbsup


    OCR
     
  16. Komatsu 150

    Komatsu 150 Senior Member

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    In my little excitement I ended up putting the truck into 4WD low to crawl down the hill. At the bottom of the hill about a block away was Lake Geneva.
     
  17. RTSmith

    RTSmith Senior Member

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    Will surge brakes work, in the reverse direction???


    OCR

    Yes- And this is probably why so many of us don't use surge brakes. Without a lockout mechanism, they apply as soon as you back up, meaning that they wear out very quickly. Newer setups are installing a lockout solenoid which activates off of the reverse light pin that is part of the 7 pin RV plug on newer trucks.
    I am in the light trailer business (Under 26,000# GVWR. HE only on the farm, but that's what brings me here) and we almost never, ever, see surge brakes. The note about a proper controller is very good. The Tekonsha Prodigy or P-3 are the way to go.
    Oh- That note about only using 1 axle's brakes sometimes. Generally impossible. There is 1 wire that supplies all 4 brake assemblies. A controller cannot direct power to take some paths and not others. Electricity is all in or all out- no in between.
    Another note regarding DOT. If you have electrics, make sure the break-a-way bettery in the little box is charged. Around here the DOT will pull the pull cable and check to see if the brakes apply as required. And don't try this with the trailer plugged into the truck. The backfeed on the brake circuit can toast your controller.
    But if you can keep all of the lights working, 1 more wire for brakes shouldn't be that hard to handle too.
    Just MHO, but I vote for electric.
     
  18. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Senior Member

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    Electric brakes can also be used with multiple vehicles without the need to have control boxes fitted in every vehicle . They simply have a Potentiometer switch on the draw bar that works off of the brake light wire . You just do a couple of stops on a quiet street , getting out and turning the knob until you feel the trailer brakes are working well without lockup and away you go .

    One thing I'm not sure of , do electric brakes work in reverse ? The ones I have seen could not as the magnet that creates the drag on the drum is on a bell crank lever that can only move forward to expand the shoes . Is there a type that has a lever that can move fore and aft ?
     
  19. Orchard Ex

    Orchard Ex Super Moderator

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    I'm pretty sure that you can get a trailer tongue mount for the Tekonsha controllers so that you don't need to wire a controller into the tow vehicle. It powers off the trailer plug and you get the benefits of the proportional brake controls with any vehicle.
     
  20. JDOFMEMI

    JDOFMEMI Senior Member

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    I like that idea.

    Learn something new all the time on here.