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Author Topic:   Brakes on a Montauk trailer?
Hoop posted 10-07-2003 07:23 PM ET (US)   Profile for Hoop   Send Email to Hoop  
Do you have brakes on your Montauk trailer? I never have, as I figured that the gross weight of the Montauk/motor/trailer was around 2200 lbs, well below the state of California requirement that trailers over 3000 pounds have brakes.

But some of the new SUV's, rated for towing 3500 lbs to 5000 lbs, have an owners-manual requirement that trailers over 1000 lbs have brakes. The SUV's I'm referring to include the Toyota Highlander and 4Runner and the Honda Pilot. And for all I know, the same could apply to other SUVs that I haven't researched.

I've just bought a new 4Runner, and need to decide what I'm going to do. What is your counsel?

San Jose, CA

oysterman posted 10-07-2003 07:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for oysterman  Send Email to oysterman     
No brakes on mine. I have a '01 Montauk towed with my Tacoma. I've had good luck so far. I tow a lot of different boats with my truck in fact. I've never had brakes on the trailers.
JBCornwell posted 10-07-2003 07:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
I doubt that you need them, Hoop.

My ML320 is "rated" for 5,000lb "with brakes".

I had to do some serious probing to find out that there is a secret rating of 3500lb without brakes. I have towed my Montauk, and an Outrage 18 a combined total of about 50,000 miles.

Published tow ratings may be as important to the market as horsepower ratings.

Red sky at night. . .

jimh posted 10-07-2003 08:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Trailer brakes are often a source of problems. Keeping them working can be a challenge.

That said, I can tell quite plainly whenever the brakes on my trailer are not working properly. All I have to do is approach a stop light or a stop sign--I know immediately if the trailer brakes are kicking in or not.

A surge brake system what is properly set up and assembled with quality parts can work well without too much maintenance. The brakes on my 1987 trailer are original and still work. They don't see much salt water, and when they do they get well flushed with a built in flush system.

whalersman posted 10-07-2003 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalersman  Send Email to whalersman     
I have never had brakes on Montauk and have owned it for 15 years...

However, I am getting ready to ADD brakes to my Outrage 18 trailer...

Disc brakes are becoming common on newer trailers... I personally think Discs are the way to go... I will be installing Kodiak Disc Brakes that have some Stainless Steel parts but not the rotors... There are many different opinions about which parts should be Stainless, could be Stainless, and what really should be Stainless and what doesn't have to be Stainless...

Disc Brakes are easy to wash out with Fresh water as compared to Drum brakes... Disc brakes also have better cooling and stopping power... Most all new vehicles come equipped with 4 Wheel Disc Brakes... Why not trailers???

My reason for adding brakes to my Outrage 18 trailer...
A couple of weeks ago I was going down a hill under the speed limit and staying 3 or 4 times the normal distance behind the vehicle in front when I saw a deer run in front of this vehicle.... Well, he/she slammed on their brakes and so did I.... My 1995 1/2 ton Chevy Truck did not really want to stop as quickly as I would have liked but I did manage to avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front.... That was enough for me....

It is Trailer Brake time for me....... A great Winter project.....


Marlin posted 10-08-2003 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
I have brakes on my 160 Dauntless trailer. The boat & trailer weigh in at around 2600 pounds, well within the 3300 pound rating on my Volvo V70 wagon. I don't "need" the brakes, but oh boy what a difference when they're disabled! I have much better stopping ability, with better control, with the trailer brakes. Down the road (so to speak...) it could save me some big problems.

The trailer is a 2003 ShoreLand'r SLB31BSW with disk brakes. The calipers are stainless and bronze, and appear to be very well made. It's trivial to thoroughly rinse them, which I do every time even though I usually launch in fresh or at worst brackish water.

If I were towing the Dauntless (or a Montauk) with a full-size pickup or SUV, I don't know that I'd bother. With a small truck/SUV or a minivan or passenger car, I'd highly recommend going with the brakes.


Bigshot posted 10-08-2003 12:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Just SS disc brakes on my trailer lasted about 4 seasons and rotted off. I rinsed them and sprayed them and they still fell apart.
ShrimpBurrito posted 10-08-2003 12:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito     
BS - The rotors or calipers were SS? What fell off?
triblet posted 10-08-2003 01:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
My Montauk trailer doesn't have brakes. I tow it with a
Nissan Pathfinder (intermediate size SUV). I haven't felt the
need for trailer brakes.

Bigshot: Dick stated in a thread here somewhere that the early SS disk
brakes had problems but that the later versions were good.

And BTW folks, Hoop has a late M167, not an M170.


Hoop posted 10-08-2003 07:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
All, thanks for your comments. Yes, there's a lot to be said for stopping effectively!

Yes, my Montauk is a 2000 'classic' model at 16'7", and weighs less than either the Montauk 170 or the Dauntless 15.

I've been towing boats for 5 years with a Ford Ranger, and there was no mention in its owners manual of brakes on trailers over 1000 pounds, though maybe I better go look. In most driving conditions, the Ranger stopped the rig just fine. In a panic stopping situation, I did experience some heart palpitation.

Chuck, I was thinking about you specifically when I went shopping for a new vehicle. You have always spoken highly of your Pathfinder. I preferred the size and style of the new 4Runner over the Pathfinder, though I put it in the same category. I was surprised when I read in the iddy bitty print (OK, it wasn't that iddy bitty) in the 4Runner Owners Manual that trailers over 1000 lbs must have trailer brakes.

My strategy: I'll give it a try first.

Thanks everyone.

Best regards,
Hoop (aka Jim)

Hoop posted 10-08-2003 07:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
I wonder if 4 wheel ABS is the difference?
russellbailey posted 10-08-2003 08:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for russellbailey  Send Email to russellbailey     
Whenever anyone asks on the site about if a vehicle is big enough to tow a trailer, I always think of brakes.

I drive a 1995 Chevrolet 1500 (half-ton) which has full ABS and weighs about 5,000 lbs. When I slam the brakes on with our Striper 15 and trailer (~1700 lbs), or 1/3 of the truck weight, it takes noticeably longer to stop than no trailer. However, being massively outweighed by the truck (which also has a long wheelbase), I can do a maximum braking stop with trailer with no control problems.

If you cannot comfortably do a full power stop with your rig, I think you need brakes, regardless of how small the boat is. My wife's Camry would also tow our 15' easily - the Camry weighs about 3500 lbs. I'm pretty sure I would get brakes on it were I to tow it much with that small a car.

Try a full power stop with your 4-Runner when roads are wet (slick). See what happens for stopping distance and stability. If you aren't comfortable trying that, my opinion is that you should have brakes.

BW23 posted 10-09-2003 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for BW23  Send Email to BW23     
Good info on trailer brakes and supplies.

Some states also require brakes on "both" axles if you use a dual axle trailer. Do your homework and travel safely.

Bigshot posted 10-09-2003 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Trailer is a 1997 and by 1999-2000 the calipers rusted and froze up. I rinsed them EVERY time I used the trailer which was usually in brackish water. Just like SS brakes on Vettes, they are not solid SS, just certain parts. The rotors look like something chewed on the edges. Luckily they froze open and just recently I torched them off and no longer have brakes.
Marlin posted 10-09-2003 12:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
Speaking of brakes... I recently found out, courtesy of a very polite Fairfax cop, that in Virginia a trailer with brakes needs a motor vehicle inspection. I thanked the guy for a warning rather than a ticket, and started calling inspection stations. Mostly the responses I got ranged from "Huh?" to "Nah, we don't inspect trailers." Finally found a place that would do it. Any guesses about what the inspector didn't even look at? But hey, at least I got the sticker.

By the way, the 4 cops who stopped me at the ramp all crowded around my 160 Dauntless and agreed: "Wow, nice boat!"


Gene in NC posted 10-14-2003 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Panic stop problem is that you can stop the trailer coupler w/o stopping the back end of the trailer. Happens to big rigs all the time, even with air brakes on the trailer.

At about 60, towing Sakonnet with big station wagon on a two lane, we popped over a rise to find a car waiting to turn left.

Full binders stopped the wagon about six feet into the stopped car, he heard the brake howl and pulled off, but the trailer was half way into the oncoming lane.

I cleared onto the shoulder just in time to see the other car try the turn again. They were broadside to oncoming traffic when a little Datsun wagon, did the pop and center punched the turning car, turning it over with expected damage to the Datsun.

Lot of focus by posters on "power to pull boat as if not even there". All well and good but if an oncoming car hits the trailer, it and your boat are toast and your family might be living on beans if someone dies or worse is very seriously injured with lifetime handicaps.

John Edwards may be washed out of the presidential race and the senate, but that would put that ambulance chaser back in the courtroom. Maybe one of us can be the defendant, like the $37,000,000 settlement that he "won" ($14,000,000 score for Edwards). He won the NC senate seat by writing a $6,000,000 check to his campaign.

CHRISWEIGHT posted 10-14-2003 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for CHRISWEIGHT  Send Email to CHRISWEIGHT     
I would not now tow without brakes, last year whilst towing a double axle with a cherokee the rig began to snake so violently (45mph) accelerating onto a motorway,I eased out of the gas and tried to stablise with the steering but it just got worse eventually just before I thought the rig was going to turn over I jumped hard onto the brakes and to my amazment a split second later it was all rolling along at 15 mph as if nothing had happend.

I have been towing boats and caravans for 15 years with and without brakes, but think i was very lucky on that day and I will not now tow without brakes.

UK law requires brakes on any trailer gross weight over 750kg.

Hoop posted 10-14-2003 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
Gene and Chris, great posts. thanks. Jim
andygere posted 10-15-2003 03:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
My guess is that the folks at Toyota are requiring trailer brakes as a way to limit their liability. The 4Runner is much more truck than my little Jeep Wrangler, and I never felt the need for trailer brakes when towing my Montauk with that rig. Perhaps the best advice is to give it a try and see how it feels under controlled conditions. If you decide that it's a good idea to add brakes to your trailer, I'd be happy to loan you my slip in Santa Cruz while you do the work. It's much easier working on the trailer when the boat is off of it, and I will have Namequoit out of the water for a little while to do some projects this fall/winter.
whaling away posted 10-24-2003 05:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaling away  Send Email to whaling away     
I tow my Montauk with a '97 4Runner (not sure if the brakes are different on new generation 4Runner), and find the brakes to be adequate but with little confidence in panic situations. The traffic on 101/580/680 can be cruising along nicely and abruptly slow down to a crawl. I doesn't seem to help by giving the vehicles in front added space as vehicles continuously jockey for positin trying to get that one extra car length ahead. I ahve not been involved in an accident, but I could easily see the posibility if caution is not used. If I had the option to have brakes I would opt for them. The old drum brakes do suffer from salt if not flushed, so I would want to try the disc brake set-up. That combined with a good surge unit would probably help tremendously in braking and braking confidence.
Gene in NC posted 10-26-2003 08:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Whaling away, what type or brand of trailer can't be fitted with brakes? I'm looking for a trailer and want to be sure not to get one like yours.

Why can't yours be fitted up?

lhg posted 10-26-2003 07:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
For the ability to add trailer brakes, a trailer must first have at least 13" wheels, and be fitted with an axle that already has brake flanges welded on. These flanges cannot be retrofitted, and a new flanged axle is required. Since most replacement galvanized axles cost about $110, it is not a big deal, but does additionally require some installation labor.

For any boat trailer in the 2800lb load carrying range or higher, always order it with flanged axles, even if you're not initially ordering brakes.

Hoop posted 10-28-2003 05:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
Larry, thanks for the post. My galvanized Pacific Trailer has 14" wheels on it and is rigged for, in my opinion, a heavier boat than the Montauk.

It's brakes for me, I'm convinced. I still have to decide, though, whether to get drum or disk brakes. The Champion Trailers URL above recommends drum brakes on trailers of less than 3000 pounds when using surge brakes, and disk brakes above 3000 pounds. Champion suggests that the increased surface area of drum brakes helps improve stopping force when coupled with the lower force applied by the lighter trailers (under 3000 pounds).

But the flushing is easier with disk brakes. And my trailer is pretty close to 3000 pounds anyway ...

San Jose, CA

brisboats posted 10-28-2003 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for brisboats  Send Email to brisboats     
Hoop, you may want to consider selling your trailer and buying a new trailer already equipped with brakes. Once you determine the cost and headache of refitting your trailer this is a viable option. The used trailer market in my area is hot especially at this time of year. Just a thought.


Barney posted 10-28-2003 07:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
I've heard what Bigshot said more than once. Failure of the brake system in a short period. I've seen it myself where the brake system gets locked up too, after sitting in storage. Washed down or not. I want brakes but not the headache. Just be prepared for a money dump if saltwater is involved. If you get a good combo let us know. Jim
whaling away posted 10-28-2003 07:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaling away  Send Email to whaling away     
The brakes on my other trailer needed major work after only two seasons of saltwater fishing. I installed the flush kit and always hosed off the trailer after each dunking. To rebuild the brakes (drums), replaced the bearing and seals and bled the system it was almost $700. Think I got taken, but I wanted to stop.

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