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Author Topic:   Trailer brakes
Cicada posted 12-03-2003 09:59 AM ET (US)   Profile for Cicada   Send Email to Cicada  
The 18 Outrage that I recently purchased came with a (gasp) Four Winns trailer. Outside of this being sacrilegious itís inappropriate, inadequate and hurts the boatís feelings.

Iíve read the articles about trailering and find them most helpful.

In pricing trailers Iíve found that they can be ordered with brakes on one or both sides of the trailer. I will probably go with brakes on both sides but wonder about the wisdom of installing a brake on one side only. My thinking is that it could create problems during emergency, fishtailing or uneven road conditions.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


kingfish posted 12-03-2003 10:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Follow your instincts - I can't imagine having brakes on only one side. I tow an Outrage 22 on a tandem axle trailer, and have stainless steel discs on all four wheels. I'd much rather have more braking than I think I need than less.


Jerry Townsend posted 12-03-2003 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Paul - I suspect that you may have misunderstood your trailer dealer/rep - and that you may have brakes on one or both axles - NOT SIDES. Be assured that having brakes only on one side is dangerous, flat guaranteed - and all trailer manuafacturers know this as well. As such, no manufacturer will put brakes only on one side of a trailer.

Now, how much braking capability do you need. What braking system do you need. With your 18 Outrage - and with a reasonably large tow vehicle, having brakes on one axle of your trailer would work well. About the easiest braking system for a boat trailer is a surge brake - it automatically applies trailer brakes if the trailer is pushing against the tow vehicle's hitch. On heavier loads, hydraulic or automatic/manual electric braking systems can be used - but they are more expensive, more installation labor and maintenance intensive. --- Jerry/Idaho

JBCornwell posted 12-03-2003 01:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     

I can't imagine a classic Outrage 18 needing a tandem axle trailer.

A second or third generation Outrage 18 will still come in under 3,000lb, and there are many good single axle trailers that can handle them.

Dual axle trailers offer many disadvantages and only one advantage. . . lower tongue weight.

Brakes? Yes. Many states require brakes on loads in that range. Surge brakes are the most recommended (both wheels :)).

Red sky at night. . .

kgregg posted 12-03-2003 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for kgregg  Send Email to kgregg     
can't imagine a classic Outrage 18 needing a tandem axle trailer.

Or a trailer with brakes, for that matter.

I regularly tow Outrage 19 on trailer with no brakes and have never had a problem stopping. Kevin

JBCornwell posted 12-03-2003 03:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
I agree, KGregg, but several states require brakes on loads as light as 1500 lb.

Red sky at night. . .

HAPPYJIM posted 12-03-2003 05:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
Give me a dual axle trailer over a single axle at any weight.

A blow out on a single axle is very dangerous even at low speeds.

A blow out on a dual axle is more of a nuisance.

I have a 15 yr old dual axle trailer(6 x 10') that I haul my mower around on and wouldn't trade it for a brand new single.

The only disadvantage with duals....way too hard to move by hand.

As far as single or dual brakes....You can never have too many Brakes, beers or bullets!

Cicada posted 12-03-2003 07:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Thanks for the responses.

The suspicion about single anxle brakes is correct. Misunderstanding with rep about one or two brakes on single axle trailer. Should have had a clue when the rep kept referring to that long pointy thing on the bottom of the boat as the beam rather than the keel.

I'm wondering if it's going to be easier to go to a local shop that builds trailers rather than looking at some of the brand name trailers. From what I'm gathering a good trailer for a Whaler is a hybrid between bunk and roller. It'd be alot easier to talk to the builder face to face with a sketch pad.

I'm looking at the surge brakes. May not be necessary but I'd be a little more comfortable with them also seems like it would reduce the wear on the vehicles brakes. Question on the surge brake when backing up hill. Will the boat, motor and trailer combination be heavy enough to activate the brakes making some kind of lock out necessary?

I'm a newbie at trailers so bear with me.
Thanks again,

JBCornwell posted 12-03-2003 07:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Hi, Paul.

The simplest surge brakes have a manual lockout for backing, but the better ones have an electrical lockout connected to your back-up lights.

It is almost impossible to back a set of well adjusted surge brakes without a lockout (except downhill, of course :)).

Red sky at night. . .

lhg posted 12-03-2003 08:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
You should get disc brakes on the trailer, as drum brakes simply don't last at all, even with the flushing attachment.

I have been using the Tie Down Engineering so-called SS disc brakes. Actually, only the non-vented rotor is SS, with the caliper being aluminum. These are fairly low cost brakes, and simple to service and replace components as needed (and it will be needed)! I have found thay have about a 3 year life expectancy, depending on use.

The real corrosion problem with these are the pistons and brake pads, which are ordinary mental and will corrode. In addition to this, the pistons will eventually freeze up in the aluminum calipers, and cannot be replaced. A new caliper is required, at about $66 each. So the calipers are designed to be "throw aways" rather than "serviceable".

So, in a nutshell, what I have found using this product, at about the rate of 8000 miles per year (50% salt, 50% fresh), is that by the time the pad is worn down, the caliper will also have to be replaced. Assume, therefore, at a combined cost in materials at about $180, you will have a maintenance expense of about $250/axle every 3 years.

See for detailed information on trailer brake options. Just don't assume that SS disc brakes will last a lifetime. More like three years is correct, except for the SS rotor. These are so hard, that they hardly wear at all. Nor can they be re-cut. At $16 each for a new one, these are also throwaways when worn down.

kingfish posted 12-03-2003 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Any surge brakes worth their salt (probably most if not all as a matter of fact), will have at least a mechanical lockout, like a pin on a chain or cable that you can slide into some aligned holes on the coupler and the tongue so the brakes won't engage - it's a bigger deal on discs than on drums - and the cat's meow is a hydraulic bypass circuit that is wired to your back-up lights.

When I first got into working with my first trailer that had that type of hydraulic bypass circuit, I thought I had brakes that were a combination of hydraulic and electric, and wired them up to my brake lights! Ignorance is bliss, and I wound up pulling about a 6,000 lb. load of trailer and cabin boat from Beaufort SC to Battle Creek MI effectively disengaging my trailer brakes every time I stepped on the brakes in my Yukon. I thought everything was fine, but when the error of my ways was pointed out to me by some of the fine mechanics on this site, and I got things straightened around, I was *really* impressed with the stopping power I had!


WSTEFFENS posted 12-04-2003 06:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for WSTEFFENS  Send Email to WSTEFFENS     
Several things here have not been noted.

Trailer companies (regurdless of mfg.) are very cost sensitive, and lazy. It is the nature of the game they play.

Disk and drum brakes both have respective advantages. I am not here to play one on the other, just enlighten.

In the early years of boat trailer brakes the drum /surge was selected due to a couple of factors. First was cost, this based on high producton of drum brakes made for the rear wheels of domestic auto manufactures which used this system for production automoibles; second it didn't need any involvement with the tow vechile( eletrical or hyd); third it was off the shelf and cost effective, and met most state standards.

Drum brakes have some advantages, up to this time they are relatively inexpensively maintained as the components used can go back into the 60's or earlier for their orgin. They are "self-servo", if designed and applied correctly. This means that as you apply pressure to the brake peddle, the shoe's get a mechanical advantage and "help" supply pressure between the friction material and the drum surface, helping the brake stop the vehicle. Not all bad, and you don't need a lock out to back up hill, if the system is correctly designed.

Now for disc brakes. As more and more manufactures (domestic and off-shore) addapted the rear axle sysytms to disc, the more ecncomical it became to the trailer boater.

The disc system is one/one. You don't get any advantage in application of force (hyd) when applying " no self-servo" there for the need to mechanically lock out the surge brake in an up hill back up. "force is force". The pad and piston don't care forward or backward.

The last is that the solid (non vented) rotor is a throw away. Pioneered by our off shore friends. If you notice all HD disc design are and have been vented (interenally, for the last 30 years)and had at least .120" (meat) for refinishing for a second or more use. This came about with the "new" full size car, ( Camery Tarus Etc.).

What would I do? If I was LHG I would do what he did and opt for the SS disc sysytem. He is 50/50 in salt water. Cleaning is a major force in his use. I Agree. If I was where you are (I am in Port Huron) and never see the salt water, I would go with the lowest cost, disk or drum. By the way your trailer mfg'r doesn't want you to be unhapphy.

Cicada posted 12-04-2003 07:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it. I must say I trust the information, opinions and direction from this site more than whatís out there in the market place. Called the local Whaler dealer up here today and they recommend a bunk only trailer. Even for the classics. Probably the same salesman that tried to sell me a Bayliner this spring. Curious marketing for a Whaler dealership.

Iíve got a handle on the brake issue, direction for a little research anyway. Configuration and finding a dealer that is either willing or wanting to put something together is the next step. Maybe I should find a suitable bunk trailer with the surge brakes and add the rollers myself. Set up could be an interesting project.

May also help to contact the manufacturers direct. They do want the consumers to be happy and have a greater interest in their product than the dealers. At least a little more knowledgable. Get the set up right and then go to the dealers.

Cost of maintenance and down time is always an issue. Especially the time. I could see myself wiring up the brakes and happily cruising down the road in a screeching cloud of smoke.

Thanks again,

jimh posted 12-06-2003 03:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Whatever brake system configuration you go with, I recommend being familiar with how it works and being able to bleed it yourself. I don't typically do my own automobile brake work, but I do like to keep an eye on my trailer brakes.

This August on my 5,000 mile haul out to the Pacific NW and back, being familiar with bleeding the brake system came in handy. On the first day of the trip, about 400 miles down the road, I noticed the trailer did not seem to be braking properly. I opened the fluid reservoir to find it suddenly empty! Vibration had loosened a T-connection in the brake lines, and all the fluid had leaked out. (I had just checked it 200 miles back and it was full!)

Next morning in the motel parking lot I found the loose coupling, refilled the reservoir, and bled the system. I had all the material on hand (brake fluid, bleeder kit, and proper wrenches) and I was familiar with the process. It was a bit harder to do with the boat on the trailer, but it only took about 30 minutes. This saved me a great deal of time and a few bucks.

triblet posted 12-06-2003 05:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
And jimh didn't come out and say it, but the "proper
wrench" for brake lines is called a flare nut wrench. It
looks a box wrench with really thick walls and a notch in
the end to slide it over the line. Using an end wrench on
brake lines can result in just rounding off the fitting,
esp. if they've been on a while. Been there.


kingfish posted 12-07-2003 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Also called a "line" wrench, at least in these parts.
Royce posted 12-07-2003 08:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Royce  Send Email to Royce     
Paul- You have received alot of good information about trailer brakes. Now go to the following site and have a good read:
Kodiak disc brakes are the best trailer brakes on the market. They are vented (the discs are not throw away), you can get them in stainless or cadmium plated. I used their cadmium plated rotors with stainless calipers(2/HRMC-12-SCADSS) with integral hub and rotor on my Outrage Cuddy 25 trailer. I put them on both trailer axles along with an 8,000 lb. actuator with an intergral back up solenoid valve which is activated by your back-up lites. The boat and trailer weighs just over 7,000 lbs. and I tow it with my Tundra and never feel "pushed". For the Outrage 18 you would buy the 10 inch brake kit instead of the 12 inch. I will be installing a set on my Outrage 18 soon. Kodiak brakes can be ordered through Century Wheel and Rim Co.(They have many locations--Google them). As of this weekend, I am now towing with a new Ford F350.


Cicada posted 12-07-2003 11:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Thanks for the link. Nice, concise description of components. I'll be looking at it again.

I think we call them a line wrench here also. Have a few in the tool box from when I was maintaing my own vehicles.
I agree with some basic emergency maintenance kit. There are times when rocks at the side of the road just don't get it. Been there. Having the right tool can save a day or two on that trip you've planned.

Getting the right trailer put together is getting to be an adventure. The learning curve is still vertical.


jimh posted 12-08-2003 08:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I do have a flair wrench (or line wrench) but usually you don't need one for bleeding. And in a pinch (so to speak) a pair of Vise-Grips may come in handy.
andygere posted 12-08-2003 09:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Great info on the Kodiak SS disc brakes. I am quickly growing tired of my drum brakes, despite my infrequent use of the trailer. I really like the idea of a rotor that is not an integral part of the hub and bearing assembly!

A few questions on your installation: 1) Did you do it yourself, or did you have the work done by a shop in the Bay Area? 2) Did they bolt up to your old axles, or did you replace the axles? 3) If you converted from a drum set up, did you modify the actuator, or buy a new one from Kodiak? 4) What was the approximate cost (in round numbers) for the installation?

gf posted 12-09-2003 12:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for gf  Send Email to gf     


First of all, Four Winns makes a pretty nice trailer. The Sure Load trailers are all built at their factory in Cadillac, Michigan so you probably see plenty of them where you are. As one of the largest boat builders in the country, Four Winns is also one of the largest trailer manufacturers.

However, if the trailer is the wrong size or style for your Outrage, that may be sufficient motivation to purchase a new trailer.

I just completed an exhaustive evaluation of trailers for a similar size boat (not a Boston Whaler, gasp) and I settled on a 3200 pound net capacity aluminum float on style single axle trailer with 15" wheels and stainless disc brakes. A galvanized tandem axle bunk trailer of similar capacity was the same price, but came with 13" wheels and drum brakes on one axle.

While some people I spoke with swear that the tandem axle trailer tracks better, I also received positive feedback from friends with similar size boats on single axle bunk and roller trailers. I decided that the (anticipated) reduced maintenance of the aluminum single axle trailer outweighed the (potential) tracking benefits of the tandem axle trailer.

For boats around the 3000 pound mark it's really a crap shoot as to whether a single or tandem axle is better. You'll have to weigh the options for yourself.

Tom2697 posted 12-09-2003 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
Let's not forget about the weight of the trailer and the tow ratings of our vehicles. A galvanized, two axle trailer with brakes at each wheel will weigh considerably more than an aluminum, one axle trailer with brakes. Buying the worng trailer could put you over the tow limit. Will being over the rating by a little be enough to hurt you or your vehicle? No. Could it affect an insurance claim if you get into a collision while towing? Probably.
Cicada posted 12-09-2003 07:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
The Four Winns trailer that came with the boat looks like it was probably a nice trailer at one time. Good treatment of the fender tops and steps with diamond plate. The trailer is about a foot too short, in relative disrepair and doesn't support the boat properly. Too bad.

Had the opportunity today to download the continental pdf trailer catalog. Another good resource and material for the coffee table.

The Chevy pick up I drive is probably rated for anything that I'll be towing. Good thing to keep in mind though if and when I decide on a new vehicle.

Starting to think about just getting a basic v bunk trailer and assembling to what I need.


Cicada posted 12-09-2003 07:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
oops. That was the Champion catalog. Continental's the place I called to see if they had any dealers in the midwest. They don't but have dealers that will ship.


Tom2697 posted 12-10-2003 12:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
A "custom" trailer...pretty slick option. :-)

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