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Author Topic:   Surge Brakes?
InHerNet posted 06-15-2002 07:09 PM ET (US)   Profile for InHerNet   Send Email to InHerNet  
I have a problem with one of my brakes that locked up on my trailer. Once I backed the trailer up it let loose. The trailer has always been washed after each use, and is only two years old. I am now fearful of taking it out this weekend without having it looked at. Once the brake was free I had no problem traveling for the next twenty or so miles. It is setting in the driveway now. Can you give me any suggestions?
Thanks in advance.
dfmcintyre posted 06-16-2002 05:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
One driving tip passed to me, I'll pass along. When first beginning to move, don't try and start easy, but be rather forcefull when applying power, and listen/feel for the "clunk" of the brake mechanism disengaging.


bsmotril posted 06-17-2002 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
I boat in salt water and have discovered that trailer brakes are expendable. I have had flush kits on my trailers with galv/stainless drum brakes for the last 12 years, and still have never found that I get more than 2-3 years out of the brakes. When mine have failed, (3 times in 10 years), each instance the shoes locked up and dragged, overheating the drum, or locking up the wheel. If your rig is two years old, it is time for a brake inspection and possibly repack of the wheel bearings. You'll have to pull the outer bearing off anyway to inspect the brakes, so you might as well repack the hub while you have it apart. You might be able to get another year out of them by cleaning out the rust gunk and relubing the adjustment mechanism and pivot points for the shoes with high temp brake grease. If they look too far gone, the best route is to buy a pair of built up backing plates complete with new cylinder and shoes and swap them out. You can find them at Champion Trailer supply online, though I'm sure there are other sources as well. This last go around I replace mine with a set of Tie Down Engineering stainless/bronze disc brakes. We'll see how long they last versus the drums. This is the first season, so All I can comment on is the stopping power, which is superb.
Swellmonster posted 06-18-2002 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Swellmonster  Send Email to Swellmonster     
My trailer brakes have had many problems. Yes, I have the flushes too, to rinse out the salt water. What was explained to me by Majicloader, after flushing your brakes, you need to take the rig out and drive it around the block a few times to heat up and DRY out the brakes.
I pull of my drums and inspect my brakes atleast quarterly. This also helps keep your rusting lug nuts under control when you get that flat tire.
I know it doesnt sound too appetizing to do after a long day on the water, but that is what they recommend.
Something else that is bad, is when you unload your beautiful boat, your trailer's brakes are out baking the salt in your unflushed drums. It would be great if they had fresh water available to flush immediatly, but they rarely do. So I'am in the thinking area of either installing 4" pvc section to mount in front of the trailer along the insides. They will hold a couple gallons of water, get a valve to control the water and hook a hose to the brake flush sytem.
After you launch your boat, while still on the ramps incline, open the valve and we might have enough pressure to quickly rinse your brakes.
Your brake system also has a two year factory warranty, so you might be able to warranty them out after they go bad and start sticking.
The new backing plates complete cost around $150.00 when you have to replace them. Be very careful when you have to take the plastic brake line off the wheel cylinder. It has copper ends and strips easily.
After you strip it, a new line is nearly $80.00. Just bring your old line to a hose shop and have them put on a new end for around $10.00.
Hope this long winded advise help. It's right on, but you deserve, cause you showed up to one of our outings.

Take care,

lhg posted 06-18-2002 02:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I have never seen or heard of drum brakes that last at all, with or without the flushing kits. They even freeze up in fresh water use, just from atmospheric moisture. For my money they are worthless.

The only solution is the SS or bronze disc brakes, with aluminum calipers. I have used 4 wheel disc brakes on my Outrage 25 trailer, fresh and salt use, with trailer stored outside continuously, and never had a "freeze up". They are easy to rinse off, and easy to service.

kamml posted 06-18-2002 08:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamml  Send Email to kamml     
My trailer has the bronze disks and they work very satisfactory. The calipers and disks are straight forward and priced similarly to drum systems. They should be almost a one for one swap with exception to the surge unit as they are more or less specific for disk brake applications. It is easy to modify a drum surge master cylinder if you have the wrenches and fluid. The Champion catalog gives you the instructions and a diagram to work from. Ken
InHerNet posted 06-19-2002 05:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for InHerNet  Send Email to InHerNet     
It looks like the way to go would be to change the brakes to stainless steal or bronze disc brakes. I don't think I will be doing this myself. Who does this type of work? Marine repair center, Automotive brake repair? Any recommendations around southwest Florida? Any idea of what I should look for in cost?
Thanks again,
bsmotril posted 06-19-2002 06:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
Swapping out the drums for disks is a pretty easy proposition. If you can change a tire, or spark plugs, you can do it with the kit from Champion Trailer Supply. Check out their website and review the instructions they have on-line for the kit. If you buy their kit, be aware that the tubing is sized for a 20' trailer, any longer will need an extension kit. I also suggest their coupler/master cylinder versus modifying your existing one.
It is not that hard to do. Four bolts per backing plate, pull old drum hubs and replace/repack new disc hubs/bearings, swap couplers, install tubing, fill and bleed.
lhg posted 06-19-2002 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I would go to a trailer dealer, preferably of your brand. I had mine done in Delray Beach FL, if you want to go over that way I can make a recommendation.

In FL, I would recommend the Tie Down Engineering brand, SS disc brakes. Mine have been excellent with the new design. They are about $120/wheel, which includes a new galvanized hub and bearings, plus installation labor, which is fairly easy. I think it took my guy about 2 hours to do both axles. BE SURE TO HAVE THEM INSTALL BEARING BUDDY SPINDO SEALS. Also there is membrane in your Surge unit that has to be punctured for disc brakes, with an awl, so they don't continuously drag. I think there is also a brand new actuator available from Tie Down, specifically for disc brakes, which seem to take more line pressure.

The Tie Down kit includes full step-by-step instructions on replacing previous drum brakes. I know of at least two of our Forum members who have made this conversion themselves. You may also need a new brake line kit, and definitely, the backup release solenoid. There are two types, the direct block kind, and the return fluid loop style. I recommend the more expensive latter, which is available from Unique Functional Products, the maker of Bearing Buddies, since it puts less stress on the actuator.

bsmotril posted 06-20-2002 09:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
The Disc kit I mentioned from Champion Trailer is the Tie Down Engineering disc kit. They bundle the parts (Disc hubs, bearings, seals, backing plates, bolts, calipers, actuator, and tubing) together and sell the package for around $360.
InHerNet posted 06-20-2002 11:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for InHerNet  Send Email to InHerNet     
The trailer manufacture recommended Kodiak disk brakes over the Tie-Down, he stated that they have fewer problems and he would not install Tie-Down brakes. His quote was 450.00 for both brakes.
Any comments on the Kodiak disk brakes? Do you think he gets a better deal on Kodiak or are the Kodiak brakes better then Tie-Down Eng.?
bsmotril posted 06-20-2002 12:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
No experience with Kodiaks, but I checked out their website. The main difference I see is that Kodiak has a vented rotor. If you tow in the mountains, or have a big heavy boat, then I can see this would be an advantage. I went with Tiedown based on the experiences of two friends who converted plus a lot of positive feedback on this and another forum about their brakes.
Tom W Clark posted 06-20-2002 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I just want to chime in here with a few comments about conventional drum brakes on trailers and contrast them with the comments of lhg.

The Calkins trailer under my Outrage was six years old when I bought it. The drum brakes were not in good condition at that time. I replaced virtually the whole system with new drum brakes (this was in 1990). I owned that trailer for ten more years and never had a problem with these brakes.

This in spite of the fact the trailer was used almost entirely in salt water. I had the trailer serviced three times during these ten years by Taylor Brake Service here in Seattle (locals take note: I was very pleased with their service. They do a lot of boat trailers).

A return spring was replaced because it was broken but other than that I had no problems. I did, however, make sure the brake system was well flushed every single time the trailer was immersed in salt water. To this end I had the flushing kit installed but in fact I was not entirely confident of its thoroughness. Whenever possible I choose to use back my boat and trailer into a body of fresh water and flush both the motors and trailer all at the same time.

We have the luxury of doing that in Seattle as we have both fresh and salt water ramps in abundance. For anyone concerned about keeping their trailer brakes, disc or drum, in good condition I would encourage you to investigate the possibility of using a fresh water ramp after boating in salt water instead of just rinsing with a hose.

lhg posted 06-20-2002 02:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I am not familiar with the Kodiak brand of SS disc brakes, but like the idea of the vented SS rotor for cooling and anti-warp protection. The original disc brakes that came on my trailer were by UFP (the Bearing Buddy people) and they had the vented rotors. These brakes were actually Chrysler Mini-van brakes. But they were plain steel, and I had considerable rusting problems with them, and they needed constant attention. The Tie Down units have really solved those problems, with no maintenance required, but I would feel more comfortable with the SS vented rotor, which is probably more substantial in design and rigidity. Let us know how you like them.
jimh posted 09-06-2007 12:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[This five year old discussion was revived to append a new question on a different topic. This article has been removed. A new thread should be begun to change the topic.]

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