View Full Version : Surge Brake Question
10-19-2009, 09:04 AM
I have a trailer with surge brakes, the thing is, they are disconnected. When i take off with the trailer behind me, the trailer "thunks". Same as when i slow down. I kind of have an idea of how these things work, but i'm trying to figure out if it is worth getting a new coupler and brakes lines for the trailer, or going electric...
for now, is there any way just to get the trailer from thunking?
the thump is prob the tongue they move so when you hit the brake the tongue moves forward and activates the brake.the biggest prob is you have to lock the tongue when backing up or you will be backing up with brake on.don't know how big trailer is what do you tow? I have been pulling boats all weekend and if they have surge I just lock the tongue so I don't have to dink around but we stay in a 20 MI area of the lake and storage
10-19-2009, 09:39 AM
What kind of trailer do you have?Ball size?Surge brakes work the best on boat trailers because they are submerged in water.Serge brakes would not be good on a snowmobile trailer,or any trailer used in snow or on slippery roads.You can rebuild the serge brake couplers if they are in good shape.
10-19-2009, 09:44 AM
its a 4 place enclosed triton trailer. not sure why its surge...
right now, the lines are not even connected, so no brakes at all.
10-19-2009, 09:49 AM
The thunking is from the actuator working but without the brake fluid to cushion it.
Here's a quick simple explanation. In the coupler there is an actuator. Think of it like a piston. When you are stopping, the weight of the trailer puts forward pressure on the coupler (where the piston is) which pushes fluid through the brake system to the pads and allows your trailer to assist in stopping. When you take off, the reverse is true. The weight of the trailer pulls on the actuator and draws the fluid back to the reservoir which draws the pads off the rotors and away you go.
Without the fluid, the actuator is working freely and you get that thumping affect. There should be a lockout on the coupler to lock the actuator in place. This is actually used if you need to back the trailer up an incline (without it, your brakes would be locked and the tires skidding). You can try locking it out, but most of the time that ends up releasing itself while going down the road from the bouncing of the trailer.
To stop the trailer from thunking, you either have to fix the brakes or put a standard coupler on the trailer.
10-19-2009, 10:19 AM
I have a 12,000 LBS trailer I use for sealcoating and it came with surge breaks they did not work very well. I started going through them piece by piece and replacing parts I installed all new backers and pads it still did not work consistently it most likely need a master cylinder. I decided at that point to go electric the best choice I could have made. It cost me about $550 -$700 by the time I was done, with the back up battery kit break away switch and wires and a 7-pin plug. I no longer am concerned about stopping. Your trailer most likely would not cost nearly that much. If you do the work my guess would be around $350 if you install breaks on just one of the axles.
Now days most trucks are pre-wired for a break controller, if you get a self leveling break controller it can be moved from truck to truck if you are not driving.
Go Electric you will not want to go back, they are very tunable.
Also be very careful using that trailer it the breaks are not connected/ disconnected and you have a accident and someone is injured you could be found at fault.
A friend of mines father was in an accident with a trailer on and a woman was killed he did not have a break controller, the trailer weight required he did. The only thing that saved him was that 3 other cars saw her run the stop sign.
10-19-2009, 12:00 PM
Go Electric. Surge brakes are no good...
10-19-2009, 01:14 PM
well, i'll see...
going electric would be just fine with me. I have my Tekonsha Prodigy just sitting in a box in the garage, unused since i sold my travel trailer and went with an RV.
The current trailer has a 7 pin, not sure why...but it does. I'm not sure what exactly is wired to it, but i'll fint out tonight.
I have to figure out what i need for brakes now though.
new coupler (much cheaper than the surge) breakaway
new brake drums?
10-19-2009, 01:27 PM
i'm thinking this is what i need to do?
10-19-2009, 08:50 PM
I have two trailers with surge and one with electric. When the surge are SET UP CORRECTLY, they have awsome stopping power. I had a JA pull out infront of me and the 16" tires actually locked up on the trailer. I also had one side get out of adjustment (my fault) and almost jacked knifed me (7000lbs pulled by a Wrangler).
The noise you hear is the coupler not being cushioned by the piston compressing the brake fuild when the assembly slides. Brake fluid needs to be checked regularly. If the tongue is put lower than the actuators, the fluid will leak out the vented cap (found that out the hard way).
By the way, neither of my trailers do I need to LOCK OUT when I reverse. True, when you back, the brakes are applied, but as soon as the wheel starts to turn backwards, the brakes release - at least on both of mine. It happens so fast and smooth, I don't even notice it.
This is actually the lighter trailer.
10-19-2009, 10:05 PM
Chad most likely you have a plug under the dash near the brake pedel that will accept a short little wire harness that you can get from Tekonsha to fit on both end the truck and the controller. I also have a prodigy brake control and it works great
10-19-2009, 10:09 PM
Do some checking around before you buy parts. sometimes its cheaper to buy new axles that already come with brakes. did it on a friend's car trailer. 2-3500 lb axles, the battery and switch was around 500.00. used the same springs. Got new u bolts. just a thought.
10-19-2009, 11:53 PM
7000lbs pulled by a wrangler doesn't sound like any fun at all. Any how the surge brakes that don't lock when backing up with out locking them out are called free backing. Like said before surge brakes are good for a boat because of the in and out of water, but any other trailer that needs brakes should have electric brakes. I feel that you are more in control with electric. You have better control of your load at all times(trailer sway,and brake gain as well.) I have both types and I don't think it would be fun hauling around hard earned toys in the snow and trusting the hydro brakes to stop me and not get jack knifed. That little push before they actuate could be bad on ice.
10-20-2009, 08:28 AM
so, which axle should i put the brakes on? front or back? I don't want them on both.
I'll be giving etrailer.com a call today to see what kind of a setup i need to order. I'll also look around for a axle as that may be easier to do. we shall see, but i am on board for swapping them out to electric as i'd have to rebuild the surge brake system anyways.
10-20-2009, 01:06 PM
Minnesota requires brakes on all wheels for trailers over 3000gvwr, unless it was manufactured before June 30, 1988. If your total loaded trailer & cargo weight combined is not over 3000lbs, then you're in! Lifetime license to boot If you're over, and get into an accident, it's pretty much instantly your fault. Same as no brakes at all.
If you do opt for only axle, I'd recommend the rear since more weight is transferred to the rear while braking. While braking, tow vehicle noses down, hitch and tongue comes up, thus more weight on rear axle.
I know, I know, there's tons of one axle braked units on the road. How can they sell them? Ultimately it's up to the end use consumer to be knowledgeable and compliant with the applicable laws. And I have yet to find a "recreational use" clause to this law.
Bottom line is under 3000lbs brakes not required, but are really nice. Over 3000lbs foot brakes required on all wheels. Meaning when you step on the vehicle's brake pedal, the trailer brakes work as well.
Also, if you're over 6,000gvwr, a Break Away System is required as well.
https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=169.67&year=2009&keyword_type=a ll&keyword=trailer+brake+requirements (https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=169.67&year=2009&keyword_type=all&keyword=trai ler%2Bbrake%2Brequirements)
10-20-2009, 01:33 PM
hmm, that adds more to think about. and more $$ to the total.
even if i were to fix the surge brakes, i'd still not be legal.
Even though the trailer has a lifetime license on it, i'm sure it weighs over 3K with 4 sleds in there.
first thing i'll do when i get home tonight is check the bearings and spildles, then start adding up the cost of putting electrick brakes on.
10-20-2009, 02:40 PM
As long as both axles used to be braked, you probably won't need new drums. Just a good bearing and seal service. As long has the hub face has a flat, smooth surface for the magnet to ride, all should be good. I've never ordered hubs & drums that were brake system specific (surge/electric) I highly doubt that Triton stocks two different drums for "just in case".
Lots of brake clean and steel wool should spiff the old ones nicely.
You should only need Electric Brake Backers, 7 Way Harness, and Brake Wire.
The Break Away Kit may be optional depending what GVWR your trailers vin tag says. In my opinion, the Break Away Kit is a great feature. Not only can it possibly save somebody's life, but it can also save your sleds.
Your trailer can easily be re-licensed at 4500 or 6000lbs. Bummer is you're now buying tabs every year. (should have never been licensed permanent in the first place. Somebody cheated)
Good thing is the attorneys won't have another "instantly your fault" thing to throw at you.
Your investment should be $300 - $400 tops when it's all said and done. Plus a bit of wrenching and dirty hands. Don't get down in the dumps. You can do it! You'll love having the trailer working for you instead of against you.
10-20-2009, 04:26 PM
Just order two new axles with brakes already installed.
10-20-2009, 04:38 PM
Check out www.redneck-trailer.com (http://www.redneck-trailer.com). that is where my friend got everything he needed for his 20ft car trailer.
10-20-2009, 09:16 PM
i have a few more calls to make it seems.
only one axle, the front one, has drums. so i'd need to get a complete set for the rear. I'll check on the complete axle setup. I have a box over wheels (side by side) so the axle setup is a tad different.
10-20-2009, 10:40 PM
Nev-R-Adjust brakes, or standard...hmmm...
forget the axles. nothing locally and freight would kill me...plus my axles are odd. square, whatever.
10-21-2009, 12:45 PM
The Never Adjusts seems to be limited to the 12" Drums. You have 10" Drums(if they're 5 bolt) so standard issue applies.
Your existing Idler Axle should have Brake Flanges, so the Backers will bolt up.
Since you need a couple drums now, that will bring the tab up a bit.
Looks like 2 Drums, 4 Backers, Mounting Hardware, Brake Wire, Break Away Kit with Charger, Coupler, Heat Shrink/Liquid Electrical Tape, Butt Connectors, Cable Ties, and some Premium Grease.
Total tab should not be more than $500-$550, including tax, shipped to your door.
You may be able to do better by surfing the Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, Rigid Hitch, or Red Neck Trailer Supplies, of the world. Maybe E-bay?
If there's a Trailer Sales outfit close to you, it may be wise to seek council with them so you don't end up getting the wrong stuff. Measure twice cut once. They can get the parts, that you need, as well.
Not that tough of a task. Just a couple dollars, wrenching, routing, and buttoning up.
Been there, done that. It's what I do.
10-21-2009, 04:17 PM
yea, i completed my order form today.
went through e-trailer.
the nev-r-adjust also came in 10". $10 more a piece, so i went with those.
i went with new drums all around. If i am going to do this, i may as well do it right.
I was also able to make sure i ordered up the new drums that worked with the ez-lube. the brakes come with mounting hardware and the drums come with bearings, covers, etc for my whole setup.
had to order wiring, but with free shipping and a 5% coupon i googled, it all came to $400.90
now i just have to make sure...ahh crap, as i tpye, i forogt to order a new coupler. guessi can get one at northern or Fleet Farm...
10-21-2009, 05:32 PM
Nice Job! You maybe be able to get the Break Away system at Fleet as well. Let us know if you run into questions.
10-21-2009, 08:55 PM
we'll see. supposedly it will all be here by friday.
I will be getting a brakeaway system, but i have a deep cycle in the garage that i will be using for the trailer to power the lights and the breakaway.
dont go far..i'm sure to have questions. Thanks to all that have gotten me this far!
10-21-2009, 10:42 PM
Since you're using your deep cycle, all that you need is the Break Away Switch. $10 or less.
Be sure to hook up your vehicles hot lead (properly fused or 20-30amp circuit breaker) to the deep cycle so it will charge/maintain as you drive.
Similar to an RV set up or how dump trailers top off their pump batteries. Can explain later if need be.
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