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Old 08-17-2018, 03:08 PM
2009kr
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Disc brakes needed? Pics...

I'd like some advice. My brakes never got close to locking at full power at any speed on my 15.5k fifth wheel. I had to do a hard for the first time in 8 years of towing, and was quite displeased in how the system performed. (This trailer is only 2 seasons old, 1800 miles). I figured with 12,920# on my twin 7k Dexter axles with 12x2 brakes, I should have sufficient braking, so something must be wrong. I cannot find a problem, so maybe I just need to splurge and get a set of discs.

I used my clamp on ammeter to see 2.9 to 3 amps on each magnet when pulling the truck controller (11.9 amps total). Dexter says I should have 12, so no issue there. I tested all 4 drum temps with my IR thermometer after towing, and they were all similarly hot. Finally, I pulled a drum, expecting to see a problem, but everything looked fine to me. Everything moved just fine.Thoughts?




 
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:17 PM
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The fact is that drum brakes are just good enough to get by the safety standards. Disc brakes will be a completely different ball game and you should have no problem stopping the truck and trailer with just the trailer brakes if needed.

Drum brakes get the job done most of the time for most of the people on the road.

I plan to upgrade to disc brakes when it is time for a new set of tires in the future. It is added insurance and peace of mind. Like you, I want the stopping power to be there if I call upon it, not thinking I wish I had upgraded to disc brakes and needed them.

It is a costly upgrade, but when you consider the cost of not having them and needing them, then the cost is not nearly as bad to swallow.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:47 PM
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I had Performance Trailer Braking do by disc brakes. They come to you and install them. I love the disc brakes they work great.

 
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:49 PM
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Does anyone see anything wrong with my drums? If not, I'll definitely get discs.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DL222 View Post
I had Performance Trailer Braking do by disc brakes. They come to you and install them. I love the disc brakes they work great.

Same here, they did mine too. It's my opinion that drum brakes are not strong enough for trailers this heavy.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:32 PM
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Disc all the way! That and torsion suspension. I have them on both my goosenecks. Great stopping power. The PJ was bought new January of '17 and I would estimate at least 100k miles on it. Still has the original brakes and Sailun "G" rated tires on it. I take it in for service about every 6 months and I make it a point to ask about the brakes. The answer is "they are fine." We do a lot of highway driving so I am sure that helps with the longevity. I wouldn't have a trailer without them. One less thing to stress over while towing. You won't be wasting your money.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:46 PM
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I wouldn't want the drums to ever lock because that is actually less braking. I set them to drag when the camper is loaded on dry dirt/gravel. Your drum brakes look okay. I'd check function by having the tires off the ground, spin the tires by hand and have someone pull the manual slide on the brake control. Also, I'd check adjustment after 10-15 miles on the road. Tighten until they drag and then back off adjustment until they just spin freely.

I have 12x2 drums on our 10K fiver which has around 30k miles on original drums and shoes. I had the drum faces (where the magnets ride) machined flat and installed new magnets last winter and wow what an improvement. When loaded I set the controller to 8 (scale is 1-12) and boost level 2 for freeway driving and back it down to boost level 1 in town because they're too aggressive in town. With the camper empty I have to dial back to 5 or 6 to keep the tires from locking at even light braking.

Drums work fine when sized right and in good shape. For my camper I see no benefit in switching to discs. Maybe 12x2 is too small for your weight. I'd check function and adjustment before switching. Disc brakes can be good but a little tricky to dial in for best use.

BTW, I don't like to jack on the axle. I think it's better to jack and place jack stands under the frame so you don't bend an axle.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by '65Ford View Post
I wouldn't want the drums to ever lock because that is actually less braking. I set them to drag when the camper is loaded on dry dirt/gravel. Your drum brakes look okay. I'd check function by having the tires off the ground, spin the tires by hand and have someone pull the manual slide on the brake control. Also, I'd check adjustment after 10-15 miles on the road. Tighten until they drag and then back off adjustment until they just spin freely.

I have 12x2 drums on our 10K fiver which has around 30k miles on original drums and shoes. I had the drum faces (where the magnets ride) machined flat and installed new magnets last winter and wow what an improvement. When loaded I set the controller to 8 (scale is 1-12) and boost level 2 for freeway driving and back it down to boost level 1 in town because they're too aggressive in town. With the camper empty I have to dial back to 5 or 6 to keep the tires from locking at even light braking.

Drums work fine when sized right and in good shape. For my camper I see no benefit in switching to discs. Maybe 12x2 is too small for your weight. I'd check function and adjustment before switching. Disc brakes can be good but a little tricky to dial in for best use.

BTW, I don't like to jack on the axle. I think it's better to jack and place jack stands under the frame so you don't bend an axle.
I really appreciate all of the input. I'm puzzled by the poor performance of these brakes.

They are auto adjusting. Before last trip, I manually adjusted them. They were perfectly adjusted (also seen by the wear across the whole shoe length).

I understand your hesitation to jack the axle; however, my jack is only 3" from the spring load. That size tube won't even notice 3200# of jack force over a short 3" lever.

My brakes aren't quite as strong as when the trailer was new, but only weaker by a little. If you hit my controller to full power at 70 MPH, others in the truck might not even notice - it's that weak.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:15 PM
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Like what was said before try new magnets and resurface the drum faces.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 2009kr View Post
I really appreciate all of the input. I'm puzzled by the poor performance of these brakes.

They are auto adjusting. Before last trip, I manually adjusted them. They were perfectly adjusted (also seen by the wear across the whole shoe length).

I understand your hesitation to jack the axle; however, my jack is only 3" from the spring load. That size tube won't even notice 3200# of jack force over a short 3" lever.

My brakes aren't quite as strong as when the trailer was new, but only weaker by a little. If you hit my controller to full power at 70 MPH, others in the truck might not even notice - it's that weak.
Okay, something ain't right. Drums are not as heat tolerant as discs and may not brake as evenly as discs but you should at least feel them, especially after you've run them several miles to clean off any rust from storage. Run your finger over the drum face. If you need 0.020 to clean them up then they're worn enough to soften braking though 1800 miles shouldn't be enough to wear them that bad. I forget how much you can safely take off but I think it's 0.030 or less.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:44 PM
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The new electric brakes just, well, suck. Our 2011 36' Voltage (16k GVWR) and our 2016 Momentum (16.3k GVWR) electric brakes were both underwhelming, no matter how much adjusting i did. Installed disk brakes last year......I will never run a big fiver on electric brakes again. Night and day difference.
 
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Old 08-17-2018, 11:09 PM
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Night and day difference on my Grand Design Reflection. The drum brakes were horrible. The disk brakes are great.

Got mine from www.stopyourtrailer.com the full kit for 2-6000 lb axles was $1,400. They recommended a local shop to do the installation for $600 labor for total cost of $2,000.




 
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:42 AM
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I changed my Dexter HD (3 3/8 x 12 1/4) 3 years ago with Kodiac 13" disk, my drums new worked fine but I just wore them out.
I have what's listed as 7K axles but because I ordered 8K brakes it has 8K axles with 7K springs, big difference when you order disk kits because 7K axles have a 5 bolt pattern and 8K have 4 bolts. I also have Nev R Lube bearings so my part numbers would be different for the kits.
I ordered the line set kit and brakes from etrailer and the Dexter acuator I used from Eastern Marine brcause of the price difference.

Denny
 
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Flyct View Post
Night and day difference on my Grand Design Reflection. The drum brakes were horrible. The disk brakes are great.

Got mine from www.stopyourtrailer.com the full kit for 2-6000 lb axles was $1,400. They recommended a local shop to do the installation for $600 labor for total cost of $2,000.
X2^^. With the move from the OEM drum brakes to Kodiak disc brakes (with the MOR/ryde I.S. installation), our Reflection 337 (13,380 lbs. across the scales) experienced a 60% reduction in stopping distance. The trailer brakes alone will now stop both the truck and the trailer when manually activated!

Rob
 
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:23 PM
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Thanks for all of the great advice. I reached out to performance trailer braking for a quote. They seem to sell the kit for several hundred more than the same system at etrailer, so I'll need to understand why. I'm looking forward to hearing from them.

The Hydrastar actuator that etrailer recommends claims a "fast" 0.784 seconds to 200 PSI, and 1.423 seconds to 900 PSI. That made me reluctant to go with hydraulic over disc. 1.423 seconds at 70 MPH is 159 feet! 0.784 seconds to a mild 200 PSI braking is still 88 feet before much braking happens at all. Sounded scary to me. Naturally, the current drum setup I have now is much worse, but if I'm shelling out over $2k, I want awesome brake performance.


Doing too much research, as usual for me, it looks like the Titan controller is much faster. If I mount it near my axles and use flex lines only where needed, it looks like it is even faster.
 
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