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Trailer Brake Controller Bias - How Much?
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DRR Sportsman
Picture of FootbrakeJim
posted
Just thought I would see what others are doing, and why.
How much of the stopping work do you want the trailer brakes to do, compared to the tow vehicle?
Not expecting everyone to agree, just looking for thoughts & ideas.
I've been towing trailers of various size & weight for over 30 years, with lots of different tow vehicles and brake controllers, some good, some not so much.
#1 aspect, of course, is obviously safety.
So let's say you hook up to a trailer you've never towed before. What is your controller adjustment routine? With my 28' enclosed, empty weight is right at 4500#, fully loaded just under 10K. Empty, I have my gain set at 4.5 (on a scale of 0-10), loaded I set it at 5.5 for dry conditions, highway trip.
Here is how I do it, (Again, using the assumption of towing a new or unknown trailer). Not saying it is the best way, and open to advice:
1st trip, set gain at 5, test braking function at low speed. Make a short trip, (around block, or whatever - In case trailer has been sitting and may have rust or dust to knock off the shoes & drums). Then from a stop, get moving about 5 mph, and use trailer brake hand control only, to gradually apply brakes, see what point on gain scale they begin to apply, and how "grabby" or touchy they are. Some go from nothing to full lock up with not much in between. Then I use the foot pedal, and see where gain scale is at for normal braking. I then try to adjust gain to where the trailer brakes are moderately applied at approximately the same rate as the truck brakes, on a normal gradual stop. I then repeat this process on a slightly harder braking rate.
I try to get the gain set to where the trailer and tow vehicle are applying at close to the same rate, under both mild and firm stops.
I never do a "Panic Stop" test, and I do realize that could bite me some day... Eek
If I am driving through an urban area, (or boulevard type, lots of stop & go), I back off the gain maybe a half or 1 number, to avoid getting the trailer brakes real hot. (I know my truck has massive pads & rotors on all 4 corners). This is just my approach, developed over the years, and could be all wrong.
Please share your thoughts, and as always your input is appreciated.


Dan "Jim" Moore
Much too young to feel this damn old!!
 
Posts: 1031 | Location: Farmersville, TX  | Registered: December 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
Picture of TD3550
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I have mine set to about 4-5 hauling my 44 5th.
Setting at 3 it is a little on the slow side. I make it a habit every time i leave to throw out the hook. BAM. Ya they work. Low speed tho. I check the brake a way battery twice a year. Just in case
 
Posts: 1406 | Location: Under a Truck | Registered: August 23, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
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It depends for me on where I am going and traffic conditions. If I jump on the highway and it is clear I turn them down to 3. In heavy traffic and traveling on roads with side traffic or stop lights I will turn them up to 7. I like to feel the trailer brakes apply and help slow everything down.

My Tundra brakes were horrible, just flat out dreadful driving, not even towing.

I have only towed with my new (to me) Ram 2500 one time and it was night and day different.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not reflect the views or opinions of any entity other than myself.

72 Nova 370 ci (Stealth Black)
 
Posts: 394 | Location: Hanover, MD | Registered: July 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Top Comp
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Not trying to steal the thread but I had an issue with my brake controller coming back from the Ennis race. What controller is everyone using? Currently have a Tekonsha.


Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am.......
 
Posts: 5294 | Location: stuck in the middle with you! | Registered: March 11, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Pro
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^^^^^^^Tekonsha P2. My first one started flickering ON/ OFF in power output after 8 years of use and replaced with same.
 
Posts: 2421 | Location: 53056 | Registered: December 30, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Pro
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I have a Tekonsha Prodigy 2 with settings from 1 to 12 and 3 Boost levels. Mine is set to 11 and Boost # 1. The 2011 Ram 1500 and 7k # enclosed 24’ car trailer stop evenly from 50 mph when braking hard to test on a downhill off ramp. If you watch the brake controller, it’ll display the amount of power going to the trailer brakes when activated.
 
Posts: 2421 | Location: 53056 | Registered: December 30, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
Picture of sr4440
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quote:
Originally posted by markemark:
^^^^^^^Tekonsha P2. My first one started flickering ON/ OFF in power output after 8 years of use and replaced with same.


I had a P2 that the gain wheel fell off after 8 or 9 years. I called customer service to see if i could buy another wheel (seemed like a easy fix) they said "why" it's got a lifetime warranty. I sent it in they sent me a new one, in the mean time i bought a p3. So i have had a spare for the last 10 years.

The P3 has better diagnostics, but they are both great.

Joe


Without data, you’re just another guy with an opinion.
 
Posts: 1297 | Location: TEXAS | Registered: February 07, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post



DRR Pro
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^^^^^^^ Good to know, it's the fix then.
 
Posts: 2421 | Location: 53056 | Registered: December 30, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Top Comp
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The truck didn’t seem to be pulling the trailer right and I looked down and it showed numbers like it was partially activated. I messed with it and finally got it to go all zeros. Made it home fine but I don’t trust it now.


Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am.......
 
Posts: 5294 | Location: stuck in the middle with you! | Registered: March 11, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Top Comp
Picture of wideopen231
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I think its truck dependent. If using my 1/2 ton like I was. I ran it to max.If I was using controller manually it was to help me push the seat back out of my butt from trailer pushing truck. With 2500 hd I run it mid range and rarely need any manual addition.




America home of free. Brought to you by 2nd amendment.
 
Posts: 4156 | Location: Greensboro NC | Registered: May 24, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR S/Pro
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I thought I had a controller issue and it turned out the brake grounds were scotch locked together in a box. ., Ripped it all out, rewired and grounded. Bam ! Slides all six! I hate how the trailer mfg’s All use them.


Raceless in California!
 
Posts: 4445 | Location: Vacaville  | Registered: January 07, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
Picture of FootbrakeJim
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Thanks for the input, fellas.
Tom R, your thought on bumping up the gain in traffic areas makes good sense. We bought a 42' Fifth Wheel RV 2 weeks ago, and that is why I posted the original question. The thing just brakes differently than any trailer I've pulled before. Felt like little or no trailer braking, so I kept moving the gain up, eventually close to 10. Then on longer, more gradual stops or slow downs, after about 50 feet or so it would want to lock the brakes up. I kept playing with it this past weekend, and finally realized it is a delayed braking action on the trailer. They work well, just not quickly. That is not something I am comfortable with at all. By using the manual brake control, I eventually figured out the same gain I normally use, (5 or 5.5), works fine once the brakes do activate. But it takes maybe 2-3 seconds for the brakes to begin slowing the trailer. Once they do, they work great, but that is a LOT of time to wait if someone pulls out in front of you while you're doing 50 mph or so! Eek
Unit is a Forest River build, 4 or 5 years old, we bought it from Camping World. Thinking it needs to go back to them for some work. It was a trade-in, and they supposedly check out every function on them. I think they missed one. This thing is really nice, but it feels like a disaster waiting to happen.
Wondering if this could be the problem:
quote:
Originally posted by stk 758 BP!:
I thought I had a controller issue and it turned out the brake grounds were scotch locked together in a box.


Dan "Jim" Moore
Much too young to feel this damn old!!
 
Posts: 1031 | Location: Farmersville, TX  | Registered: December 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
Picture of FootbrakeJim
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One more question on this topic - What about during crappy road/weather conditions?
If you are pulling on wet or slick roadway, do you back off the gain some? (Thinking 2 lane undivided highway, and rainy weather). Last thing I want to do is have the trailer brakes lock up, and send it sideways across oncoming traffic, or down an embankment, etc. If you do ease off on the gain, how much? Or do you modify your pre-trip "test" routine, to see how much brake it will take to slide the tires on wet pavement, and back it off a touch?
Thanks again, guys. Wishing a Safe & Happy Thanksgiving to all. Wink


Dan "Jim" Moore
Much too young to feel this damn old!!
 
Posts: 1031 | Location: Farmersville, TX  | Registered: December 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Pro
Picture of HS professor
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I adjust mine constantly depending on where I'm driving but I always prefer to let the trailer brakes do the majority of the work. Wet conditions I obviously back off a bit as I do when towing unloaded. My 28' trailer is pretty heavy all loaded up and wont lock the brakes at all dry, wet just barely on full power but my 20' has the same 8 lug axles and big brakes as my 28 and those brakes are very sensitive and will lock easily even fully loaded.
 
Posts: 1421 | Location: Monroe twp nj | Registered: December 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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