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  1. #1
    Kentucky Bass Club/Trailers & Towing Moderator
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    Trailer Brakes FAQ

    Hey guys...It's best and quicker just to just call me for help as I don't have alot of time to get on this great site. My number is 619-922-7260. My email is hockeyguy92107@yahoo.com...

    BACKING UP WITH TRAILER DRUM BRAKES

    Someone had a post about this and I cant find it...but this is what our Enginering Dept says.............Free backing drum brakes have 0-5% braking force in reverse. Uni-servo drum brakes have 20% braking force in reverse. It can become hard to back a trailer with uni-servo brakes on soft ground (sand or thick gravel) or up a steep incline since you would have to overcome the 20% of braking. If someone does have the situation where backing is a problem, then the solenoid is the solution. Usually the 20% of reverse braking is insignificant in most cases.




    BRAKE FLUID FACTS

    Brake fluid facts

    By Steve Wall



    As a former materials engineering supervisor at a major automotive brake system supplier, I feel both qualified and obligated to inject some material science facts into the murky debate about DOT 5 verses DOT 3-4 brake fluids. The important technical issues governing the use of a particular specification brake fluid are as follows:

    Fluid compatibility with the brake system rubber, plastic and metal components.

    Water absorption and corrosion.

    Fluid boiling point and other physical.
    Brake system contamination and sludging.
    Additionally, some technical comments will be made about the new brake fluid formulations appearing on the scene.

    First of all, it's important to understand the chemical nature of brake fluid. DOT 3 brake fluids are mixtures of glycols and glycol ethers. DOT4 contains borate esters in addition to what is contained in DOT 3. These brake fluids are somewhat similar to automotive anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) and are not, as Dr. Curve implies, a petroleum fluid. DOT 5 is silicone chemistry .

    Fluid Compatibility

    Brake system materials must be compatible with the system fluid. Compatibility is determined by chemistry, and no amount of advertising, wishful thinking or rationalizing can change the science of chemical compatibility. Both DOT 3-4 and DOT 5 fluids are compatible with most brake system materials except in the case some silicone rubber external components, such as caliper piston boots, which are attacked by silicon fluids and greases.

    Water absorption and corrosion

    The big bugaboo with DOT 3-4 fluids always cited by silicone fluid advocates is water absorption. DOT 3-4 glycol based fluids, just like ethylene glycol antifreezes, are readily miscible with water. Long term brake system water content tends to reach a maximum of about 3%, which is readily handled by the corrosion inhibitors in the brake fluid formulation. Since the inhibitors are gradually depleted as they do their job, glycol brake fluid, just like anti-freeze, needs to be changed periodically. DOT 5 fluids, not being water miscible, must rely on the silicone (with some corrosion inhibitors) as a barrier film to control corrosion. Water is not absorbed by silicone as in the case of DOT 3-4 fluids, and will remain as a separate globule sinking to the lowest point in the brake system, since it is more dense.

    Fluid boiling point

    DOT 4 glycol based fluid has a higher boiling point ( 446‚°F) than DOT 3 ( 446 ‚ºF), and both fluids will exhibit a reduced boiling point as water content increases. DOT 5 in its pure state offers a higher boiling point (500‚°F) however if water got into the system, and a big globule found its way into a caliper, the water would side at temperatures very much below freezing, let alone at 40‚° below zero, silicone's low temperature advantage won't be apparent. Neither fluids will reduce stopping distances.

    With the advent of ABS systems, the limitations of existing brake fluids have been recognized and the brake fluid manufacturers have been working on formulations with enhanced properties. However, the chosen direction has not been silicone. The only major user of silicone is the US Army. It has recently asked the SAE about a procedure for converting from silicon back to DOT 3-4. If they ever decide to switch, silicone brake fluid will go the way of leaded gas.

    Brake system contamination

    The single most common brake system failure caused by a contaminant is swelling of the rubber components (piston seals etc.) due to the introduction of petroleum based products (motor oil, power steering fluid, mineral oil etc.) A small amount is enough to do major damage. Flushing with mineral spirits is enough to cause a complete system failure in a short time. I suspect this is what has happened when some car owners changed to DOT 5 (and then assumed that silicone caused the problem). Flushing with alcohol also causes problems. Older brake systems should be flushed only with DOT 3 or 4.

    If silicone is introduced into an older brake system, the silicone will latch unto the sludge generated by gradual component deterioration and create a gelatin like goop which will attract more crud and eventually plug up metering orifices or cause pistons to stick. If you have already changed to DOT 5, don't compound your initial mistake and change back. Silicone is very tenacious stuff and you will never get it all out of your system. Just change the fluid regularly. For those who race using silicone fluid, I recommend that you crack the bleed screws before each racing session to insure that there is no water in the calipers.

    New developments

    Since DOT 4 fluids were developed, it was recognized that borate ester based fluids offered the potential for boiling points beyond the 446‚°F requirement, thus came the Super DOT 4 fluids - some covered by the DOT 5.1 designation -which exhibit a minimum dry boiling point of 500‚°F (same as silicone, but different chemistry).

    Additionally, a new fluid type based on silicon ester chemistry (not the same as silicon) has been developed that exhibits a minimum dry boiling point of 590‚°F. It is miscible with DOT 3-4 fluids but has yet to see commercial usage.



    WHEEL LUG PATTERN
    99.9% of boat trailers are 5 on 4.5....Thats a ford lug pattern. Make sure the hub hole is correct. Trailer rims are load rated differently than a car and also need a "0" offset.

    http://www.trailerandtruckpart....html

    http://www.taskmasterproducts.....html


    Last edited by Rude520; 07-15-2012 at 12:16 PM.

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  3. Member
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    #2
    GREAT INFO A QUICK QUESTION FOR A FIRST TIMER I HAVE A STRATOS TANDOM 22 FT TRAILER WITH SURGE BRAKES,ITS A 2000 MODEL IN GOOD SHAPE BUT THE GUY I BOUGHT IT FROM HAS NOT DONE ANY MAINTANCE EXCEPT FILLING THE BEARING IN THE PAST 10 YEARS,IT RIDES GOOD BUT AT THIS POINT IT MUST NEED NEW BRAKES-ARE THEY THE SAME AS A CAR AND CAN I GET PARTS LOCAL,ANY HELP WOULD BE GREAT MANY THANKS JOHN

  4. Member cajunrgfm's Avatar
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    #3
    Alot of drum brake shoes are just like a car,you can cross reference, the width and diameter,of the old shoes,and install them,or call stratos,you may have to re use the springs/hardware,

  5. Member
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    #4
    I have a disk brakes on my trailer and I just replaced my seals and repacked my bearings. I had to take off my calipers off toget my hubs off. I have one caliper that make a lite ticking noise and I've taken the caliper off a dozen time and it's still making the ticking noise and it sounds like it's ticking the brake pad but again it's real lite noise. Any suggestion and any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your help in advance. Just trying to be careful.

  6. Electrical/Wiring/Trolling Motors Moderator CatFan's Avatar
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by larry crouch View Post
    I have a disk brakes on my trailer and I just replaced my seals and repacked my bearings. I had to take off my calipers off toget my hubs off. I have one caliper that make a lite ticking noise and I've taken the caliper off a dozen time and it's still making the ticking noise and it sounds like it's ticking the brake pad but again it's real lite noise. Any suggestion and any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your help in advance. Just trying to be careful.
    When does it make the noise?
    Life and beer are very similar; Chill for best results!

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    #6
    Catfan, It makes noise when I rotate the wheel and when It(wheel) goes around faster the noise gets even liter .Thanks Larry.

  8. Electrical/Wiring/Trolling Motors Moderator CatFan's Avatar
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by larry crouch View Post
    Catfan, It makes noise when I rotate the wheel and when It(wheel) goes around faster the noise gets even liter .Thanks Larry.
    A little noise is normal with disc brakes. The pads stay in light contact with the rotor all the time. Have you had the trailer on the road yet?
    Life and beer are very similar; Chill for best results!

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    #8
    Catfan: No I have not had the trailer on the road as of yet but planning on it Friday as long as everything goes correct. Thank Larry.

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    #9
    CatFan. Just wanted to thank you for your help on my trailer. I took it out to day and everything went right. So thanks for your help. Larry

  11. Electrical/Wiring/Trolling Motors Moderator CatFan's Avatar
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by larry crouch View Post
    CatFan. Just wanted to thank you for your help on my trailer. I took it out to day and everything went right. So thanks for your help. Larry
    Good deal!
    Life and beer are very similar; Chill for best results!

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    #11
    hey guys, my buddy just purchased a 98 nitro 912 savage the other day, the trailer has hydraulic brakes with drums brakes, the original owner he purchased it from said he never had the brakes on because he thought it had a leak and that he constantly had to fill the reservoir, after we got it home we flushed the lines and got clear fluid to push through with no air bubbles, we adjusted the brakes til the tire would't spin anymore then rotated it backwards 8 clicks, we checked to make sure the wiring was correct but for some reason it seems like the brakes aren't engaging when the coupler is being pushed back, any help would be appreciated, thanks al

  13. Electrical/Wiring/Trolling Motors Moderator CatFan's Avatar
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by alanvue View Post
    hey guys, my buddy just purchased a 98 nitro 912 savage the other day, the trailer has hydraulic brakes with drums brakes, the original owner he purchased it from said he never had the brakes on because he thought it had a leak and that he constantly had to fill the reservoir, after we got it home we flushed the lines and got clear fluid to push through with no air bubbles, we adjusted the brakes til the tire would't spin anymore then rotated it backwards 8 clicks, we checked to make sure the wiring was correct but for some reason it seems like the brakes aren't engaging when the coupler is being pushed back, any help would be appreciated, thanks al
    Welcome to BBC.

    Trailer drum brakes aren't self-adjusting like car brakes, so you need to tighten the adjuster until you get braking when you actuate the brakes. If the previous owner had trouble keeping the system full, I'd be looking for a leak, maybe at a wheel cylinder.
    Life and beer are very similar; Chill for best results!

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    #13
    Thanks for the info catfan, we did look for leaks and didnt see any signs of leaks, after we bled the lines and put new fluid through it seemed to hold pretty good, the only other thing I can think of is adjusting the brakes a little more, when backing up it doesn't catch as my disc brakes would, I did see on other forums that some drum brakes are free backing and only operate between 0-5%, if that's the case then that would be my answer, when driving forward and braking I can tell it is braking a little compared to when we first brought it home with no fluid in the reservoir, could it be possible the wheel cylinders are seized?

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    #14
    Should ALWAYS service wheel cylinders for good braking. Should have been done prior to putting in new fluid. Wheel cylinder kits are cheap (and cheap insurance for safety). Something like this that comes complete with brakes shoes too. Tie Down Trailer Drum Brake Wheel Cylinder Kit Enough for one axle


  16. Electrical/Wiring/Trolling Motors Moderator CatFan's Avatar
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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by alanvue View Post
    Thanks for the info catfan, we did look for leaks and didnt see any signs of leaks, after we bled the lines and put new fluid through it seemed to hold pretty good, the only other thing I can think of is adjusting the brakes a little more, when backing up it doesn't catch as my disc brakes would, I did see on other forums that some drum brakes are free backing and only operate between 0-5%, if that's the case then that would be my answer, when driving forward and braking I can tell it is braking a little compared to when we first brought it home with no fluid in the reservoir, could it be possible the wheel cylinders are seized?
    You'll only notice drums braking in reverse on loose gravel. Otherwise they don't do much.
    Life and beer are very similar; Chill for best results!

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    #16
    thanks catfan, i think you answered my problem

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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by alanvue View Post
    hey guys, my buddy just purchased a 98 nitro 912 savage the other day, the trailer has hydraulic brakes with drums brakes, the original owner he purchased it from said he never had the brakes on because he thought it had a leak and that he constantly had to fill the reservoir, after we got it home we flushed the lines and got clear fluid to push through with no air bubbles, we adjusted the brakes til the tire would't spin anymore then rotated it backwards 8 clicks, we checked to make sure the wiring was correct but for some reason it seems like the brakes aren't engaging when the coupler is being pushed back, any help would be appreciated, thanks al
    I don't know why you decided on 8 clicks, but with drum brakes you have to ensure the shoes are centered before adjusting. You may wish to adjust them all the way until the drum is locked, then check by moving the tongue to see if the master cylinder has resistance and holds pressure. If not, then bleed the system again, and if it holds pressure then back the shoes off. I will hit the backing plate a few times with a hammer to help the shoes center. Drum brakes are pretty good just susceptible to more corrosion than discs.

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    #18
    New to owning a trailer with brakes. PO told me the brakes were "un-hooked " It is a '98 model custom line trailer. I have no idea where to start. please help.

  20. Electrical/Wiring/Trolling Motors Moderator CatFan's Avatar
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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by tnbowhunter View Post
    New to owning a trailer with brakes. PO told me the brakes were "un-hooked " It is a '98 model custom line trailer. I have no idea where to start. please help.
    Your brakes consist of an actuator in the tongue which is the actual part that hitches to the truck, and then the brakes themselves on at least two wheels. There will be a steel tube that runs from the tongue to the axle and then splits to go to each wheel with a brake. Take a look and see what is there.

    If they haven't been used, usually you'll be replacing everything. Fortunately they aren't too expensive. Take a look at what you have and maybe even post some pictures.
    Life and beer are very similar; Chill for best results!

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    #20
    Thanks CatFan. Will start investigating tomorrow.

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