Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    891

    What I Learned About Trailer Brakes - A Rebuild Story

    Regardless of whether or not TX started the trailer inspections this year, I tend to be one to make sure things work right. Each time I thought I fixed them, something else would appear. What I hope to convey is the story and what I learned along the way in case someone else has the same or similar problems.

    Background
    I picked up a 2000 Skeeter that came with an EZ Loader tandem trailer with surge brakes. I'm not completely sure of the entire lineage, but it came to me with a 4 prong plug which I knew was wrong. The master cylinder was completely dry. It also had the annoying clunk of a worn out shock in the tongue. The specifics on the brakes are they are a UFP system with the A-60 actuator. Bleeder valves on this one are 11mm. I was scared to dive into the brakes, but once I was square in the middle of it, it wasn't too bad. My background is that I'm pretty handy with a wrench and spent years while in high school as a small engine mechanic.

    Chapter 1
    I started with the basics. I pull the actuator apart and replace the shock to get rid of the clunking. I swapped the 4 prong for a 7 round hookup. I needed 5 of the 7 connections. I wired the reverse lights back up and connected the reverse solenoid. I filled it with brake fluid and made a feeble attempt at bleeding the brakes. After that, I had working trailer back-up lights and somewhat working trailer brakes. I didn't find this guys video on bleeding brakes until later. Wish I would have found it sooner.

    Chapter 2
    Now after seeing that YouTube video, I know for sure I needed to re-bleed the brakes correctly. That is when I round off the edges on one of the bleeder valves. I get the bleeder valve out with vice grips and pull one of the calipers and head to the O'Reilly near me to see if I can't find a replacement bleeder valve. I've got a guy there that is excellent in helping me find the parts that will work. Sure enough, we find a galvanized Ford/Mazda bleeder valve that will work. That saved me from having to buy two new calipers or having to go who knows were to find just the bleeder valve. While I have the calipers off, I go ahead and clean them up to make sure there is no gunk inside and polish the pistons. Brake fluid will gel if it has sat a long time. I turned down the compressor and used low air pressure to pop the piston out of each caliper. If you do the same, be very careful. Run high pressure air into the caliper and you could shoot a piston through you or the garage wall.

    I get everything back together and bleed the brakes the right way this time for sure.

    Chapter 3
    Now that I really have the brakes working right, I find out that my reverse solenoid is not working when backing up. Vice grips get me through the pinch so I can back-up this time, but it is off to order a replacement solenoid. That comes in only to find out that I am leaking back in the tongue when in reverse from the drain tube, so the actuator is going to have to come apart again. The first time was less than a joy. Now I decide if I'm going back in, I'm going to go ahead and replace the master cylinder (it had a bunch of rust and crap in it anyway), the pins (the original ones had some rust and were not easy to get back in the first time, plus it looked like someone took a hammer to them and expanded one of the ends on each pin), breakaway cable (it was mysteriously missing) and wear spacers. The first time was such a pain, I was planning on going in just one more time and do everything right.

    Chapter 4
    I really dreaded this day. Pulling the actuator apart again was right up there with a trip to the dentist. I grudgingly start pulling it apart. I get it apart, and replace all the respective parts. Now back to re-assembly, it goes in much better than the first time. While it was not an easy slide, I get it worked in and once i get the top spacer past the hole for the master cylinder fill, it just slides right in. Woo Hoo!! Much easier than the first time. The new pins.... slide right in after I get the holes aligned. Much easier than the first time. I'm done. Well almost. I realized after I got the actuator apart that the reverse solenoid was really made to be connected directly to the master cylinder. EZ Loader had inserted a curved brake line between the master cylinder and solenoid that I removed and put the solenoid on the master cylinder as intended. What I had to do was get a standard steel brake line from O'Reilly to connect the solenoid to the main brake line, give it a little bend to shorten it and lower the output, and use a female/female coupler to connect from the actuator to the trailer brake line.

    What I Learned
    I wish I would have found the YouTube video referenced above on bleeding trailer brakes first. I found some others initially that were not near as good as that one. For parts, went back to EZ loader for the shock until I realized I could find the parts elsewhere with better pics, availability, and prices. I found Trailer Parts - Trailer Tires & Trailer Wheels at Wholesale Prices. They have a pretty good selection of UFP parts and free shipping for over $50 plus their website was pretty good. Trailer Parts SuperstoreŽ - Shopping Index is another site you will see referenced for trailer parts. I looked at them, but didn't use them. The UFP diagrams for parts are a big help on developing your plan to pull the actuator apart and making sure you didn't miss anything you wanted to replace. If the actuator on my trailer had been a bolt on, I probably would have just replaced the entire actuator (i took a brief look, and I don't think the cost was much more than the parts to rebuild most of it). In my case, the actuator was welded on, and I really didn't want to go through cutting it off and welding a new one on. The last point is that the UFP system is a mixture of metric and standard. If you put a wrench on it and it doesn't feel right, try the closest metric option to see if that works better.

    And that's my story of trailer brakes. I'm sure I left off some minor details of dealing with some minor things as they came up. Knowing what I know now and getting a trailer that was near 15 years old with suspect brakes, I would just jump to a rebuild like I did. However, the reality was that it was a learning process along the way and working through it piecemeal allowed me to come up to speed as I worked through the items. In the end, it wasn't as scary as I thought it was when I started.
    Last edited by JoeFriday; 05-06-2015 at 09:36 AM. Reason: additional info

  2.  
  3. Member Nova Kaw 650's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Bridgewater, NS
    Posts
    6,864
    #2
    Good write up!
    Scott

    2011 Stratos 186XT
    Mercury Optimax 115
    Lowrance HDS10 x2, LSS1
    Minn Kota 24v 70lbs
    8' Talon
    V-T2 Live Well Vents

  4. Member CastingCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,907
    #3
    Very enjoyable read! Nice work!

  5. Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Insomnia, Delaware
    Posts
    17,596
    #4
    This should be required reading before posting a "My brakes don't work" header.

  6. Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    891
    #5
    Thanks guys. Brakes were scary for me at first, and I wanted to take a moment to share since once I got into them they were not so bad.

  7. Member fishnfireman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Amarillo
    Posts
    4,623
    #6
    well done




  8. Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Smyrna, TN
    Posts
    6,021
    #7
    JoeFriday, I don't know if anyone has contacted Rude520 but I will to request that this become a sticky post. EVERYBODY should read it and view the video FIRST - and THEN ask their question(s) - course that'll never happen but at least we can point them to THIS post.

  9. Kentucky Bass Club/Trailers & Towing Moderator
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Winchester,KY
    Posts
    1,775
    #8
    Done!!!

  10. Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    891
    #9
    Thanks for the feedback and kind words. My first sticky. Hope it helps other folks later down the road.

  11. Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Smyrna, TN
    Posts
    6,021
    #10
    and not bad for a guy who just joined last year and only 150+ posts. It took me a while to get a couple of stickies (not that I was trying anyways). Key is helping others

  12. 3rd place again. fishindoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Mattoon, IL
    Posts
    4,203
    #11
    this read and that video gave me the push I needed to re-do my brakes. Today I replace the entire A-60 actuator, new flexible brake lines, both calipers and pads. It would have gone much smoother if the caliper bolt hadn't sheared off on the mounting plate.

  13. Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    891
    #12
    Glad it gave you the motivation fishindoc. My motivation was that I was a bit scared of getting into the trailer brakes, and almost gave up and took it somewhere. I was pretty sure based on posts that I was not alone. What I found once I dove into them is that they are not that bad nor overly complex.

  14. Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Winchester, TN
    Posts
    1,411
    #13
    To make bleeding easier, lower the nose of the trailer first. When mounting calipers, start the bolts by hand first, then drive one of the bolt all the way home and torque it to 55 ft lbs before attending to the other one. The Loctite patch will sometimes give you a false reading if you alternate between the bolts. The patch will heat up and set, allowing a 55 ft torque before the bolt is seated. Also, before hooking up the brake line, use a rubber tipped air nozzle to pop the piston tight to the rotor, then hook up the line and bleed the brakes uphill. Air will voluntarily travel away from the master cylinder and up to the highest point, the bleeder, making the process simple.

  15. Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Paducah, KY
    Posts
    96
    #14
    On my last boat trailer, I replaced the actuator (bolt-on) and found I could replace the whole inner brake assemblies cheaper (and easier) then replacing the individual parts that were worn. I'm not a mechanic, but was able to work through it without any major problems, so Joe, I appreciate and applaud your determination to get it right as brakes are pretty darn important!

  16. Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    891
    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ert188 View Post
    On my last boat trailer, I replaced the actuator (bolt-on) and found I could replace the whole inner brake assemblies cheaper (and easier) then replacing the individual parts that were worn. I'm not a mechanic, but was able to work through it without any major problems, so Joe, I appreciate and applaud your determination to get it right as brakes are pretty darn important!
    If my actuator had not been welded on, I would have replaced the whole thing instead of a rebuild. With all the flooding down here, getting to the lake has been a challenge. I finally got to make a decent long run on the highway. Before I got to the lake I pulled over to check the hub and brake temps. Cool as a cucumber. I measured the temp and think it was around 150-160 or so.

  17. Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Bella vista arkansas
    Posts
    1,711
    #16
    I watched the video did the same thing but after awhile I couldn't get the brake to lock anymore no clue why. I actually got fluid out of one side of the axle but never the other. I didn't realize he was leaving the bleeders open. Did I see that correct? I opened rthe one side to much and sucked in air I'm sure. For awhile there I could watch fluid run back in the resevoir. Then I found both calipers were leaking a little tightened them again and never seen that agai