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Old 01-11-2006, 06:57 PM   #1
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we just returned from the factory for a tune up on our slides (they leaked like a sieve). While there, got a chance to look carefully at the new Apex. Impressive. I have been saying on this forum and in conversations that we probably would NOT buy another Alpine because of the lack of inovation. Well all that mindset has changed since seeing the Apex. Lots of new goodies, not the least being the new basement... Since our 2000 and our 2003 have had hydraulic brakes I am considering ordering Air brakes on the next coach.

Here is what I would like to know from you folks. Has anybody had, in the past, an Alpine with the hydraulic brakes, who now have the air brakes on their new coach? And , if so which is bettter? I find the hydraulic brakes adequate, however with a coach this big you can never have too much braking power. What say yee?
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Old 01-11-2006, 06:57 PM   #2
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we just returned from the factory for a tune up on our slides (they leaked like a sieve). While there, got a chance to look carefully at the new Apex. Impressive. I have been saying on this forum and in conversations that we probably would NOT buy another Alpine because of the lack of inovation. Well all that mindset has changed since seeing the Apex. Lots of new goodies, not the least being the new basement... Since our 2000 and our 2003 have had hydraulic brakes I am considering ordering Air brakes on the next coach.

Here is what I would like to know from you folks. Has anybody had, in the past, an Alpine with the hydraulic brakes, who now have the air brakes on their new coach? And , if so which is bettter? I find the hydraulic brakes adequate, however with a coach this big you can never have too much braking power. What say yee?
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Old 01-11-2006, 07:26 PM   #3
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The Space shuttle has hydraulic brakes, 747's - hydraulic brakes, the only reason I can see to have air brakes is to disconnect your semi-trailer easily!

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Old 01-12-2006, 03:36 AM   #4
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Stretch, keep in mind that the only time that air pressure comes into play is when the brakes are released.The applied pressure on the brakes is created by springs not air. The air holds the brake open.

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Old 01-12-2006, 08:14 AM   #5
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Hello Stretch:

Air over Hydraulic? For my $0.02, I personally I think Hydraulic are better than Air. Air brakes are slower to react as air moves slower than hydraulic fluid. The only advantage to Air is for towing, you do not have to bleed the brakes you just have to supply air. Air brakes are also drum and the hydraulic are disc. Disc cool better and work better when wet.

I also like the APEX

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Old 01-12-2006, 09:17 AM   #6
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Hi Dave, thanx for response

I guess the question I'm asking is which type regardless of a slight delay with air, is the most powerfull? Also is your preference for hydraulic a bias because you own that type?
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Old 01-12-2006, 09:24 AM   #7
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Hi Ted:
Thanx for the response. However I think you are only partially correct on the spring activation. The rear axle has a "piggyback" spring chamber which automatically applies the rear brakes in case of total loss of air pressure. The rear brakes also have a air brake chamber that does exert pressure on the drums or discs. The front brakes are usually brake chambers without the "piggyback" spring brake units. I am familiar with air brakes. I just need to know from some member who has had both types, which is the more powerful in this coach application.
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Old 01-12-2006, 11:55 AM   #8
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Hello Stretch:

I have driven vehicles with both types of brakes. I had driven commercial vehicles for a short time and I test drove motorhomes with Air and the Alpine with Hydraulic. Hydraulic have always seemed to be better. I think I read in WRV brochures when the Avalanche was in production that the hydraulic stopped better over the air (Comparison of brochures between the Alpine & Avalanche). Both air and hydraulic brakes have ABS. I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

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Old 01-12-2006, 03:21 PM   #9
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We have had air brakes on all our other rigs but decided to go with hydraulic on our APEX. I am very happy that we decided to go that way. The hydralic brakes gives me more feel which gives me the impression that I am in control. Cathy (my wife) likes the feel of stops much better in the navigator seat.
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Old 01-12-2006, 03:34 PM   #10
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Stretch, I had a 40' Monaco Signature prior to the Alpine (1998). It had 4 wheel disc brakes that were air. Personally I thought it stopped better than the Alpine, or at least it felt as if it took less pedal pressure. Just my opinion.

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Old 01-12-2006, 06:00 PM   #11
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Thanks Dave , Ted III, Cathy and Danny. Very useful info. I really thought for certain that everybody was going to go for the air. While I am aware that the brake feedback via the air brake pedal is only spring pressure and with hydraulic brakes you are getting a more natural brake feel, having drive a class 8 truck for a while, I was of the thought that air was stronger. I will give all this some more thought, thanks
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Old 01-12-2006, 07:40 PM   #12
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Stretch,

An essential point to consider with air brakes is the additional DELAY in stopping time and therefore additional distance to stop, compared to hydraulic brakes. See this State of Florida link for a good discussion of air brakes ( State of Florida air brake tutorial ).

This is a key quote from this link, "With air brakes there is an added delay: the time required for the brakes to work after the brake pedal is pushed. With hydraulic brakes (used on cars and light/medium trucks), the brakes work instantly. However, with air brakes, it takes a little time (one half second or more) for the air to flow through the lines to the brakes... The air brake lag distance at 55 mph on dry pavement adds about 32 feet."

In general, compared to hydraulic brakes, air brakes are much more complex and require more maintenance and attention - daily air tank drainage, slack adjustment (even with auto slack adjusters), air supply pressure monitoring, and more components to deal with. Also, with air brakes, the lack of true brake pedal feedback, does not let the driver really know how well the brakes are working.

On a motorhome, I don't see any advantage to air brakes. On a commmerial truck tractor, they are essential for quickly hooking up to a trailer.

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Old 01-13-2006, 04:46 AM   #13
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Air and hydraulic brakes are markedly different and they each have their advantages. Air has it's delays and lags and hydraulic has a better feel to it which allows for easier pedal midulation. You do get used to modulating a pneumatic pedal but you still can't beat hydraulics for feel.

Maintenance is equal. Most IFS air brake chassis have disks in front while most solid front axles have drums. With air you have to deal with moisture issues as far as maintenance goes so an air drier will need servicing every few years, although you probably have that for the air suspension anyway. One advantage to air brakes is that if they get hot, the air is replaced by fresh air all the time. With hydraulic brakes the heat can transfer into the brake fluid and cause it to boil. It's generally recommended to change your brake fluid every 2-3 years to keep it up to snuff, so either way you will have some maintenance.

My personal take on MH brakes is that you live with whatever is under the coach you like. They both work fine. If an Alpine is your choice I certainly wouldn't opt for the pneumatic brakes option. In that case I'd prefer the hydraulic "feel". Chances are that many Alpine owners bought thir coach because of the excellent handling so I'm pretty sure that hydraulic brakes would be the most popular choice.
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:08 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Dale Dowdy:
....... On a motorhome, I don't see any advantage to air brakes. On a commmerial truck tractor, they are essential for quickly hooking up to a trailer...... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

But there is that cool "phssst" sound when you pull into your parking space and apply the park brake.
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