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Old 10-30-2014, 09:32 PM   #1
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DP Peak Chassis Disc Brakes vs. Air Brakes

Looking at purchase of an '08 Alpine Coach Limited SE (40 ft./3 slides) which would be upgrade of our '06 Winnebago. Comments on the disc brakes vs. standard DP air brakes, and other comments on Peak chassis and orphan status of these rigs.
Thanks,
Vince
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Old 10-30-2014, 10:52 PM   #2
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Sure you will gets lots of opinions: 1] one of the best driving and handling chassis's made; 2] Vansco multiplex electrical system can be bothersome--no access to proprietary firmware [there are work-arounds]; and 3] when commercial airliners start using air brakes, I'll be impressed.....however, some owners of newer coaches--those with adjustable brake pedals [including 08] -- complain about excessive foot pressure required to activate brakes [smaller piston dia MC is available]. Being an orphan isnt so bad -- other coach owners with factories should be so luck--smile.....
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:35 PM   #3
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I used to think that people were crazy to have hydraulic brakes on big DPs. But now, having had one, I've found that with my exhaust brake, I really don't use the brakes all that much at all -- even if I misjudge downhill speeds by a fair margin, I've found that I've reached Pucker Factor Zulu not because of brakes, but just because I'm going 65mph downhill, say, on I-70 and it starts turning more than I am comfortable with at that speed.

OTOH, my grandparents have an older Safari without an exhaust brake...and that, I am firmly convinced, is completely crazy. And they HAVE had a few scary times where their hydraulic brakes gave out.

Steve
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertvince View Post
Looking at purchase of an '08 Alpine Coach Limited SE (40 ft./3 slides) which would be upgrade of our '06 Winnebago. Comments on the disc brakes vs. standard DP air brakes, and other comments on Peak chassis and orphan status of these rigs.

Thanks,

Vince

My wife & I test drove an '06 Alpine at the FMCA Rally in Perry, Ga. Ron Doyle, the son of the WRV founders and the President of WRV was with us.

The Peak chassis is a great handling chassis. Very stable in cross winds. The disc brakes are very strong.

The biggest con to the hydraulic discs is the fact that every heavy truck shop in the country know air brake systems. The hydraulic systems do not have nearly as big a knowledge base out there.

That being said, the Alpine is a quality coach and I would be proud to own one.


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Old 10-31-2014, 11:11 AM   #5
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I agree with SteveLevin. I use the exhaust brake going down the big I8 West grade from Descanso to Alpine. Hydraulic brakes are fine, exhaust brake better!

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Old 10-31-2014, 05:24 PM   #6
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And two stage Jake brake even better than exhaust brake. The ISL engines have those instead of exhaust brakes. An '08 will have that engine.

At 95k miles the hydraulic brakes have plenty of pad left. The hydraulic brakes are the least of my worries.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:18 PM   #7
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Air brakes are a hangover from building motorhomes on a truck chassis. The advantage of air actuated brakes is the ability to quickly connect and disconnect trailer brakes without concern over hydraulic fluid.

If air brake systems were somehow superior to hydraulic disc brakes, we would see them used on aircraft and Formula One race cars - they use hydraulic disc brakes.

As already mentioned, the downside may be the unfamiliarity of service providers with the hydraulic discs, since so many coaches use the truck style air brakes.
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Old 11-01-2014, 11:45 AM   #8
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Actually, it's not quite that simple. The use case for air brakes also includes the fact that they are much better under heavy use cases -- literally, you can use them to the point of setting the brake pads on fire (whereas hydraulic systems will have stopped providing braking force long before that). The reason that airplanes and and Formula 1 cars don't use them have to do with a myriad of other factors which don't apply to motorhomes.

My point was that with and exhaust brake (and, as others have pointed out, a 2 stage Jake), you aren't using your wheel brakes much at all, so you actually get the smoother application benefits, etc., of hydraulic brakes with no real loss of safety.

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Old 11-01-2014, 12:40 PM   #9
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Thanks to all that have contributed to the issue raised. The brakes will not impact my decision to buy or not buy.
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With: Ch. "Carrie", Std. Schnauzer & "Sophie" Cocker
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Old 11-03-2014, 12:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveLevin View Post
Actually, it's not quite that simple. The use case for air brakes also includes the fact that they are much better under heavy use cases -- literally, you can use them to the point of setting the brake pads on fire (whereas hydraulic systems will have stopped providing braking force long before that). The reason that airplanes and and Formula 1 cars don't use them have to do with a myriad of other factors which don't apply to motorhomes.



Steve
Please elaborate. I'd like to hear how the transfer of kinetic energy into heat differs in a motorhome chassis from aircraft or race cars.
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:48 PM   #11
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Having had two Alpine coaches, a 2000 40 footer and a 2003 40 footer I can attest to the following. The 2000 equipped with a Pac Brake had some problems in stop and go traffic where the the front brake calipers would get hot and cause the brakes to fade and smell. The 03 was a bit better, different brake configuration, I think. However I had the engine quit on me going down a curving hill. Suddenly I had no brakes and no power steering. Real exciting.
For comparisons sake we now have a coach equipped with air disc brakes and a Jake engine brake. Air brakes have a reserve tank of air for this situation. Plus air disc are very powerful.
Would not consider going back to a coach with hydraulic brakes. Air over hydraulics, perhaps.
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:56 PM   #12
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Interesting--your 03 Alpine and perhaps your 00 both had an aux braking system powered by a 12v motor to provide power assisted braking in the event of engine loss. Yes--steering might be an issue if the engine stalls/quits but that applies to most coaches. Of course in a real emergency you could always pull the "yellow handled" parking brake knob. IMHO, both braking configs have advantages and disadvantages--but your experience with engine loss doesnt address either side of the issue......
PS--your 03 should have had a ISL 400 with a Jake, guess the ISC was still an option in 03.....
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Old 11-04-2014, 09:00 PM   #13
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Old Scout - I believe the ISC was standard in '03, but the majority of coaches were built with the optional ISL.
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Old 11-04-2014, 09:43 PM   #14
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Here's a little different thought, one that might be worth considering if your coach spends a lot of time in storage? It's been my experience that drum brakes handle inactivity MUCH better than discs.

Might not apply here, but it sure does on everything I've owned in the past. Big rust pits develop under the disk brake pad pretty quickly. Left long enough, that rotor is ruined. Drum brakes don't seem to have this issue?
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