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Old 08-11-2015, 09:49 AM   #1
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Electric Trailer Brakes

I am the second owner of a 2004 alpine 400 Cummins with hydraulic brakes. I would like to pull a trailer that has 2 axle electric brakes. The previous owner had installed a unified tow brake system which the control head is still in the cockpit. I have 3 questions
1. is there any way to use the unified system or part of it to operate the trailers electric brakes? What I have found out this system is used to operate a toads vacuum brakes.
2. Has my coach been prewired for electric brakes? Is there a dedicated wire going to the rear of the coach specific for trailer electric brakes?
3. Or is the a better way for me to obtain trailer brakes?
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:30 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krob911 View Post
I am the second owner of a 2004 alpine 400 Cummins with hydraulic brakes. I would like to pull a trailer that has 2 axle electric brakes. The previous owner had installed a unified tow brake system which the control head is still in the cockpit. I have 3 questions
1. is there any way to use the unified system or part of it to operate the trailers electric brakes? What I have found out this system is used to operate a toads vacuum brakes.
2. Has my coach been prewired for electric brakes? Is there a dedicated wire going to the rear of the coach specific for trailer electric brakes?
3. Or is the a better way for me to obtain trailer brakes?
1. When you say a unified system are you referring to the U.S. Gear manufacturers Unified Braking System? If so, no they are totally different systems. The U.S. Gear's Unified Braking system activates a vacuum pump that has a check valve installed on the tow vehicle, this in turn pulls a vacuum in the brake booster and a rotary actuator to apply the toad's onboard brakes. The system works great and is pretty trouble free plus my favorite feature is that it is completely invisible and no big box to have to install or remove when towing.

2. I am not sure if you Alpine coach is pre-wired but in that vintage I highly doubt it. Maybe someone with the exact coach or more knowledge of Alpine/Western RV can chime in.

3. I have generally just installed a good quality multiple axle electronic inertia activated brake controller and wired it the same way as a standard pickup truck. Blue goes back to the trailer connection, Black comes from a 30-amp resettable/auto resetting circuit breaker, White is ground and Red comes from the non-powered side of the brake switch. On an air brake system you can merely tie in the Red wire to an air switch but on hydraulic brakes just tie it into the non-powered side of the brake switch. Pretty simple and quick.

Hope that helps.

Mike.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:07 PM   #3
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The US Gear Unified Tow Brake is indeed wired to the connector, however, if you choose to install a trailer brake system on your Alpine, you will want to do so separately or use the wiring for the Unified Tow brake with out the Unified tow brake (hope that isn't too confusing).

Since the Alpine has hydraulic brakes and the VANSCO, I had to install a solenoid for the brake switch activation signal and then there are several spare wires in the harness under the dash marked spare that you can use for the trailer brake wiring back to the back of the coach. You will find the same marking on the spare wires at the back. If you choose to not use the already installed unified tow brake, I would just use the wires already used for your trailer brake controller.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by WeBrzn2 View Post
The US Gear Unified Tow Brake is indeed wired to the connector, however, if you choose to install a trailer brake system on your Alpine, you will want to do so separately or use the wiring for the Unified Tow brake with out the Unified tow brake (hope that isn't too confusing).

Since the Alpine has hydraulic brakes and the VANSCO, I had to install a solenoid for the brake switch activation signal and then there are several spare wires in the harness under the dash marked spare that you can use for the trailer brake wiring back to the back of the coach. You will find the same marking on the spare wires at the back. If you choose to not use the already installed unified tow brake, I would just use the wires already used for your trailer brake controller.
Depends on how the previous owner wired it in. The U.S. Gear Unified Brake system comes with a Weatherpack style connector to connect the coach to the toad, it does not go through the trailer plug connector unless the original owner cut the wiring and added it through there.

Personally, I don't have enough terminals in my 7-pin trailer connector to have the Unified Braking System's two additional wires to go through it, so I merely use the manufacturer's supplied Weatherpack connector when flat towing.



As to the Alpine/Western RV specific wiring, I would follow WeBrzn2's advice and look for some OEM wiring under the dash before pulling new wires.

Mike.
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Old 08-11-2015, 07:07 PM   #5
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There are two wires near the steering column marked Spare 1 and 2. They go to the rear of the coach. I wired my Prodigy through that and also my US Gear setup.
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Old 08-20-2015, 01:47 PM   #6
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The Spare1 & Spare2 wires come out of hte wire loom at the rear Vansco VMM module in the batt compartment.

Word of caution- do not tap the brake pedal switch in Alpine 2004 to 2009 rigs for signal to operate remote items like trailer of toad brakes or lights. The brake light switch is computer signal to the front VMM, and any added load other than the contacts will eventually burn out the VMM input. You can wire around that VMM input in analog fashion, but I'm guessing its about a $1,500 bill min, and up if the tech has no experience.

Instead, install two new pins in the brake switch 5-pin connector (the next two pins are simple contacts just like the two that are factory wired) and run a relay off that. Pins are available at Autozone, "terminal assortment ford" Part #85377. There are 10 connectors, 2 each of 5 different types. Only the 2 square ones are used.

2003 and earlier rigs are all analog brake light wiring, pick your process & run w/it.
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Old 08-21-2015, 07:49 AM   #7
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More info

After a closer look the unified brake system was using 2 of the spare wires under the steering wheel. One went to the 7 pin trailer plug and the other tapped the brake light wire at the rear of the coach and ran forwards to the controller. My question engineer mike is ,do I still need to search for the brake light vmm connector and install a relay? Or, can I tap in to the 7 pin trailer connector and get the required brake signal? Thank u all for your help and input.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krob911 View Post
I am the second owner of a 2004 alpine 400 Cummins with hydraulic brakes. I would like to pull a trailer that has 2 axle electric brakes. The previous owner had installed a unified tow brake system which the control head is still in the cockpit. I have 3 questions
1. is there any way to use the unified system or part of it to operate the trailers electric brakes? What I have found out this system is used to operate a toads vacuum brakes.
2. Has my coach been prewired for electric brakes? Is there a dedicated wire going to the rear of the coach specific for trailer electric brakes?
3. Or is the a better way for me to obtain trailer brakes?
morning krob911

just made following submittal to ACA Webmaster which you may find useful info:

Not included as equipment on the 2006 34’ Alpine Coach I purchased in June was a brake controller suitable for the 7,000 lb tandem axle enclosed trailer I typically pull with the coach; the previous owner used a self-contained braking unit for his towed vehicle.

After consulting with ACA members about sourcing a “stop” signal and power for a “wired” controller, including running power leads the length of the coach, I elected to go the easier, but more expensive route, i.e., a Tekonsha Prodigy RF controller.

Easier because the handheld controller in the cockpit only requires power from a standard 12 volt cigar lighter; the trailer mounted, RF signal receiver required about 15 minutes to mount following very adequate instructions. Your 7 pin trailer plug goes in one end of the box; the other end is a new pig-tail that plugs into the coach. The cockpit handheld device is an inertia sensor, so no signal from coach braking is required. Additionally, I set the trailer mounted receiver up so that I can easily transfer the unit from the enclosed trailer to my tandem axle trailer for the Jeep.

My coach had inadequate wire size to the coach trailer receptacle for both trailer braking (blue) and break-away battery charging (B+, black), so I did have to modify those wire sizes and supplies (fused, direct from battery compartment to additional fuses and relays described below).

More expensive because a quality brake controller runs about $150, whereas the RF unit runs about $300 including shipping from ETrailer.com. However, total install time was about an hour; I’m sure I could have spent at least 3 times that getting the coach up on blocks, crawling around under the coach to run wires, etc.

Another thought - I had problems with the mix of trailer LEDs, coach LEDs, and incandescent lamps causing "winking" of the parking/position lights on the trailer. I "fixed" that by isolating the coach parking lights (and reduced the load through the coach parking light switch), plus the back-up light, trailer battery charging, and brake power with a fuse block (supplied from the coach battery) and four 40 amp relays, using the coach park lamps (example) as a trigger signal to the respective relay coil, and so on for the other relays.

Several internet blogs complained about sync’ing communication among the cockpit controller and the trailer mounted receiver – I experienced zero problems establishing communications by following the detailed instructions explicitly. The engine mass of the diesel pusher does not inhibit operation at all.
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