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Old 03-04-2015, 10:17 AM   #1
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SELF-ADJUSTING vs. MANUAL ELECTRIC BRAKES




The two main types of Electric Brake Assemblies for axles 7K and below are Forward Self Adjusting (FSA) and Manual Adjusting. The difference between the two is that the forward self-adjusting brakes will adjust themselves as needed so that they are always at the optimum position. Manual brakes must be adjusted manually via the star adjuster on the back side of the brake assembly as needed. Due to the reduction of required maintenance, the FSA brakes are becoming a lot more popular.
It is important to be able to identify which type is already on your trailer so that maintenance or replacing is done correctly. This cannot simply be done by looking for a star adjuster because both types have that. The FSA brakes will have a wire that will run from about 9 o’clock to 1 o’clock. On the 1 o’clock side it will have a banjo looking fitting (shown to the left). The manual adjusting brake will not have this wire running across the inside of the assembly.

Another way to identify between the two is the bottom spring. On an FSA brake assembly (shown above) the spring will be straight and wrapped around the adjuster. On a Manual adjusted brake assembly (shown to the right) it will be a curved spring below the adjuster.
Due to the way that these brakes operate we absolutely recommend being consistent through the trailer. It is NOT SAFE to run both types of brakes on the same axle. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to run both types of brakes on the same trailer (different axles) but if the brakes on each axle match, it is operable. Problems will occur if one side of the trailer is adjusting automatically and brakes on the other side are not.
A final thought about FSA brakes assemblies. It is important to keep in mind that FSA brakes are automatically adjusted to perform at their best. This means they may not last as long as manually adjusted breaks. This is because manually adjusted brakes, if not adjusted regularly, are not being used to there
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:52 AM   #2
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Ok, after recently going through the ordeal of adjusting all 4 wheels on my flat bed, what I want to know is can you reconfigure manuals in to FSAs or is a backing plate change required?
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Old 03-06-2015, 11:11 AM   #3
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LC - I don't think a conversion kit is available so you will have to change out the backing plates
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:42 PM   #4
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E-Trailer sells the assemblies pretty cheap depending on the axle weight and brand. It is worth have the auto adjust though.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:07 PM   #5
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You cannot buy a car that has manual adjusting drum brakes.

Only self adjusting brakes should be on recreational vehicles with tandem axles.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamaman View Post
You cannot buy a car that has manual adjusting drum brakes.

Only self adjusting brakes should be on recreational vehicles with tandem axles.
Been to a third word country and looked at new cars built there? Just kidding!! I totally agree on the self adjusting brakes on anything going down the road with drum brakes. Manufacturers will always buy low sell high
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:20 PM   #7
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LC - I don't think a conversion kit is available so you will have to change out the backing plates
Looks like replace shoes, add cable, lever and spring and press on. Yup done the conversion a few times and all parts available at your local parts store.
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Old 03-08-2015, 09:33 AM   #8
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Here in PA, an annual state required inspection entails pulling at least one brake drum from each axle to examine the brakes. I then need to go straight home and undo all the damage from that operation. I've had grease seals damaged, wrong grease. dirty grease, bearings not adjusted properly, too small of cotter pins, hub caps smashed, lugs stripped and lug nuts torqued to less than half the specification.
Brake adjustment is the least of my worries. Since the drums need to be pulled regularly to check the brakes, the automatic adjusters serve little purpose. Many trailer brake drums have considerable runout, and that will cause the automatic adjusters to not function properly.
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