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Old 02-12-2012, 07:51 AM   #15
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Surge brakes most definitely are not "proportional" to the brakes on the RV unlike electric that are proportional simply because they are "linked".

Once the tow dolly brakes do their job in slowing the dolly down, they are immediately released due to the decompression of the tongue mounted master cylinder. You can still be lightly applying the brakes on the RV without any braking on the dolly. They are not proportional because they are not linked and work independent of one another.

Having said that, I also have a Demco KarKaddy 460 SS with surge brakes. I have limited space to store it at my home so the fact that it folds up for storage was a driving factor on choosing it. It's also completely galvanized and has steering dolly wheels that make cornering easier and sealed bearings just like your car.

I was looking at buying a used one and soon found that the going price (for a dolly I paid $2400 for new) was $2000 and they were selling almost immediately after they were listed. I even offered a guy $1900 and was rejected. So now I know that if I ever decide to flat tow, my dolly will sell for a good price and fairly quickly
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:42 AM   #16
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I'll throw my hat in the ring on describing the surge brakes. When "proportional" is used, the surge brakes applied pressure are proportional as to how much difference in deceleration the towed trailer has upon it vs. deceleration of the towing vehichle. The master cylinder acts as a regulator on the brake pressure trying to maintain the exact distance of separation from the towing vehichle. There will be a delay in it's action. As you apply the coach brakes, the trailer tries to continue forward thus compressing the master cylinder and applying the brakes, as the trailer is in a delay mode, it will actually apply a higher percent of brake pressure until the trailer slows at a greater pace than the coach, when this happens, the trailer brakes try to slow the trailer more quickly than you are trying to stop, thus pulling the tounge apart and releasing brake pressure. Another way of putting it is if the passenger had their own brake pedal for the trailer only, was sitting with their foot on the pedal, and was sitting in a chair that would slide forward and back a few inches, then when the driver applied the coach brakes, the passengers chair would slide forward and their foot would apply pressure to the trailer brakes. It's simple but confusing at the same time. That being said, I think the best electric brake controllers I've ever used where the Echlin units that NAPA used to sell that had an inertia weight in them. As you applied the coach brakes, the inertia weight would swing forward applying varying amounts of voltage to the trailer brakes. The heavier the braking force, the more deceleration, and thus the more the inertia weight swung. I don't much care for these new digital controllers. When we would creep through town pulling our old travel trailer, every time I'd touch the brakes, the controller voltage crept up and applied the same preset application pressure for normal driving and would stop our truck in the middle of the street. It would get annoying.

Back to the point of the dolly's, get one with brakes, no matter what kind they are. They all have their good points and bad points, neither of which will override the need to have the extra braking power.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:01 AM   #17
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I use a Master tow Dolly with electric brakes to tow a Camry or Avalon, and would replace it with the same. Be aware that some states require brakes on the dolly, and others do not allow hydraulic surge brakes. I opted for the 80" wide model for extra room and flexibility in future vehicles.

I hope this helps.
Chuck, Do you happen to know which states do not allow surge brakes?

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Old 02-12-2012, 04:29 PM   #18
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I think the best electric brake controllers I've ever used where the Echlin units that NAPA used to sell that had an inertia weight in them. As you applied the coach brakes, the inertia weight would swing forward applying varying amounts of voltage to the trailer brakes. The heavier the braking force, the more deceleration, and thus the more the inertia weight swung.

I don't much care for these new digital controllers. When we would creep through town pulling our old travel trailer, every time I'd touch the brakes, the controller voltage crept up and applied the same preset application pressure for normal driving and would stop our truck in the middle of the street. It would get annoying.
The Tekonsha Prodigy and Prodigy P2 operate in a manner very similar to the Echlin. The major difference is that now the inertia sensor is an electronic transducer or load cell. It replaces the inertia weight on a pendulum. Other than that they operate identically. This type of controller needs both a signal from the inertia sensor that the vehicle is slowing and a signal from the brake pedal (brake lights illuminated) before they will apply the trailer/dolly brakes

The second type you describe are known as timed controllers. They are activated by a signal from the brake pedal (pedal is depressed sufficiently to illuminate the brake lights). When the controller gets the signal it waits a preset amount of time (chosen when the unit is setup) then applies the trailer/dolly brakes at the preset voltage selected. Both the time delay and the voltage can be reset by the operator.

Unlike the inertia controller the timed controller needs only the signal from the brake lights to apply the trailer/dolly brakes. It doesn't matter how fast you're decelerating or how hard or soft the brakes in the truck are applied, the trailer brakes are always applied at the same rate. When they apply it could easily stop the truck if you're creeping along in traffic.
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Old 02-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #19
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Chuck, Do you happen to know which states do not allow surge brakes?

Don
Don, I do not know which states do not allow surge brakes. However, I was told this by two different dealers when I was shopping for my Tow Dolly.
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Old 02-13-2012, 01:15 AM   #20
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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
49 CFR Part 393
[Docket No. FMCSA-2005-21323]
RIN-2126-AA91


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation:
Surge Brake

Requirements

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.




ACTION: Final rule.




"The Coalition stated that surge brakes are a popular alternative to electric brakes because they activate automatically when the towing vehicle brakes are applied, adapt to the weight of the trailer load,have fewer components, and require less maintenance than trailers with electric brakes. These features make surge brakes ideal for flatbed and van-type trailers with a GVWR of 20,000 pounds or less, and boat trailers serving the marine industry. The Coalition also noted that manufacturers install approximately 250,000 surge brake systems annually on such trailers. This includes both in the personal market and the commercial intrastate market in 7 States, as of their 2002 petition, where the Coalition said
surge brakes are allowed in
intrastate commercial applications. (The 2004 article cited in the Regulatory Evaluation from Trailer Body Builders indicates the number of such States had risen to 9.\3\) The Coalition estimated that over 25 percent of the rental trailer fleet is equipped with surge brakes.
There are no restrictions in any State on surge-braked trailers for personal use."





This is from a 35 page document that changed the surge brake rules in 2007.
Most of it applies to rental trailers, so just read the last sentence.
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Old 02-13-2012, 02:16 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by DGShaffer View Post
Surge brakes most definitely are not "proportional" to the brakes on the RV unlike electric that are proportional simply because they are "linked".

Once the tow dolly brakes do their job in slowing the dolly down, they are immediately released due to the decompression of the tongue mounted master cylinder. You can still be lightly applying the brakes on the RV without any braking on the dolly. They are not proportional because they are not linked and work independent of one another.
Since the electronic controllers now used work by sensing deceleration forces electronically then they are not proportional either! They activate with an electronic sensor that also quits working when brakes are applied lightly.
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:48 AM   #22
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Since the electronic controllers now used work by sensing deceleration forces electronically then they are not proportional either! They activate with an electronic sensor that also quits working when brakes are applied lightly.
Actually the electronic version is so sensitive it can detect even the slightest deceleration. They will apply the brakes at a proportional rate even when braking at speeds so low they don't even register on the tow vehicle speedometer. They will even sense a slight roll back when stopped on an incline.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:15 AM   #23
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Add electric brakes?

Have found 3 used Master Tow dolly locally at $750 - $1000. None have brakes which I definately want.
I see that I can buy backing plates, Hubs and a wire harness from Master Tow for $300. If the plate & hub are standard trailer parts might be able to cut the cost.
Is this just a bolt on swap? I am very handy with tools, just haven't been able to look at the Master Tow units closely yet.
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Old 02-19-2012, 12:02 PM   #24
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Electric brakes or hydralic??? I think you would also have to buy the assy that is part of the dolly tongue which on mine has the master cyinder and the slide mech. that applies the brakes. Plus you would need the brake lines. It may be better to wait for one with what you want...that has been my experiance anyway.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:00 PM   #25
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By the time you buy a used dolly and all the parts to add brakes, electric or surge,
you will spend more than buying a brand new ACME EZE-TOW with a 5 year warranty.
And you will still have a cobbled together used dolly.
IMHO
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:29 PM   #26
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In most cases a dolly or trailer can be retrofitted with either electric or hydraulic brakes. In both cases the key element is whether the backing plates are welded or bolted to the spindle. If they're welded it's a no go. If they're bolted on there's a very good chance they can be replaced with either type.


As mentioned earlier there's more to it than just switching out the backing plates. I don't know which way you intend to go but either way will likely require new bearing and brake drum assemblies. Even if you have somethings that looks like brake drums they probably don't have a machined surface for the brake shoes to press against. In all likelyhood they aren't meant to be machined and won't last very long even if you do machine them.
If you're going electric the brake drums will also need the added machined surface on the back surface for the actuating magnet to ride on.


Here's a link to The Trailer Parts Super Store:
http://www.easternmarine.com/em_store/trailerbrakes/

They have kits for both hydraulic and electric conversions. (I have no affiliation with this company. It just looked like they did a good job explaining what needed to be done and had a good inventory of parts.)

Take a look and decide if it's something you want to tackle. Someone with a fair amount of mechanical aptitude and the necessary tools should be able to do an electric conversion if an afternoon and a hydraulic conversion in less than a day. Hydraulics will take a little longer because you have to replace the hitch, run the hydraulic lines and bleed the system. The electrics will also need a controller installed in the towing vehicle.

Both the Chevy and Ford chassis are prewired for a brake controller. I installed a controller in my 1020 Ford truck in less than 10 minutes. It took more time to decide where to mount it than it did to do the installation.
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Old 02-19-2012, 08:07 PM   #27
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I tow a 97 nissan altima behind my 2002 fleetwood pace arrow 37A with a Kar Kaddy tow dolly with no brakes on it and don't even know it's back there.I haven't any problem stopping,but then i don't drive 80mph.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:43 AM   #28
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In most cases a dolly or trailer can be retrofitted with either electric or hydraulic brakes. In both cases the key element is whether the backing plates are welded or bolted to the spindle. If they're welded it's a no go. If they're bolted on there's a very good chance they can be replaced with either type.


snip
I found a site that has a video on installing electric brakes on trailer that didn't have any. Prices for brakes + drum + wire harness would be less than $200.

I don't understand the concern about the mounting plate from some others as having a plate is good otherwise I would need to weld on a new one (which I could do).

Main problem was the two units I was looking at both were sold last week. They were only 2 years old and $750 so would still have saved over $400 to $500 vs buying new.

Will keep looking. I agree that getting a unit with brakes is easiest but have to see if it is worth the cost.

Thanks for all the comments. It does help me think of all the items I need to be concerned with.
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