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Old 07-25-2011, 02:36 PM   #1
Rkh
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Surge v.s Electric

1998 Winnebago Chieftain..F 53 chassis, V10 engine..
Need to tow 4000lbs, toad plus dolly...
I understand the difference in the workings of both electric and surge brakes...Are surge brakes really a bad idea? Do they reall only brake upon initial pressure and become useless on an incline?
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:29 PM   #2
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Can't speak from experience yet (just ordered mine today), but I've only heard good things about the Readybrake surge system.

Not sure why you would think they only brake upon initial pressure. It is the amount of deceleration (forward) force the toad puts on the tow bar that activates the brakes. The faster the MH is decelerating (the harder you're braking), the harder it applies the toad brakes. As long as you're decel'ing, it should apply the brakes. I see how going downhill would apply some pressure, but I think it has to overcome a threshold before it applies the brakes.

The surge system (at least the Readybrake) is also adustable. To me it's the simplest and most economical way of accomplishing the supplemental braking thing.
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Old 07-26-2011, 06:13 AM   #3
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Dash, I believe the ready brake system is for tow bar application (four wheels down) only. I should have clarified that I will be using a tow dolly.
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Old 07-26-2011, 06:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rkh View Post
1998 Winnebago Chieftain..F 53 chassis, V10 engine..
Need to tow 4000lbs, toad plus dolly...
I understand the difference in the workings of both electric and surge brakes...Are surge brakes really a bad idea? Do they reall only brake upon initial pressure and become useless on an incline?

Rkh, You can do a search here on IRV2 or read this info....I would use electric...but thats JMHO......be safe! BUT YOU GOTTA STOP! - Trailer Brakes: Electric vs. Hydraulic Surge - RedTrailers.com
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Old 07-26-2011, 07:00 AM   #5
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Yes the ready brake system is for the tow bar and towing 4 down. It works great. We hit several 8% and 9% grades getting to Gettysburg from the Ohio and the coach and toad handled it fine. ( The DW on the other hand was not impressed with the steep grade but she wasn't driving! ) The surge brakes on a tow dolly should work the same except of course that you have only 2 wheels braking not 4. But that will be the case with any system with a tow dolly.

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Old 07-26-2011, 07:44 AM   #6
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Put electric brakes on dolly forget the car
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Old 07-26-2011, 07:51 AM   #7
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Thanks for the reply Grumpy...I have no idea what you said.....Having said that, don't go getting all grumpy on me...
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:02 AM   #8
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Yup...didn't read the post carefully enough first time around!
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:37 AM   #9
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Electric brakes must be adjusted for sensitivity (the amount of power you want going to the brakes), which will change when towing the dolly empty vs. loaded. The electric braking system can be manually overridden if that becomes necessary.

The surge brake requires no calibration, but is impossible to apply manually. The simplicity of the surge system is it's biggest selling point. There is a spring used in any surge system that must be overcome prior to it applying the brakes. Uphill, down hill, makes no difference, if the tow vehicle is slowing enough for the toad's momentum to compress that spring, the brakes will apply.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:02 AM   #10
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I just did a 1000 mile journey through the mountains with a PT Cruiser on a 2 wheel tow dolly with electric breaks. I put a brake controller in my 2000 Winnebago. I spent a little extra on my controller as it is an "Inertia" type controller, meaning the more sudden I apply the breaks the more signal applied to the dolly for it's electric brakes.
I have a hydrolic brake system on my boat trailer. They work pretty seamless. I would probably opt for Hydrolic if I had the option as it is less to monitor and set up. However, after the initial set-up, electric works pretty good. I never locked up the dolly's brakes once.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:27 PM   #11
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We have a Demco Kar Kaddy 460. They come standard with hydraulic surge brakes. Because we have a diesel pusher with exhaust brake they sent me an add on spring unit to keep the brakes from activating when only the exhaust brake was used.
Our first dolly was a locally built one and had hydraulic surge brakes also. I burned up a set of brakes coming west out of Jackson Hole due to the steep (10%) downgrade since there was no way to turn the activation down or off.
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Old 07-26-2011, 06:28 PM   #12
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Do they really only brake on pressure and become useless on an incline?

Well, yes and no

IF, the towed car is pushing on the motor home, instead of being pulled by it, then the surge brake comes on to assist in stopping.

If you are on a steep enough incline that when you stop the motor home the car is still being pulled (That is it's trying to pull you backwards) then you don't NEED the surge brakes to assist.. In fact you don't need your MH's brakes either, simply letting up on the accelerator will stop you.

Once stopped, it don't much matter.. Less you are talking about towing like 50,000 pounds with a 25,000 pound tow vehicle.

I have only gone up two hills that steep by the way.. one of them I had to unhook the towed and drive it across on it's own.. Just one.

If I get a new towed, and a new system. I will very likely go with the Ready Brake.
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