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Old 08-20-2018, 04:17 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2018
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Has anyone installed a brake controller in '99 Dutch Star DP

Hello all,

Next Monday, I pick up my 1999 DSDP (Spartan chassis). My primary use will be towing a 7500# race trailer to events. My trailer has electric brakes and I'll need to install a brake controller. I've checked threads here and have talked to Spartan and - even after giving them the VIN - I'm unsure whether the coach was fitted with wires for a trailer brake controller.

Has anyone done this on a similar vehicle? There's a 7-pin connector in the back, and I'll be able to look for blunt cut wires under the dash when I get it next week.

If there are no wires in the harness, how hard is it to install a controller?

Sorry if this is repetitive - thanks!

Joe - Western PA
1999 Newmar Dutch Star 38' DP
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Old 08-20-2018, 05:02 PM   #2
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I've never done it myself, but have had them installed on two passenger vehicles, our Chinook, and my 3/4 ton pickup. I don't think it's very difficult as the installers did it less than an hour. But they knew what they were doing.

And as I recall, they needed to buy the proper pre-made wire harness for each vehicle. I doubt the brake controller manufacturers make harnesses for Spartan chassis, so the installer might have to make one up from scratch.

If you've never done this yourself and get one of the better proportional brake controllers (such as a Prodigy), then the installation location and position is important. The controller has a front and back, and the front must face forward. And each manufacturer and model has its own range of mounting angles that are acceptable. Because there are moving parts inside that depend on angular momentum (so the controller can do proportional braking), mounting angle is critical.

This usually isn't difficult on most cars and light trucks. But I suppose it could be more tricky in a DP -- depending on the dashboard design and suitable available space.

There's also usually a cable or wire that goes down to the brake pedal and needs to be installed and adjusted properly. And since the brake controllers I'm used to are intended for hydraulic brake systems and brake pedals, I'm sure connecting and adjusting for air-brakes will be different.

Basically, I think I'm saying that I'd have this professionally done -- and I suspect it won't cost that much.

Woody & Sandy
2003 Chinook Cascade
2008 Newmar Kountry Star 3623
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:37 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Powell River, B.C.
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Welcome to iRV2. and the Newmar Family.

The first thing to consider is if your brake lights are on when the exhaust brake is active.
My F/L chassis DS , turns on the brake lights with the exhaust brake, and that can be trouble for the trailer brakes on long down hills with the exhaust brake active. A good true proportional trailer brake controller should help this situation.

You may end up running a suitable size wire from the dash to the trailer plug , my F/L had wires to the rear but they were too small for trailer brakes.
Installation instructions are good with most controllers .

If your coach has shared signal and brake lights; like mine ; , turn the 4 way flashers on when the exhaust brake is active , if the 4 ways don't flash , your brake lights are on.
99DSDP 3884, Freightliner, XC, CAT 3126B, 300 HP /ALLISON 3060
2000 Caravan toad, Remco & Blue Ox.
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:36 PM   #4
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Joe ; just a note , your dash control switch may have the label " RTDR " or Retarder , but like my coach with that label , I'm pretty sure you have only an " Exhaust Brake. "
99DSDP 3884, Freightliner, XC, CAT 3126B, 300 HP /ALLISON 3060
2000 Caravan toad, Remco & Blue Ox.
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brake, dutch star, install, led

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