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Old 05-11-2017, 04:46 PM   #1
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Mountain descend with Acme Dolly

Earlier today, I wrote to Acme about my concern of dolly brakes heating up while on my trip to the northwest this summer. This is the answer I received. What have others done or experienced?

"We will be happy to assist you. Should you encounter some long downgrades in your area, here are a few thoughts on downgrades: If you are towing your dolly (or any surge actuated braked trailer) with a large tow vehicle, and using the engine braking feature or downshifting to use the tow vehicle to hold speed on a long down grade, it is possible to overheat the brakes on the trailer. Once the tow vehicle decelerates enough to apply the brakes on the trailer, the trailer brake actuator will remain compressed and trailer brakes remain applied until the tow vehicle pulls away from the trailer at the bottom of the hill. Thus, using an engine brake, or downshifting the tow vehicle on a long grade essentially can create the same effect as driving with your trailer brakes on continuously. This might eventually overheat the trailer brakes. It is best to enter a long downgrade with a slower initial speed at the top. Then, while descending, it is recommended that you occasionally slightly accelerate the tow vehicle away from the trailer for a few seconds to release the trailer brakes. The ventilated rotors will cool down immediately, and then the brakes can be reapplied. If you can do this about every half mile or so, the trailer brakes will remain within their normal operating temperatures. This is only a recommendation, as the disks can stand an extreme amount of heat, but the vault system may release some lube to vent some pressure if the brakes get really hot. Two important things to remember. You can lock out the brake system if you choose to. Under some circumstances that may be a good idea. Also, at the bottom of the grade do not stop too soon. Keep driving and allow the brakes time to cool off. They need fresh air flowing over them to cool off quickly. Rotors can get white hot under some conditions. Hot rotors are not safe to touch. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us."
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Old 05-11-2017, 05:54 PM   #2
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Similar to the document from UFP I posted on this issue.
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Old 05-11-2017, 06:30 PM   #3
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Been there and had the dolly brakes smoking. That's when I converted them to electric.
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Old 05-11-2017, 07:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vettenuts View Post
Similar to the document from UFP I posted on this issue.
Just read that thread. Have not been on here much lately so I had not seen it. Good info there. I now know there are several things I can do to keep from over heating the brakes. Wonder what Acme's position is regarding changing the ball height?

As for the straps, I'm on the second set. My dolly is 4 years old and has about 25,000 miles on it. Of course, I'm on the second set of tires. Next set will be the bigger tires they are putting on the new dollies.

I have no problem with Acme. I knew when I bought it that I would need to get on the ground to hook up chains and such.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:18 PM   #5
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FWIW, it's pretty poor advice and a poor practise to disable the brakes when going down a steep grade where you will need them the most, to avoid overheating them. Also, the last thing I want to do when descending a 10 or 11% grade is accelerate a 47,000# combo to disengage the dolly brakes. Now that is a dumb move.
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crasher View Post
FWIW, it's pretty poor advice and a poor practise to disable the brakes when going down a steep grade where you will need them the most, to avoid overheating them. Also, the last thing I want to do when descending a 10 or 11% grade is accelerate a 47,000# combo to disengage the dolly brakes. Now that is a dumb move.
I agree about disabling the brakes. My combined weight will be about 15,000# less than yours but will still be concerned.

As far as accelerate to disengage, I'll likely try that on 5 - 7% grades before the 11% you mention.

I now know choosing my route will be a different process than it has been for the hills in the east.
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Old 05-12-2017, 11:29 AM   #7
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So what does it cost, generally speaking, to get an electric brake controller installed?
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Old 05-13-2017, 07:54 AM   #8
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So what does it cost, generally speaking, to get an electric brake controller installed?
Many coaches come with the wires already installed. All that is needed is to install the controller at the dash with a couple of screws and plug it into the harness. If you know how to run a drill and turn a screw driver, you can do it yourself.
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Old 05-13-2017, 11:26 AM   #9
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I don't recall the exact numbers, but the UFP recommended electric over hydraulic was quite pricey to buy.
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