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Thread: Surge Brakes

  1. #1
    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Default Surge Brakes

    I was pulling my boat down Rabbit Creek Road a few days ago in Anchorage. This is a pretty steep road and of course the boat wants to push the truck down the hill. I put the truck in a lower gear to hold speed and I guess this engages the surge brakes as the boat is now pushing on the truck similar to when you stop. Therefore the brakes drug all the way down the hill. I pulled over to check things out just after I got to the bottom, for no particular reason, and noticed the passenger side trailer brake was smoking. It obviously over heated. The driver side wasn't smoking.

    I've pulled this boat over Turnagain pass to Homer and Seward several times and never noticed a thing. Of course I'm not stopping when I get to the bottom to notice the smoke. Any suggestions on what to do to keep this from happening? Also, do you think its happening on Turnagain as well and I'm just not noticing it or is this likley due to Rabbit Creek being steeper and a slower speed? Finally what do you think about it only happening on one side and not the other?

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2

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    patrickL,

    I have had the same problem at the Y on the Seard Highway when you turn right to go to Cooper Landing. I had people passing me at the bottom of the hill and were yelling at me that my trailer was on fire. My kids were freaking out because they were worried we would not make it to Homer and spend time with our friends. Quite a moment of chaos.

    The smoking in my case was from some grease leaking out of the inner seal on the brake hub and coming into contact with the rotor which got hot while the brakes were engaged coming down the hill. I had to apply the brakes because it is a descending right hand turn.

    I have since replaced the inner seals on all the hubs on the trailer and when descending that hill I now shift the truck into the low gear before I make the turn to keep my speed down. This allows me not to have to apply or apply less brakes while descending that hill.

    I have never had this issue on any other hill while towing our boat.

    Doug

  3. #3
    Member patrickL's Avatar
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    Thanks Doug for the response. I'm pretty sure this is the brakes but your situation would explain why only one wheel was smoking. I've traveled alot through the colorado rockies and some huge passes. The smell was exactly like what you smell when a big rig is headed down hill and using his brakes too much. Any chance the oil smells the same when it burns? Its the first time its happened to me so I'm not totally sure what to do about it or if its really a serious problem.

  4. #4
    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    I noticed on my tow from Whittier that my surge unit is caput. It klunks when I accelerate and brake, and doesn't slow me down at all. I've never had the brakes smoke when it was working tho. I have stainless discs. My surge unit is a Titan and six roblees wants 700 for another one. I wonder if it can be fixed?





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  5. #5

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    patriclL,

    Any chance the oil smells the same when it burns?
    I don't know the answer to your question. I would look at the back of the hub with the rotor and look for any evidence of oil leakage out of the seal - discoloration, dirt and grime built up around the seal. This would at least tell you that the leaking oil could be the cause of the smoking. If you see oil staining then you will need to decide how bad the leak is and if you should replace the seal.

    Side note, those ss rotors do get really hot when the brakes are engaged all the way down a hill. You could barley touch mine when I had the smoke coming out of mine.

    fullbush,

    My surge unit is a Titan and six roblees wants 700 for another one. I wonder if it can be fixed?
    I have had to due some work on my Titan surge coupler/brake actuator. I found these online stores that had cheaper prices than six roblees:
    http://www.trailerpartsdepot.com/ite...tatus=1&Tp=&Bc=

    http://www.pacifictrailers.com/Titan...acement-Parts/

    Shipping will add some additional cost.

    You should be able to just swap the coupler out and then bleed the brake lines if that is the root problem.

    Doug

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    I donít know if surge brakes are design to control both brakes with one cylinder or separate cylinders for each brake. Or if you have a problem with one of your brakes; at the bottom of the hill both brakes should have been just as hot. I donít know what the problem is rust, brake pads or adjustments each brake needs to take 50% of the load.

  7. #7
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    The brakes when operating correctly should apply equal pressure to each side, if that is not the case there is either a sticking caliper or slide pins ( not likely based on your description) or air in the line, or a fluid leak to the weaker/inop side. If there is air (which I suspect is the cause, or grease contamination as stated earlier in this thread) then the working side is working harder due to greater pressure on the coupler for the lack of braking from the opposite side.

    When the brakes are working properly the rotors will heat to several 100deg., be careful when checking them. Checking for leaking seals is a good idea, look for a brake fluid leak at all fittings, the calipers piston area, the bleed screw and the flex hose. Pull the wheel and try to compress the piston of the caliper and try to move the caliper on its slides.

    If all checks out visualy then bleed the system thoroughly.

  8. #8

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    The surge brakes would apply the same pressure to both sides. It could be possible that the caliper is not working right . One way to check if both sides are working the same would be get on a incline of gravel and apply the brakes fairley hard and then look at the skid marks or the lack of any.

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    I guess there are times surge brakes work well. But personally I think they should be out lawed on heavy boat trailers and I would not pull a boat trailer equipped with them, period. They can cause erratic behavior when going down hill and be just as bad going up hill if you need to brake quickly.

    Both times I almost lost a rig I was towing a trailer that had surge brakes and for whatever reason started to fish tail. No more for this old man. When I purchased a used Thunderjet in WA state this past April first thing I did was to have the trailer taken to a shop and had the brakes converted to Kodiak discs, electric over hydraulic. I would not even consider towing it until the brakes are changed.

    Just my two cents worth, your opinion may vary.
    Tennessee

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    Hey snowwolf can I use electric over hydraulic w/ stainless discs? What about the salt water? Thanks





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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    Hey snowwolf can I use electric over hydraulic w/ stainless discs? What about the salt water? Thanks
    Kodiak makes stainless discs (rotors) and stainless calipers. My thoughts are to avoid the stainless rotors as some people claim they are prone to warping.

    I switched over the brakes on my Sea Sport trailer this past summer and went with Kodiak's using their dacromet rotors and stainless calipers. Calipers are more prone to rusting than the rotors are as the rotors are "cleaned" by the brake pads as you use them. It was not difficult to do the switch over and total expense was about $950 for all three axles. But I did not need to buy a new actuator as I was replacing disc brakes already on the trailer.
    Tennessee

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    I swapped my trailer over to Ele/hydraulic and I am very very happy with the performance. I would not have surge brakes on a big boat trailer ever again. With that said it you town once a year or a couple times a year from the ramp to storage I don't see how it would be worth the $900 it would cost to switch over.
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickL View Post
    I was pulling my boat down Rabbit Creek Road a few days ago in Anchorage. This is a pretty steep road and of course the boat wants to push the truck down the hill. I put the truck in a lower gear to hold speed and I guess this engages the surge brakes as the boat is now pushing on the truck similar to when you stop. Therefore the brakes drug all the way down the hill. I pulled over to check things out just after I got to the bottom, for no particular reason, and noticed the passenger side trailer brake was smoking. It obviously over heated. The driver side wasn't smoking.

    I've pulled this boat over Turnagain pass to Homer and Seward several times and never noticed a thing. Of course I'm not stopping when I get to the bottom to notice the smoke. Any suggestions on what to do to keep this from happening? Also, do you think its happening on Turnagain as well and I'm just not noticing it or is this likley due to Rabbit Creek being steeper and a slower speed? Finally what do you think about it only happening on one side and not the other?

    Thanks for the help.
    It's the nature of the beast. Are you downshifting going down Turnagain? If so, they are probably overheating there too. You really have only a few options, don't downshift and use the truck brakes sparingly (not safe), come to a complete stop several times coming down the hill and let the brakes cool off (no fun), or get a different style of brake ($).

    One smoking while the other isn't likely means they needed some servicing.

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    I have done the electric over hydro conversion to a couple of trailers and it is the way to go whether running drums or disc. Now as far as disc make sure you do not get the cheap non ventilated set. Also running stainless you should run a semi metalic or better pad.

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    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Kodiak makes stainless discs (rotors) and stainless calipers. My thoughts are to avoid the stainless rotors as some people claim they are prone to warping.

    I switched over the brakes on my Sea Sport trailer this past summer and went with Kodiak's using their dacromet rotors and stainless calipers. Calipers are more prone to rusting than the rotors are as the rotors are "cleaned" by the brake pads as you use them. It was not difficult to do the switch over and total expense was about $950 for all three axles. But I did not need to buy a new actuator as I was replacing disc brakes already on the trailer.
    We ordered a set of Kodiak dacromet rotors and stainless calipers for our "new" boat. The Dexter electric-over-hydraulic actuator (1600psi) came in already, but we're still waiting for the brakes. It would be nice to get them installed before the snow flies, but we're quickly running out of time.


    I take it you're happy with the Kodiak brakes, Randy?



    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    Hey snowwolf can I use electric over hydraulic w/ stainless discs? What about the salt water? Thanks
    You can add an electric-over-hydraulic actuator to a hydraulic surge disc brake system. The E-O-H actuator stays on the trailer, so you'll want to mount it up high on the tongue (winch height) to keep it out of the saltwater. You only change out the actuator; the rest of the brake system stays the same......no submerged electrical components at the axles.

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    Very happy with them. Have them on both of my boat trailers now. Switching them out also taught me the importance of pulling each wheel once a year, removing the caliper pins and re greasing them, and performing a general inspection of the brake system.

    When I switched out the brakes on the Sea Sport trailer discovered a couple of caliper pins rusted in place and some pin holes in a couple of the brake lines. Triple axle trailer with discs on each wheel so 6 sets of brakes total but only two were working properly. I suspected braking power had dimished over the last two seasons but never realized it was that bad.

    You can bet your bippy I am pulling each wheel off next spring before we hit the road and inspecting and re greasing the pins. Will also bleed them again just to be on the safe side.

    Dan, if you need any help with switching out the brakes drop me a PM. Never switched out an actuator though.
    Tennessee

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    Member DMan's Avatar
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    What E-O-H system do you guys recommend. I would like to convert my King trailer with Surge to E-O-H, I will probably just keep my existing brakes for now.
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    I used a titan brake rite II that I bought from etralier as there price was way way less than the local guys. You will also need a set of batteries and a new coupler, I bought a titan brand coupler that had the same bolt pattern as my surge coupler to make my life easy. I mounted all the parts inside a big plastic battery box to keep it all out of the weather. Works great.

    I have attached a pic of the final product and this is all on a triple axle King trailer. Took most of one day to get this all mounted up. But if had not been experimenting with fitting all the parts in the batter box it would have gone faster.


    TheBlackBox.jpg

    On a side note etralier seems to have a good deal going on. The price listed in my link is way less than I paid and if the free shipping works to AK you are golden.
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    You can bet your bippy I am pulling each wheel off next spring before we hit the road and inspecting and re greasing the pins. Will also bleed them again just to be on the safe side.
    Doing it at the end of each season is better. You clean off the salt now and reduce or eliminate corrosion from occurring over the winter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NRick View Post
    Doing it at the end of each season is better. You clean off the salt now and reduce or eliminate corrosion from occurring over the winter.
    That makes way to much sense, lol. I am simply to lazy to go to the storage lot and do it!
    Tennessee

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