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Thread: Surge Brake Question

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    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Question Surge Brake Question

    Being an absolute newbie to surge brakes, I have a question about them - When towing at 55mph can a headwind activate the surge brakes? I have made a couple of ~ 5 mile test runs trying to dial in a new equalizer hitch driving down to the Potter Marsh weigh station on windy days & depending on the wind speed + direction, when I get there or home it seems like the trailer brakes are pretty hot for such a short run. This afternoon the run down there had a tailwind + no heat built up getting there, but turning around & coming home with a headwind the drums were hot to the touch. Bearing buddies have plenty of oil & brakes aren't hanging up so I'm wondering if this is normal?
    2007 24ft NorthRiver OS
    Twin 175 Suzuki's
    "Thunderbird"
    MMSI #338033856

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Not normal, seems something is amiss.
    Bk

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by akdeweyj View Post
    Being an absolute newbie to surge brakes, I have a question about them - When towing at 55mph can a headwind activate the surge brakes? I have made a couple of ~ 5 mile test runs trying to dial in a new equalizer hitch driving down to the Potter Marsh weigh station on windy days & depending on the wind speed + direction, when I get there or home it seems like the trailer brakes are pretty hot for such a short run. This afternoon the run down there had a tailwind + no heat built up getting there, but turning around & coming home with a headwind the drums were hot to the touch. Bearing buddies have plenty of oil & brakes aren't hanging up so I'm wondering if this is normal?
    The brakes only activate when the actuator pushes against the hitch so a headwind would have the opposite effect. Chech all of the adjusters on each wheel and make sure none of them are hanging up.

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    If this trailer is also new, then certainly something isn't right, if it's used, sticky brakes are part of the game. Luckily my raider doesn't really need them, after two years mine were all seized up on one side, despite diligent maintenance......two hours later I was brake free and happy about it...still am.

    My only thought (and this is a long shot) is that your hitch ball is low and the trailer has a serious slant. This could make it easier for the brakes to engage when coasting or a downhill run .......

    If in reverse they grind or lock up at all, you likely have sticky brakes.....if not, best of luck tracking down the gremlins.

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    Member Jimw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halibutgrove View Post
    The brakes only activate when the actuator pushes against the hitch so a headwind would have the opposite effect. Chech all of the adjusters on each wheel and make sure none of them are hanging up.
    ^^^^ X2

    also check that the actuator is not sticking. there is a "ping" on the hitch with a notch on a slide that you can set for backing up so you are not dragging the brakes. make sure this is in the "free" position. Mine stuck one time ----- not good
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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Are you running an equalizer hitch set up? The bars that run from the trailer tongue to the truck hitch? If so, that could be what's giving you fits. Try running without the bars.

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    Member Arcticwildman's Avatar
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    What kind of weight distributing hitch are you using? In order to use a weight equalizing hitch with surge brakes you need to have the type in which the torsion bars slide free in open saddles or loops, NOT the type with two chains.

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    I believe properly adjusted surge breaks actually make very *LIGHT* contact with the drum even when not activated which causes them to run a bit hot. Mine do the same thing and I adjust them on the loose side... they have held up for 2 years so far with basic maintenance.

  9. #9
    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    If this trailer is also new, then certainly something isn't right, if it's used, sticky brakes are part of the game. Luckily my raider doesn't really need them, after two years mine were all seized up on one side, despite diligent maintenance......two hours later I was brake free and happy about it...still am.

    My only thought (and this is a long shot) is that your hitch ball is low and the trailer has a serious slant. This could make it easier for the brakes to engage when coasting or a downhill run .......

    If in reverse they grind or lock up at all, you likely have sticky brakes.....if not, best of luck tracking down the gremlins.
    There is only about 3/4" difference in height from front to back on the trailer & I have a ball valve to shut off the brakes for backing up.
    2007 24ft NorthRiver OS
    Twin 175 Suzuki's
    "Thunderbird"
    MMSI #338033856

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    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcticwildman View Post
    What kind of weight distributing hitch are you using? In order to use a weight equalizing hitch with surge brakes you need to have the type in which the torsion bars slide free in open saddles or loops, NOT the type with two chains.
    Equalizer brand with torsion bars, no chains.
    2007 24ft NorthRiver OS
    Twin 175 Suzuki's
    "Thunderbird"
    MMSI #338033856

  11. #11

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    Here's one problem with surge brakes that I've encountered over about 14 years of pulling boat trailers that have surge brakes (drums, disks). Let's say you are following someone down the highway and they brake. Then you apply your brake. Just enough to slow you down but not to stop. Then you slowly come back up to speed. What can happen is that when you braked, you trailer surged forward and applied the brakes. When you sped back up, it wasn't hard enough to disengage the surge brakes. So you're riding your brakes as you are going down the highway and that will heat them up. Been there, done that. What I'll do is try to slow down enough so that I can then hit the accelerator hard to make sure I pull away from the trailer hard enough to disengage the brakes.

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    Member LOCALAK907's Avatar
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    Surge brakes are a pain even when they are maintained. Mine anyways! dexter brand about to just rebuild them. Or take them out. With my engine brake I don't even really need them.


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    I had surge brakes on my trailer and last year got tired of dealing with them locking up after coming out of the water. Regardless how well you keep them clean they seem to still have problems. I ended up replacing the brakes on the rear axle and installing electric brakes. This year I will do the same on the front axle. I have heard that the surge brakes that have disk and rotor have less problems over the drum brakes. Either way I like the electric over the drum brakes. You do need to unplug before going in the water to prevent the chance of a short.

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    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    I pulled a car up the Alcan sitting on a dolly with surge brakes once.......once!
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2K7sV-K74

  15. #15

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    My experience is that disk brakes are worse than drum brakes. At least with free-backing drum brakes you can back up without the brakes engaging. With disk, they're not free backing. When you put your truck in reverse, there's a solenoid that activates and keeps brake fluid from going to the brakes (keeps the brakes from braking). An example of the problems this causes is when you want to back uphill. You drove downhill and applied your brakes and so the trailer surged forward when doing this. Then you put the truck in reverse and the lockout solenoid does its job by keeping brake fluid from going to the brakes. But that doesn't matter because your trailer has already surged forward, the brakes have already been activated, and you're trying to back up with the trailer brakes applied. The only way I wouldn't have brakes on a trailer is if I had a very light boat.

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    We have disk surge brakes on 4 wheels of the tandem axle boat trailer. They work as intended for 8 years now without any issues, simply flush them thoroughly after each dunk in salt water. Insert pin if backing up a hill to lock the tongue which prvents the surge feature from activating. Its fairly simple and effective. Not my first choice for a brake system but the trailer came that way and I haven't found any issues that warrant spending the money to change them over yet......hopefully they continue to work just fine for a long time!
    I'm sure towing with a F-350 crew cab long box also helps vs. a smaller vehicle.
    Bottom line, if it feels unsafe, correct it so no one gets hurt.
    Bk

  17. #17

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    The folks on the forum are the best, lots of great information, I learn a huge amount just reading all of the suggestions and what I should do just to maintain my own trailer. Thanks to all for assisting as always

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmail View Post
    We have disk surge brakes on 4 wheels of the tandem axle boat trailer. They work as intended for 8 years now without any issues, simply flush them thoroughly after each dunk in salt water. Insert pin if backing up a hill to lock the tongue which prvents the surge feature from activating. Its fairly simple and effective. Not my first choice for a brake system but the trailer came that way and I haven't found any issues that warrant spending the money to change them over yet......hopefully they continue to work just fine for a long time!
    I'm sure towing with a F-350 crew cab long box also helps vs. a smaller vehicle.
    Bottom line, if it feels unsafe, correct it so no one gets hurt.
    Bk
    How do you deal with it if the brakes activate when you stop and then you need to back up? Did you drill the hole yourself for the pin? My EZ Loader, built for 24-28' boats, doesn't have a pin or hole for a pin.

  19. #19
    Member akdeweyj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydiver View Post
    How do you deal with it if the brakes activate when you stop and then you need to back up? Did you drill the hole yourself for the pin? My EZ Loader, built for 24-28' boats, doesn't have a pin or hole for a pin.
    Try this picture: http://media.channelblade.com/EProWe...kes5_large.jpg
    2007 24ft NorthRiver OS
    Twin 175 Suzuki's
    "Thunderbird"
    MMSI #338033856

  20. #20
    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Many newer trailers with surge brakes have an electronic lock out for backing them these days. Put the truck in reverse. When your backup lights come on it will also activate a lockout for your brakes. And back to normal function once you shift out of reverse. No more having to get out pin it and back out to unpin it. Very slick!

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