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Thread: Trailer brakes and salt water

  1. #1
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default Trailer brakes and salt water

    My new King tandem axle trailer that I purchased with my 22' Hewescraft Ocean Pro came without brakes. I can understand that electric brakes would not fare well after exposure to salt water but I am curious about anybody's experience with hydraulic brakes - either disc or drum - and salt water launching.

    I am fortunate that I have a choice of three launch sites all within three miles of my house so there is no long-distance trailering but it seems that not having brakes is both a safety and liability issue. The liability issue is emphasized by the clearly printed statement on the title as it came from the factory: "this trailer is not certified for highway travel." It would think that anybody involved in an accident while towing a trailer with that disclaimer would be prime fodder for any lawyer looking for an easy meal ticket and that any insurance carrier would happily toss said boat owner to the wolves.

    Any suggestions or recommendations?

  2. #2
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    What kind of truck do you have? With a 3/4 or 1 ton truck, you really don't need trailer breaks on such a relatively light boat and trailer when only traveling a few miles to the launch. Heck, you could get away with alot less truck as well.

    There are a zillion things that can get you re liability, if you get too rapped up in the fear of litigation, you'll never want to leave your house.

    If you want trailer brakes, go for it, but I can't see you really needing them for your use, and they might become more of a PITA than anything else, ie something else to rust up.

  3. #3

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    Paul's right.

    If you are not trailering great distances, or going up and down great inclines or declines, I'd spend my money on a new small penn international for summertime. I just pulled a 8.5 x 20 ft tandom axle cargo trailer up from texas with a full load. Now I needed them. It was hard to stop that trailer without them, it would just push you down the mountain.

    My brakes on my old boat trailer I would not even hook up unless I was pulling the boat out of town on a trip.

  4. #4
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default It's also the law...

    Fellas, I appreciate your input but I'm not interested in playing roulette. There is a vast difference in what "you could get away with" and what is prudent. I could probably also get away with not clicking my seat belt or wearing a life jacket but I prefer to use both, even for short trips. Not hooking up your safety equipment unless you are going out of town on a trip is just foolish and negligent. I own six trailers and three of them are equipped with brakes. I view adding brakes to my new boat trailer as protection of my investment and resources.

    My boat weighs 2600 lb empty. Add motors, fuel, batteries, water, fishing equipment, safety equipment, etc., plus the weight of the trailer, and the gross weight exceeds minimum requirements for brake installation. That makes it a legal matter with regard to Alaska statute.

    Now, are there any brakes available that are compatible with salt water launches?

    Thanks for your input,
    Dan

  5. #5

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    Dan,
    I don't know much about marine trailer brakes, but, the EZ loader website shows an electric brake kit that I can only assume would work on their trailers....don't know if it would be compatible with yours.

    I do question the place you bought your boat from....that they would sell you a boat and trailer that is against the law to move. I would think they'd be aware of the laws and not let you take the boat from their dealership if it was illegal!

  6. #6

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    I would try the galvanized electric brakes from Fulton. I have 6 seasons on my surge brakes,and have replaced; the coupler,all the brake lines,and 2 sets of brakes. There is no freshwater to wash most places around here.

  7. #7
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    My trucks are already set up with electric controllers and electric brakes would be the easiest solution for me but I was under the impression that the electric system would be the most vulnerable to salt corrosion.

    Borg, you raise an interesting question and I am sure the answer lies with business economics. The manufacturer and dealers know that they need to offer a reasonable waranty with their products yet they know that they can't provide brakes that would hold up in the salt environment through the waranty period. Instead, they cover themselves with a disclaimer and transfer the liability issue to the buyer.

  8. #8
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Electric over hydraulic with a disk would be the best set up. Very easy to flush probably would not need much more then a gallon to do two wheels.

  9. #9

    Default Not worth the risk

    I am with you on this. Now days you have to avoid the lawyers. My trailer came with surge drum brakes on both axels. I only launch twice a year and it sets the rest of the time. After a few years the drum was rusted to the brake pads on one wheel. I had to remove the drum and brake assembly in order to move the trailer. The surge coupler and brake lines are shot also. I donít need brakes under most conditions because I have a one ton dully capable of handling the job but in certain down hill slippery conditions it might be nice to apply the trailer brakes more then the tow vehicle brakes. I assume the surge system would work as well as the electric system in that case. What I think I am going to do is outfit only one axle with the galvanized disk brake assembly and try it out. It should meet the law requirements and make it a safer down hill experience along with taking some wear and tear off my truck brakes.

  10. #10
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    See Ben at Six Robbers on Commerical Ave. They are not cheap but worth every dime.

    I have done 4 Carisle electric over hydraulic conversions from surge and one of those has been in use since '99. The nice part is when backing at low tide to be able to use the trailer brakes to assist on the steep slippery ramps. The other trick using the system is to turn off the controllor before parking to ensure your pads or shoes are not up against your disks or drums when parked.

    Deckhand-too,
    It will take longer to remove your one drum and backing plate then it will take to install both disk setups.

  11. #11

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    Electric actuated over hydraulic disc brakes is the way to go in my opinion.

  12. #12

    Default New Brakes by Spring

    Well I did it. I spent my PFD on trailer brakes. I got stainless rotors and gav. hubs for one axle. Along with the electric / hydraulic unit and other essentials to give me long lasting and legal trailer brakes. It took every bit of that PFD too.
    It will take longer to remove your one drum and backing plate then it will take to install both disk setups. You don't know how slow I am!

  13. #13
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deckhand-too View Post
    It will take longer to remove your one drum and backing plate then it will take to install both disk setups. You don't know how slow I am!


    If you need a hand let me know. I have done a bunch of these setups. but they are a real straightforward install.

    The 1st time you do a launch on a steep ramp with the brakes to full power you will see why I like them so much especially for larger boats. I did the setup for a 32 footer and the guy launched and recovered his boat this year for the 1st time since owning it. He always used the boat lift because he was afraid of getting dragged down the ramp.

  14. #14

    Default 5000 lbs requires brakes

    FYI, Alaska State law says any trailer over 5,000 lbs GVWR must have trailer brakes. Don't forget GVWR includes the weight of the trailer itself (about 1,000 lbs).

    I don't want to hurt your feelings, but in my experience of owning two King trailers, they are cheap-o junk. King likes to cut corners, as your lack of brakes shows. King rates them to carry more than they actually should. IMO, they are under-engineered.

    Their disclaimer doesn't surprise me. My Kings were not overloaded, yet their bunk supports broke, their tongues bent, winch stanchions broke, main channel beams bent, fenders fell apart, etc. Hard to believe, but very true. The King's just aren't built for use in Alaska. You'll find much better quality in EZ-Loader, Shoreland'r, etc. Unlike King, most of those tandem axle trailers come standard with trailer brakes. You could've saved yourself the hassle of your brake issue, and other problems down the line, by getting a better trailer. Hindsight.

  15. #15

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    So I went to the Dewey's show at the northway mall today...

    I asked one of their reps about one of their boats that was on a 5700# EZ loader trailer with NO brakes at all (22' pacific cruiser -- easily above 5000# with fuel/gear etc.). He had to go get his "trailer rep" to answer the question. I told him that I thought anything over 5000# had to have brakes. He told me there was no such law in alaska. I said hmmmm....I thought there was. He stated in fact they've shipped 13000# trailers with no brakes. So I looked it up when I got home and sure enough, "13 AAC 4.205" states that anything over 5000# must have brakes.

    If anyone is going to the show in the next week, you should ask them again about this. Even better, if you know a state trooper, tell them to wait outside the northway mall when dewey's tries to tow them out.

    To me this is incredibly irresponsible for a business...

  16. #16

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    Unfortunately ultimate liability falls with the owner/user of the trailer. There's no law that says the dealer must sell the trailer with brakes. Much like there's no requirement for him to sell you a trailer that your tow vehicle can legally tow...Or sell you a trailer that hooks up to your truck's particular lighting system...or sell you a trailer that fits on your tongue ball size. We see this in many cases with products/consumers. For example, most truck campers weigh enough to severely overload almost any pick-up truck made. Yet the RV dealers continue to sell them to unsuspecting buyers all over the U.S. that way. That's why it's important for consumers to know the laws.

    Both Dewey's and the trailer manufacturer should be ashamed. These short-cuts are getting all too common, especially on those package "deals". They are taking advantage of the fact that most consumers aren't going to look up Alaska trailer brake laws. I can't imagine trailers that size (5700 - 13,000# GVW?!) without brakes. And yes, brakes may be an add-on option, but selling them without brakes, or at least recommending them, is totally irresponsible.

    Again, most high-quality, double-axle boat trailers will come standard with brakes, or at least recommend them. If you're towing, know the laws. Buyer beware.

  17. #17
    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    Here's what i did on my trailer with electric brakes to make them last 10 years and counting so far. Granted i only haul & launch 6 times a year, but they still keep working.
    I set up a brake washing/flushing system of hoses on all 6 wheels. I see you guys washing the gel coat off your boats at the ramp in whittier so if you had one of these setups it would only take you a extra 5 minutes to flush out your brakes with freshwater. Here's a couple of pictures
    PA220004.JPG
    PA220014.JPG

    i can't remember if i drilled & tapped a hole or the hole was already there but you can see where i screwed in a brass hose barb to connect the hose to flush the brakes. I set them up with a T fitting on the other side and a hose connection to hook up the water hose to it. 1 minute flush on each axle and i'm done.
    One other thing, when i first saw this setup it was on a name brand trailer i saw somewhere, so i went over to one of the "name brand trailer" shops in town and asked about getting one of those brake flushing kits i saw on the name brand trailer, they just looked at me and said " never heard of it and its probaly not made" so i went and made one myself. 10 years and they still work!!

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  18. #18
    Member DMan's Avatar
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    13 AAC 04.205. Brakes


    (d) No driver may operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway or other vehicular way, towing a vehicle with a GVWR greater than 5,000 pounds, unless the following conditions are met:


    (1) the towed vehicle must have operating brakes on at least two wheels on each side of a three axle vehicle, or one wheel on each side of a double or single axle vehicle;


    (2) the towed vehicle requiring brakes must be equipped with an operating, breakaway system capable of applying all required brakes in the event of separation from the towing vehicle; and


    (3) the towing vehicle must be of sufficient size and weight to safely control the towed vehicle.
    ... aboard the 'Memory Maker' Making Memories one Wave at a Time!

  19. #19
    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dewey's package deals . .

    Haven't been over to talk to the folks at the show, but my '07 package I bought in March has hyd. brakes and was part of the package . . .

  20. #20

    Default Salt Water & Brakes don't mix

    I think Potbuilders idea is doing as much as one can do to help. Stainless Steel every thing is surely the best way to go, but you still need to flush with fresh water.
    Not sure what you meant by washing the gel coat? I always wash in Whittier my boat off every place I can squirt the hose too, Specialy the trailer and I don't even have brakes on this boat, yet. Whittier has a great set up, Homer has one but it's up by Eagle's at the tank dump, and Seward sucks, but I've stopped and backed my boat into fresh water on the way home, some times I even start it up and flush the motor.
    Every year or two I pull the tires and check the bearings and brakes. (when I had).
    Glad some one mentioned the State Law
    Boats and trailers are high maintance, so would be Pair Hilton, if you want to keep it maintain it.

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