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Topic: Brake controllers and RV brakes

Posted By: wittmeba on 03/21/06 03:47pm

I suspect with the development of the BrakeSmart and Ford's TowCommand Module brake controllers will become de-emphasized. GMC/Chevy and Dodge will likely have to develop their own and integrate into their vehicles as well, but the brake controller design will plateau with the concept of the Brakesmart pretty much as they are. I think the emphasis will shift to hydraulic trailer brakes and mod kits for existing trailers with the electric controls.

Concurrently or soon thereafter I believe there will be signnificant developments of hydraulic systems that will bridge the trailer/5th wheel hitches by some mechanical piston/cylinder type connector (avoid losing fluid) to allow full hydraulic brakes on future trailers and 5th wheels.

I recognize there are already some forms of hydraulic already available but I think the emphasis will become far more significant in the near future.

What do you think?


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Posted By: debdaves on 03/21/06 03:57pm

Yes to a degree, but most of the mid & large size suv's as well as 1/2 ton trucks & vans will probably offer it only as an option. I think the brake controller industry is safe for awhile anyway.


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Posted By: Road Runners on 03/21/06 06:23pm

I think I would stick with my electric brakes. They work pretty dang good. They are less messy than a quick disconnect hydralic hose fitting. Never saw one on a tractor that didn't spew hydralic fluid when you disconnected it.


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Posted By: Kenneth on 03/21/06 04:17pm

What about the cost? Electric trailer brakes are cheap, quite effective, and quite reliable, and hydraulic actuators are pricey. I am not at all confident in the trailer connecting into the truck hydraulic brake system...way too many yahoos claim to be RV servicemen.


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Posted By: wittmeba on 03/21/06 04:36pm

Kenneth wrote:

What about the cost? Electric trailer brakes are cheap, quite effective, and quite reliable, and hydraulic actuators are pricey. I am not at all confident in the trailer connecting into the truck hydraulic brake system...way too many yahoos claim to be RV servicemen.

Ken

Hello Kenneth,

I fully agree with the concern with technicians messing with anything tied to the vehicle brake system.

My main comment is the electric brakes have gone about as far as I think they will go. Sure there will be some mfgs copying designs, cutting costs (and likely quality and reducing safety), but I think the general design of the Brakesmart seems pretty optimal.

Moving to hydraulic...not trying to design a system, my thoughts are the design a system where the linkage - a sealed piston/cylinder device - between the TV and Trailer wont allow leakage of fluids and becomes a plug-in device so the technicians dont have to mess with it. Thats where I think the next generation of braking may head...just my guess.


Posted By: Chris Bryant on 03/21/06 04:40pm

I don't think there will every be a purely mechanical hookup between TV and trailer- a direct reading sensor in the brake line, a computer and a wire to the trailer, where it will either be kept electrical, or converted to hydraulics will be the norm.
Getting a signal from the existing anti lock systems *should* be trivial, and not add too much cost, but... on the trailer end, I think we will see the standard electric brakes for the far future, with electro-hydraulic brakes a pricey option.

FWIW- my *1978* trailer has electric-hydraulic brakes- from the factory- an option that didn't last too long, because of the cost.


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Posted By: wittmeba on 03/22/06 06:01pm

Cattle-Dog wrote:

Here is what TrailerLife had to say about it in a side article of their 2005 Towing Guide:

Quote:

For a number of years, brake-controller choices have been rather extensive-all aftermarket and all electronic-but Ford changed the game for 2005 with the first trailer-brake-control system included as an integral part of the vehicle's design.

This makes me wonder if TrailerLife knows of BrakeSmart. My recollection is they were available before the Ford TowCommand unit.


Posted By: mbopp on 03/22/06 06:28am

I've heard from several sources that Fords system uses the guts from a Prodigy controller.

What I'd like to see is wheel speed sensors & an ABS system for electric TT brakes. Modulating the DC voltage to the brakes should be easier than modulating hydraulic pressure - you don't need the pump & solenoid valves, only a few power transistors & controller for the brake coils.


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Posted By: Cattle-Dog on 03/22/06 07:54am

Ford's Tow Command brake controller is in fact manufactured and designed by Tekonsha, like the Prodigy. However, it does not operate the same as the Prodigy. It is a completely new design that works off of several inputs; the primary being hydraulic brake pressure (secondary being speed and ABS). The technology behind the Tow Command is far more comparible to a BrakeSmart controller than the Prodigy.

I'm certain it's the best controller Tekonsha makes.


~Chad

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Posted By: Cattle-Dog on 03/22/06 09:00am

Here is what TrailerLife had to say about it in a side article of their 2005 Towing Guide:

Quote:

For a number of years, brake-controller choices have been rather extensive-all aftermarket and all electronic-but Ford changed the game for 2005 with the first trailer-brake-control system included as an integral part of the vehicle's design.

Quote:

During initial Trailer Life testing (November 2004), the brake control created seamless trailer-braking performance. The truck and trailer behaved as a single unit under all types of braking conditions.

Quote:

Ford's integrated controller electronically tracks hydraulic pressure inside the vehicle's master cylinder, and uses the pressure, along with vehicle speed, to modulate the amount of current produced for trailer brakes. Thus, the system accurately follows tow-vehicle braking - more at high speeds than low-even to the point of utilizing ABS. If the tow-vehicle wheels are slipping, ABS goes into action for the tow vehicle as well as the trailer. The Ford system doesn't give the trailer the same functions and characteristics of true ABS, but when the truck's ABS is activated, the trailer-brake application is reduced to avoid wheel lockup-just as with true ABS. A dash monitor indicates the level of trailer braking, and a manual override is provided so trailer brakes can be applied independently of tow-vehicle brakes.



Posted By: lane hog on 03/21/06 10:11pm

Not to be a crumudgion, but makes you think that trailer brake design needs to advance all that much further?

Freight railroads have used the same basic air brake system for over 100 years, and there's little sign of that changing (most passenger trains use a disk brakes similar to those used on autos). My thought on it is that electric brakes work fairly well, and have relatively few parts to maintain, so why mess with it if it works?

While Ford's integrated brake controller is a great choice and convenient for someone who doesn't know any better, I suspect that those for whom towing is more than just a weekend sport will still want to have options available to them other than what the manufacturer has selected.


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Posted By: wittmeba on 03/26/06 04:35am

Road Runners wrote:

I think I would stick with my electric brakes. They work pretty dang good. They are less messy than a quick disconnect hydralic hose fitting. Never saw one on a tractor that didn't spew hydralic fluid when you disconnected it.

This is the area where I think there needs to be some form of piston/cylinder connector valve. One that wouldnt allow fluid to escape. I would have major concerns connecting my 'family' TV if everytime I connected I lost some brake fluid.

I think we all agree disk brakes provide a more safe and smooth stop than drum/shoe type brakes. It is apparent from the auto industry. The costs were/are always just passed onto the consumer...we will probably eventually buy it anyway.

I predict in the near future that when they come up with a leakless quick-connect for hydraulics, our TV will have a 4 prong connector for lights, brake line run to our hitch, a tailgate with a removeable V for 5th wheels and goosenecks. Our RV's will have hydraulic disc brakes with the mating connector on the tongue/pin. The 'TowPackage of the future' Plug it in, Plug it in!


Posted By: Capt-Ron on 03/26/06 10:37pm

I did one better, I installed a Kelsey-Hayes hydraulic controller in my TV. The K-H is a non-electronic controller that is actuated by the hydraulic brake pressure and gives true proportional trailer braking. The best part is that it cost me $27 total.

Capt Ron


2001 F-250 SC, SB, 5.4L, Auto
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2008, No Longer Full Timing After 5 Years!!!
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