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Open Roads Forum  >  Fifth-Wheels

 > Pardon my ignorance, but why a brake controller

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SnailFan

Orlando, Florida

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Posted: 08/15/03 07:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've been lurking around reading the forums and posting once or twice with questions since we've (wife, daughter and I) been looking at 5th Wheels and trucks. Actually starting to get serious about the truck now (Trying for Chevy 2500HD Duramax/Allison Short Bed). Guess I'm dense, and the most I've ever towed has been a 20ft boat, but why do you need a brake controller?
As I understand it the truck to trailer wiring harness will include a brake wire that will activate the electric brakes on the 5th Wheel. What exactly does the brake controller do beyond this? I looked at the Prodigy box the other day at Camping World, but it didn't say anything that made me understand.

Thanks in advance to everyone for sharing their wisdom.

Steve


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sch911

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Posted: 08/15/03 07:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The brake controller sends a modulated signal (ground) to the trailer brake actuators. This is done through the use of an accelerometer that measures the braking g-forces inside the brake controller. This arangement allows for an infinitly variable amount of braking. If you simply sent an on off signal every time you pressed on the brakes you'd be locking up the trailer wheels every time.


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W5IT

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Posted: 08/15/03 07:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

FIrst, welcome to the forum!!!!

Now as to exactly WHAT the brake controller does.....

The brakes on the trailer are activated by the electricity being applied (D.C. elect) to a electro-magnet that is inside the brake drum. This magnet then is drawn to a flat surface inside the drum. This magnet then moves a arm that it is mounted to. (The magnet "Drags" on the surface pulling the arm with it)

When this happens the arm that the electro magnet is mounted on moves a "Cam" which spreads the brake shoes against the drum. This is just like drum brakes on a car. The difference is that the "Mover" the moves the shoes out in this case is "Cam" that is turned instead of hydraulic fluid pushing two small pistons to spread the shoes against the drum.

Now you know how the magnets MOVE the shoes I can explain the part the controller has. You see as you increase the current flow through the magnet it puts more "Drag" on the surface the magnet drags on. This pulls harder on the arm that turns the cam. Thus more spread of the brake shoes, which increases the braking rate.

So what the controller actually does in vary the amount of electrical current that is being sent to the electro-magnet.

The newer controllers act on the movement of a pendulum inside the controller. As the pendulum moves forward, the more current being sent to the magnets. Or if you wish to apply the brakes by hand and over ride the pendulum action most have a manual over ride lever.

I hope I answered you question..... If not make a post where I lost ya and I will try to explain it better.


Again WELCOME!!!!


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Jack in Alaska

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Posted: 08/15/03 11:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lovebeer,

Typing in all caps is considered "shouting" and is not polite. Thought you might like to know.
I tried to send a private message but I am not on your buddy list.
Happy camping..........Jack


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ZZZzzzz

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Posted: 08/15/03 09:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your right, (if you purchased the trailer towing package) you have a wiring harness and a "truck-to-trailer" connector on the rear bumper that has many wires in it. One of those wires is a "brake wire" that connects to the braking system on the trailer. The problem is .. on the truck side .. that "brake wire" is not connected to anything .. well, it does go to a connector up under the dash, but the connector is not connected to anything. This loose connector needs to be connected to the "brake controller" of your choice .. which you must purchase on your own. With the exception of this "brake wire connector" the manufacturer of your truck has already hooks up all the other wires going to the "rear bumper connector" which hook-up to the trailer.


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LOVEBEER

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Posted: 08/15/03 07:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ALL TOWING VEHICLES OVER 1500 POUNDS NEEDS A BRAKE CONTROLLER. THE PURPOSE OF THE BRAKE CONTROLLER IS TO ACTIVATE THE BRAKES ON THE UNIT BEING TOWED.
THE BRAKE CONTROLLER REGULATES THE AMOUNT OF BRAKING. IF YOU DID NOT
HAVE THIS THE WHEELS ON YOUR UNIT WOULD LOCK UP IMMEDIATELY.

ZZZzzzz

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Posted: 08/17/03 09:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have the "Jordan 2020 Ultima" brake controller in my truck. You can check it out HERE

Good luck.

LOVEBEER

North of the border

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Posted: 08/16/03 07:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks Jack, new to these forums and did not know the caps lock thing. I also appoligize to Snailfan, i in no way was yelling at
him.

Regards
Lovebeer.

SnailFan

Orlando, Florida

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Posted: 08/16/03 06:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks everyone. I guess from the response of ZZZzzzz that this is another of those things that fall into the "I thought that would be there" category. If there was a brake wire on the truck, and a brake wire on the trailer that matched up, I was thinking that all the parts would be in place to make this work.

I know that I keep seein the Prodigy name on this forum and it seems to be popular. Are there any specific features that one should look for in a brake controller? Are they all pretty much the same?

Thanks Again,

Steve

buster13h

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Posted: 08/16/03 12:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

And another important feature of a break controller is that you can actuate just the trailer brakes when needed. A bigger rig than you blows by and the wind is pushing you all over tap on the trailer brakes alone and the trailer straightens you out
Using them to slow you down going down a long grade with curves
A retired trucker gave me this tip and I found them to work


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