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Open Roads Forum  >  Towing

 > Independent Brake Wire Feed Upgrade

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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Joined: 12/16/2004

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Posted: 12/10/09 07:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Fellow Campers

I have had a number of folks ask about my brake wiring upgrade, what is it and why. So here is a Pict–O–Gram on the topic. There are several here on the forum who have done this before me. Here is one by LAdams. Les sort of inspired me as I use many of his methods. LAdams Brake wiring upgrade

EDIT: 12-13-09 to fix link

First of all what is this all about. It deals with the ability to get full braking electrical power to the wheels all the time. If you look across many brands, the brake wiring is worse then others. Mine is a Sunline and is better then many I have seen but still has some inherent issues as the camper ages over time.

This deals with the wiring from the 7 wire plug all the way to the actual magnet on the brake plate. On my camper, Sunline did at least use no. 10 awg wire as the main feeder. Some brands use 14 or 12 awg. These smaller gage wires have a larger voltage drop to them. However the biggest area of issues is at the wheels themselves and the connection from the wheels to the main feed line.

Here let me show you. As you can barely see in this pic there are wires that jump down to each wheel brake plate.
[image]

And this pic you can see the main blue feed line and how the power jumps to the rear axle. The front axle is the same.
[image]

A few problems with this setup over time. Corrosion and age is the problem. First there is a double stand wire that runs thru the axle tube. It joins the 2 sides. That wire becomes brittle over time. It also rubs the wire insulation against the inside of the axle tube. When I took my old axles off I pulled out a section of the wire and flexed it. It was hard and brittle. As I flexed it once, it cracked completely 360 deg around the wire. I could then see the copper thru the crack. H’mm not good. This was a 5 year old camper at this point. If the wear gets advanced enough it can actually short out the brakes. Mine was not yet at this stage.

The next area is corrosion. My son had his 97 Colman PU over here this spring and we where working on the brakes. I looked under the camper and could not believe what I saw. I have heard of this but now I’m seeing it. Skotch lock quick connector out in the open used on brake connections. See pic. These connections are exposed to the weather and are really not a great wire connection when you want the lowest resistance you can get on a brake circuit. While this may have squeaked by when new, time and corrosion will do these in IMHO.
[image]

They make these skotch locks with a gell in them, (most likely dielectric grease) but still I’m not a fan of them in a brake circuit.
[image]

On mine, Sunline took a different approach. Better at least. They used crimp wire nuts then filled them with a dab of silicone. You can see the grommet that shields the wire as it goes into the axle tube is already cracked and split and a piece missing. Sooner or later that area will wear thru the insulation and into the wire.

[image]

Here it the single side of the axle. Just a 2 wire splice not a 3 wire merge.
[image]

Then to join the axle wires to the main feed they did something a little strange. They torched a hole in the frame, put a plastic grommet in and then joined the wires on the tire side of the frame.
[image]

[image]

I really do not know why they did this. The wet from the wheels flies into those connections and the ground uses a copper lug with a steel set screw all exposed. The steel set screw rusts bad over time. Mine wher rusted heavy. Rust on a ground is not good as the electrical connection thru it can at times become insulation instead of conducting and things stop working.

When I replaced my axles this spring I had a choice. Hook these up the same way or upgrade. So I choose to upgrade.

I did not use the brand new wire inside the axle tubes. After seeing how brittle my old one was, the reports I have heard of with shorts in the tube I can see this for sure occurring. I also changed the wire size. I went no. 10 all the way. Some go a no. 10 main feed then jump to no. 12 to each wheel. No. 12 is better then the no. 14 that was there but I took the heavy route. I also changed the hook up method.

On this setup
[image]

If that joint in the red wire nut is corroded or caught in something and breaks loose, it stops 2 brakes from working. So I went direct to each wheel independent and then up to a common junction box to join.

See here. First I connect at the wheel. In my case I soldered the wires together, used heat shrink tubing then followed by 3M 33 premium electrical tape. The single strand wires are slid in a piece of plastic tubing. The tubing is to help protect the wire from sun damage and the elements. This connection has very little resistance, will not break loose and has increased corrosion protection. Plus it is rigidly held in place.
[image]

The wire hoses go to each wheel independent. The tubes are on the back side of the axles on purpose so they do not catch something when going over what ever. The axle takes the hit first.
[image]

Then up to a high up junction box. A stainless clamp holds the hose from pulling out. The hose is a press in drilled fit in the fiberglass box. Its location is dry even in the hardest of rains. I jumped from the axle to the box in the middle of the axle. You have to make the jump somewhere, this seemed to be the better area.
[image]

[image]

Inside the box I again soldered the connections, shrink tube and taped. Then the cover went on.

[image]

Some who have done this independent brake magnet feed upgrade use dual wire. 2 wires in a case. I used single strand and tubing. I had the tubing laying around and had a cheaper source to the no 10 copper stranded single wire so I went that route. See here for 2 strand in case you are looking http://www.etrailer.com/p-10-2-1.htm

I now know I have greatly reduced my corrosion risk, the axle rubbing issue and voltage loss getting to the brake coils. Since I had the option to hook up the old way or the upgraded way, I went the upgrade.

I unfortunately did not do voltage drops measurements on the old system then on the new system. Missed that. But the corrosion and brittle wire was enough to convince me to upgrade. I do know my TT brakes are now a lot more power full then they use to be. My rear brakes on the F350 use to dust heavily before only when towing. Now they don’t . Why, the truck is not doing so much of the stopping any more.

I’m not saying everyone has to run out and do this upgrade, but if you are having issues with stopping power a voltage check at the wheel can help uncover a corrosion or voltage drop issue. And if you find yourself in that case, this is an option to upgrade. I was not the first to invent this concept, others have done it before me. I just borrowed there idea and applied it in my situation.

Hope this helps someone in the future.

John

* This post was last edited 12/13/09 02:03pm by JBarca *   View edit history


John & Cindy

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Jay Pat

Round Rock, TX

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Posted: 12/10/09 07:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pictures and explanation! Thank you!
Pat


2010 Ford F-350 SRW
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Gale Hawkins

Murray, KY

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Posted: 12/10/09 08:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice work. Having full power to each wheel is important.

LAdams

Northern Illinois

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Posted: 12/10/09 08:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey John, thanks for the kind words... Seems like you and I trade compliments back and forth these days [emoticon]

BTW - the link to my brake mod doesn't seem to be working for me...

Since you mentioned mine, I thought I would throw out a few pics of my installation to 10 ga wire a few years ago... I also reworked my truck connections and got rid of all those hideous ScotchLoks...

I agree - they might be good for some things, but NOT trailer brakes!!! All my connections are soldered and taped (and shrink wrapped where applicable) like John's... I also used a star configuration albeit a bit different than John's... I also am a firm believer in 3M 33+ electrical tape... IMO, there is none better... I have been using it longer than I care to admit [emoticon]

Les



[image]



[image]



[image]



[image]



[image]



Photos showing the difference between the OEM cable and the 10 gauge I installed...

[image]



[image]


2000 Ford F-250SD, XLT, 4X4 Off Road, SuperCab
w/ 6.8L (415 C.I.) V-10/3:73LS/4R100
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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 12/10/09 08:49pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LAdams wrote:



Since you mentioned mine, I thought I would throw out a few pics of my installation to 10 ga wire a few years ago... I also reworked my truck connections and got rid of all those hideous ScotchLoks...

I agree - they might be good for some things, but NOT trailer brakes!!! All my connections are soldered and taped like John's...

Les



Les, actually all mine are soldered, shrink tubes and wrapped like yours. I borrowed your idea!....LOL

OK how in the world did Skyline ever get a UL rating using Scotch locks in the brake circuit??? Come warmer weather my son and I need to convert his Coleman PU that has them. This is plain pathetic.

txtowman

central texas

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Posted: 12/10/09 09:05pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LADams also used tinned marine cable which will extend the life of this upgrade by many years.


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LIKE2BUILD

Decatur

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Posted: 12/11/09 11:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice job John. A couple of years ago I was fighting intermittent brake problems on my Jayco. I saw the write up Les did and decided that may be part of my problem as well.

Wire soldering is not my forte, so I used butt crimp connectors at the wheels. So far that is working, but I hope to go back next spring and attempt the soldering again as that is definitely the most secure, corrosion resistant connection method.

On my trailer I used a Cole Hersee buss bar for the + and - leads. I used ring terminal connectors for each brake lead and ran individual 10ga. wires to each wheel. Since making this upgrade I've had much better braking performance and the intermittent problems are a thing of the past. I'm truly amazed at the inadequate wiring the OEM's use on these trailers.

KJ


2012 Sandpiper 32QBBS--Sold ">
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tvman44

Southwest Louisiana

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Posted: 12/11/09 01:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Scotch locks are good for one thing only, and that is to save the installer time and cause lots of problems later on. Everything I have ever owned that came with scotch locks eventually had problems and I solved them by twisting and soldering and using heat shrink tubing. Takes a lot longer but is worth it to me.


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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 12/11/09 06:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Folks

Thanks for the kind words. Hope this Pict-O-gram helps someone as it was the forum who helped give me the idea. Like I said, I did not dream it up, just took the concept and put a little different install method to it.

May our virtual campfire of great improvements ideas always burn bright.

Thanks

John

milo

Cocka LaRocka

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Posted: 12/11/09 06:47am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WoW! thanks to both of you Les & John...great thread as many of them are ...your threads are very informative and I have saved alott of em so I can refer back to em when ever needed. Thank you guys and everyone else for your expertise... even though I'm been RV'ing 30+yrs I learn something new each day on here. thanks for the wealth of information.

Merry Christmas
Milo


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