Jump to content

Trailer Brakes


Recommended Posts

Just wanting to know what i have to do to fix up my braking system on my trailer. Ihave a electronic brake controll system in the car and a manual brake system on the boat, has all the cables and hubs and dics on trailer already. whats neaded to couple it all up. Towing a Barcrusher 560c.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is no reason to couple them all up and it can not be done.

With your trailer having mechanical brakes then this is independant of what system your towing vehicle has and in my opinion just as good if not better if set up correctly.

Why do you think there is a need to fix it up?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with RZEP.

There is no way that you fit electric brakes to a boat trailer. Electric brakes are designed for caravans and similar things. Just think about it......electronics and water do not mix. You cannot adapt inertia brakes on your boat trailer to electric brakes fitted in your car.

The common brake system fitted to the majority of boat trailers is known as "inertia brakes". If the components of your brakes are regularly maintained there is no reason for panic or upgrade. Simply give them a good rinse with fresh water after use, then when they have dried a quick spray around the moving parts with INOX will keep them trouble free for years. As the pads wear a simple adjustment of the turn buckle will see them operating effectively.

I have replaced all the brake calliper bolts and turn buckles with stainless steel to make things nice and tidy, and to ensure I can undo/tighten them when I do my maintainence on them.

Red Herring, your Barcrusher looks pretty new.... just keep on top of the maintenance and look after your trailer and you won't have any problems. Make it a annual event to service your trailer by pulling the hubs off to inspect/clean/replace the bearings. Pull the brake callipers off and inspect/clean/lubricate then make any adjustment to the interia cables as required. Grease the coupling at the towing point. Check your trailer rollers for signs of splits. Inspect the tyres (including the spare) tread and tyre pressure, look for nails or screws inbedded aswell. And finally torque up all the trailer bolts that may come loose, ecspecially the ones that hold the mud guards on.

I make a habit of doing this before the start of summer each year. Call me weird but I am amussed by the amount of sad and sorry boat trailers I see on the side of the highway with the axles collapsed, flat tyres and no spare, bearings smoked, etc etc. If people think they can dunk a mechanical object into salt water and not do regular maintenance without headaches...they are kidding themsleves and deserve what they get!

Neglect is the biggest cause of boat trailer failure :thumbdown: .

You may say that age is a contributing factor in boat trailer failure... I disagree. I upgraded my 14year old Brooker boat trailer 2yrs ago to a new Supa Roller Dunbier trailer. The 14 yr old Brooker was still in top condition as I had looked after it, no rust, everything including the interia brakes were still in top working order. Put it this way I got $1000 for it second hand when I sold it. So regular maintenence will not only protect you from a long hot wait on the side of the highway this summer, it will also ensure your investment does not depreciate un-necessarily.

Anyhow I drifted off the topic there a bit, but thats my view & advice.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Guys, good advise by everyone and to convert your trailer to electric brakes will be too expensive. You would have to swap over to a hydraulic system and then fit the electric breakaway brakes system to the trailer. It would be cheaper for you to trade-in your existing trailer and buy an electric braked trailer. No need to do this though because your rig is under 2 tonnes and that is fine with mechanical brakes.

Any rig over 2 tonnes by law requires brake away electric brakes to be fitted and working(inspected every year for rego)and as mentioned that is hard to do with salt water and the fact that most people dunk their trailers.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, the control unit should not get wet, but calipers, rotors and disc pads if you dunk your trailer get all wet and every year we find that come inspection time it can be a great expense to get electric brake away brakes working so that it will pass inspection. What we tell our customers is to keep the running gear dry and you should not have a problem and there really is not too many boats that this is not possible to do, with maybe the exception being boats on bunk trailers and or cats.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to clear a point up about electric brakes or trailer brakes in general

Three several parts to most systems ]]

Brakes themselves - disc or drum

Force application method- mechanical cable, mechanical hydraulic , vacume, electric hydraulic or electric

Air brakes are also used on very big rigs as meduim trucks are already set up with connections and braking controls.

control unit- mechanical overide- electric


Mechanical overide.Either mechanical cable (most common as it is simple and cheap to maintain) or mechanical hydraulic. These can either be old drum or more likely disc brake set ups. The brakes units at the wheel can be either cable actuated hydraulic activated. Both work by having a tow hitch that has a moveable shaft that moves when the car brakes are applied and then applies the brakes via mechanical force. That shaft either drives a hydraulic cylinder and a hydraulic fluid in the brake line activates the piston at the wheels or a lever that has a galvanised cable going to each wheel.

There is still vacume hydraulic units out there by PBR but boy are they expensive to set up properly. Vacume controller in the cabin and uses manifold vacume to charge tank on the trailer which then activates boosted hydraulic brakes. Lost it's popularity as a vacume tank was required under the bonnet or on the trailer if yo wanted break away and newer vehicles didn't have the space along with it messed up enging tuning and ABS systems went nuts. Great old reliable system and I have driven tens of thousands of km with it over the years and gave you total braking control at your fingertips.

There are pure electric brakes but for a boat trailer around salt and water - well what can I say. They run a electric control unit either on the trailer or on the dash. They require electric power and use magnetic force to apply pressure to generally drum brakes. Some have something as simple as a pendulum in the controller that as you brake it sets off the trailer brakes and others have complex programs including connections to your brake pedal and brake lights with delays and brake pressure readings. They are used a lot on tradesmans trailers , horse floats and caravans. They often have a simple breakaway adaption but it requires a battery on the trailer.

The next set up is full electronic hydraulic . These units run a electronic controller on your dash ( or some overseas models have it on the trailler) and different brands use different imputs be it a pedal pressure sensor or fancy electric force / momentum meters (pendulums) or simple as just brake light etc etc. That unit then is connected by wires to the trailer ( new one is radio not wired god help us) along with a charge circuit for the battery on the trailer. The electric signal from the dash unit then triggers a hydraulic pump mounted on the trailer which then activates the brakes. The on board battery allows these units to operate in a breakaway situation where car power supply is lost. These units are expensive and some brands have had continious issues for years with motors running all the time and burning out and motors having to run to keep pressure up when stopped at traffic lights with foot on brake pedal. These units are great when they are working properly.

Whatever system you have it is important to keep it in running order for your own safety. Insurance companies in the case of accidents and police are looking at these things as it has to be legal and roadworthy.

An annual check is not enough - have a walk around it each time you leave the house and a quick look when you hav ethe boat off.

Beware of replacing steel bolts with stainless bolts or untested ones. Some bolts on modern calipers etc are rated bolts and need if required to be replaced by rated studs, bolts as they can undergo extreme heat and load in an emergency. Stainless bolts may not be able to be tensioned to the correct torque required and may react with some cast metals.

Some great rated products out there that reduce maintainance if you can afford them. They include complete stainless calipers and discs and also bronze combinations. Hopefully these will come down in price as they are used more widely as it will help keep trailer roadworthy in such hard salt conditions. Like all things there are compromises on wear.

Hope this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Red,

If you have a mechnical brake system fitted to your trailer chances are that you dont need to do anything to "fix it up". You should have a mechanical coupling on the trailer. This is the bit that physically attaches to your towball. It should look something like this:


As Pelican has said mechanical couplings work with inertia. That is once you put the brakes on in your car the weight of the trailer pushes forward on the coupling which mechanically activates the trailer brakes. Provided that the cable hasnt stretched and the brakes themselves havent siezed you probably dont need to do anything to fix the brakes up.

Oh I should add that mechanical coupling has a small lever immediately behind the towball catch (you will see a gap in the coupling casing that is joined by a tube and the lever fits in the gap - silvery brown bit towards the right of the picture) if its flipped over the brakes wont work. This is not a design fault but rather is there on purpose. It allows you to reverse the trailer without activating the brakes. Flip the lever one way and the brakes work and flip it the other way and they dont. Perhaps this is the fix you need?

Evets :thumbup:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...