How to test trailer brakes

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by popupmtber, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. popupmtber

    popupmtber Member

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    Any tips for testing out the brakes already on my Coleman Taos? The prior owner claims to have never used them due to the small weight of the camper, but since I'll be towing with a smaller TV than they were, I'd like to get them to work.

    I thought that I could jack up one wheel off the ground - and tap into each wire going into the brake itself. Attach blue wire to positive of a 12V battery, and white wire to negative while spinning wheel by hand and I should feel the brake engage.....but I feel no difference.

    At worst, I'd need to get new electric brakes and drums, correct? I already know I'll need to get a brake controller for the TV and get that all wired up.
     
  2. Popiworks

    Popiworks Paddle faster, I hear banjos!

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    Could you pull the break-away cable and see if they lock up?
     
  3. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

    You are on the right track with jacking it up with a battery hooked up. Than like @Popiworks said put the emergency brake away cable out. This should activate the brakes on both sides.
     
  4. popupmtber

    popupmtber Member

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    I thought connecting the battery directly behind the wheel would do the trick on it's own - there was nothing to close the circuit. The break away has been disconnected - or rather it has two wires, one seems to be tied into the blue brake wire, the other goes no where. What should that be hooked up to when testing, if anything?

    The brakes and hubs look to be original on this 2002 Coleman Taos. I might just have to bit the bullet and replace all - for about $170 all in from etrailer. Will likely also get a new break away unit with battery and charger. Still need to be sure the wiring is all correct.
     
  5. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    Here are my two favorite graphics describing trailer brakes.


    Ignore the second axle. But yes, the blue wire is the positive, and the black wire is the ground (to frame usually). Note, my brakes weren't color coded, it didn't matter.
    [​IMG]


    In this diagram, it shows the breakaway switch, and shows a "break-away box" which is just a battery.

    [​IMG]


    I did find this diagram, which conveys everything to two above show, but since it's drawn "ontop" of a drawing, I think it's a bit confusing, but it shows the breakaway switch just puts 12volts directly onto the blue wire if it's removed.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    The other end of that wire would go directly to your Camper battery.


    If you put connect both wires of the magnet to a 12volt battery, you should hear it hum, and it will engage the brakes (should be not turn at all)
     
  7. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    use brake controller manual switch to test. I do that.
     
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  8. popupmtber

    popupmtber Member

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    I would but my TV doesn't yet have a brake controller installed. I didn't want to go through that whole process until I knew the brakes on the trailer actually work. I do have a friend with a truck and brake controller, and we'll test with it at some point - just can't immediately.
     
  9. popupmtber

    popupmtber Member

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    I assume you mean one to positive and one to negative. I did that, and didn't hear a thing and was able to spin wheel freely just like before. That was on passenger side, will try driver's side as well and see if it's the same. I may just replace brakes and hub/drums and at least know that's all new and functional. I mean if these are the original brakes on it, they are 16 years old and I have no idea how many miles of use they have.
     
  10. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    Before replacing, you may want to take the brakes apart and clean and lube all the moving parts. If a component has not been used in 16 years, it's probably frozen in place. Ohm out the coils out to make sure the brake coil is not open.
     
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  11. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    @pupupmtber I had a similar problem with I got my used camper. I ended up replacing the magnets on both sides for about $60.
    https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Brakes/etrailer/AKEBRK-2.html (This is the 7 inch one for my camper, you'd need to match the correct part number for you).

    Solved my problem, just remember your going to pull apart the bearings, so you'll have to repack them.
     
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  12. popupmtber

    popupmtber Member

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    Those exact things are already in my cart, ready to be purchased at e trailer. I also have the hub/drums in there, which are more expensive, but include new bearings. I'm not sure if those will need replacing as well or not - but might as well if I'm doing everything else. Also threw in a break away kit with battery and charger to be sure it's all new.
     
  13. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    If you wire to your Camper's battery, you do not need the separate breakaway battery, the camper battery will function fine for that.

    But it's your call how you want to wire it. I just figured one less thing on the tongue.
     
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  14. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    The magnet is non-functional. You can clean it and attempt to fix it, but I would just replace. If you go whole hub, that's your decision.
     
  15. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    To test my breakaway switch , I pulled the tire, then pulled the tab on the switch and put a screwdriver up to the magnate. If it attracts, it works.
     
  16. popupmtber

    popupmtber Member

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    I don't have a camper battery at the moment. We're planning on being plugged in wherever we go. Maybe something I'll add down the road.
     
  17. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    You need a battery for the breakaway switch. It's law. You can get a smaller one for 100 bucks for the camper and the break. Or they sell smaller ones just for the break, I have no idea of there cost. It will not work of the TV battery.
     
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  18. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    for peace of mind, you can always tow popup to a trailer shop and they would be glad to check it for you. for a fee, of course. Any trailer shop SHOULD have all parts you need if you need em like NOW.
     
  19. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    Then you are correct sir, you will need the breakaway box.
     
  20. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

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    A $29. lawnmower battery will work
     
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