My popup doesn't have breaks - should I invest in them

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by rick2911, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. rick2911

    rick2911 New Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    After reading several posts I have become concerned that I don't have brakes on my popup. We bought our popup used last fall from a dealer and it didn't have breaks. To be honest I didn't think it was necessary cause of the low weight and after all, if they were necessary they would have them, right?? Well I've been looking into it and TN (where we live and where we bought the popup) requires breaks over 1500lbs! So guess I'm required to have them regardless. But how can a dealer sell something to me, even if used, that doesn't conform to the state laws? Needless to say I'm quite frustrated.
  2. Strut

    Strut Member

    Jun 24, 2014
    What PUP do you have? What does it weigh? What do you tow it with?
  3. zorak

    zorak Member

    Apr 7, 2012
    My popup didnt have brakes either and it didnt feel dangerous at all. It was originally bought in tennesse as well. If your concerned, you could install some, providing your axle has the 4 bolt mounting flange. It wouldnt be too hard to install and would cost about$250-$300 not including the brake controller. I doubt you would get pulled over and inspected though. I see some of the barely road worthy "trailers" on our roads here and the cops don't pay any attention to them.
  4. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2013
    Anchorage, AK
    Well, what you CAN do and what you should do are two different things.

    You should comply with your state laws. You could always go back to the dealer and state they sold you a vehicle which is not equipped for the state they sold it in and see what they say. IF you're supposed to have brakes, you should run with them.

    Now, the question of if you absolutely NEED brakes is dependent upon your tow vehicle, the specific weight of the PUP and so on.

    Brakes will surely enhance your stopping ability, especially in hard braking events.

    The laws in Alaska require them at 3000+ pounds. I do not have them. Then again, I am towing with a 1 ton truck that is barely scratching the towing capability of my vehicle. Had I continued with my other vehicle, I would seriously consider them, even though not a requirement by law.
  5. mcbrew

    mcbrew Member

    May 22, 2013
    Towing laws are rarely enforced here in the US. However, I would recommend using trailer brakes. My previous pup had surge brakes which may or may not have actually worked. My Scamp trailer did not have brakes. My new pup has electric brakes. You can really tell that the electric trailer brakes are working. This is my first trailer with electric brakes since I started towing trailers when I was 16. I will not buy another trailer without them.

    I never got into any trouble while towing a trailer. The worst case was when I was towing a largish Uhaul trailer with an old Mercedes sedan and had to emergency brake on a wet road. I was lucky to have stopped just inches from the car in front of me, and I am certain that it would not have been a white-knuckle experience if I had brakes on that trailer.

    If you put a trailer behind ANY tow vehicle, you will extend the stopping distance -- even if you are well within the towing limits of the vehicle. If you carry any passengers, that will also extend the stopping distance. If you have a trunk-load of much you will extend the stopping distance. Everything we put into or tow behind our vehicles adds more risk. Trailer brakes help to bring the stopping distance down, which will always lower your risk of getting into trouble.

    When I was younger, I had no money to install brakes on my trailers. Now, the way I look at it is that there is no accident that will cost me less than $500... probably not less than $1,000. Any money I spend to make my travels more safe is money well spent.
  6. rick2911

    rick2911 New Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    Thanks for the replies. My camper is a Flagstaff 206LTD. My TV is a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.

    The GVWR for the camper is 2274 lbs. Unloaded the specs saw 1493 lbs.
  7. colorado_camper

    colorado_camper Member

    Apr 14, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    My first PUP had surge brakes and they definitely worked and worked well. I pulled that one with a 1/2 ton Ford van. I bought my current PUP 4 years ago and it didn't come with brakes. It's about the same weight as the old one but I now tow with a 3/4 ton van. I have never had any serious white-knuckle moments in nearly 9,000 miles of towing with this rig. Last weekend, I finally finished installing brand new brakes on the trailer and they have made an immediate difference. All I've done so far is about 40 miles of testing around town but they are fully controlling the weight of the trailer, leaving the TV to stop only itself. We are headed into the mountains soon and I look forward to the extra level of safety. Look on the axle, behind the wheel and see if the brake mounting flanges are there. If they are, the hardest part is already done.
  8. yetavon

    yetavon everything is better around a campfire.

    Mar 11, 2010
    Western NC
    4 Pups since 1985 and none had any brakes, with 2 of them pushing 2000 Lbs. After towing the HTT with and without brakes, I will opt for them every time.
  9. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

    Aug 2, 2011
    Steinbach, MB
    I just finished adding brakes to my '96 Viking and I've gotta tell ya, it's totally worth doing.

    Unloaded, mine was just under the legal weight limit of 960 kg (2100 lbs) so didn't come with brakes but loaded (2400 lbs) it needed them. Towing with an F-150, wasn't a problem but a couple of emergency stops sure were hard on the truck's brakes. Two new calipers, a set of brake pads and labor ran me $270 alone.

    As has already been pointed out, the cost of adding brakes to the camper is cheap insurance and you'll quickly come to appreciate the investment when you stomp on the brakes and you stop without even noticing the trailer is behind you.

    If you've already got the brake flanges on the axle (I'd suspect you do), installing a brake kit and brake controller is easily done for about $400.

    While you can certainly visit R&P Carriages on eBay and buy a kit for 2000 lb axles, you may well find that the shipping costs are a little on the prohibitive side but by all means, check them out. At the very least, they provide a ton of helpful information.

    Visiting Dexter Axle's website, I found a part number for a complete kit for 2000lb axles with 1" (actually 1-1/16") spindles and had a buddy order it in through his trailer repair shop. The total cost of the kit was $237.00 including taxes. A Tekonsha Primus IQ controller with the plug adapter cable ( cost me another $140 delivered and after customs fees and taxes though I could have bought it through my buddy for about the same price.

    Here's the kit:

    K71-509-00 Complete 7" Electric Brake Kit

    (4) Bearing Cone (031-031-02)
    (2) Grease Cap (021-003-00)
    (8) Wheel Bolt (007-040-00)
    (2) Spindle Nut (006-001-00)
    (2) Cotter Key (019-002-00)
    (8) Hex Nut (006-017-00)
    (2) Grease Seal (010-009-00)
    (2) Hub-Drum 4 on 4.00 Bolt Circle (008-173-16)
    (1) 7 x 1-1/4 Electric Brake Left Hand (023-047-00)
    (1) 7 x 1-1/4 Electric Brake Right Hand (023-048-00)
    (1) Operation Maintenance Manual (LIT-001-00)

    When the kit says "complete", it's true. All you need to buy is a tube of grease. The only parts that I didn't need were the included spindle nuts and cages as they didn't fit my spindles so I just used the old castle nuts. Doing this conversion yourself is really quite simple with a few basic tools, some time, some wire and connectors.

    As soon as I can, I'll post a guide showing how I installed the brake kit.
  10. teejaywhy

    teejaywhy Active Member

    Jul 19, 2011
    I hate it when stuff breaks.
    WVhillbilly likes this.
  11. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

    Aug 2, 2011
    Steinbach, MB
    [;)] Yeah, I hear ya!
  12. StarCraftGalaxyGuy

    StarCraftGalaxyGuy New Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    I'm doing this right now. My tow vehicle (2011 town and country) does not have the towing pkg and my pop up (99 sc galaxy) never had brakes.

    I'm ordering all the parts I need at a minimum to safely tow. This includes:
    Brake plates : $80 both sides
    Hubs: gonna be about $120 for both sides
    Heavier duty shocks: $150 installed
    Brake controller : $145 (tekonseh p3).
    Chrysler OEM 7 pin harness: $110 shipped.
    Then the bearings will need to be re-packed and I'll need to mod the 4 pin on the trailer to adapt to the TV's 7 pin.

    It's a big, putzy pain in the butt and I'm getting ready to say screw it and pay someone to do it so we can go camping!

    For all these upgrades, I am already only $100 away from what I paid for the pup.

    I'm going to try towing it w/out brakes to see if it's that big of a deal. If not I'll return the parts.
  13. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

    Aug 2, 2011
    Steinbach, MB
    I'm not sure you can install 10" brakes on a 2000 lb axle since they're meant for 3500 lb axles and might not fit the smaller axle's brake flanges properly. That said, I guess you could weld on the right brake flanges if you wanted to.

    Here's my guide to installing a 7" Dexter brake kit on a 2000 lb axle (torsion or straight axle). It's by no means exhaustive but certainly more than enough to help wrap their head around what's required.

    Plenty of pics, Dexter parts catalog, installation and service manuals and some instructional videos courtesy of
  14. colorado_camper

    colorado_camper Member

    Apr 14, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    It's not the flanges that are the issue, it's the spindles (the end parts of the axle, for those that are not up on the terminology.) 7" brakes have 1 1/16" bearings inside and out whilst 10" have 1 3/8" inner bearings and 1 1/16" outer. The heavier spindles are tapered and the smaller ones are straight. Don't do what I just did and end up with gear that isn't compatible. Welding on the brake flanges has to be done by an experienced axle repair shop because they are jig welded and must be perfectly centered or the brakes will wobble when you apply them.
    Pnut likes this.
  15. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

    Aug 2, 2011
    Steinbach, MB
    Thanks for the info, colorado_camper!
  16. rick2911

    rick2911 New Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    Well my axle doesn't have the brake flanges so looks like I'd need a new axle as also. I guess the "good deal" on the camper wasn't such a good deal after all.
  17. colorado_camper

    colorado_camper Member

    Apr 14, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    Most 2,000 and 2,200# axles don't have the flanges on. Look for a trailer repair place local to you who can do the jig-welding. I found the guy here through a regular trailer sales place who farm all their welding work out to this guy. He doesn't have a web presence so I can't post a link. It will be a whole lot easier and cheaper to get your existing axle upgraded that try to find a new one with your required specs.

    Here's my thread on wheel bearings that turned into an axle thread because of my confusion.
  18. Josh Stockman

    Josh Stockman New Member

    Sep 17, 2018
    Central Missouri
    Howdid your van hold up towing the camper
  19. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    He hasn't been on the forum since 2015.

    But since we're here, I have a brake question .... do trailer brakes wear out like on a car?
  20. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2018
    Yes , they can , but since there not used as often , they probubly will not. Mine has the original breaks and the pads are still good. There drum breakes and last a bit. Another reason to have them is for controll if you start swaying. And the liability if you have an accedent. Someone else posted in certain states they inspect them each year. Not in nj. And I only have what I read here to go on.
    Orchid likes this.

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