Surge brakes working??? Not sure...

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by opipe, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. opipe

    opipe New Member

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    Hey all,
    I was wondering if there is a quick test I can do to ensure my surge brakes are working?
    I have been towing it for a while, but I am not totally sure if they are working or not?
    Fluid is up, but other than that, is there something I can check to see if they are engaging.
    This is on my 77 Starcraft swinger.

    Any tips?

    "Keep the rubber side down"
     
  2. Retired Alex

    Retired Alex New Member

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    Pull the breakaway lanyard to apply the brakes and then drive slowly forward. If the brakes are working you will notice some drag on the wheels or even notice they are locked up and leaving drag strips across your lawn. Another way is to go down a deserted gravel road and apply the brakes rather severly. Check for any drag marks in the gravel.

    Alex & Mary Burnett
    06 Trail Cruiser 26QBS, 2006 F-150 XLT
    http://users.xplornet.com/~burnetta
     
  3. opipe

    opipe New Member

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    Thanks!
    I think I may try the second.

    Actually, the reason I say that is, the previous owner said I will have to go to the dealership to have the brakes "reset" when the Breakaway is applied....dooes anyone think there is any truth to this statement???

    With 1 question, come another.....fun fun!

    Thanks
    O

    "Keep the rubber side down"
     
  4. Retired Alex

    Retired Alex New Member

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    I had a 74 Jayco with surge brakes. On the side of the master cylinder was a lever and attached to it was a chain that hooked to the tow vehicle. If separation occured, the chain pulled the lever and applied the trailer brakes. On the lever there was also a small ratcheted lever that locked the bar in the on position. All that was required to disengage the brakes was to squeeze the smaller lever to disengage the ratchets and return the bigger lever to the off position.
    I am thinking the original owner is somewhat off in his advice, how do you get the trailer to the dealer with the brakes locked up?

    Alex & Mary Burnett
    06 Trail Cruiser 26QBS, 2006 F-150 XLT
    http://users.xplornet.com/~burnetta

    Edited by - Retired Alex on August 12 2008 15:36:50
     
  5. opipe

    opipe New Member

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    how do you get the trailer to the dealer with the brakes locked up? My thoughts exactly....?

    I may look at the set up a little closer before I activate anything.

    Does anyone out there have an older starcraft with these types of brakes?

    "Keep the rubber side down"
     
  6. dannyoung

    dannyoung New Member

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    I have a 77 Starcraft Starmaster...same brakes, same questions. I think mine are working, stopping has not been a problem at all with it. The only issue I have is that the trailer tugs on the hitch over bumpy roads (even minor ones). I don't know if this is typical of all trailers regardless of braking systems, or if it's normal to surge brake fitted trailers.

    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> 1977 StarCraft Starmaster 6
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport
     
  7. dannyoung

    dannyoung New Member

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    All right..I did some research and found a set of instructions, from a manufacturer of surge brakes, on how to test if your surge brakes are working. Here they are.


    1. Hydraulic surge actuator systems provide automatic and smooth trailer braking without special application by the tow vehicle driver. While this is extremely convenient it can sometimes be difficult to determine if the surge setup is functioning properly. The following steps provide a quick field-test to confirm that the trailer brake system is operational.

    2. Move the trailer to flat, level ground, pulling FORWARD several feet before parking. This forward motion will ensure trailers equipped with free-backing brakes are in their normal operating mode. Disconnect the 'trailer from the tow vehicle and jack the trailer's tongue until it is horizontal.

    3. Hook the trailer's safety chains (NOT the actuator's breakaway cable/chain) together to form a loop, which is centered below the actuator's coupler as shown in the diagram.

    <img src="http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/chmln101/Trailer%20Reno/Diagrams/Surgetest.jpg" border=0>

    4. Place' a sturdy board, such as a 2 inch by 4 inch piece of lumber, into the chain loop below the coupler. The board should be 4 feet or longer so it will extend several feet above the actuator. Keep the end of the board a few inches off the ground, and position it to press against the front end of the actuator's coupler.

    5. Stand in front of the trailer and face the rear. Apply force to the top end of the board to use it as a lever. Press back
    towards the rear of the trailer. The board will begin moving the coupler case (inner slide) into the actuator's outer using.

    6. Keep pressing the top of the board to stroke the actuator and its internal master cylinder. If the trailer brake system is operational, the brakes will apply and keep the trailer from rolling away from you. Properly adjusted uni-servo or duo-servo type brakes will prevent you from moving the trailer back more than a few inches. Freebacking type brakes will initially provide rolling resistance, but continued force on the board will switch them into free-backing mode, and you'll be able to move the trailer backwards.

    7. If you have uni-servo or duo-servo brakes, and stroking the actuator (as described above) causes the trailer to roll away
    from you freely or with only minimal resistance, the brakes are NOT applying properly. If you have free backing brakes, and stroking the actuator (as described above) causes the trailer to roll away without initial resistance, the brakes are NOT applying properly. The brake system MUST be evaluated to determine the cause of the problem, and corrective action MUST be taken before the \trailer is used.

    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> 1977 StarCraft Starmaster 6
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport
     
  8. opipe

    opipe New Member

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    Nice find Danny!

    My actuator seems to move when I accelerate and decel, but I am not totally sure if the brakes are being applied.
    I will definatley give this a try....Thanks

    Nice trailer by the way!
    Where abouts in Ontario are you?....Just curious

    Cheers
    O

    "Keep the rubber side down"
     
  9. erich0521

    erich0521 New Member

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    On our surge brakes you can literally feel them engage. For example, driving about 25 mph and then if I only slightly brake my TV I do not feel the brakes engage. However, if I apply normal/moderate brake pressue I can feel about a 1 second delay and then the brakes sorta grab slightly and help pull to a stop. If I brake hard on TV, again a slight delay but you can feel as if you're being pulled to a stop.

    The bottom line is you should be able to feel them in my experience.

    Me 42,DW 30 something
    DD 12, DS 8,DD 7
    '98 Jayco Heritage Yosemite
    Mahomet, IL
     
  10. dannyoung

    dannyoung New Member

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    opipe - We're in Simcoe, Norfolk County, just south of Brantford and north of Lake Erie...Ontario's South Coast. It's a good county to camp in if you're interested, we have four provincial parks and one world biosphere reserve, plus a multitude of municipal conservation areas and private campgrounds.

    erich - That's interesting, because the manufacturers and the dealers say that you shouldn't feel them. The braking force on the trailer is supposed to be directly proportionate to the force applied to the TV. Given that, if your surge brakes are working properly, it should feel as though nothing is behind you...at least that's what the dealer says.

    I think that the real problem with surge brakes is that they are so simple and reliable we assume they are always working and forget to check them...

    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> 1977 StarCraft Starmaster 6
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport

    Edited by - dannyoung on September 12 2008 12:20:28
     
  11. opipe

    opipe New Member

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    Thanks Danny,
    I know exactly where you are, we may be heading that way next summer....:)
    I love the pics of your trailer...man o man, you have done some serious renos! They look awesome!

    "Keep the rubber side down"
     
  12. olpopstar

    olpopstar New Member

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    Starcraft Starmaster 6

    [PU]

    I would like to have more documentation for my 1978 Starcraft Starmaster 6.
    Specifically an owner's manual, Bendix surge brake manual and/or schematic, furnace and stovetop manuals. I would appreciate any assistance in locating them.
    Thanks in advance.
    I have done a lot of restoration on this camper; rebuilding floor corners and bulkheads, fixing brakes, tightening U bolts, Painting top, interior paneling, and much more. It had been neglected before I bought it a few years ago. It is enjoyable and getting use now.
     

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