Category Archives: Trailer Brakes

Best hub for your boat trailer.  Hot Dipped Galvanized for a longer life

Get the right trailer hub for your trailer

What trailer hub do I need to purchase?

This is a question that comes up quite often in Champion’s business.  Some people may trouble in determining what trailer hub to purchase.  Just follow the easy steps below and you will get the hub you need for your trailer.

The first thing in moving forward with purchasing a trailer hub is to determine which hub you need to order for your trailer. Getting the correct hub for your trailer is easier than you think. The easiest way to make sure you are getting the correct hub it to remove it from the trailer. Next you will remove the front and rear bearings and seal (without damage). Once you remove the bearings you will be able to read a number off the back of the bearing or measure the inside dimension of the bearing.  Call Champion with this information and we can get the right hub for your application.

Step 1. The numbers on the back of a trailer bearing correspond to a certain spindle size, and this is the easiest way to determine the correct hub. If a number is not legible on the bearing then you will need a micrometer to measure the inside dimension of the bearing.

Step 2.   Determine the correct seal. This is an important part as well since the seal is what helps to keep the grease inside of the trailer hub. Some seals have numbers stamped for easy cross reference, and others require taking measurement. If you have to measure the seal then you will measure the inside and the outside diameter. There can be between one to three seals that work for certain bearing combinations which is why only using the inside or the outside dimension is not recommended. Most trailers will use a standard double lip seal if they are using a grease application, and those using oil will need a triple lip seal or even a unitized oil seal.

Step 3. Check to see how many studs are on your hub. Trailer hubs come with 4, 5, 6, and 8 studs depending upon the capacity of the trailer axle. If you have a hub that has 5 studs then there is a little more work to, so move to Step 4. If you have 4, 6, or 8 studs your work is done and you should be able to purchase the correct hub!

Step 4. Check your bolt pattern.

bolt-circle-template.png

 bolt-circle.png

What to Do When Your Trailer Brakes Lock Up in Reverse

Some people spend their disposable income on things like travel, gadgets, and home improvement projects. Others want every dollar to go toward experiences that make life worthwhile. The one thing we can’t get is more time, and the adventurers among us want to spend it on boats, jet skis, motorcycles, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and any other vehicle that gets them outdoors and feeling the rush of the wind in their hair.

Of course, carting these recreational vehicles from point A to point B requires a truck and a trailer. Most of the time, trailers are pretty user-friendly, which is to say they’re relatively simple to hook up to your truck and once you have all the cabling attached, the lights and brakes should work just fine.

Unfortunately, you may encounter problems here and there, such as brakes locking up when you go in reverse. Although you can try to go forward at all times to avoid this situation, it’s not really feasible. At some point you may have to put your rig in reverse. What can you do when this problem arises? Here are a few things to try.

 Check Your Harness

Harnesses to hook up the electrical components of your truck and trailer can be different in a variety of ways. Some are only for brake lights while others control electric brakes. They may have different numbers of pins or wires (4 or 5), they may require adapters, and so on. You need to make sure that you have the right harness and parts for your setup.

In addition, you should check to make sure that the voltage readings are correct for all components (generally 12V). If not, you could be dealing with issues like corroded connections or improper wiring, just for example.

Trailer Brake Lockout Key

Ideally, you have a brake system for your trailer that includes an electric reverse lockout that will automatically prevent the brakes from locking (provided everything is working correctly). Most trailers come with something known as a trailer brake lockout key, which is used to manually prevent the brakes from engaging when backing up. However, it’s easy to lose the key.

The good news is that you can get replacement keys, or there are a variety of aftermarket products that can do virtually the same job. You could, for example, use a lockout cap that replaces the standard cap on the brake fluid reservoir on your trailer. You simply have to rotate it one way to lock out the brakes and rotate it back to reengage.

Get Help

If you check your harness, replace your lockout key, and still find that you’re having problems with trailer brakes locking up in reverse, it’s time to get some professional help. It could be a simple problem that you’ve somehow overlooked, or perhaps some repairs or replacement parts are in order.

Either way, a qualified mechanic can fix you up and get you back on your way, or at least give you some insight into how to solve this problem should it occur in the future. Don’t let your trailer sit idle and your dreams of boating or 4-wheeling go unfulfilled. In most cases, this problem is easy to fix.

How do Trailer Brakes Work?

You know the brakes on your trailer are very important and need to be well maintained and checked often for wear and tear, but have you ever wondered how they work? Unlike the brakes on your tow vehicle, trailer brakes are designed specifically to insure maximum safety and thus operate differently than the brakes in a car or truck.

Trailer brakes are available in three different systems: hydraulic, electric, and electric over hydraulic (EOH). Depending on where and how you tow your trailer will influence which brakes are best for you. Hydraulic trailer brakes use a surge actuator/coupler. When your tow vehicle stops, the surge actuator releases fluid into the brake which triggers the mechanism in the brake itself to activate. Hydraulic surge brakes are an entirely self-contained system and need no hookups to the towing vehicle. However, there is a split second delay between wherein the trailer load pushes the tow vehicle and activate the surge actuator. This does require a longer distance to stop your rig so make sure to be wary of this while driving.

Electric brakes immediately call up a lot of questions because of the concern of electricity and water. They are not used for boat trailers because of this and are primarily for utility trailers. However, electric over hydraulic (EOH), is a combination of the two. They contain an electrical brake component and a hydraulic component which work in tandem to allow heavy duty boat trailers to stop safely and without damaging the braking system. The electrical part is in the front (ie. standard coupler, emergency brake kit, in cab electric brake controller). You purchase an EOH controller which acts as the brake coupler. The driver can control the output of the electric brakes and the signal goes into the EOH controller that converts that into a hydraulic output that sends the brake fluid back to the calipers or drums. This is typically used on heavy duty boat trailers (30-42 feet) as well as for drivers that going over hills or through the mountains. EOH are preferable in these scenarios because when you are going down hills with the standard hydraulic brakes, the coupler compresses which activates the brakes and will cause the brakes to burn up. With the EOH there is no coupler so the brakes will not activate until the brake pedal is pressed.

 

3 Tips to Maintain your Brakes

No matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving, one of the most important parts is the brakes. Whether you are biking through a forest trail, or driving a sixteen-wheeler down the highway, you need to be able to stop as quickly as possible in case of emergency. When you’re hauling a trailer, it is even more vital that your brakes are in excellent condition. Not only does your towing vehicle need to have quality brakes, but also the brakes on your trailer need to be well maintained.

Check For Rust and Corrosion
Your trailer brakes regularly come close contact with water (fresh or salt). Even if you have hydraulic brakes, they are still susceptible to rust and corrosion. You should check your brake components on an annual basis. Remove the wheels and hubs and check all parts for rust, corrosion, and wear.

Check Brake Fluid Levels
Brake fluid levels should be checked monthly. Many of the symptoms associated with a brake problem are the result of brake fluid issues.

Washdown Drum Brakes
Also note that drum brakes need more upkeep than disc brakes—they require a freshwater washdown kit to clean the hub drums after being used. Washdown kits are also used to clean the whole boat down at the end of the day. They usually include 2V DC pump with an integral pressure switch, a hose and nozzle, an inline filter, wiring, circuit protection and connectors.

 

Breaking in DEEMAXX Brakes

You decided you want to get disc brakes for your trailer. Great! Many trailer owners are upgrading from drum to disc brakes for ease of use and inspection. The question now is which brand of brakes to choose. There are many great disc brakes on the market, but one we would like to call your attention to is DEEMAXX.

DEEMAXX is a Texas based company and they are members of both the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers and North American Trailer Dealers Association. We carry their brakes because of their great customer satisfaction.

Demaxx Brakes

DEEMAXX brakes come in 5 or 6 lugs and are available in the vented integral design. They are MAXX coated for optimal corrosion resistance. They passed the SAE J2681 brake test and every brake caliper is tested at 2,000PSI. MAXX coating on the calipers passed Salt Spray Test per ASTM-B-117-09, over 1008 hours with no rust. DEEMAXX’s 5 lug integral hub and rotor is a single cast unit with pressed in idler studs. Since each hub and rotor is cast as a single unit this allows for a smoother overall ride. DEEMAXX’s unique rotor cross section design actively draws cooling air from the rotor interior. The mounting flange for DEEMAXX 5 lug disc brake systems are mounted to the standard 4 hole brake flange and can fit in 13” or larger rims. Each DEEMAXX brake caliper has 120 degree bleed design and instructions for bleeding lasered on the back of the caliper. They are available in wheel or complete kits.

Winning at Trailer Brake Wiring

Even if you have inspected your brakes and you are sure they are working properly, there is another component to check before heading out to the water: lights. If your brake lights and turn signals are not functioning, then all the work you put into the brakes themselves will be for naught. If your brake lights are not working and you already checked the bulbs, it is time to check the wires. Because the wires are submerged so often, they can easily become corroded and may need to be replaced.

Trailer Brake Wiring Diagram

The first thing to do is find out what kind of wire harness you have. The most common configuration is called a “flat four” or “4 pole flat”. These harnesses have four wires: right turn signal/brake is green, left turn signal/brake is yellow, tail lights are brown, and the ground wire is white. Other configurations have five or more wires. The “flat five” contains a blue auxiliary wire often used for the reversing solenoid for trailer brakes. Once you have purchased your new harness and wires, remove the old harness, paying attention to how the wires were secured. Run the new wires inside the framing using the old wires to feed them through. The framing may have rings or tubing to support the wires. Yellow and brown wires run along the left side, green and brown on the right side. The white wire connects to any bolt behind the coupler and if you have a blue wire it connects to the solenoid.

Next connect the wires to their corresponding light. Taillights have a running light circuit (black or brown wire) and a brake/turn signal circuit (red or green wire for the right and red or yellow wire for the left). Connect brown to brown/black, yellow to red/yellow, and green to red/green. If you are planning to go into salt water, you will want to use a crimp connector and heat-shrink tubing to make these connections. Once all the connections are made, hook up the trailer and plug in the lights to make sure they work.

Some trailers do not come with a way to secure the wires within the frame. If you have one of these trailers, you will want to purchase galvanized wire clips. Make sure the harness is tight but not pinched anywhere. Give yourself enough slack that the plug will not pull out when you go around turns. Securing the wires to the frame will help to prevent chafing of the insulation and the wires from blowing in the wind.

Discs and Drums Aren’t Just For Music: Choosing the Right Trailer Brakes

Sometimes the thought of getting your boat out on the water is so exciting that you start cruising a little too fast down the road and suddenly you have to come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of a hill. If your trailer does not have a trailer braking system, you can expect your boat to come crashing into your towing vehicle very quickly. This is why it is important to install the appropriate brakes on your trailer.

trailer brakeTrailers brakes can be installed if the axle has brake flanges welded to it. Boat trailers generally utilize hydraulic surge brakes. When your tow vehicle stops, the surge actuator releases fluid into the brake which triggers the mechanism in the brake itself to activates. Surge brakes are an entirely self-contained system and need no hookups to the towing vehicle. However, there is a split second delay between wherein the trailer load pushes the tow vehicle and activate the surge actuator. This does require a longer distance to stop your rig so make sure to be wary of this while driving.

Trailer BrakesTrailer brakes come in two varieties: disc and drum. Disc brakes are easier to maintain than drum brakes and more effective with heavier boats. In comparison to drum brakes, disc brakes offer better resistance to fade when descending a mountain pass or stop-and-go traffic, are self-adjusting, have greater stopping power, and are easy to visually inspect. However, disc brakes require a reversing solenoid to be installed in order for the trailer to be backed up without the brakes activating. While it may seem that disc brakes are the obvious choice, drum brakes can be more effective with lighter boats. Drum brakes give better braking torque at a lower hydraulic pressure. At a given rate of deceleration, when the mass of the trailer is increased, the differential pressure will increase and the hydraulic output will increase, resulting in an increase in braking response. In short, the lighter the trailer, the lower the hydraulic pressure. Unlike disc brakes, drum brakes are a free backing system and the brakes will not lock up when going in reverse. They are not as easily to inspect as disc brakes and require a fresh water wash-down kit to clean the hub drums after being used. Drum brakes need to be adjusted annually or every 3000-5000 miles.

Make sure you choose the right brakes for your trailer and that they are properly installed. Regardless of the type of brakes, if they are installed incorrectly, you will be very unhappy when you try to decelerate down a mountain and cannot.

Trailer Brakes FAQs

When stopping is as simple as moving your foot, it can be easy to take your brakes for granted. However, when you are hauling 4000 pounds of boat behind you, it is important to be cognizant of what your brakes are doing, and how they are doing. In particular, it is important to pay attention to your trailer brakes, because they operate differently that your tow vehicle’s brakes and are more exposed to the elements. Below you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about trailer brakes.

How do trailer brakes work?

Trailer Braking SystemTrailer brakes can use three different systems: hydraulic, electric, and electric over hydraulic (EOH). Hydraulic trailer brakes use what is called a surge actuator/coupler. When your tow vehicle stops, the surge actuator releases fluid into the brake which triggers the mechanism in the brake itself to activate. Surge brakes are an entirely self-contained system and need no hookups to the towing vehicle. However, there is a split second delay between wherein the trailer load pushes the tow vehicle and activate the surge actuator. This does require a longer distance to stop your rig so make sure to be wary of this while driving.

Electric brakes immediately call up a lot of questions because of the concern of electricity and water. They are not used for boat trailers because of this and are primarily for utility trailers. However, electric over hydraulic (EOH), is a combination of the two. They contain an electrical brake component and a hydraulic component which work in tandem to allow heavy duty boat trailers to stop safely and without damaging the braking system. The electrical part is in the front (ie. standard coupler, emergency brake kit, in cab electric brake controller). You purchase an EOH controller which acts as the brake coupler. The driver can control the output of the electric brakes and the signal goes into the EOH controller that converts that into a hydraulic output that sends the brake fluid back to the calipers or drums. This is typically used on heavy duty boat trailers (30-42 feet) as well as for drivers that going over hills or through the mountains. EOH are preferable in these scenarios because when you are going down hills with the standard hydraulic brakes, the coupler compresses which activates the brakes and will cause the brakes to burn up. With the EOH there is no coupler so the brakes will not activate until the brake pedal is pressed.

How do I know if they’re working?

Because you cannot physically feel your trailer brakes engaging, it can be hard to tell if they are actually working, especially if you suspect damage. The simplest way to check is to lift one side of the trailer and spin the wheels while someone applies the surge brakes at the actuator. For a more thorough check, remove the wheels and drums and activate the brakes to check that the wheel cylinders and brake assemblies are properly functioning.

What are the different types of brakes?

Trailer BrakesTrailer brakes come in two varieties: disc and drum. Disc brakes are easier to maintain than drum brakes and more effective with heavier boats. They work with a disc and hydraulically operated caliper. The caliper squeezes the brake pads on either side of the disc when hydraulic pressure is applied. In comparison to drum brakes, disc brakes offer better resistance to fade when descending a mountain pass or stop-and-go traffic, are self-adjusting, have greater stopping power, and are easy to visually inspect. While it may seem that disc brakes are the obvious choice, drum brakes can be more effective with lighter boats. Drum brakes give better braking torque at a lower hydraulic pressure. They operate by pushing brake shoes outward against the inside of the brake drum via a small hydraulic cylinder. Drum brakes are inexpensive, but hard at access and need to be adjusted annually or every 3000-5000 miles.

How do I maintain my brakes?

Your trailer brakes regularly come close contact with water (fresh or salt). Even if you have hydraulic brakes, they are still susceptible to rust and corrosion. You should check your brake components on an annual basis. Remove the wheels and hubs and check all parts for rust, corrosion, and wear. Brake fluid levels should be checked monthly. Also note that drum brakes need more upkeep than disc brakes—they require a fresh water wash-down kit to clean the hub drums after being used.

Can I brake in reverse?

This is a tricky question because it brings up a common concern of trailer owners. Your actuator engages when it bumps against your tow vehicle; however, when you reverse it is easy to accidentally bump the actuator thereby unintentionally engaging the trailer brakes. There are several solutions to this problem. The most common method brake manufacturers include is called “Free Backing” which when activated on the axle allows the brakes to disengage only in reverse. This method can only be used by trailers with drum brakes. The second most common method is to use an electric solenoid valve which allows brake fluid to bypass back in to the reservoir while in reverse. These can be purchased for trailers with disc brakes. To answer the initial question, you can brake in reverse, but you probably do not want to.

What is the emergency breakaway system?

If your trailer detaches from your tow vehicle a system automatically engages the brakes. This safety precaution is required by the federal government in all trailers with brakes. In hydraulic brake systems, a mechanical cable or chain is connected to the tow vehicle and engages the master cylinder. Electric brake systems use a battery-operated activator that energizes the electromagnets in the wheels.