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Old 11-20-2011, 09:39 AM
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Thumbs up Surge brakes

Hi folks.

My toy hauler has surge brakes and I've read numerous articles about surge bakes vs. electric brakes but wanted to get your opinions because I'm giving some consideration to switching them over.

The toy hauler weighs approx 8000lbs loaded up. That's approx 5700lb unladen weight and approx 1500lb of ATV's in it.

I've taken the trailer through the mountains of West Virginia with my friends truck and had no issues but hadn't considered the "surge" brake vs. "electric" aspect with regard to failure, etc.

Also I've been doing a lot of research on weight distribution and see that only one company (Equal-I-Zer) offers a weight distribution hitch for surge brakes. Can someone speak about using the weight distribution in my type of scenario?

Thanks in advance!
-Tim
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:09 PM
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I know that alot of people are switching over to electric, but I'm not real familiar with the weight distribution aspect of it. I didn't know that you needed a special set of bars. So here's a bump for you.

However I am pretty familiar with trailer brakes so if you run into an issue I can try and help you out.
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:37 AM
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I've had both, and there are advantages/disadvantages to both.

Surge brakes are great if you're going to have a variety of different tow vehicles because none of them require a controller to be mounted in the truck. I had a trailer that was being pulled by different people and even had one of those universal 1-1/2" - 2" couplers. It was very convenient to not worry about what hitch everybody had.

The down side, kind of a PITA to maintain the brake adjustment. This was a 2 axle so there were 4 wheel cylinders and if everything wasn't just right the brakes didn't perform right. To add to that, if the trailer sat for a while and rust formed in the drums, because the adjustment had to be so close, they'd lock-up. Also you need some sort of mechanism to prevent them from coming ON when backing-up. Either a solenoid connected to the reverse light, or the linkage to the shoes themselves can have this feature.

Electric brakes are very simply, reliable, less critical on adjustment. The down side is you need to maintain the brake-away system and battery. Plus the electrical connections as carrying more current so connections need to be kept right. And there's the controller you need to go with it as wells as the plug configuration (7pin/6pin the tow vehicle has to be configured to it or carry a bunch of adapters)

I think the issue with a weight distribution system on surge brakes is that there's a lot of back & forth movement between the truck and trailer to activate the master cylinder in the coupler. So, those torsion bar mounts have to be designed with that in mind.....
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoRalPh View Post
I've had both, and there are advantages/disadvantages to both.

Surge brakes are great if you're going to have a variety of different tow vehicles because none of them require a controller to be mounted in the truck. I had a trailer that was being pulled by different people and even had one of those universal 1-1/2" - 2" couplers. It was very convenient to not worry about what hitch everybody had.

The down side, kind of a PITA to maintain the brake adjustment. This was a 2 axle so there were 4 wheel cylinders and if everything wasn't just right the brakes didn't perform right. To add to that, if the trailer sat for a while and rust formed in the drums, because the adjustment had to be so close, they'd lock-up. Also you need some sort of mechanism to prevent them from coming ON when backing-up. Either a solenoid connected to the reverse light, or the linkage to the shoes themselves can have this feature.

Electric brakes are very simply, reliable, less critical on adjustment. The down side is you need to maintain the brake-away system and battery. Plus the electrical connections as carrying more current so connections need to be kept right. And there's the controller you need to go with it as wells as the plug configuration (7pin/6pin the tow vehicle has to be configured to it or carry a bunch of adapters)

I think the issue with a weight distribution system on surge brakes is that there's a lot of back & forth movement between the truck and trailer to activate the master cylinder in the coupler. So, those torsion bar mounts have to be designed with that in mind.....
So in your humble opinion, should I leave it as is? I'm asking because the previous owner had all new brakes (drums, pads, etc) put on along with bearings, new tires, etc. I haven't had any issues but then again I don't want any either. I will be towing this trailer with two trucks .... mine and my friends. Both of which have electric brake controllers inside if needed.

BTW, thank you so much for the insightful reply!

Regards,
Tim
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:53 AM
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Yea, I'd say this was one of those "If it aint Broke, don't Fix it!" kinda things. See how they perform for you before you commit to a change, there's nothing wrong with Surge Brakes (IMHO)
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:57 PM
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Surge brakes are ok unless you travel in slick conditions.
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoRalPh View Post
Yea, I'd say this was one of those "If it aint Broke, don't Fix it!" kinda things. See how they perform for you before you commit to a change, there's nothing wrong with Surge Brakes (IMHO)
Ok thank you a ton! I really didn't want to fork over money I didn't have and focus on a few mods for the truck that I've been wanting to do since I bought it like (exhaust, CAI, gauges, etc....)
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:59 AM
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IF you do find the time I highly recommend you switch over to electric or even to disc brakes. I hate towing a surge brake setup and going down hill and have the trailer grabbing behind me. I towed my buddies boat to go fishing in the ocean one day and it did it the entire trip. I almost pulled over and took the damn things apart.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:25 AM
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I have 4 trailers with electric brakes and one with surge disk brakes.
I would say the surge brakes are more reliable, I'm ALWAY'S fixing something on the electric brakes. That's more of a drum vs disk problem if I had to guess.

The surge brake trailer is 10 years old and the only problem was a smashed brake line. When the electric brakes are working, they do a much better job slowing the load.

Like said above, if it aint broke don't fix it.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M1028 View Post
I have 4 trailers with electric brakes and one with surge disk brakes.
I would say the surge brakes are more reliable, I'm ALWAY'S fixing something on the electric brakes. That's more of a drum vs disk problem if I had to guess.

The surge brake trailer is 10 years old and the only problem was a smashed brake line. When the electric brakes are working, they do a much better job slowing the load.

Like said above, if it aint broke don't fix it.
Thanks again. I'm not gonna mess with it unless something breaks, then, if so I'll upgrade/change. You're right, I'm not trying to insert any issues :-) The brakes work fine at least now.
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