Towing a standard trailer, when do you need trailer brakes? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Just an update. I was mistaken on weight. The machine is 4300 lbs, not 5300lbs.

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    If the trailer is equipped with brakes DOT require they work, there's no gray area. A wreck caused by a violation like that carries criminal charges. I'd rather not be sitting in a jail cell with someone else's death/injury on my conscious because I was too cheap/lazy to fix my brake controller

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    Virtually all rental trailers have surge brakes activated by the trailer weight pushing against the tow vehicle. In Wisconsin all trailers whose gross weight exceeds 3,000 lbs must have brakes. In most states that means every wheel on the trailer. Also notice this has nothing to do with if you are loaded or not. Trailer brake laws vary greatly by state see link from AAA.

    Trailer Brakes - AAA Digest of Motor Laws

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    Two tons on a trailer with no brakes can turn a summer road into black ice when you need to panic stop. Ask me how I know... I would only tow that much weight behind a pickup with trailer brakes.

    Surge brakes are not the same compared to a properly setup brake controller with electric brakes. I would guess that the rental trailers have surge, because being standalone of the tow vehicle is the only way they can be sure they will work. I think boat trailers have them because electric won't like the water, and if I am not mistaken most higher end/large boat trailers have electric over hydraulic disks.

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    So called 'override brakes" generally lock up in a panic brake of the towing vehicle.....when wheels slip on the road,vehicles lose directional guidance,and tend to slide downhill,which may be towards the inside of a cambered bend on the wrong side of the road.... some states mandate over ride brakes on only one axle of a tandem axle trailer,and limit over rides to 3000lb aggregate trailer weight...There is usually a requirement for a parking brake too,easily arranged with overrides by using the coupling spring to apply the brakes with a locking lever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    In California brakes are required only on camper trailers over 1500 pounds. thats it. mo breakaway requirements etc.
    I think motorcycle trailers over some weight need brakes too.
    Bill d
    You need to have a long talk to our California High way patrol Commercial inspector.
    In California travel/camp trailers need brakes on 2 wheels if the trailer weight exceeds 1500 lb, all trailers that exceed 3000lb require brakes on a minimum of 2 wheels, and in all cases a breakaway system must be in place.as well as 2 safety chains.

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    The cops and scalies used to get down the local boatramp at going home time,and weight and ticket all the ocean liners being carried on massive trailers licensed as being under 3ton gross....and rusted up brakes from salt water.

  8. #28
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    Realistically with a 1 ton truck, 7k of towed load, not driving like a maniac, and leaving stopping distance ... you'll probably be okay. But I remember you did ask about making your truck into a sand dune jumping truck. So, probably best to get the truck fixed.

    Yesterday I had a wiring issue on my brand new trailer or my 2015 truck. Lost lights and brakes. Had a 4,000 baby VMC on a 3,000+ lb trailer. My 2015 Chevy 3500 HD 4WD long bed 4 dr truck has plenty of ass to stop and handle it without the brakes. I made it home and will fix the issue. But many years ago with 10k of trencher on 3k of trailer behind my full size Ram 2500 ... trailer brakes had an issue and I went through a stop light at about 45 MPH after applying my brakes at 55 MPH and normal distance. Very lucky not to have killed anyone. It was a big lesson for a 16 year-old new driver.

    Incidentally, my 2015 Chevy does the whole stupid service trailer brake system message. It did that a few years ago and I solved the problem by replacing the connector on the bumper. I bought a spare. Given my issue yesterday, when the thermometer goes about 0 degrees I'll be replacing it again and hoping it solves the problem. I'm less than thrilled about how Chevy decided that if any point in the journey it decides the trailer isn't there, it shuts off the brakes and and seemingly never tries again. It's on my short list of things that might kill me.

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    A brake controller is under a hundred bucks. No reason not to have brakes. If you're running between two locations out in the country, maybe you don't need them until a deer jumps in front of you. In more suburban or urban locations, it makes driving a whole lot easier, because you never know what some other guy's gonna do.

    Also, if you're like me you tow something maybe once a month, and that's not enough time in the saddle to stay proficient in emergency situations. I'll take all the technological help I can get, if it comes to it.

    Surge brakes just plain suck.

  10. #30
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    I have two trailers (one 12k pound, one 6k pound rating)and a trailer mounted generator all with surge brakes. The trailers are sunbelt surplus.

    It has been my experience that the surge brakes work and work well but they need to be maintained. From what I have seen almost nobody maintains trailer brakes and lighting. This is the problem.

    The surge brakes on my trailers don't have any electrical component at all. The brake shoe assembly is setup so that it does not engage when backing only grabs with the wheel turning going forward.
    Last edited by Pete Deal; 01-18-2020 at 04:00 PM.

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  12. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by kb0thn View Post
    Realistically with a 1 ton truck, 7k of towed load, not driving like a maniac, and leaving stopping distance ... you'll probably be okay. But I remember you did ask about making your truck into a sand dune jumping truck. So, probably best to get the truck fixed.

    Yesterday I had a wiring issue on my brand new trailer or my 2015 truck. Lost lights and brakes. Had a 4,000 baby VMC on a 3,000+ lb trailer. My 2015 Chevy 3500 HD 4WD long bed 4 dr truck has plenty of ass to stop and handle it without the brakes. I made it home and will fix the issue. But many years ago with 10k of trencher on 3k of trailer behind my full size Ram 2500 ... trailer brakes had an issue and I went through a stop light at about 45 MPH after applying my brakes at 55 MPH and normal distance. Very lucky not to have killed anyone. It was a big lesson for a 16 year-old new driver.

    Incidentally, my 2015 Chevy does the whole stupid service trailer brake system message. It did that a few years ago and I solved the problem by replacing the connector on the bumper. I bought a spare. Given my issue yesterday, when the thermometer goes about 0 degrees I'll be replacing it again and hoping it solves the problem. I'm less than thrilled about how Chevy decided that if any point in the journey it decides the trailer isn't there, it shuts off the brakes and and seemingly never tries again. It's on my short list of things that might kill me.

    Can you elaborate on what the connector is?
    I followed the posts on a Chevy forum and a YouTube video to replace the fuses and the trailer brake relay; relay is behind the spare wheel so you have to drop the spare to gain access. But that didn't fix it.

    Machine is at rigger's shop. Will go get it soon. Plan is to rent a triple-L drop deck trailer. Far as I know the Triple-L only has surge brakes. It is rated for 10,000 lbs. My truck can tow 13,000 Lbs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenton View Post
    I my experience the rental places around here have surge brakes installed on all the rental trailers. I can also tell you that backing a loaded trailer equipped with surge brakes up a hill really sucks, which may be why they aren't more popular.
    The surge brake trailers I have seen have a pin or latch you can engage to disable the brakes when backing up.

    CarlBoyd

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  15. #33
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    Going to make a custom skid to bolt the machine to. Machine has 4 through holes in the base. Skid is going to be sized to the width of the Triple-L drop deck trailer. Being top heavy the skid will greatly lower the chance of machine tipping over. Everything will be tied down with 6 or more 3000lb ratchet straps. Will drive slow..., like 50mph slow. Even without a trailer I drive slow , usually around 50-60mph , even when the speed limit is 65 or 70.

    This is the machine

  16. #34
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    The most important way to strap down the machine, or anything really is to go from machine to back of the trailer. This will keep it from shifting forward if you hit the brakes hard to avoid an idiot. It will/should also keep it on the trailer if someone runs a red light and you tee-bone them. You dont want that coming in the back of your truck cab.

    Depending on how big your skid is in relation to length of traile I would plan to have the skid short of the deck length and bring some wood 2x4's 4x4's etc to fill the space from the skid's front to the front of trailer. Solid blocking will not let it come forward unless your bolts break or pull out.

  17. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by dana gear View Post
    You need to have a long talk to our California High way patrol Commercial inspector.
    In California travel/camp trailers need brakes on 2 wheels if the trailer weight exceeds 1500 lb, all trailers that exceed 3000lb require brakes on a minimum of 2 wheels, and in all cases a breakaway system must be in place.as well as 2 safety chains.
    Thanks for the information. I was going by the official DMV website which seemed unlikely to have so minimal brake requirements.

  18. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob F. View Post
    The most important way to strap down the machine, or anything really is to go from machine to back of the trailer. This will keep it from shifting forward if you hit the brakes hard to avoid an idiot. It will/should also keep it on the trailer if someone runs a red light and you tee-bone them. You dont want that coming in the back of your truck cab.

    Depending on how big your skid is in relation to length of traile I would plan to have the skid short of the deck length and bring some wood 2x4's 4x4's etc to fill the space from the skid's front to the front of trailer. Solid blocking will not let it come forward unless your bolts break or pull out.
    Shouldn't I move the machine as far forward in the trailer as possible, so that the machine is resting against the metal ? This way it can't possibly go forward even under hard braking?

    I assume the Triple L will look like this


  19. #37
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    Forward is good as long as it results in appropriate tongue weight. 10% to 20% depending on some variables. Closer to 10 is probably best, but it (and the total of trailer+payload) has to be within your hitch's limit and that of the truck.

    If your hitch is a GM round-tube offering, don't trust it.

    Other than that, if your hitch is up to the 13K limit of the truck itself, a tongue weight of 1300-1500 would work. Work out a way to measure that, probably using known weights or a scale and proportional pivot points (so the scale is not subjected to the entire tongue weight if it's not rated for it.) I use an actual tongue weight scale made by, of all folks, Sherline. Yes, that Sherline.

    If the weight won't allow it to be up against the front, then you can block it with timber at the appropriate location, and secure it and the machine so it stays put. Secure low to keep the base in place, and up high to keep tipping under control.

  20. #38
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    With that short trailer probably yes, you would want it close to or against the front. What you do not want though is to much tongue weight, like Chip just said, so if you have blocking the skid can be blocked back a little.
    Make the skid just long enough to keep the machine from hitting the trailer front and block any space that is left, if needed to lighten tongue weight.

    Cheap (or free), easy way to check tongue weight with bathroom scale:

    YouTube


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