Trailer brakes, Electric vs surge - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old March 12th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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Trailer brakes, Electric vs surge

Looking at trailers for towing my stuff around; tractor, materials, vehicles...
There are several on my list to check out that have electric brakes. Does anyone have experience with them? I am used to surge brakes, and have them on two of my boat trailers. Yes, the actuator does give you the willies the first couple times until you get used to it.
They suck going in reverse. Well, except for the boat ramp anyway.
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  #2  
Old March 12th, 2014, 10:24 AM
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thomas
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I have driven with both across the country. I am a big fan of electric. They are better on your driveline and I like the ability to dial them in for either city driving or highway. I cannot comment on the inertia electric brake actuators.
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Old March 12th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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go electric Bill. A lot less issues, and the biggest advantage is you can dial in the power inside the cab! I have surge on the Sankey, and wish they were electric...the ol' BMF Ford had electric and they were great. You determine how much power you need based on what you are towing.
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  #4  
Old March 12th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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I've towed all over using U-Haul's car trailer with surge brakes without issues. Normal and quasi panic stops, you don't know it is back there. No issues backing up either. Only wish that I had a place to park a trailer as it stinks paying them ~ $240 per extended weekend.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 05:54 AM
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Tom Rowe
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I haven't really used surge brakes much, other than the few times I've rented a u-haul trailer.
My dad's 18' flat bed that I towed a lot in the 80's had electric brakes. Never had any issues.
My 16' flat bed has electric brakes that work well. I use a Tekonsha P3 brake controller which is very configurable. From an empty single axle to fully loaded four axle trailer.
I did have an issue with the controller a year ago and the customer support at Tekonsha can't be beat.

The only downside I can think of is the fact that you have to wire them, but for anyone used to electrical work it's pretty trivial. Just be sure to use a self reseting circuit breaker, not a fuse.

Also, if it doesn't have a breakaway setup on it, you'll likely need to add one, based on the info here:
https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/trailer-brakes/ though personally I'd use one for any braked trailer.

Most (all?) of the breakaway battery housings are plastic now so, depending on where you mount it, add a shield over it in case you accidentally step on it. Don't ask me why I'm pointing that out.

I suggest using a good all metal plug and socket like Cole Hersee for the connection, not the crappy plastic Hoppy ones most places sell.
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  #6  
Old March 13th, 2014, 06:04 AM
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Bill Adams
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Quote:
Originally Posted by down_shift View Post
I've towed all over using U-Haul's car trailer with surge brakes without issues. Normal and quasi panic stops, you don't know it is back there. No issues backing up either. Only wish that I had a place to park a trailer as it stinks paying them ~ $240 per extended weekend.
I rent the skid steer trailer from United Rentals at $50/day
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Old March 13th, 2014, 08:26 AM
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I run the typical electric drums on my 5K car trailer. They're okay but lack flexibility even with the controller setting timing/load. If I were going to upgrade I'd look hard at electric/hydraulic with disc brakes. With a really good controller it would be the best setup IMHO. The downside is the approximate $1k investment.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 05:37 AM
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Tom Rowe
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The Tekonhsa P3 works with electric/hydraulic for people who want to run those.
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Tom Rowe
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Four wheel drive allows you to get stuck
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  #9  
Old March 14th, 2014, 06:39 AM
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I use the Tekonhsa on everything except the Rovers, and they only pull the trailer with surge. Why add more electrics to a Rover???
In fact, I have a couple Defender plugs if you decide to go that way.
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  #10  
Old March 14th, 2014, 08:25 AM
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John B.
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For off road and even steep gravel roads, surge is better as you are engine braking a lot.
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  #11  
Old March 14th, 2014, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o2batsea View Post
I rent the skid steer trailer from United Rentals at $50/day
My neighbor has one for his CUT that I could borrow, but my car is 2-3" off the street. It would be an episode of the Beverly Hill Billies blocking and extending the ramps out another 10' or so. That is a nightmare to do and a disaster waiting to happen, even with the hitch jacked all the way up.
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  #12  
Old March 14th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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Bill Adams
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Yah well, you are moving your race car I assume. Renting isn't a bad thing, but the clock starts ticking the minute they hook it up. If you want to, say, bring your cab tractor/backhoe home for the weekend to do a little gardening or what, it is kind of a bite in the butt to have to haul ass over the Bay Bridge, load up and come back in a day.
Now the other possibility is to take one of my trailers (4 boat, all but one of which have vessels on them) and repurpose it by building a deck on it. That means buying some steel and wood and doing some refurb. The "big" trailer is a 10K torsion axle roller boat trailer that has 4x6 box tube frame rails. I'd have to widen the rails, which is doable as the whole thing is bolted together.
Hmmm...
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  #13  
Old March 14th, 2014, 10:51 AM
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Having the Electric brake controller also gives you the capability of locking the trailer ( in a fishtail situation ) while applying power to the towing vehicle.

Also for the boat, my trailer with surge brakes has a stopper that you place on the actuator shaft and you can back up all you want as it stops the brakes from operating.

And I have the electric controller on the LR3, simple plug and play for the P3 with a Ford F-150 harness ( 1 min job ) .
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