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Author Topic: Should I hook up the trailer brakes and sway controller on my pop up?  (Read 2916 times)

rice40

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I recently purchased a Fleetwood Santa Fe pop up camper.  It weights about 1800 lbs dry and probably 2500 lbs with gear, water, batteries, etc.  I'm currently towing it with a 2002 Ford Explorer V8 with factory tow package and 7 pin round connector.  It has a hookup behind the glovebox to plug in a brake controller, so installation should be easy.  I used to have an 18' boat that weighed probably about 3000 lbs with no trailer brakes and never had a problem.  Is it worth the cost of installing a brake controller?  I see mixed reviews on what type to get.  Is it worth getting the proportional over time delayed for such a light trailer?  My tongue weight is about 350lbs so no issues there.

Next question... the trailer came with a friction sway control setup which I've never used.  I see that I can get an adapter for my drop mount for about $30-40.  Will this make a big difference and should I get it so that I can use the sway control?

Thanks for all your insight!

Gary RV_Wizard

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Assuming the trailer has brakes, hooking up the brake controller will result in shorter stopping distance. Always. Not important until that one tome when you really need it.

Sway control is probably not important on a rig that size/weight.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

UTTransplant

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  • Salt Lake City area
Agree with Gary. Also, you might want to check your state laws about towing. There are some states that require trailer brakes for anything over 1500 pounds, though for most states the limit seems to be 3000 pounds.
Pam and Kevin plus Minou and Lily (the cats) plus Lexi (the grand-dog)
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2015 Ram 2500 Diesel
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rice40

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No laws as far as I know in California that require brakes on small trailers.  Guess it would be good to have for an emergency situation.  As far as sway control, just wasn't sure if maybe pop ups sway more because of them being short and wide with small tires.  Never had an issue with other trailers but this one seems to sway easier than others for some reason.

Lowell

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I had a 89 Coleman pop-up that definitely needed sway control.  I used a friction type and it did the trick. Without the sway control, that pop-up nearly took our full size Bronco off the road.
Lowell

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4
KF7YET

Tempe, Arizona

UTTransplant

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  • Salt Lake City area
No laws as far as I know in California that require brakes on small trailers.  Guess it would be good to have for an emergency situation.  As far as sway control, just wasn't sure if maybe pop ups sway more because of them being short and wide with small tires.  Never had an issue with other trailers but this one seems to sway easier than others for some reason.
From AAA regarding California laws about trailer brakes:
"Every trailer and semitrailer manufactured after 1940 with a GVW of 6,000 lbs. or more and operated at a speed of 20 mph or more must be equipped with brakes; trailers and semitrailers built after 1966 and with a GVW of 3,000 lbs. or more must have brakes on at least 2 wheels; every trailer or semitrailer built after 1982 and equipped with air brakes must be equipped with brakes on all wheels.

Every trailer coach or camp trailer with a GVW of 1,500 lbs. or more must be equipped with brakes on at least 2 wheels."
Pam and Kevin plus Minou and Lily (the cats) plus Lexi (the grand-dog)
2014 Outdoors RV Timber Ridge 240RKS
2015 Ram 2500 Diesel
http://toobusyforwork.com

Gary RV_Wizard

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Trailers sway primarily because of inadequate tongue weight. If properly balanced, you should not need an anti-sway device for normal towing, but it's nice to have if the trailer gets whipped around by the bow wave of a passing semi or other external influence.

You seem to have the tongue weight well in hand, so I think the friction device is strictly an option. Most people don't have them adjusted tight enough to do much good anyway.  They tend to bind when backing up if fairly tight, and nobody wants to jump out of the tow vehicle to loosen the friction every time they need to back up a bit.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

rice40

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UTTransplant, I have had many trailers over the years and never knew having brakes was a requirement.  Thanks for the info!

Gary, I appreciate your feedback.  Since the adapter for the sway control is only $30-40, might as well get it since it adds some safety and I'll have my wife and 2 year old in the car. 

For the brakes, I was thinking of getting the Reese Towpower 74642, mainly based on price and the good reviews.  It's only $20 on Amazon plus the harness for another $12, I'm thinking it will add a bit of safety.  Will this be a good option or should I spend the extra money to get a proportional controller?

8Muddypaws

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I wouldn't put a timed controller on anything.  The longer you press the brake the more power it delivers to the brakes.  Exactly what you don't want in a panic stop situation.  And going down a steep descent could result in your trailer skidding, driving in traffic with one of these can be quite annoying.  You'll find yourself constantly fiddling with the power slider.

You're better off with some kind of proportional controller.  There's many kinds of controllers.  Accelerometer, pendulum, cable, and hydraulic transducers will all do a better job than a timed one.  I wouldn't trust my family's safety to a cheap no-name controller.

I'd opt for something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Tekonsha-90885-Prodigy-Electronic-Control/dp/B002YIACG8/ref=pd_sbs_auto_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1GVJQEBVP1C37K2KRXC0 

If a Tekonsha controller breaks finding a replacement on the road won't be a problem.  You'll probably never find an RV shop that doesn't carry this brand.

You might not need an additional wiring harness.  You can easily splice the controllers harness into Fords.  It probably comes with the connectors you need.  The only hard part is finding the correct wires, and there's probably a how to video specific to your vehicle on youtube.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 11:16:10 AM by 8Muddypaws »
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kdbgoat

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If you want to be more economical on the controller, Tekonsha Primus IQ will do the job for you. Not quite as nice as a Prodigy, but gets the job done. I have one and have no issues with it.
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Carl L

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No laws as far as I know in California that require brakes on small trailers.  Guess it would be good to have for an emergency situation.  As far as sway control, just wasn't sure if maybe pop ups sway more because of them being short and wide with small tires.  Never had an issue with other trailers but this one seems to sway easier than others for some reason.

From the CA DMV website:   In California, brakes are required on any trailer coach or camp trailer having a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

rice40

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Thanks everyone for the info.  Very helpful!

 

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