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RVing message boards => Towing and towables => Topic started by: RVRAC on July 31, 2017, 12:00:13 AM

Title: Question on brake controller
Post by: RVRAC on July 31, 2017, 12:00:13 AM
I recently bought an American Dolly with the brake controller.  I am new at this and am concerned that whenever I hit the brakes it feel like a clunck or a thump like the brakes in the dolly are holding the whole thing.  I contacted the manufacturer who told me it is normal as it is time delay system.  Does this sound right?  Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: SkateBoard on July 31, 2017, 12:49:30 AM
That's normal. The electric brakes don't come on slow like you pushing on the pedal in your car. The ones on the dolly either go on or off. There is no gradual anything.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: lynnmor on July 31, 2017, 07:56:25 AM
I guess that you are talking about the dolly that carries the front wheels of a car.  The one shown on the American Car Dolly website is a basic cheap piece of timer controlled junk.  You should install a proportional controller on the tow vehicle.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: JoelP on July 31, 2017, 08:23:59 AM
Before I went to flat towing I had a proportional controller that was adjustable for the load.  It could sense if I was going up hill or downhill and braked accordingly.  When I set the sensitivity correctly it braked far better than what I have now for my flat towing.  It seems you need a better controller.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on July 31, 2017, 11:10:46 AM
Gotta agree with lynnmor - the EZ brake controller sold with the American dollies may be simple to connect up but the function is decidedly basic, neither proportional nor adjustable.  They tout "no need to adjust", but [in my opinion] that's more of a shortcoming than a feature.

So the answer to your question is probably Yes, that "sounds right" for what you have.  It is not, however, right for all brake controllers and not the "right" way to design a trailer brake system.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: RVRAC on July 31, 2017, 11:50:39 AM
Your responses affirm what I have been thinking.  I need to think about a different controller.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: KandT on July 31, 2017, 11:13:20 PM
Another thing to learn about!  This gave some basic info of the differences between time and proportional:

http://www.truckspring.com/blog/post/2015/05/09/trailer-brake-controllers

I do not know if it is as simple as swapping out controllers because the American Dolly seems to use the brake light to activate the brakes.  But again I need more education in this realm.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on August 01, 2017, 09:54:48 AM
That controller on the front of the dolly is eliminated/bypassed if you use a different controller on the tow vehicle itself, so the way it reacts to the brake light is no longer relevant.  However, whatever controller you do install will almost surely have a tie-in with the brake light switch to help manage the trailer braking in a smart way.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: KandT on August 01, 2017, 07:59:56 PM
Thanks Gary
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: tracyimc on August 12, 2017, 07:46:39 PM
Gotta agree with lynnmor - the EZ brake controller sold with the American dollies may be simple to connect up but the function is decidedly basic, neither proportional nor adjustable.  They tout "no need to adjust", but [in my opinion] that's more of a shortcoming than a feature.

So the answer to your question is probably Yes, that "sounds right" for what you have.  It is not, however, right for all brake controllers and not the "right" way to design a trailer brake system.

Exactly, you are an expert on brake controllers.
Thanks Gary
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: KandT on August 14, 2017, 12:35:21 PM
So if I were to get a proportional brake controller would the brakes be built to work with the new controller?  My guess is the controller has a rheostat in it and would simply send less voltage to the brakes which would apply less braking force.  However are some brakes built for time controllers and other brakes built for proportional controllers? 

I can't figure out how they get enough braking force out of the brake light lead so I assumed the rotation of the wheel caused some of the brake force.  Sometimes I thinks too much!
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: lynnmor on August 14, 2017, 03:18:35 PM

I can't figure out how they get enough braking force out of the brake light lead


You use the wire that comes from the controller for power to the brakes.  The brake light wire simply tells the controller to turn on and of course lights the brake lamps.  Go to eTrailer.com and watch some videos.  Then you can get the correct products and advice to complete the job.  And no, electric drum brakes all function the same.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: KandT on August 14, 2017, 04:05:59 PM
You use the wire that comes from the controller for power to the brakes.  The brake light wire simply tells the controller to turn on and of course lights the brake lamps.  Go to eTrailer.com and watch some videos.  Then you can get the correct products and advice to complete the job.  And no, electric drum brakes all function the same.

Ahhh.  Makes sense - thanks!
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: RVRAC on August 14, 2017, 10:13:24 PM
"Go to eTrailer.com and watch some videos. "

Can you point out some of the videos you are suggesting?
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: lynnmor on August 15, 2017, 07:27:57 AM
"Go to eTrailer.com and watch some videos. "

Can you point out some of the videos you are suggesting?

https://www.etrailer.com/Video-categories.aspx (https://www.etrailer.com/Video-categories.aspx)

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=webhp&source=hp&q=youtube+brake+controller&oq=youtube+brake+controller&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0j0i22i30k1.1885.12358.0.18278.25.24.0.0.0.0.250.3064.1j21j2.24.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..1.24.3046.0..35i39k1j0i131k1j0i20k1.8r0fLve27a8 (https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=webhp&source=hp&q=youtube+brake+controller&oq=youtube+brake+controller&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0j0i22i30k1.1885.12358.0.18278.25.24.0.0.0.0.250.3064.1j21j2.24.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..1.24.3046.0..35i39k1j0i131k1j0i20k1.8r0fLve27a8)
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on August 15, 2017, 08:01:10 AM
Electric trailer brakes are the same, regardless of the controller design.  Basically one wire from the controller feeds 12v current to the electric magnets in the brakes. What differs is when and how much current the controller sends
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: RVRAC on August 15, 2017, 01:23:39 PM
Thank you folks.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: RVRAC on October 17, 2017, 10:46:58 PM
I want to bring you to speed on this issue.  I installed a P3 proportional brake.  What a difference!  I drove from WI to TX and was impressed with the difference.  Worth the investment.
Title: Re: Question on brake controller
Post by: viceprice on October 18, 2017, 12:47:42 AM
We just changed to a P2 (did not need all the features of the P3). I agree with RVRAC, major improvement and worth the investment. We are much safer on the road and the braking action is much more controlled at all speeds and situations.