Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Tow Vehicles: Gain setting
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Cummins12V98

on the road

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Joined: 06/03/2012

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Posted: 05/31/21 01:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That's like asking what's the best Beer. [emoticon]


2015 RAM LongHorn 3500 Dually CrewCab 4X4 CUMMINS/AISIN RearAir 385HP/865TQ 4:10's
37,800# GCVWR "Towing Beast"

"HeavyWeight" B&W RVK3600

2016 MobileSuites 39TKSB3 highly "Elited" In the stable

2007.5 Mobile Suites 36 SB3 29,000# Combined SOLD

Groover

Pulaski, TN

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Posted: 06/01/21 09:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nobody can tell you what the best setting is because every application is different. Not only that but the "best" setting can change with trailer load, truck load and brake wear. You want to adjust it so that it takes about the same amount of brake pressure to stop the truck with the trailer as it does to stop the truck without the trailer. In other words, the trailer stops itself. Even that is an elusive goal because there is no guarantee that the trailer brakes will behave the same as the truck brakes in a hard stop as they do for a moderate stop. So you basically have to set them for what you are comfortable driving with.

I don't want mine to lock up on asphalt so I generally adjust the gain so that they will just lock up on my gravel driveway. I use the knob on the trailer to test them instead of doing a full panic stop with the truck. That lets me focus more on what the trailer is doing. Most trailers come with daisy chain leaf springs to balance the load on the axles so keep in mind that this setup causes the load to shift from the front axle to the rear during braking events. That in turn leads to the front axle skidding long before the rear one does and leads you to having to make some judgement calls on the brake setting too.

Overall electric drum brakes are much better than no brakes but they are far from perfect and do require more thought in their use. One thing that they are very good for is controlling excessive trailer sway. If your trailer starts swaying too much a quick application of the trailer brakes will generally calm it down. If you find yourself doing this very often you need to work on your hitch setup or trailer loading. I have seen some accidents that could have been prevented with a manual trailer brake application.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some brake controllers disengage at very low speeds. This is fine in most cases and not even noticeable. However, I have had a few cases where I was trying make a sharp turn while going down a hill on gravel or a wet road and suddenly the trailer was pushing the truck the wrong direction. A quick manual application of the trailer brakes got things under control.

A quick summary:
Adjust them to what you are most comfortable driving with.
Be prepared to make manual interventions.
They will never work as well as your vehicle brakes so allow extra room for stops.

wanderingbob

monticeeo, fla

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Posted: 06/01/21 04:23pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The adjustment is something you will do many times as conditions change , low line voltage , corrosion on the multitude of connections in the hundred feet of electric wiring , wear on the brakes , load !

BenK

SF BayArea

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Posted: 06/01/21 06:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Note that friction material has a temp range that they work best at.

Why I test and set the gain when the trailer brakes are warmed up and test them often during the trip. After stopping and they cool down, retest and reset if needed.


-Ben Picture of my rig
1996 GMC SLT Suburban 3/4 ton K3500/7.4L/4:1/+150Kmiles orig owner...
1980 Chevy Silverado C10/long bed/"BUILT" 5.7L/3:73/1 ton helper springs/+329Kmiles, bought it from dad...
1998 Mazda B2500 (1/2 ton) pickup, 2nd owner...
Praise Dyno Brake equiped and all have "nose bleed" braking!
Previous trucks/offroaders: 40's Jeep restored in mid 60's / 69 DuneBuggy (approx +1K lb: VW pan/200hpCorvair: eng, cam, dual carb'w velocity stacks'n 18" runners, 4spd transaxle) made myself from ground up / 1970 Toyota FJ40 / 1973 K5 Blazer (2dr Tahoe, 1 ton axles front/rear, +255K miles when sold it)...
Sold the boat (looking for another): Trophy with twin 150's...
51 cylinders in household, what's yours?...

Groover

Pulaski, TN

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Posted: 06/02/21 08:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

On my old equipment trailer I had to do two or three stops each morning to get the drum brakes working and even then I wasn't very happy with them. I finally bought a new trailer with electric over hydraulic disk brakes and am much happier with them. They were expensive ($1,700 option) but well worth it on a heavy trailer. Now if they would offer 4 wheel ABS with a better modulation system we could have some real brakes.

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