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#484532 - 04/27/10 09:31 PM How can you know if your surge brakes are working?
HalfScoop Offline
Vice Admiral

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Del Mar, Ca
Trailered the boat today and it didn't feel like my surge brakes were working, but I'm not sure how you can actually tell.

How do you know they are activating when you brake?

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#484534 - 04/27/10 09:37 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: HalfScoop]
SALTY_DAWG Offline
Admiral

Registered: 07/25/09
Posts: 744
Loc: Lincolnshire, IL
It's been sitting for a while if I remember correctly.

For starters you can pull off the drums and see if the rust has been worn off by the brake shoes.
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#484540 - 04/27/10 11:21 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: SALTY_DAWG]
prober Offline
Admiral

Registered: 07/10/06
Posts: 2402
Loc: Eastern Washington
When my surge brakes were working there was almost no "clunking" when I hit the brakes. There certainly was when they were not working. Also, I barely had to press the brakes any harder than when not towing.

You can get the bearings re-packed and the brakes bled and adjusted for less than $100 at Les Schwaab or most other tire stores. Have you bled them yet? You might be able to see a leak on the inside of the rim if a wheel cylinder is leaking.

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#484542 - 04/28/10 01:31 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: prober]
tennja Offline
Admiral

Registered: 06/15/05
Posts: 713
Loc: SW Ohio
If you have a reverse lock out. Start by unplugging the trailer and back up see if the trailer locks up or not.
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#484545 - 04/28/10 03:13 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: tennja]
Al Offline
Nautical Alchemist
Grand Poobah

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 14998
Loc: Vagabond Wanderer from Mich.
Or try to backup a hill.
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#484546 - 04/28/10 03:16 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: tennja]
tpenfield Offline
Admiral

Registered: 08/29/05
Posts: 2032
Loc: Cape Cod, MA
Disc surge are easy to test . . . just unplug the electrical to the trailer and try backing up. The trailer wheels should lock up. Make sure you are on a slight incline so that you are pushing the trailer uphill slightly when you back up.

Backing up does not usually work with drum brakes, because generally they are "free backing". The way I test drums is to activate the emergency lever on the coupler. Then, jack up each wheel slightly to see if it is locked up or spins freely. Then you got to release the emergency lever, when done.

Discs are way easier to test.
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#484547 - 04/28/10 03:47 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: tpenfield]
kdl Offline
Admiral

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2438
Loc: Central Mass
Try a few hard stops, then check if the drums or discs are warm.
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#484551 - 04/28/10 08:23 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: kdl]
Rocnat4 Offline
Admiral

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 2187
Drum surge brakes are a pain in the arse period. The drum cylinders in these things despite having a rubber seal eventually suck in water, rust and seize up.

If you dont feel like the brakes are working, they probably arent. If you remove the emergency actuator cover, you use a crow bar to actuate the master cylinder.

Jack up one side of the trailer and spin the wheel. You can then actuate the brakes with the bar. You'll know immediately where you stand. If they stop but slowly, you may need new brakes or an adjustment.

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#484562 - 04/28/10 02:30 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: Rocnat4]
HalfScoop Offline
Vice Admiral

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Del Mar, Ca
Thanks for the help, my trailer is pretty new (2005) but has been on the inactive list since 2008. I've got some lights on it that don't work, and I have replaced the pads.

Looks like more trailer maintenance in my future.

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#484566 - 04/28/10 02:34 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: Rocnat4]
HalfScoop Offline
Vice Admiral

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Del Mar, Ca
Thanks for the help, my trailer is pretty new (2005) but has been on the inactive list since 2008. I've got some lights on it that don't work, and I have replaced the pads.

Looks like more trailer maintenance in my future.

Hey, I just noticed that I'm now a Captain.

Guess I still have to salute most everyone here. 8-)

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#484606 - 04/28/10 07:57 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: HalfScoop]
Frantically Relaxing Offline
Admiral

Registered: 02/07/03
Posts: 10995
Never had disc brakes on a trailer, but a simple quick stop test always worked to verify for me that my drum surge brakes were working---

Either in a big empty-ish parking lot or empty-ish road, get up to about 25 mph, then do about a half a panic stop...enough to slow down real quick without locking up the wheels...

The surge brakes will take a split second to react, but if they're working right, you'll definitely notice it when they kick in.

If you notice a SLIGHT change, could be one side is working and one side isn't. If you don't notice any change, you're probably looking at some repair work...

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#484608 - 04/28/10 08:02 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: HalfScoop]
mike343 Offline
Captain

Registered: 10/03/06
Posts: 142
Loc: So Cal
Since you haven't said anything about checking the fluid level that should be done. If the master cylinder is full, then lean hard with your thigh on the brake actuator. It should move less than an inch or no more than half of the available travel. If that's OK problem is on the wheels.
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#484628 - 04/29/10 06:39 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: mike343]
DaleG Offline
Admiral

Registered: 03/23/06
Posts: 661
Loc: West Palm Beach FL
I vote for the back up without some lockout protection. When my brakes were terribly worn (another post). I still could not back up without locking up the tires if I did not do something to lock out the coupler.
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#484661 - 04/29/10 12:41 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: DaleG]
Frantically Relaxing Offline
Admiral

Registered: 02/07/03
Posts: 10995
The back-up thing only works with disc brakes. Drum surge brakes have cylinder plungers that only push the forward brake shoe, and rotational force lets the rear shoes do some work. When backing up, the reverse rotational force cause the rear shoes to move away from the drums, and there's not enough force being applied to the front shoes to do much good...

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#486972 - 05/25/10 10:44 PM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: Frantically Relaxing]
HalfScoop Offline
Vice Admiral

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Del Mar, Ca
OK, I'm sure my brakes are not working.

They are surge/disc brakes.

Where do I start? Has anyone here ever bled trailer brakes? I've done it on cars, but then you have someone in the cab pumping the pedal, how do you manage that on a trailer?

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#486993 - 05/26/10 11:21 AM Re: How can you know if your surge brakes are working? [Re: HalfScoop]
JZelt Offline
Lieutenant Commander

Registered: 07/07/09
Posts: 82
Loc: Western PA
I put the ball on the trailer without hooking it up to the truck.
We then use that as leverage.
I usually turn the wrench on the bleeder end and wife works the hitch. I will say in and she pushes while I bleed the brake, then I will say out when I have it tight so it doesn't suck air back in and she will refill the reservoir when necessary.

There are kits you can get at an auto store to hook on the bleeder side so that 1 person can just pump and not have to keep opening and closing the valve.
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2004 Supra Launch 22 SSV
5.7L 320 HP

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