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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 01-27-2013
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Trailer Brakes

I just bought a 1987 O'Day 222. I'd like to install brakes on the trailer. I underestand I need a receiving bracket on the axel and I don't know now if the axel has that. In N.Y. the DOE regulations state that trailers over 3000# need brakes. The O'day 222 with trailer is about 3000#. I wonder why the trailers don't come from the manufacturer with brakes. I have three questions:
1. Should I go with electric or hydraulic surge brakes?
2. Could I bring the trailer to my normal auto-mechanic or is there a special type of company that does these things..like a trailer sales place?
3. I think I could do the installation myself. Has anyone ever tried to install brakes on trailer that has never had them.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old 01-27-2013
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Re: Trailer Brakes

I would go with electric brakes , much easier to install , usually just changing/adding backing plates & drums and run some wires and a back up battery . Most trucks are already wired to accept a brake controller .

Surge brakes have that funny feel, that I never cared for, like getting hit in the rear when you are stopping. also there was some confusion about how legal surge brakes were this site should clear that up.
Centreville Trailers Surge Brakes New Federal Ruling
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Old 01-27-2013
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Re: Trailer Brakes

"MOST" boat trailers use surge, as they can go in the water, Electric generally speaking can not. Altho there are a few that can. Like the above poster, I prefer electric also. But properly setup, surge does work well. BUT, surge depends upon a strong braking TV to slow initially, then the trailer pushes a shock absorber for lack of better term, which then makes the brakes work. This is a hydraulic system vs electric.

Best might be an electric over hydraulic disk. I have not used one of these, but I have seen reviews of folks that like them

I have installed electric brakes on a trailer, replaced shoes etc, not a hard job. You need a square backing plate on the axle with 4 bolt holes in the corners. if you have this, you can install brakes. Parts can be found at most trailer supply places, possibly even a NAPA or equal. Figure the better part of a day to do this. I also have found, while legal to tow 3000 lbs in my state unbraked, it was a lot nicer being braked, and the brakes on my trucks lasted longer.

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Re: Trailer Brakes

1. Electric brakes are better from a driving standpoint as the other posters have pointed out. The trick is needing to get ones that can be immersed. Hydraulic brakes would be fine on your relatively lightweight trailer provided that you have a reasonably good tow vehicle. What are you using? One thing about hydraulic surge brakes is that they make it really hard to back a trailer up a hill so make sure that your parking space for your boat doesn't require this. Obviously, going down a boat ramp is just fine.

2. I don't know about bringing it to your auto mechanic but many trailer places can handle this type of install. I actually used to tow a trailer a lot that was built by the local trailer place.

3. You can absolutely do this yourself provided that your axle has the mounting brackets. If not, you need to weld some on or swap axles. Probably the easiest thing to do would be to bring it to a local welder. Give yourself plenty of time, the install is not that hard but you always seem to hit a hangup such as a frozen bolt.
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Re: Trailer Brakes

Best to have very good brakes on the tow vehicle. While its been a very long time since we've had a trailer, the surge brakes seemed pretty marginal, whether required or not.
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Old 01-27-2013
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Re: Trailer Brakes

We had surge brakes and they are simple if maintained properly, such as fluid and shoe adjustment. It was, however, somewhat hard to tell exactly how hard they were braking although we never had our towing vehicles brakes heat up. Ours had an interlock lever that allowed you to back up a hill with no problem. After the expense of retrofitting brakes,
which may or may not be compatible with the trailer's design, you might want to explore the possibility of a new or used trailer properly equipped with brakes. If you retrofit, a trailer manufacturer might be a good source for parts and fabrication. Also, I have read NOT to use surge brakes if you have a load equalizing hitch

Paul T
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Re: Trailer Brakes

I currently own four boats on trailers. One doesn't have brakes, the other three braking systems are in various stages of needing repair. I have tried waterproof electric, I have used surge, and standard electric. Frankly I have never had a set of trailer brakes last more than about a year no matter what I do. So I have just given up. I got a larger tow vehicle, rebuilt the braking system to oversize it, and took all the brakes off the trailers. Unless you are never going to ramp launch the boat, I don't think any braking system is going to last long term (and yes I know someone here will have a set that has worked for them).

My heaviest towed boat btw is 5,500lbs including trailer.
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Re: Trailer Brakes

As mentioned above, I used surge brakes, same trailer, for over 20 years including salt water. Although there was some wear on the shoes I never had to replace them. I would test the linkage from time to time by putting blocks behind the wheels and have my wife put the car in reverse. It didn't take much effort to have the linkage go through its travel.
It was hard to tell how much they were working but it seemed like I never had to get on the car brakes any harder than normal. They also help to keep the trailer behind the car in slippery or icy conditions.

Paul T
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Old 01-27-2013
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Re: Trailer Brakes

Forgot this, had surge brakes on two boats, one was total boat and trailer weight of about 5,500 lbs, the other, about 2,500 lbs. They both worked the same, you just were not aware they were working although braking on the car or truck was as if the boat was not there.

Paul T
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