Towing using a brake controller

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2016: Towing using a brake controller
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allen banks on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 02:36 pm:

I bought a used trailer (dual axle) with electric brakes. I'm wiring my Ford ranger 4.0 V6 to hook up lights etc. The place that is doing it highly recommended a brake controller. I've never heard of these but understand now what they do. But how do you know how to adjust them? Do you simply go by feel???
Thanks!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Zibell, Huntsville, AL on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 02:45 pm:

The controller should come with an instruction manual. It will tell you how to adjust the amount of braking and delay. Yes it is by feel, but the instruction tell you how to do it. What kind of weight will you be pulling? Is it an enclosed trailer? A ranger is a little small to be a tow vehicle for a big trailer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Pawelek Brookshire, Texas on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 02:57 pm:

I own 6 trailers at the present time and have towed for over 46 years both small and large trailers. You need to adjust the trailer brakes depending on the load. On normal stops you do not want to lock up the trailer tires but on maxed out loads you want the brakes set higher up on the scale. All in all, you want the tow vehicle to stop the tow vehicle and the trailer to stop the trailer. Google "adjusting trailer brakes" and you will find a lot of information on adjustment and the proper way to balance the load on a trailer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Harris from Long Beach, CA on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 04:33 pm:

Michael is correct, but here is one more very important thing. I have a Reese controller and it has two adjustments. One is a sliding switch for loaded and unloaded when you apply the brakes at different trailer weights. The other one is for the length of time it takes to get to the power setting. You use that one to delay or advance the time it takes to apply your power setting. If you set the time lapse too short you will chirp the trailer brakes. If you set it too short you will run into the guy in front of you. Remember to load with enough tongue weight forward so the trailer doesn't swerve.

You connect your trailer and the plug and drive forward very slowly and apply only the sliding power switch by hand in order to stop the trailer while not using the foot brake. if it locks up the wheels you adjust for less power. Then drive slowly and use the foot brake to stop the trailer. If it locks up the wheels, simply adjust for less power and you are set to go. If you load or unload the trailer you will have to do that again.

You can buy a sway bar which is a friction device mounted on a steel bar. It is a good thing to have in a cross wind. Don't ask me how I know. A Model T is so light that I don't think you will require load levelers unless you are towing with a passenger car.

Long long ago ,and far away we used to hook trailer brakes to the master cylinder but that is not allowed any more so it is all electronic. They use a sneak circuit to monitor brake pedal position, action, and pressure and so if you try to use a V.O.M. to check your set-up you will get false readings.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chad Marchees _____Tax Capital, NY on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 05:06 pm:

Your definitely want a brake controller. Prodigy is one of the better ones, but they all essentially do the same thing. Some are more automatic than others, some can be switched between vehicles with little effort.

Mine is an older unit that has to be permanent mounted. It uses a swinging pendulum inside to sense the force needed to apply the set amount of electric to the brakes (this is all variable depending on how hard you stop). I have a external knob that reduces the force applied to the brakes and a manual lever that I can apply full braking if needed in an emergency.

Good luck and be safe!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 06:02 pm:

Allen
It is probably a legal requirement. If you look at the owners manual of your truck it will explain some weight limitations. A "friendly " cop can probably explain how the rules apply where you live


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roar Sand on Friday, April 15, 2016 - 07:23 pm:

Lots of good advice here, but watch out for the less expensive controllers, as they will be "time based". They will slowly apply more and more voltage to your trailer brakes depending on how long you have your foot pushing the brake pedal, instead of how hard you are pushing. You don't want one of those. Definitely get one that applies the trailer brakes proportionally to how hard you are braking!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Todd, ............Red Deer, Alberta on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 10:34 am:

Typically the maximum trailer towing capacity (trailer and load) of any vehicle is the same as the weight of the towing vehicle, depending on the hitch. You can check the trailer towing capacity of your vehicle in the owners manual or if you don't have that you can look it up online. You don't want the combined weight of the trailer and load heavier that the towing vehicle or you can have the tail wagging the dog, so to speak.
Also, the tongue weight should be 10%-15% of the loaded trailer.

(Message edited by Ken_Todd on April 16, 2016)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 11:42 am:

It depends on what you are driving as Ford built those in to their pick ups several years ago? If you wire up the ranger use a 7 wire round so you can hook to almost anything on the road!!Bud in Wheeler,Mi.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Derek Kiefer - Mantorville, MN on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 12:03 pm:

Ken, that's not accurate. For example, my half-ton truck weighs 5400lbs with me in it, and is factory rated to tow 10,400lbs.

The new Dodge diesel duallies weigh around 8000 lbs and are rated over 30,000 lbs towing capacity.

A good brake controller is the difference that makes towing that heavy safe.

My previous truck had an aftermarket time-delay type controller. No matter the setting, it never applied trailer brakes the way I wanted it to. My new truck has a factory controller that applies brakes smoothly depending on pedal pressure, and will even pulse them if the ABS is activated in slippery conditions. The difference is unbelievable.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 03:07 pm:

Yes no and none of the above? Just because the book says you can one needs to give those ratings some thought!! You can safely tow 10,400 pounds with your half ton truck but it should be on a 5th wheel hitch!! The big Dodge will haul 30,000 but i think the book will tell you only on a 5th wheel hitch.I think what Ken Todd is saying is perfectly true with a bumper hitch! I sure love our new to us 2015 F-250 crew cab!!!!!!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harold Schwendeman - Sumner,WA on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 02:27 am:

Technically, you're talking about two different "animals". There's a trailer attached to the tow vehicle with a bumper hitch, but when attached to the tow vehicle with a 5th wheel hitch, it is technically a "semi-trailer".


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 07:35 am:

I think once a year Trailer life mag rates most pickups and they rate them bumper hitch and 5th wheel.Harold,I think the term is combination? Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Pawelek Brookshire, Texas on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 09:19 am:

I think the use of the phrase "Bumper Hitch" is over used. People should only tow light dinky 8-10 foot utility trailers with trailer hitch balls that are actually connected to the rear bumper. The vast majority of pick up trucks have the receiver bolted to the frame and they are much safer at maximum weights. Here is my set up, maxed out weight wise, but safe at normal highway speeds.
F150 Tow


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 09:51 am:

Michael that is a very good picture and your right about the term bumper hitch! I think the only reason i ever use the bumper hitch term shows in your picture as where the ball is placed rather than what it's hooked to.With the short box it looks like the ball is closer to the center line of the rear axle. What is the weight of the lead and the load? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Greg Adkisson on Monday, April 18, 2016 - 10:17 am:

I just make sure the amount of pedal pressure to stop is the same with the trailer in tow as without the trailer. That way the trailer breaks account for the added weight and the truck does not get pushed...been there with a new trailer that had faulty brakes right out of the dealership, almost got pushed right off the cloverleaf(10,000# load). Don't forget to readjust brake controller when the trailer is empty or you will leave trailer rubber on the road!!


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