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Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer


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  #1  
Old 06-16-2016, 10:58:30 PM
uglyblue66 uglyblue66 is offline
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Default Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

I have a tandem trailer that was built in 2005 ,can't remember the name of the company but anyway, it has a Atwood surge brake system on it. The reservoir has rust in it and no fluid.
The hitch moves and works the rod in there by hand,so I feel like the linkage and cylinder-piston is ok. But I am obviously concerned if I add fluid to it and it having rust in there,it will get in the rest of the brake system if it hasn't already. the trailer has sat for a while now and I am wanting to get the brakes fixed.

Can these things be removed,cleaned and rebuilt like a master cylinder on a pickup or car?
This is the only picture I have handy to at least show the trailer.
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2016, 11:52:14 PM
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

Surge brakes on highway use trailers are mostly in the past as most states don't allow them any more. That said yes there should be a conventional master cylinder in the hitch and it should be serviced along with the rest of the system. Closely inspect the lines feeding the wheel cylinders as they have a habit of corroding through and causing loss of fluid and total brake failure. This is one of the reasons these systems are not welcome in some states, that and the fact that in order to back up you need to manually lock out the system first.
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:44:39 AM
pegasuspinto pegasuspinto is offline
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

Surge brakes are a PITA. Electric brakes are a PITA too, but less then surge at least. If I were you, I'd consider changing them to electric. You should be able to just buy the complete backing plate assembly at a good trailer supply, and swap out the hydraulic plates. I always adjust the brakes as tight as you can easily turn the star wheel, then back them off a couple clicks at a time untill the wheel turns with no drag (if the drum is nice and straight, won't take more then 3 or 4 clicks).

Wire all the wires in parallel, with it's own ground wire, all straight back to the trailer plug, and add a breakaway switch and cable. If you have a battery on the trailer (winch?) great, if not they sell small add on batteries for that. Of course you need a brake controller in the truck as well, and while you are at it, if you don't have one, put one of the 7 way RV type plugs/sockets on your truck and trailer, as that's pretty much the new standard trailer plug. You can either weld the slide on the hitch in place, or replace it, your choice.

If you keep the surge brakes, you should pull all the wheel cylinders apart and check them as well, and flush the system out good (denatured alcohol works fine), , then blow it out with clean air. Also there should be a small shock asorber inside the hitch near the master, make sure it's still good.

Always make sure the trailer is pretty much level when towing, your picture looks good. But just a couple inches lower, your brakes will start to drag and burn up.
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Old 06-17-2016, 08:03:52 AM
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

Many times I've seen surge brake trailers with smoke coming out of the wheels on long downhills in the mountains. In many cases the tow vehicle can maintain speed without touching the brakes by down shifting etc. But the trailer weight is is leaning on the hitch and the brakes are being applied. One time a guy was pulled over and frantically getting his horses out of the trailer that was smoking pretty badly.

I also vote to changeover to electric.
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Old 06-17-2016, 08:35:26 AM
uglyblue66 uglyblue66 is offline
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

thank you.
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Old 06-17-2016, 12:28:08 PM
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

I would keep the hydraulic brakes only ditch the surge actuator and go with an electric/hydraulic one. Better than full electric brakes but might require a new compatible brake controller in the tow vehicle.
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Old 06-17-2016, 12:58:20 PM
Mitch Malcolm Mitch Malcolm is offline
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

I would sell that trailer and buy a new one with electric brakes used trailers bring good money and usually sell fast...
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Old 06-17-2016, 02:01:14 PM
pegasuspinto pegasuspinto is offline
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

I should add, the reason I said to pull the whole system down, is before it was dry and rusty, it was wet and rusty, and you wouldn't believe how fast that crap makes it around the system.
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Old 06-17-2016, 02:41:36 PM
uglyblue66 uglyblue66 is offline
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

I paid to much, 2000$, for this trailer when i bought it in 2009 and it had a optional 700 dollar wood floor on it.It was bought new in late 2005. It was like new.But that Malaysian hardwood has not survived as the guy said it would and the tires are cracked up. Shucks the tires started cracking not long after I bought it. So I am up to my ears in this thing,best thing to do is just patch it up and use it what little I need 1. I had hopes of using it alot with the F350 but the truck overheats and needs work
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Old 06-17-2016, 09:36:41 PM
butch vollmar butch vollmar is offline
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

Unless you know the heat problem is in your engine try getting the radiator cleaned first. I fought that problem for years until I had a radiator shop remove the top & bottom pans and rod out the cores. Over time the cores will get A CALICIUM build up on the inside and not let the core radiate out the heat, it doesn't take much to stop the heat transfer. If the radiator is hot from top to bottom it's not radiating off the heat. It should be hot at the top and cooler at the bottom. Mt 2cts worth. BV
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Old 06-17-2016, 10:21:35 PM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

the old radiator was not in to bad of shape but i have replaced it with the heavy duty 1/
it is the 400 M and it is a tight fit under the hood. the exhaust manifolds leak and I think that is the real cause of the problem.It got hot enough last time I towed the Model T dump truck with it it warped the power steering fluid tank
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Old 11-08-2016, 03:07:31 PM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

Our brakes on UK trailers under 3500kgs (7700#) are overrun or surge brakes.

Over that weight they have to be power brakes, usually air operated as we don't have much in the way of electric brake systems in Europe, and I don't believe that any are Type Approved over here either.

We get on OK with overrun brakes, never had a big problem with them, but we don't have much in the way of big mountains over here in the UK, so we use what we have.

Under Type Approval legislation we have to have matched braking and all wheels must be braked. Matched braking means that the trailer coupling and the braking components have to have performance certified by the parts manufacturer before they can be used.

I'm having to put our new trailer through Type Approval, the legislation came in at the end of 2012, so our 6-wheeler didn't need testing, although we used all Type Approved parts.

Peter
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Old 12-24-2016, 08:57:20 AM
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

Quote:
Originally Posted by FWurth View Post
Surge brakes on highway use trailers are mostly in the past as most states don't allow them any more.
I have a real hard time believing any of this statement. All U-HAUL tandem trailers have surge brakes and can readily be rented in any state. Boats use them as well, try submerging electric brakes in salt water and see how long that works. The military still used surge brakes in 1995 at least, I have a military trailer with them. Yes check the shock absorber attached to the master cylinder when it goes bad all kind of strange activity out of the trailer brakes. Most of these have a lockout pin to disable the brakes. A better photo of the tongue would help identify what you have. Mine uses the same master cylinder as a pre 1967 CJ 5 Jeep also commonly found on some forklifts.
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Old 12-24-2016, 09:53:31 AM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

We had a F-350 that had a heating problem and it turned out to be the heater core. The way I found that out was I broke a heater hose, so I took the good hose and bypassed the leak. It was cold in the cab and the windows frosted up but the engine stopped heating. After I got back to the shop I replaced the hoses and antifreeze. Went back out plowing, engine started heating again.
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Old 12-24-2016, 02:08:47 PM
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracy T View Post
I have a real hard time believing any of this statement. All U-HAUL tandem trailers have surge brakes and can readily be rented in any state. Boats use them as well, try submerging electric brakes in salt water and see how long that works. The military still used surge brakes in 1995 at least, I have a military trailer with them. Yes check the shock absorber attached to the master cylinder when it goes bad all kind of strange activity out of the trailer brakes. Most of these have a lockout pin to disable the brakes. A better photo of the tongue would help identify what you have. Mine uses the same master cylinder as a pre 1967 CJ 5 Jeep also commonly found on some forklifts.
Read this, its not the latest info, but there are rules
http://www.centrevilletrailer.com/ne...ederal-ruling/
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Old 12-24-2016, 05:53:15 PM
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Default Re: surge brake repair on tandem trailer

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Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
Read this, its not the latest info, but there are rules
http://www.centrevilletrailer.com/ne...ederal-ruling/
From what I gathered reading that, you are getting into commercial territory. When getting into that weight class to heck with electric or surge brakes. I WANT FULL AIR BRAKES!
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Old 12-25-2016, 12:25:23 AM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

It also refers to interstate travel, not only Commercial use. Also submersion in water is no worse than driving in heavy rain or on a salt brine treated roadway, no worse for either type of brakes. Anytime that brake units get submerged you are supposed to let the water drain out before going on the road. They all will have eventual issues and need service, wheel bearings as well. Most light boat trailers don't have any brakes for just that reason. And yes they were indeed writing tickets for surge brakes in this state, many rentals used them as they didn't need a controller. Most of the U-Haul trailers fall under the GVW requirements for needing any brakes at all. They don't have any heavy GVW units as I've ever seen as trailers go. Anything needing large units are put into their larger truck rentals.
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Old 12-25-2016, 01:00:50 AM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

U-Haul has quite a few trailers with a GVW over 3,000 pounds (the limit most states require trailer brakes). They're all surge-brake equipped trailers.

Surge brakes are not illegal, and the Govt. clarified that back in 2007.
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Old 12-25-2016, 12:37:30 PM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

IMHO, electric over hydraulic disc brakes are probably the best performing system for trailers that are too small for air brakes. The thing that keeps me from having same is that parts to install such a system cost twice as much as I paid for my trailer. So I use old fashioned electric drum brakes on my 9,999 GVW trailer and have had no significant issues with them.

Since you are probably going to have to take the axles down almost to the backing plates anyway, my suggestion is to fit electric brakes and say you are done.
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Old 12-25-2016, 12:45:29 PM
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Default Re: Surge Brake Repair on Tandem Trailer

I changed out the hydraulic brakes on my trailer to electric and never regretted it. The electrics either work or they don't. Very easy to troubleshoot too.
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