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On trailer brakes

1876 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  MichaelR
Okay, we’re boaters and most of us are trailer boaters. So this time let’s talk about trailers. First and foremost, they rot. Sure, galvanized trailer frames do last and, even if they rust in places on the frame, no big deal (unless it affects the electrical continuity for the lights but that’s rare). What does cause real problems is the braking system. In short, if you get even a few years from drum brakes you’re lucky and that goes double if you’re dunking in salt water.

Sure, there’s a way of rinsing drum brakes – a plumbing of tubing to attach to a garden hose but they’re not that effective. Better than nothing yet you’re putting off the inevitable. Point is, drum brakes no matter how well they’re rinsed still hold water and that causes corrosion. To make matters worse, if the drum brakes are automotive style and aren’t made of stainless components their life is way down there.

Most of our trailers have surge brakes and they’re adequate up to about 5,000 lbs, trailer and boat weight. Over that and you’re going to need an electrical actuation system but if you’re like me having a 20-ft cuddy that’s not needed. If you have a honking great 28-footer go that route and that’s because it’s required. But we still have to get back to the effectiveness of brakes and, if they’re drums, you can have problems no matter the boat size. The alternative, having fewer problems, is stainless steel disc brakes. I switched over to them after several years of replacing drums and, so far, I have four seasons on them and they’re as new. It was well worth the cost.

If you do switch over to discs you will need to rewire the trailer somewhat (a connection to your towing vehicle’s backup lights to release the disc brake’s pads when backing up) but at Brigantine Marine Group we’ve found it’s easy peasy. However, I should point out that for some trailers the old axle may have to be replaced. That’s the down side. The upside is your trailer tracks truer when braking and you’re looking at more years of it doing that. It’s a good investment.

And I have to get back to resale: you showing your trailer has a better braking system does add to value. However the main point is if you have a more reliable trailer braking system it’s better for you and your boat enjoyment now.

One point about brakes and that’s when some idiot cuts in front of you and you have to hit the brakes hard. If your trailer brakes are not up to snuff the whole braking effort is on your tow vehicle and, while that may work, it may not. Most tow packages do include larger brakes but they’re under a great stress if the trailer’s brakes are , um. ‘limited’.

To sum this. Brake corrosion is a problem. If you have drum brakes best advice is replace them at slightest hint they’re falling down on the job (make sure the replacement components are corrosion protected) or take the alternate of stainless steel discs lasting many years.

As always, if you have a question of your trailer’s braking effectiveness. give me or Robert Bruch our CEO or Marie Holloway our parts manager a call at 604-530-2497. Better still drop into our store at 216th and Fraser and we can talk about it.

Michael Read, president, Brigantine Marine Group
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