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DavePhelps

BRAKE CONTROLLER SETUP

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I have been feeling that my brakes could be much more assertive when braking.

 

I am using the Tekonsha P3 controller. Since this is my first experience with controllers, I have been learning on the fly. According to the setup instructions that came with the P3, by incrementally increasing the voltage from the controller to the brakes, I should eventually be able to lock the brakes up using the controller's manual control lever. Then, I am supposed to back off from that voltage for best effect. My problem is that even at the highest voltage, I cannot get the brakes to lock up. So I'm wondering if any of you have gone through this procedure and were able to lock up your brakes during the setup phase of your controllers. I have not yet taken a multimeter to the brake magnets to see if they are getting the proper voltage but I suppose that is the next thing try. Someone mentioned that some brakes are designed to never lock up and I'm wondering if the Dexter brakes are like this.   Thanks for any advice.

 

Dave


2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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Not an expert, as we have our mechanic family friend check our brakes each year.

 

I think that you should be able to lock them up, or at least be able to feel the drag on the highest setting. So, you may need to have your mechanical adjustment looked at.

 

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Properly adjusted brakes should be able to skid all four tires on dry pavement when the voltage/ gain/ power is cranked all the way up. Something is wrong and you need to fix whatever is amiss.

 

If one brake is faulty, say due to contamination from a leaking grease seal, then the other three should still lock up. You may have a wiring issue like a poor ground. Adding an additional ground wire between the trailer frame and TV can dramatically reduce or prevent brake and lighting problems. The vast majority of trailer brake and light problems are due to poor grounding, and this is the first thing to look for when things are acting strange....

 

I have not read anything here about the quality of the Oliver chassis wiring, but I expect that it is FAR better than that of the  typical Harbor Freight utility trailer or most travel trailers. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a loose or corroded connection somewhere.

 

eTrailer.com has lots of great troubleshooting articles like this one .... https://www.etrailer.com/faq-testing-trailer-brake-magnets-for-proper-function.aspx

 

Unless you have serviced them very recently, it would probably be a good idea to physically inspect and adjust all four brakes, just to establish a baseline for further troubleshooting. A decent digital multimeter with ammeter function and some advice from a knowledgeable neighbor can really help if you have an electrical problem, or just ask here.

 

BTW, the P3 is a great controller. I have one in my Ram and it works very well. It is very popular for many reasons. If you do not already have one, I _strongly_ suggest you buy one of these special Tekonsha testers, ASAP, to use for testing both the tow vehicle lighting circuits and the function of the controller.

 

41QTSYeiuPL.jpg

 

It serves as a dummy load so you can activate the features of your P3, including the manual over-ride lever. (It eliminates the No Trailer warning when the trailer is disconnected.) It may save you much time and confusion, and your wife will not yell at you for saying bad words.

 

Good luck.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Another option, if you feel the controller isn't offering enough, Dexter makes a more aggressive lining for their 12" brakes

 

From Dexter's website, if it helps.

 

BRAKES - How can I increase the aggressiveness of the 12"x2" brake?

It is not possible to put a larger magnet in the 12"x2" electric brake. However, we do offer a more aggressive lining. The lining kit number is K71-127-00.

 

http://www.dexteraxle.com/inc/sdetail/731

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Randy


One Life Live It Enjoyably


2017 F350 6.7L SRW CC LB


2015 Oliver Elite II Hull #69

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Thanks everyone.

 

John, would not a multimeter tell me everything that this tester would? I know that a multimeter is more $, but it has the advantage of telling me the voltages that are present. Don't have a meter yet, but maybe now is the time to get one. What do you think? Thanks.

 

Dave


2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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Thanks everyone. John, would not a multimeter tell me everything that this tester would? I know that a multimeter is more $, but it has the advantage of telling me the voltages that are present. Don’t have a meter yet, but maybe now is the time to get one. What do you think? Thanks. Dave

Dave, a decent multimeter with ammeter function is a must-have tool for troubleshooting, but only if you are reasonably skilled in using it. For testing the voltage of a motor or determining that a ground has high resistance it is essential. But you still have to dig it out of your toolbox, have the necessary jumper cables and adapter wires, have access to and be able to read wiring diagrams, and especially have a logical and focused mind. As I get grayer, and my eyesight gets worse, reading and thinking become more important factors.

 

The Tekonsha tester works like the cheaper LED light testers but it also allows you to verify that your controller is working correctly, by simulating the resistance load of the brake magnets. There is no other simple way to do this other than by connecting your trailer!

 

If you do connect to your trailer and the controller doesn't work, you have no idea if the problem is in the truck or the trailer.

 

If your trailer is stored off site, it means that you have to wait until you are leaving on a trip to see if things are working right. I don't think anybody wants to hang around at a storage lot trying to figure out why the brakes are dead.....

 

It takes only a minute to take the tester out of the glovebox, plug it in, and have a buddy work all the lights and the brake controller, and you can see that everything is good by observing the six LEDs and the displays on the P3 screen. Using a meter would take WAY longer and frankly is a real pain in the butt.

 

The wiring at the back of a car or truck is exposed to extremely nasty conditions, including corrosive road chemicals, and it is very common for wiring and the 7 pin connector to fail, especially if there have been non-factory mods. If your connector has a steel body, it WILL rust out and then short out the wire terminals inside. Plastic ones will not do this. If somebody made a connection using a non-waterproof splice, it WILL corrode and fail, eventually.

 

The Tekonsh tester is a great tool to give your truck a spring checkup before you leave on your first trip. Buy it and you will thank me later. Also it is a great feeling to pull it out, test somebody's lights, and then be able to tell them immediately if there is a problem and which circuit is involved. It makes you look like a wizard. ;)

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John,

 

Thanks a bunch, I'll be ordering that Tekonsha tester.

 

Dave


2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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Dave,

 

My Elite ll brakes would not lockup on full controller output either.  But now that I've towed it for another 1500 or so miles they will.  I guess they just had to break-in.

 

You probably have the 3500 lb axles, as I do, and they have the smaller brakes. Oliver is advertising the 12 inch brakes, but those come with the 5200 lb axles on later trailers.  I looked into the bigger brakes for the 3500 lb axles and could not get them.  It might be possible to switch, but it would require new drums, bearings and complete backing plates.  At least the wheel bolt pattern is the same.

 

If you think they might not all be working, try skidding them on dirt or gravel where it will be much easier to lock-up.  Bottom line is not whether the tester lights up at the bumper plug, but whether the brakes are all working and all working the same.  The plug tester won't show a bad magnet or a broken wire.  The skid test is the simplest way to see if they are all actually holding.

 

Set you controller on the max setting and give them some more miles, unless you have already done that, and see if they gradually become more aggressive, as mine did.

 

I have reduced the setting on mine now, as it was beginning to skid too easily.

 

I still wish I had the bigger brakes, but they don't seem necessary now.  Maybe one of these days I'll get an antilock setup for them as that would be the ultimate in trailer braking safety.

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John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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Raspy,

 

I have a 2015 Elite, and it has the 5200# Dexter axle. My trailer has about 4000 miles on it and I recently did a bearing repack and brake adjust (that's a different story), so I think the brakes should have worn in by now. When I picked the trailer up at Hohenwald, I could not get the brakes to lock up there either but I didn't understand enough of how they worked to bring it up, and no one asked either.  Now that I understand how they work a little better, I was hoping the brake adjust would help, but it hasn't. I also had to get a new controller as the first one was defective! Ugh, it has been a process! Since I don't own a multimeter, I can't measure the voltage arriving at the magnets while braking, which I assume should be the same, or very close to what my controller is set for. There could also be a grounding issue somewhere. That tester John mentioned does sound good, but I think I need to find a friend who has a meter to do a more thorough diagnosis. Either that or take it to a brake specialist and let them look at it. Though I'm still searching for a good RV mechanic I can trust with my Ollie.

 

Dave


2015 Oliver Elite, Hull 107


1998 Ford E-250, 5.4 liter

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Dave,

 

The 5200 lb brakes are very good brakes.  If you are getting equal but limited braking on both sides, as evidenced by neither one locking up, and if they are not pulling to one side when braking, and you can feel them actually working when manually applied, then I'd guess your controller is not doing it's job.   If they are working, and working equally, there is no need to check individual parts because you know the whole system is working.  But, you should be able to apply them manually and immediately lock them up.

 

Do a couple of common sense tests to see if you can narrow it down.

 

I suppose it's possible that you might have a bad ground and you are not getting enough current through the ball, but you could test that easily by attaching a jumper cable (the kind you jump start other cars with) temporarily from the TV frame to the trailer frame and do another test drive.

 

I'm not a big fan of those controllers as they base their output on deceleration rather than brake line pressure.  It makes them cheap to build and easy to install, but maybe not the best performance.  If yours was added, maybe it was installed with wire that is too small to carry the amperage.  If I remember correctly, the brake wire from the controller should be at least a number 10 wire.


John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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