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Boat Trailer Brakes

Boat trailers can have either disc or drum brakes. Most trailers utilize some type of hydraulic surge braking system, where the tow vehicle's braking rate and the mass of the trailer affect the application of the trailer brakes. Brake systems also include brake actuators, pads, shoes, discs, calipers (we sell complete disc brake systems) and drums. Drum brakes are found on trailers used for smaller and lighter boats, as disc brakes generally require more line pressure to be effective. Trailers with drum brakes tend to work best with loads up to about 3000 lbs GVW.

Trailer brake components must be freqeuntly and carefully inspeacted, with worn items immediately replaced. One of the most common breakdowns that occurs to a boat trailer is in its braking system. With a well-maintained trailer brake system, you'll spend more time driving your boat to it's next destination than worrying about stopping it when you get there.

If disc brakes are used with a hydraulic surge brake coupler, It is extremely important that the residual valve (check valve) of the brake coupler be punctured or removed from the master cylinder. Failure to do so will maintain 10 to 20 lbs of hydraulic pressure on the disc brake units, and will lead to rapid brake pad wear, and possibly the failure of the brake system. It is also very important that the orifice in the tubing adapter at the rear of the master cylinder of the brake coupler be a minimum of 1/16" [ .0625 ] or larger.

A brake lock-out mechanism will be necessary for backing up when using disc brakes with a hydraulic surge brake coupler. This is most often done with a reversing solenoid valve, which when connected into the back-up lite circuit of the tow vehicle will disable the trailer brakes, allowing the vehicle to back up.

If a manual lock-out pin is used to lock out the brakes during backing-up operations, it is critical that the lock-out pin be removed from the lock-out position during forward highway use, or the trailer brakes will not operate when needed.

Be sure that the surge brake coupler will compress and telescope forward during braking and towing operations. If the brake coupler will not pull out [ telescope ] during towing operations, pressure will be maintained on the disc brakes while towing, and they will over heat during highway travel.

It is also essential that you confirm that the D.O.T. required break-away cable on the surge brake coupler is in the towing position and not in the emergency break away position while towing forward. If the break away cable is in the emergency break away position during highway travel, hydraulic pressure will be maintained on the trailer brakes and they will overheat, and may fail.

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