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Old 07-18-2009, 12:58 PM
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Default Trailer brakes

OK, my trailer is almost ready for paint. It has brakes, but the wires are cut and there isn't a break-away controller. I'll be towing with my '05 F-250 SD which is equipped with the towing package. The previous owner of the trailer stated that it didn't have brakes. Being a frame from an old travel trailer it has brakes. Should I spend the extra time and money for brakes on a trailer that will only be hauling a few lawn mowers? I would have to buy a compatible harness and figure out the wiring and the break-away switch. I've neber messed with trailer breaks before.
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:16 PM
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A trailer that small doesn't need brakes. Just make sure the safety chains and their attach point are in good shape.
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:20 PM
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How much would you guess that the trailer weighs empty? From what you describe I do not think your truck should have any problems pulling or stopping it. I would check state laws though. I believe some require brakes if the trailer either weighs a certain amount, or is rated to haul a certain amount of weight. I don't think the local screws would bother you as far as having or not having brakes, fenders, etc. But the state boys are different animals. Here in Wisconsin you need to make sure you are up to snuff on all of your trailer equipment, truck registration (weight limit) and so on before going on state or interstate roads. The state boys are the paper pushers.
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:23 PM
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Thanks guys, I'm gonna leave it alone for now then, and just get it on the road. I guess If I feel I need them later I can always hook them up since they are there anyway.
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Old 07-18-2009, 06:06 PM
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Unless they have made vast improvements in electric trailer brakes in the last 20 years, you are about as well off w/out them. At least you know you don't have brakes rather than thinking that you do. I've pulled one trailer in my life with decent electric brakes. The others have been worthless. So, unless the law requires "brakes", then I'd nix the thought on a lightly loaded trailer. Just allow a little more distance to stop. Back in the 60s the pickups we drove lacked decent brakes themselves so sometimes stopping with a loaded trailer was somewhat of an adventure. (yeah, I'm that old)
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Old 07-18-2009, 07:03 PM
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Jim, you don't have to be that old to remember bad brakes on trucks. Just pretend that all your trucks have been really old!


That's my reasonings at least.


It's been my experience with trailer brakes that unless they're set up right, they don't work worth a poot. If they're too loose, they don't grab when you press the pedal. If they're too tight they cause extra drag on the truck and will overheat, leading to a failure somewhere else (or just smoking tires). If one side is set up right and the other isn't, the trailer will grab and try and turn sideways on ya.

My carhauler has brakes because it's required to. I don't have them hooked up most of the time and really don't need them to keep the trailer under control. Of course, everything's flat out here and you can see a long ways out to stop...
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:48 PM
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I have only pulled one trailer in my life, as well. It was a rented, tandem axle horse trailer. It had the type of brakes, activated by a master cylinder, built into the hitch. It worked, that's all I know.

I'm glad it did. There's a lot of hills and mountains in PA. All I had was, a 1/2 ton '70 Chevy pickup with a 6 banger in it. I hauled a horse for a buddie's son, down off of Haycock mountain and will NEVER do that again! More exitement than anyone needs in a lifetime.


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Old 07-18-2009, 11:53 PM
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Modern electric trailer brakes work and work well. In your case with a big truck and a small trailer, I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 07-19-2009, 11:40 AM
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Bob , check on the state laws . Here in Pa. anything over 3000lbs requires brakes and yearly inspection . If the brakes are physically there you might need it have them working as they are SAFETY equipment .
I helped a friend build a trailer for his four wheelers that used a single axle travel trailer frame as the starting point , when he went to get the road worthiness inspection done the mechanic who did it told him he could not pass it with the brakes on it , but would if we wired them up or removed the backing plate . It was easier to wire them up then to remove them . So he now has a trailer registered for 4500lbs with electric brakes , he is happy we fixed the brakes instead of removing them .
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:55 PM
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While you're checking, look at the registration rates on certain poundage trailers. My boat trailer is registered as a homebuilt, 2500lb and costs a little under $50/year to keep in tags. My carhauler is reg'd at 7001lb and costs almost $80. It's not a big expense, but it's still there. No need to pay extra every year for a weight rating when you probably will never haul more than 1500 lbs worth of lawn equipment...
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