horsefly

Trailer brakes

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Has anyone converted their trailer from drum brakes to disc brakes. Is it worth the time and expense to do? I am towing a 20' CC and am tired of brake problems due to water laying in the drums which never seems to rinse out. Thanks for any input.

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I did it a few years ago.  Drum brakes simply do not work in saltwater.  Removing the drum brake system was a fair amount of work but ultimately it was worth the effort just for safety sake.  In my case, I am towing a 23' boat with a 7500 lb GVWR trailer that is more than likely overloaded as is.  My only suggestion is to go with stainless steel rotors as that is the weak link in the system IMHO.  The rust inhibitors on the calipers, hubs, studs and lugs are adequate.  

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My trailer originally came with drums on both axles and it was a constant headache. I switched to a single set of Kodiak stainless/dacromet disk brakes years ago and it made a big difference. The Kodiaks will still need work and maintenance, but no more locking up or worrying about stopping power. It was worth doing for me since I trailer a lot. All stainless would probably be even better.

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I am going to go with discs but I really need to decide if the trailer itself is OK. It is a 2003 Loadrite , galvanized, with rollers. I just do not want to throw good money after bad. I have been pricing new trailers and a couple of the quotes I have received have been really high, like $6600.00 for a single axle with drum brakes.  Thanks for the advice, Ted

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On 11/24/2021 at 4:10 PM, horsefly said:

Has anyone converted their trailer from drum brakes to disc brakes. Is it worth the time and expense to do? I am towing a 20' CC and am tired of brake problems due to water laying in the drums which never seems to rinse out. Thanks for any input.

yes yes and yes!

I put (? damn, can't remember) on both axles, might have gone with kodiaks if I had to do it over.  Granted, that was probably 12 or 15 years ago.

 

Couple notes:  They tell you you need a different coupler.  You can use the one you have, you will have to puncture a diaphragm.  Plenty of info out there.

 

I used stainless lines, I was told when installing that I was going to have issues getting the compression fittings to not leak, and the gent was very much correct.  Had one fitting in particular that drove me nuts for a while before it finally seated.

 

My rig probably runs around 8000# and it will stop faster than my truck probably can.  Night and day difference.  Other than a squirt with a hose, and a new set of pads when one rusted to a rotor during a particularly bad winter when that side of the boat was under repeated 4' snow drifts, they've been relatively maintenance free for a very long time now.

 

Do it and don't look back.

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On 11/30/2021 at 8:13 PM, makorider said:

yes yes and yes!

I put (? damn, can't remember) on both axles, might have gone with kodiaks if I had to do it over.  Granted, that was probably 12 or 15 years ago.

 

Couple notes:  They tell you you need a different coupler.  You can use the one you have, you will have to puncture a diaphragm.  Plenty of info out there.

 

Yes, the reverse valve actuator is another weak link in the disc brake system.  I bypass the reverse valve on the actuator when I get ready to launch with a C-Clamp to inactivate the valve when launching.   

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49 mins ago, whaler1889 said:

Yes, the reverse valve actuator is another weak link in the disc brake system.  I bypass the reverse valve on the actuator when I get ready to launch with a C-Clamp to inactivate the valve when launching.   

Yeah forgot to mention that!  I put a ball valve on the backside of the actuator, just have to remember to throw it when you roll out

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My actuator is a Tie Down. Over the years I have heard they were not the greatest, so based on that maybe I should go for a new one. Have not had any issues with it, it is just the original unit.

Do they go bad? Some of the quotes I have received include a new actuator as part of the change over.

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11 hours ago, horsefly said:

My actuator is a Tie Down. Over the years I have heard they were not the greatest, so based on that maybe I should go for a new one. Have not had any issues with it, it is just the original unit.

Do they go bad? Some of the quotes I have received include a new actuator as part of the change over.

Tie Down Engineering!!  those are the brakes I put on - couldn't remember

 

Don't fix whats not broken

 

You doing this yourself?

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Yes  I do most of my maintenance. I also have a good friend who has been an auto mechanic all his life who helps me with things I am not quite sure of. I always try not to screw something up royally by thinking I can do something beyond my comfort range. That's why I like to ask questions and get opinions from guys that have experience with what I am trying.

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13 mins ago, horsefly said:

Yes  I do most of my maintenance. I also have a good friend who has been an auto mechanic all his life who helps me with things I am not quite sure of. I always try not to screw something up royally by thinking I can do something beyond my comfort range. That's why I like to ask questions and get opinions from guys that have experience with what I am trying.

Roger, I'm in the same boat.  Got tools, got will...short on experience.  May take me 2X as long, so be it.

 

In the end, its not rocket science.

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I have a Kodiak disc brake system.  From what I remember the actuator for the disc brake system is different than the drum brake system because the disc brake pistons require more fluid volume than the drum brakes.  When I did my conversion I installed a new actuator specifically for disc brakes.

On 12/2/2021 at 7:26 PM, makorider said:

Yeah forgot to mention that!  I put a ball valve on the backside of the actuator, just have to remember to throw it when you roll out

Like that idea as the solenoid activated valve is not very reliable.

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12 mins ago, whaler1889 said:

I have a Kodiak disc brake system.  From what I remember the actuator for the disc brake system is different than the drum brake system because the disc brake pistons require more fluid volume than the drum brakes.  When I did my conversion I installed a new actuator specifically for disc brakes.

Like that idea as the solenoid activated valve is not very reliable.

Perhaps it depends on the make...I have had zero issues on a 2 axles w brakes

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With the solenoid valve, the valve is actuated when the transmission switch goes into reverse, so depending on the brake actuator position at that time, a certain amount of drag could be applied to the brakes creating undesired braking resistance which needs to be overcome when backing up.   I have found that this causes premature brake pad failure.  

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Ok the difference between a drum brake actuator and a disc brake actuator is that the drum brake unit will have a residual pressure valve that maintains 10-15 psi in the system to keep the wheel cylinders primed. Also the disc brake unit will have a larger orifice (fitting that the brake line connects to) that makes it easier for fluid to return to the master cyl to release the brakes. Then you need the back up solenoid. You can make a drum unit work if you carefully remove the residual pressure valve, add the fitting with the larger orifice and add the back up solenoid. 

If in salt water I'd think about spending the money on stainless rotors. The trailers I see around here with regular cast iron rotors look really bad as far as corrosion. 

I kept using drums on mine because for me they work well and my trailer does not go in the water much as my boat is on a mooring. I found a way to keep the wheel cyls & adjuster from seizing up and use galvanized backing plates with alu cylinders, and zinc coated drums with a flush system. The 12" units I installed when I up graded to the 6000 lb axle are easier to flush and don't hold water like the 10" units I had before. But for a trailer boater I agree discs will be less headaches. Spend the money once on the full stainless set up and be done with it. 

On mine I had the same drums on it for 17 seasons, I changed the backing plates a few times and just adjusted them once a year. 

When I changed axles here's what the 17 year old one looked like this fall: 61d09765b147f_3500lb2x2axle.jpg.f24457a2e4c3a76299c46905ee0b9387.jpg

 

What I replaced it with....

61d0979298990_6000axleanddrumbrakes.jpg.01aecd3156c91e07b7932f05fd2ee8ac.jpg

12" vs 10" drum brakes...

61d097aaacbfd_12inchdrumbrakesversus10inch(2).jpg.9429200a3f3a8f711187901b63ec01d2.jpg

Edited by LouC

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