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Old 09-02-2016, 12:21 PM   #1
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Another Brake Conversion Question

I have had the tires from 1992 removed from the wheels of my 1992 Jayco Cardinal SD for cleaning and painting before new tires are mounted. New tires are needed to move it from my grandmother's place to my place. It came with surge brakes and over the years, mostly just sitting, they are toast. The fluid reservoir is rusty and cruddy. I am just going to assume the master cylinder is likewise nasty. Little hope remains for the cylinders on each wheel.

So, I am left with the decision to take it all out and switch to electric or repair the surge system.

Either way I am going to order all new brake assemblies for each wheel so I know that is good.

If I repair the surge system that means rebuilding just about everything in the actuator and make replacing the brakes lines, almost certainly the rubber hoses from the metal brake lines to each wheel.

If I change over to electric that means in addition to the new brake assemblies I will need all new drums. It is my understanding through discussions at e-trailer that my hydraulic drums will not work with electric brakes. The drums that work with my 4 on 4 wheels will require a change to a 7" x 1 and a 1/4" from 7" x 1 and 3/4". Also will need a new coupler.

Honestly we never had a problem with the surge brakes on our trips, even in the mountains, but I also understand the electric brakes require less maintenance.

Can't decide what road to take.
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Old 09-02-2016, 01:07 PM   #2
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The least expensive one. But remember that time is money too, calculate for your time. Refurbishing a surge system sounds like a LOT of work. I don't know if surge brakes are better or worse than electric; my only exposure to surge brakes has been on U-Fool trailers and they seemed to work okay. I do understand there are a few shortcomings; no emergency cutaway, and actuation issues (aggressive/delayed) when towing on steep grades.


Also, don't know the model that well, but google shows primarily pictures of a large 2-axle pup. If that's the one, I think that the better control of e-brakes might be helpful but the upgrade would be almost double the cost of upgrading a singe axle trailer.


Finally, does the pup already have a 12V electric system? Might be a benefit to add the battery if you don't already have one and you boondock a bit.
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Old 09-02-2016, 01:11 PM   #3
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The short answer is that surge brakes suck. Once you have a trailer that has electric brakes you'll know why I say this.

Having had two pop-ups with surge brakes and having to replace master cylinders on both, with all the work you already have to do just bite the bullet and get electric brakes. If the trailer is still in good shape, especially the canvas, it'd be worth it.
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Old 09-02-2016, 02:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocBrown View Post
The short answer is that surge brakes suck. Once you have a trailer that has electric brakes you'll know why I say this.

Having had two pop-ups with surge brakes and having to replace master cylinders on both, with all the work you already have to do just bite the bullet and get electric brakes. If the trailer is still in good shape, especially the canvas, it'd be worth it.
We have not camped in it since 1998, but it has been opened a few times. I am fairly confident the canvas is OK. We never put it away wet and always aired it out well after a trip. There is one corner where the sidewall on the top is rotten, but aside from that I think its all ok. I opened the door and crawled inside today and didn't get any mildew smells or see any signs of water inside. Its just dirty and dusty.

A little worried about the refrigerator and water heater. Just from the standpoint of age and non-use over so long.

Is the conversion worth it if I lose some brake surface. I will have to go from brake shoes that are 1 3/4" wide down to 1 1/4" wide.
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Old 09-02-2016, 02:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bankr63 View Post
The least expensive one. But remember that time is money too, calculate for your time. Refurbishing a surge system sounds like a LOT of work. I don't know if surge brakes are better or worse than electric; my only exposure to surge brakes has been on U-Fool trailers and they seemed to work okay. I do understand there are a few shortcomings; no emergency cutaway, and actuation issues (aggressive/delayed) when towing on steep grades.


Also, don't know the model that well, but google shows primarily pictures of a large 2-axle pup. If that's the one, I think that the better control of e-brakes might be helpful but the upgrade would be almost double the cost of upgrading a singe axle trailer.


Finally, does the pup already have a 12V electric system? Might be a benefit to add the battery if you don't already have one and you boondock a bit.

First, it does have an emergency cut away. There is a cable with a hook that attaches with a small S hook to the TV. If the trailer were to become unhooked that cable would pull out of the actuator and lock the trailer brakes up.

2nd, Yes it does have a tandem axle. I need to get my yellow pad out and run the numbers. Either way will result in the purchase of 4 new brake assemblies, one for each wheel. If I keep the surge brakes I have to rebuild the actuator and there is a cost involved there. If I switch to electric I have to buy 4 new drums.

3rd, It does have a battery and power converter. We could go two weeks on a battery with only have to recharge once. Using the lights a bit a night, run the furnace to knock off the chill, and run the water pump a little bit.
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:48 AM   #6
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If it was me, I'd convert to electric brakes. I'm fed up with the surge brake lock out and my trailer coupler already needs to be rebuilt or replaced. I've already got a brake controller on my tow vehicle, and I have a 7 pin connector on the trailer wiring.

This is something I'm considering down the road for sure.
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:17 AM   #7
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I just had the brakes on my popup changed from surge to electric last week and couldn't be happier! They work SO MUCH better. I have had so many problems with the surge brakes (including them failing twice) and the extra maintenance to keep them working properly was a huge pain. Not worth the effort!

I had electric brakes put on at the dealership for about the same cost as the maintenance was going to be (about $1k with the controller in the truck). I could tell the difference instantly when I left the dealership. I'm so much happier and confident while towing. And I never have to worry about the trailer brakes applying themselves and smoking on a long downhill grade again!
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:21 AM   #8
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Forgot to add that backing up is way easier with electric brakes. No lockout to disengage the surge brakes while backing. My driveway is uphill from the street and I would have to hit the lockout lever multiple times while backing in and blocking traffic--very stressful! My recommendation: get electric brakes!
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:36 PM   #9
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I hear a lot about problems with going downhill and smoking brakes. We went over Wolf Creek Pass, Coal Bank Pass, Molas Pass and several other smaller passes and never had a problem with the brakes overheating. I guess we were just lucky in that regard.
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