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Old 04-01-2023, 05:14 PM   #1
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Tow vehicle brake controller setting

Hi folks, mind if I bounce something off of you? I have a 2020 North Point 377RLBH and a 2021 Ford F-350 SuperDuty dually tow vehicle. The 377RLBH has about 6500 miles of road travel on it. Today I repacked the 4 bearings (first time it's even been done as far as I know) using the Dexter EZ-Lube bearing system. Anyway, two wheels had a hard time spinning freely (or spinning at all) and the brakes were grinding like crazy. I called a mobile mechanic out and he's telling me my tow vehicle brake controller setting is way too high (I have it set at "8"). I just ordered 2 sets of Dexter 7000lb Nev-R-Adjust drum brakes and will have the guy swap them out for me next weekend.

So the question: Would a high brake controller setting lead to brakes grinding and freezing up like that? And more importantly, does anyone have a recommendation for the brake setting? I'm guessing I could just lower it to 6 and see what happens... ha!

Thanks, I appreciate any advice!
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Old 04-01-2023, 05:59 PM   #2
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First, how did lining wear on all the brakes compare? Brakes have some drag so you will hear some noise when you spin them. Those brakes are self adjusting so perhaps an adjuster isn’t working right (or on the wrong side of the camper-there are lefts and rights). If you ordered loaded backing plates that should be taken care of. If your controller is set too high I think you’d feel it. For what it’s worth I ran 6-7 on our 2020 F350 pulling our Eagle
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Old 04-02-2023, 11:21 AM   #3
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So that’s a great question. The guy came out and only listened to the grinding noise without actually taking the wheels off and looking. Needless to say, I’m starting to question his abilities. I’m just going to swap them all out to be safe then lower the brake controller to 6 and give myself extra stopping space, just to see. Sorry for the silly post/question. Anything tire/brake related concerns me a bit due to their importance. Ha!
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Old 04-02-2023, 02:16 PM   #4
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Iím towing a 2016 Pinnacle weighing in at 16,000 lbs with a 2009 F450 dually. I have my break controller set at 9.
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Old 04-02-2023, 02:29 PM   #5
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Iím towing a 2016 Pinnacle weighing in at 16,000 lbs with a 2009 F450 dually. I have my break controller set at 9.
InterestingÖ Now I donít feel so bad for having mine set at 8 then. Iíll just swap out the brakes, keep it at 8, and check them after my 1,000 mile drive coming up. Thanks for weighing-in (no pun intended).
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Old 04-02-2023, 03:56 PM   #6
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Just me but 8 seems high. I have never had a brake controller that needed much over 5 if that.



Setting the controller is not difficult and just setting it and walking away is not the procedure.



This process is set out with most controller instructions but find a straight strip of road or a big parking lot. Set the controller to 5 to start. Get up to 20mph and hit the controller lever. If the brakes lock, back off and try it again until the brakes stop you (not the truck brakes the trailer brakes). You can leave it there or back off a half notch or so so that the trailer brakes are helping the truck but not over controlling the truck brakes.



So bottom line is if your truck brakes are not being used, the trailer brakes should not be engaged, at all. If the brakes on the trailer are dragging all by them selves, they need adjustment before you even start trying to set the controller.
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Old 04-02-2023, 04:14 PM   #7
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Did you actually repack the bearings? Repacking the bearings is removing them from the hubs, cleaning all the old grease out and then putting new grease in. Doing that you can see every part of the brake system and see what is worn. Sounds like you didn’t do that, but just pumped some grease in with a grease gun and are now just throwing new parts on without finding out what or if you have a problem.
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Old 04-03-2023, 11:01 AM   #8
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This process is set out with most controller instructions but find a straight strip of road or a big parking lot. Set the controller to 5 to start. Get up to 20mph and hit the controller lever. If the brakes lock, back off and try it again until the brakes stop you (not the truck brakes the trailer brakes). You can leave it there or back off a half notch or so so that the trailer brakes are helping the truck but not over controlling the truck brakes.
.
I don't believe I've ever taken the time to run through this procedure. I bought the the RV and truck at the same time and just hit the road. Stupid, I realize. Before I head out again, I'll try to find an open spot and try this out. I really appreciate the advice! Thanks so much!
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Old 04-03-2023, 11:05 AM   #9
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Did you actually repack the bearings? Repacking the bearings is removing them from the hubs, cleaning all the old grease out and then putting new grease in. Doing that you can see every part of the brake system and see what is worn. Sounds like you didnít do that, but just pumped some grease in with a grease gun and are now just throwing new parts on without finding out what or if you have a problem.
I hesitated to even type "repacked" because I definitely didn't do that; You're absolutely right. I just pumped in new grease and scooped out the old. I can't easily take my RV to a dealer or service center (I live in it full-time) so I just opted to call a mobile repair guy. That's why I was curious because he immediately said I had the brake controller too high without even taking the wheels off. I was thinking "Really...??" I've already ordered replacement brakes so I guess I'll have him swap those out but it sounds like I *really* need to just take it in to a shop and have a professional do it.
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Old 04-03-2023, 12:22 PM   #10
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I'd agree that its set too high. But also I'd say what CAG said about the need for adjustment is something you should consider. Two of them should not spin differently than the other two. It sounds like all four need adjusting. All four should behave the same way. They should be adjusted so that each one spins freely but have a little bit of resistance. And not spin so freely that they are still spinning 30 seconds later. There are videos out there about how to do it. I don't think you need new brakes. 6500 miles is not a lot on them.

Then follow the brake controller setting procedure.
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Old 04-03-2023, 12:31 PM   #11
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I'd agree that its set too high. But also I'd say what CAG said about the need for adjustment is something you should consider. Two of them should not spin differently than the other two. It sounds like all four need adjusting. All four should behave the same way. They should be adjusted so that each one spins freely but have a little bit of resistance. And not spin so freely that they are still spinning 30 seconds later. There are videos out there about how to do it. I don't think you need new brakes. 6500 miles is not a lot on them.

Then follow the brake controller setting procedure.
I appreciate the follow-up, DocBrown. The rear two tires (the ones on the back axel) are the ones grinding really badly; The two on the front axel are as smooth as can be (spinning). After I get the brakes replaced on the back, I was thinking about pulling the emergency break-away cord to make sure all 4 are engaging properly.

I sincerely appreciate all the support and guidance. I consider you all to be a group of experts and truly respect your advice. I bought this setup a year ago from a dude and haven't had any formal training on how to operate and maintain it. I'm learning by trial and error, I suppose.
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Old 04-03-2023, 07:25 PM   #12
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I don't know about others, but I test my brake controller setting each time I travel by driving on a gravel road and using the manual control level. CAG explained the procedure and that is the one I follow. In the 5 years we've owned our trailer I've had to adjust the brake controller twice. Both times after the trailer had set for a few months and always returned to the same setting.
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Old 04-04-2023, 06:05 AM   #13
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Pulling a 2021 NP 377RLBH with a 3500 Duramax Dually. On dry roads, I typically run my gain around 8, will usually cut it back on rainy/wet roads, sometimes as low as 5.

If your gain is set too high, you'll feel/hear it when your trailer brakes grab. The 377 is a heavy trailer and it's hard to lock up your brakes on dry roads (we'll see if that changes when I add hydraulic discs).

Have you done a pull test in your driveway? (Hold the brake control lever all the way, and give it a little throttle). That will let you know if your brakes are capable of holding the truck back.

Follow CAG's directions on how to set your gain.
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Old 04-04-2023, 07:00 AM   #14
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Pulling a 2021 NP 377RLBH with a 3500 Duramax Dually. On dry roads, I typically run my gain around 8, will usually cut it back on rainy/wet roads, sometimes as low as 5.

If your gain is set too high, you'll feel/hear it when your trailer brakes grab. The 377 is a heavy trailer and it's hard to lock up your brakes on dry roads (we'll see if that changes when I add hydraulic discs).

Have you done a pull test in your driveway? (Hold the brake control lever all the way, and give it a little throttle). That will let you know if your brakes are capable of holding the truck back.

Follow CAG's directions on how to set your gain.
Hi John,

I never have really heard or felt when the trailer brakes grab... Once or twice I've had to squeeze the brake controller lever in an "Oh sh!t!!" moment to stop suddenly (traffic) but even then, I could only barely feel slight added assistance from the trailer brakes.

I've never done a pull test in a driveway but when we leave our current RV park in Florida in a month or two, I'll try to do that before pulling out of the park.

Since both of my back wheels are doing the grinding and the front two spin as smooth as a baby's butt, I'm wondering if the front two brakes aren't working (?). The next time I jack up the RV, I'll yank the emergency brake cord by the hitch and see if they all 4 lock up. I'm not sure how else to troubleshoot it. ha!

Thanks for the feedback/advice! I appreciate it.

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Old 04-04-2023, 07:25 AM   #15
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If you have to run a high amount of gain on your brake controller, there is a possibility that your brakes need adjusting. Keeping your brakes adjusted properly if you don’t have automatic adjusters, or even if you do is important. Even automatic adjusters need checking to make sure that they are working properly.
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Old 04-04-2023, 07:32 AM   #16
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If you have to run a high amount of gain on your brake controller, there is a possibility that your brakes need adjusting. Keeping your brakes adjusted properly if you donít have automatic adjusters, or even if you do is important. Even automatic adjusters need checking to make sure that they are working properly.
Interesting... I'll read through the Dexter service manual and see if it tells how to check adjustments. I ordered replacement "Nev-R-Adjust" brakes so I had *assumed* those would adjust themselves but again, I know nothing about brakes (only when they don't work - ha!).
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Old 04-04-2023, 02:40 PM   #17
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I hear what everyone is saying about why setting the controller to a high gain. With my TT weighing in at 10,000 lbs I never set my gain higher than 5. However, with the FW at 16,000 lbs. I am usually sitting at a gain of 8 or 9. I test the break controller every time I roll out of the storage lot. At about 5mph on pavement, I give the controller a squeeze and feel the tug. I donít think between the weight of the FW and the F450 the trailer brakes alone are ever going to stop the rig. To be honest I prefer the trailer breaks to not lock up. I want the trailer breaks to help slow me down. If the lock up, you risk damaging the tires.
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Old 04-04-2023, 02:50 PM   #18
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I appreciate all the replies, advice, and information. I'll be driving from Melbourne, FL to Baltimore in a month and just don't want my home-on-wheels to crash and burn (including me with it!) ha! I'm not an engineer but I imagine the tires and brakes are pretty damned important for safety. I just want to make it there in one piece and without causing an accident. So again, thanks for the advice. I'll try testing out the brake controller before I hit the road and hope for the best, I suppose.
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Old 04-04-2023, 04:16 PM   #19
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Good thread. Iíve never done the 20mph thing, but Iíll try it out. Just 5-10mph as I drove through my storage area when I pick it up to make sure it work, and occasionally at a stop light to see if it holds me in place(with no one in front of me). May have it set too low.
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Old 04-05-2023, 06:06 AM   #20
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To be honest I prefer the trailer breaks to not lock up. I want the trailer breaks to help slow me down. If the lock up, you risk damaging the tires.
Nor do I. But they will on wet roads, which is why I reduce the gain.

They'll lock the brakes up on all conditions if you forget to turn down your gain after you've hooked up to the utility trailer! No big deal, gives all the neighbors a reason to turn their heads when the tires start squealing at the stop sign.
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