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[RC] Trailer brakes (was Truck questions) - Roger Rittenhouse

I have posted a number of times on this truck trailer issue.
When I drove the BIG truck MH I never really worried about the
stopping issues. Truck would stop the the whole rig without trailer

I still had the trailer brakes hooked up and working.

Now that I have this F350 and the GNLQ, I am very concerned.
The F350 has 17 inch dick brake in all 4 wheels.
The limit per the mfgr FORD,  for total combined weigh is 20,000pnd

I tested this rig with out the trailer brakes connected.
There is NO WAY this truck can stop without the
trailer brakes, it just keeps going,  but slower, it will stop
eventually  but not fast to prevent a wreck.

I keep the trailer brakes adjusted to a slight drag, You DO know they
must be adjusted manually, they are not automatic adjustors like the
The controller is very important. MOST have to be level and when I
used the older style, I set them to come on as soon as the brakes were
Most controllers use a inertia type actuator. Some use   the brake
light switch and will apply more brake voltage over time. I DO NOT
like that type.
The Inertia models will apply trailer brake voltage in proportion to
the rate of deceleration of the truck. That is the safest method.
The high line models allow for a 'pre-brake' when you first step on the
brake pedal, before you start slowing down with the truck brakes. The
trailer brakes will apply slightly ahead of the truck brakes and
before the inertia systems comes into play.

I use the Tekonsha Prodigy #90185. It is the best controller I have
used over the years. It does NOT have to be level.

Since my rig is running about 21k. I set the controller to prebrake
stage 2. I can tell the difference.

Now this engine brake thing is a bit over rated. The electronic engine
exhaust brakes take 2 to 3 seconds to react.
If you have an automatic you MUST have a  box that also locks the
transmission torque convertor to keep the engine engaged with the rear
wheels, other wise the diesel exhaust brake will do you no good at
The controllers will let the transmission unlock around 20 mph else you
stall the truck, the same as one would do with the clutch on a stick shift.

While automatics are the main choice for most of us, the 6 spd stick
offers you better control of the engine and engine brake usages.

The new FORD 5 spd auto has a built in tow mode which will use the
turbo exhaust valve (ie brake) that is on all the Ford trucks -stock.
(Diesel only)
There will be no need for an after market exhaust brake with the 2003
Ford trucks.

The exhaust brake is NOT for a panic stop, it only provides for added
braking resulting from engine back pressure while coming down long
mountains. ALL gassers do this by design. A diesel is an open air
breather, you need to close the exhaust to let the engine work against
the back pressure which will slow the truck-- as long as the transmission
is engaged with the rear end.

I put on electronic controller (built my own $50), it uses the exhaust back 
pressure valve
which is part of the turbo (stock). It works well and will slow me
down without hanging on the brakes.
There are some out there that replace the stock valve. costly.. May or
may not work better. But not worth the $800 plus price tag  and it will
void the warranty. ALL the electronic boxes that are added will use the
stock turbo exhaust valve. ( it was not designed to be used as a turbo
exhaust brake, but it works, that too may void the warranty)

Almost ALL truck GN-LQ trailer (24 ft plus) combinations - are over loaded.
It is not safe and if you get in a wreck and the investigators decide
to weigh you, you will be had, no insurance will cover you  and a big
fine as well and
found guilty of a number of traffic laws - depends on the state.
Most rigs that are over the total combined weight are also over the
mfgr GVWR posted on the door plate. THAT is a big fine if stopped.
Mine is 12,200. I was at 13,100, I try to stay at 12,100 most of the
time. Had to take out lots of junk.

To help my basic truck braking I installed an after market front brake
rotor and disc pad system that made a major improvement in my ability to
stop.  It was costly $400. A wreck is more costly, I dont need my brakes
fading or warping coming down a mountain.  That was worth much more
then the more costly exhaust brake.. it works great

Running at the mfgr maximum weight rating and combined weight rating,
these trucks are going to wear out sooner, mostly transmission ,brakes
and suspension.

I hope to move up to a F450 this year.   It has a GVWR at 17000 and
combined weight of 26000 and brakes are 19inch. It will be a much safer
truck.  If Carol would drive a bigger truck I would have small FL60. I
also need the 'truck' for my day use truck.
The F450 will be adequate.
Apologize for the long rant, but this issue has been a real concern with
me since I got this new rig... and of course concern for all you who
are also running over loaded.. not safe
GO weigh you rig next time, then drive carefully and slower?

I will be open to discuss this off line.
For those with real concerns look up more information then you care to
know (Fords) at  http://www.thedieselstop.com/
Roger                          mailto:roger@xxxxxxxxxxx

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