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[RC] trailer brakes - Dawn Simas

<<I didn't hit the brakes, but I did take my foot off the gas, slowing us down...
...with surge brakes, using just the trailer brakes wouldn't have been an option,...
...Whatever I did - it worked, and things settled down >>
 
You actually did apply the trailer brakes alone and that may be what worked for you.  You inadvertantly applied the surge brakes by slowing the inertia of the tow vehicle.
 
This is how Brenderup brakes work and I love them.  They apply when necessary, quicker than our own reaction time can hit our pedal with a foot or the controller with our hand.
 
Brenderups also canter and camber all four wheels on their trailers, which generally prevents fishtailing entirely.  Other trailers don't and their wheels are mounted straight and they want to go in whatever direction they are pointed.  In a fishtail, they are pointed left (by the wind or a dip in the road)...then the hitch won't allow it...so they swing right...and the hitch won't allow it...left...right. This is why they eventually just overtake the vehicle and outmuscle the hitch with enough weight inertia.  Cantering and cambering causes the trailer wheels to always track straight and centered. 
 
:)  Dawn