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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Location: Inverary, Ontario - Cuddy Sport (modified)
Looking for an opinion on whether to use brakes on both axles of a tandem trailer - pro/con etc.

The trailer in question is a home-made, Glen-L design, 5000 series (so max 5000 lbs boat/trailer) that will be towed by a GMC 1500/Sierra.

In order to "make it legal" I'm required to have brakes on one axle. This will be accomplished with a set of Kodiac hydraulic disc's. Since the price was excellent ($105), I picked up a second set, initially thinking it would just give me a full set of "spare parts", but am now see-sawing back and forth as to whether it would be beneficial to add brakes to the second axle.

This boat will very very rarely be towed more than 10 miles (16 kms). The launches on Lake Ontario or the Rideau Canal system are located within that radius and are accessed via "country roads", paved with very light traffic.

However, I'm still leaning towards "throw them on" for the odd time that I may travel distances, through cities with heavy traffic and drivers that figure "I can cut him off, he will stop in time".

Looking for thoughts...

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:04 pm 
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galamb wrote:
However, I'm still leaning towards "throw them on" for the odd time that I may travel distances, through cities with heavy traffic and drivers that figure "I can cut him off, he will stop in time"....


Absolutely!! You can never have too much braking. Well, that's not counting those times when a panic stop will send up tire smoke from all 4 tires on the trailer! But when I was running my landscape biz and towing tandem axled trailers everday, it was actually reassuring to see that tire smoke when some IDIOT would pull right out in front of me oblivious to everything in the entire world except his cell phone conversation. Also, that tire smoke would send a loud message to the OTHER cell phone talking idiot that had been following me way too closely for the previous 5 miles. Trust me! When the moron on the phone, that's following too closely, sees sudden brake lights and tire smoke, he will pee his pants if he's too close.

Ok, but now for the opinion. IMHO, if you're going to have 2 axles to begin with, you should always have brakes on both. The price is just not worth saving over the gains that you would give up if you didn't have those brakes. There are many times when folks don't necessarily stop to think how much full braking can help. One huge place would when backing down a slippery launch ramp. I don't know exactly why it works this way but for some reason, anytime you back a trailer down a slippery surface, the tow vehicle's brakes just lose all traction at the front wheels and only the vehicle's rear wheels have any kind of control UNLESS you also have trailer brakes. But so often, brakes on one axle will only give you marginal braking.

Also, you'll be glad you've got extra braking when it rains, .... or snows, .... or when you're running down the road at highway speeds and you pull off into a market or gas station and you suddenly find that it's not paved but graveled instead. YEEHAW! You're suddenly a passenger and NOT the driver.

Oh yeah, trust me. Get brakes on both axles. You'll thank me one day. I hope this helps.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:10 pm 
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Dave,
He said he was building hydraulic disc brakes. when you mentioned backing down a slippery ramp and actuating the trailer brakes to assist the towing vehicle, were you speaking of hyd brakes or electric?

I got Kodiac disc on my trailer and mine are hyd surge brakes. I cannot actuate them backing down a ramp.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:39 pm 
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From personal experience. Brakes on the trailer are a must.

The brakes are my trailer are hydraulic and activate a little faster than the truck. I don't even know it is back there when I come to a stop.

I had an experience with a tandem axle 16" utility trailer that had no brakes. I had to come to a sudden stop at an intersection with it carrying a load. It pushed me thru the lights and loaded my truck inside 2 ton panel truck. So NO way, will I haul a trailer without brakes again.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:48 pm 
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Location: Inverary, Ontario - Cuddy Sport (modified)
Thanks Dave G, I really was leaning to adding the second set of brakes after I had picked them up - mostly for the "just incase factor". But yes, as Kens notes these will be hydraulic surge, so no good when backing down the ramp anyhow (I did alot of back and forth on the brake type before I decided on these in the first place, knowing that they would be useless on the ramp).

However, on that note, this being my "big boat" the few launches I intend to use are excellent and have been built for launching some of the really big rigs that run on the Great Lakes - concrete, low grades, excellent traction (not the typical "cleared out spot" on the shoreline where I launch my 14 footer). I was really thinking more of when "that moron" pulls in front of you then remembers he want to turn "here" and slams on the brakes, but weighing that against if/when I may actually need the second set and the "if it isn't there it can't break and need replacing" mentality.

But I guess, if there is even one time they would be needed to stop my combined 9000 pounds of truck/trailer and boat from "running over" a Volkswagon Beetle, there's really no pro/con's to consider :)

And Dave, there was always going to be brakes on one axle - required by law in Ontario (and quite a few States) for trailers with a gross weight of 3500lbs (give or take) or greater - was just "waffling" on whether to put brakes on both axles or not.

Thanks guys - just reinforcing what I already knew in the first place..

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:00 pm 
Graham,
I have experience with Kodiak single axle disc brakes on my tandem axle trailer.

21'WAC, 150 Optimax,aluminum trailer I figured 4500LBS fully loaded with fuel water and camping gear,being pulled by a 5,000 rated Isuzu Trooper that weighs in at 4,500 Lbs.

I have them on the front axle only,and never had a problem stopping.....even stops better than just the Trooper with no boat/trailer behind.

I changed over to Tie Down engineering brakes cause they were cheaper to replace the whole set-up than Kodiak (long story,don't let them sell you lifetime replacement car brake pads cause its the same pad :roll: :? )

The Tie Downs suck!!!I've thrown the center caps off on a 400 mile trip,and they don't stop as well.

I will be going back to the Kodiaks,but will just stick with one axle at this weight.

Also,in a disc brake set-up,you can not back up unless you have a lock out solenoid or a pin to de-activate the trailer brakes,so you have no brakes when backing down a ramp.If you haven't done so,I suggest the solenoid hooked into your brake light circuit to lock out the brakes in reverse instead of just pinning.They sell a different brake actuator/coupler for disc brakes that has this.

There were times in maneuvering that I needed to get out and throw in the pin,and this could be bad if you need to back up suddenly to avoid something,like someone backing out in front of you!!

So my advice would be to install on one axle,try it and see if you think you need the second axle....it's not much to hook the second one up if needed,just a few extra fittings and hoses.

PS,from a professional driver...if your brakes are locked up and smoking,you have less braking than when the wheels are still rolling with brakes on....this has been demonstrated to me in my extensive training and re-training over the years.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:48 pm 
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Location: Nashville, Tn.
kens wrote:
Dave,
He said he was building hydraulic disc brakes. when you mentioned backing down a slippery ramp and actuating the trailer brakes to assist the towing vehicle, were you speaking of hyd brakes or electric?

I got Kodiac disc on my trailer and mine are hyd surge brakes. I cannot actuate them backing down a ramp.



OOPS, MY BAD!! I left something out.

When I was posting the previous reply, I was thinking in terms of hydraulic brakes. If they're electric, they're going to be drum brakes. But also, I was thinking of a converter box to use hydraulic brakes with an electric control box in the tow vehicle. Here's the link:

http://www.redneck-trailer.com/2009/L/L11-L12.pdf

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:17 am 
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Location: Inverary, Ontario - Cuddy Sport (modified)
Just so we are all on the same page here, this is my intended set-up (have the parts already purchased) -

Using hydraulic disc's - Kodiac 10" - initially bought a single axle set to meet compliance requirements in my Province.

Got a deal on a second set ($105) from a dealer "going out of business" - initially intended just to use them as a complete set of "spare parts".

The coupler is a Titan with the lock-out solenoid - will be powered by the back-up lights in a 6 wire harness.

Best estimate at this point for total weight - trailer carrying rigged boat - 4500 lbs max

The trailer will be 27' long, tandem with 14" wheels and have a max gross weight of 5400 lbs.

My truck (2006 GMC 1500 - 6200 lb towing capacity) is rated for an "additional" 3000 lbs of "stopping capacity" in addition to it's own weight (about 4200 lbs).

So now I'm almost back to where I started - one strong vote "for" and one "against" :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:27 am 
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My trailer is rated for 28' boat. Double axle Kodiak surge brakes. I could have used a shorter trailer since my boat is 24'8", but the extra length lets the boat float off and the truck still up on the ramp.
The only thing I wish was different was install stainless brake discs. Steel disc rust fast after they get used.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:40 am 
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upspirate wrote:
PS,from a professional driver...if your brakes are locked up and smoking,you have less braking than when the wheels are still rolling with brakes on....


I agree. However, with most trailers that have variable loads, you can't always know if the weight distribution is going to be even. ...or for that matter, if it isn't going to shift under braking. While smoking tires don't stop like tires do that are maintaining traction, there's is still a lot more going on than an axle with no brakes at all. Also, I found that when I had a properly loaded trailer and all wheels were braking correctly, there were many times when braking the truck and the fully loaded trailer, I could stop in shorter distances than with the empty truck alone. That's how much a good set of trailer brakes added to the safety margin.

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