Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Boat trailers and trailering

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Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:07 pm
Location: Marissa, IL

Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Post by raymacke »

About 100 miles from home on a return trip from Kentucky Lake a car came up beside me on the Interstate and shouted that by wheels were smoking! Looking in the mirrors I could see nothing unusual but pulled to the shoulder to take a look. As soon as I stopped smoke rolled from behind all four tires! Yea, I had a problem. I messed with it a little but decided I needed to get off the Interstate shoulder - the vehicles whistling by at 70+ mph was more than a little distracting (actually down right scary). Two miles away was an exit ramp so I made my way there.

Once there I could better investigate. Backing up without the bypass would lock the brakes but pulling forward would only partially release them. I jacked up one axle to confirm it was still dragging. Why this was happening I could not figure out and no amount of messing was helping. PLUS it was 95 degrees with 65% humidity and full sun - if I didn't get hit by a semi I would probably have a heat stroke. :shock: So I made the decision to open a brake line an dump the pressure. That worked so I re-tightened the fitting but as soon as the brake was activated it would hang again. Only choice was to leave the line open and tow home with no brakes on the 8300 lbs of trailer. Not ideal but I was very careful and got home with no problems.

So what was the problem? Disassembling the surge brake I discovered that mice had decided to take up residence. There was a nest of trash and acorn shells filling the entire inner void of the housing. They had ate through the actuator dust boot and packed in enough junk it was jamming the mechanism. Not to mention they wizzed all over and cause serious rusting. None of this was invisible from the outside. To repair I decided it best to replace the master cylinder. Fortunately the rotors weren't damaged but the pads were about 50% to 75% gone so they were all replaced while I had all four wheels off the ground. About $160 covered the damage.

But how to prevent a re-occurrence? I decided I could cover the rear of the unit with wire mesh and hopefully block access. I has some aluminum gutter guard sitting around and it is easy to work with bend around the protrusions. Attached it with some screws - hope it works.

The first photo is the overall unit and nest was in the center around were the two large pins are held by cotter pins.

The second photo is the destroyed boot

The third is the aluminum mesh attached in place.
So Many Rivers,
So Little Time....

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Bill Edmundson
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Location: Birmingham, AL, USA

Re: Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Post by Bill Edmundson »


Glad you made it home. Overall not a bad fix. It might have been if the guy hadn't flagged you. I hadn't thought of that problem :lol: .

Mini -Tug, KH Tahoe 19 & Bartender 24 - There can be no miracle recoveries without first screwing up.
Tahoe 19 Build

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Re: Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Post by Roberta »

Trailer problems can be a bear while traveling. Glad you got home safe.

Roberta :D
Roberta "Queen of the Boat Builders"
Built Zip "Oliver IV", Super Spartan "Jimmy 70", and Torpedo "The Glen L".

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Re: Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Post by kens »

reading into that I was thinking of rusted calipers seizing up, just as mine had done.
But I never thought of mice eating the master.
I lost trailer brakes one time and I had to do down a long steep hill, my truck brakes were smoking at the bottom.
Oak is over rated, everything about it takes extra time; then it warps, splits or checks !!! :roll:

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Location: Logan, Queensland, Australia

Re: Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Post by Ozzieboat »

In Australia on the rare occasions when it rains and things green up a mice plague always follows. In particular the little mongrels play havoc with light aircraft. They manage to strip the insulation off wire then shred it, eat polyurethane paint and polyflo tubing and strip the fibreglass insulation out of the side lining and build nests in amongst the cable pulleys. Then to add insult to injury they die inside the aircraft.

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Andy Garrett
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Re: Holy Smoking Surge Brakes!

Post by Andy Garrett »

Great share!

Good lookin out!
Andy Garrett

Perhaps the slowest Zip build in Glen-L history...

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