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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's FAQ's on about everything else, and I know a bit about trailers and towing, so maybe I can help out. Hopefully Steve will chime in as I know he can school me.

Common questions I hear both on here and elsewhere.

-Brake Controllers-where to buy, how they work, how to install

-Wiring-why do the plugs look different, what do the colors mean, how do I install?

-Hitches-What do all of these classes mean?

-Capacity-GAWR-GVR-WTF!

-Brakes and Bearings-Where to buy, how to fix, etc.
 

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This should help you with wiring up your brake controller...

http://www.easternmarine.com/em_store/tech_info/drawtite_diagram.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Trailer Brake Controllers

An electric trailer brake controller is a device that supplies power from a vehicle to a trailer's electric brakes. There are two types of electric brake controllers: Time Delay Activated ("solid state") and Proportional ("pendulum style"). Although the controllers' methods are different, both types of controllers are very similar. Both allow the user to adjust output or braking power. Both have a pressure sensitive manual override trigger that can be used to apply the trailer brakes independent of the vehicle brakes. Both have the same wiring configuration.

Time Delay Activated
Solid state controllers are "enabled" by the brake pedal switch and apply a gradual voltage to the trailer's brakes using a Time Delay Circuit.

Advantages : Time Delayed controllers are inexpensive, have a low profile, and can be mounted on any angle (very user friendly).

Disadvantages: When towing (in most applications) with hazard flashers on, the digital display will flash with the hazard flashers. If the brake control is set aggressively, pulsing may be felt in the trailer brakes. However a pulse preventer will isolate the brake control from the flashers and eliminate the flash/pulse situation.

Proportional

Pendulum Style Controllers are "enabled" by the brake pedal switch and "activated" by a Pendulum Circuit that senses the vehicle's stopping motion and applies a proportional voltage to the trailer's brakes. When properly adjusted the trailer will decelerate at the same speed as the tow vehicle. This increases braking efficiency and reduces brake wear.

Advantages: Pendulum style controllers operate well under adverse braking conditions and have a smooth braking action.

Disadvantages: Most inertia-activated controllers are bulky, more expensive, and must be mounted and calibrated level. The Tekonsha PRODIGY and Valley Odyssey proportional brake controllers are the exceptions to these disadvantages.

Wiring Configuration

Hitch Supplied Brake Controllers require 4 wire Connections:

1. Trailer Feed (usually blue) - This is the wire that supplies brake power for the controller to the 6-way or 7-way trailer connector at the back of the vehicle. Some vehicles with factory tow packages already have this wire run from under the dash to the rear of the vehicle. Otherwise, the wire is run along the underside of the vehicle and through the firewall to the desired Brake Control mounting location. To get through the firewall, sometimes a hole must be drilled. However, grommets or pre-existing holes are often available.

2. Ground (usually white) - This wire is connected from the brake controller to any reliable ground source.

3. Brake Switch (usually red) - This can be found near the top of the brake pedal. There are wires extending from the switch and using a test light, the wire that has power when the brake pedal is pressed down can be found. This wire is tapped into using a scotch lock.

4. Battery Power (usually black) - This is the connection that supplies power to the brake controller. Some vehicles with factory tow packages already have this wire run from under the dash to the battery with some kind of circuit protection. Otherwise, a wire must be run through the firewall and connected directly to the battery with an in line circuit breaker.




To provide a$$istance in the hardwiring of brake controllers, brake controller install kits are available. They provide the needed wire that runs the length of the vehicle to the trailer connector, as well as the trailer connector, fuses, and wire connectors. A kit is available for both 6-way and 7-way trailer connectors.

Recently vehicle manufacturers have started installing OEM harnesses under the dash. Adapters are made that will connect to the brake controller and plug into the harness. If the tow vehicle is equipped with a tow package and has a factory installed 7-Way trailer connector then a brake control adapter may be all that is needed.

Step by step instructions are also available for several styles of vehicles.

* Ford 97-06 Ford F-150, 99-04 F-250/F-350 SD Pickups http://www.etrailer.com/faq/fbc.asp
* 2005-06 Ford Super Duty Pickups http://www.etrailer.com/faq/fbc_sd05.asp
* Chevrolet / GMC 1999-2006 Pickups http://www.etrailer.com/faq/cbc.asp
* Dodge Pickups http://www.etrailer.com/faq/dbc.asp
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wiring

Note: Before you say "But Matty, where are the wires for the brake lights?" They are run with the turn signal wires.


4 Way Systems



Flat molded connectors allow basic hookup for three lighting functions; right turn signal, left turn signal, stoplight / marker and a ground. Common for small utility and boat trailers.


Vehicle Side.

Trailer Side.



5 Way Systems

Same as 4 way system listed above but adds a extra red or black auxiliary power wire. Fairly uncommon.





6 Way Systems

Round 1 1/4" diameter metal connector allows 1 or 2 additional wiring and lighting functions such as back up lights and electric brakes.






7 Way Systems

Round 2" diameter connector allows additional pin for auxiliary power.

Note: this shows the spade or "RV" style plug. There is also a 7 pin plug that uses round pins which is what is commonly found on tractor trailers.



[


There are several kits out there that allow you to "Plug and Play" directly into your vehicles wiring harness without cutting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
On 2007-01-09 07:45, MarkC wrote:
This should help you with wiring up your brake controller...

http://www.easternmarine.com/em_store/tech_info/drawtite_diagram.html

Good link. It should be noted that I buy ALL of my parts for trailers from there. Eastern Marine has always given me top notch service and parts. I maintain around 7 trailers where I work as well as two of my own.
 

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Maybe you can answer this and put it in your FAQ trailer post: what's the difference between a gooseneck and 5th wheel?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If someone would like to chime in about 5th wheels, and other hitches here, please do. I am a wizard with wiring and brakes, but I need to research a bit more before I feel comfortable posting up advice on hitches.
 

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Mine was more-or-less of this: which one has the reciever in the bed (the slide-in plate like semi's have), and which one has the ball (either hide-a-ball or stationary) attached to the frame in the bed.
 

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Fifth Wheel Trailer Hitch
A fifth wheel trailer hitch is a specially designed hitch with a king pin receiver that mounts over or forward of the rear axle in the bed of the pickup truck. The hitch connects with the king pin on the fifth wheel trailer. Fifth wheel hitches are easy to operate and require little maintenance. There are also Fifth Wheel Slider Hitches available which allow for increased clearance between the cab of the truck and trailer while making low speed turns, such as maneuvering in a campground.

Gooseneck Trailer Hitch
A gooseneck trailer hitch is designed for use in a pickup truck similar to a Fifth Wheel hitch. The difference is that the gooseneck hitch uses a ball and coupler verse a kingpin and pin receiver. Typically, the trailers that are most commonly used for this type of gooseneck hitch is a horse trailer. Gooseneck hitches are offered in a few types of configurations, they are designed to be mounted above or below the trucks pickup bed. Either design (above or below) allows for minimal obstruction when the ball is not in the towing position.
 

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thanks Matt. I was about to go looking for the wiring schematics for the 6 and 7 pin plugs.

I've got a 7 pin in the bed of the truck and a 7 to 6 pin adapter for it as well. (both were in/on the truck when i bought it as it used to have a 5th). I need to check the receiver for its type of plug as well.

Now I know the wiring setup, I can test probe all the pins to make sure they are working right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
no sweat. maybe this can get made a sticky or you can move the schematics to tech or something for quick reference.
 

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Here's some more info. for your sticky, Matt:

SAE hitch ratings:

Class I: 2000 lbs. gross trailer weight, 200 lb. tounge weight

Class II: 3500 lbs. gross trailer weight, 350 lb. tounge weight

Class III: 5000 lbs. gross trailer weight, 500 lb. tounge weight

Class IV: 10000 lbs. gross trailer weight, 1000 lb. tounge weight

Some manufacturers have 10000 lb. and up hitches, or "heavy duty" hitches, but the SAE ratings only go up to class IV.

Hope this helps!!! :bigthumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good stuff Jason....I have some brake stuff i'm working on now. may get it up today, i dunno..i gotta fix trailer brakes(ironic huh)and run up to the auction to pick up cars for my buddies yard.
 

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If I'm not tired when I get off in the morning, I'll see what I can find about sway control and weight distributing hitches.
 

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how about the -Capacity-GAWR-GVR-WTF!? i would like to learn what this all means myself. as i maybe looking into to see if i need a cdl or not to haul stuff for hire. anyone hear know about the rules?
 

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GAWR - gross axle weight rating. that is what each axle can support legally
GCVWR - gross combined vehicle weight rating. that is the total weight of truck, trailer and cargo that is legal
GVWR - gross vehicle weight rating. that is the total truck and cargo and tongue weights that is legal

most states allow you to run a GCVWR up to 26,000lb without any special licensing, as long as your tires, axles, hitch and vehicle are rated to whatever those components are being loaded to.

some states, like CA, limit how much you can tow on a standard license. In our case, that is 10,000lb GVWR (of the trailer) as long as you are within the limits of the towing equipment. there are a few endorsements you can get for more weight before going to a Class A though ,like I have "Restriction 41" which allows me to tow a 5th wheel RV up to 15,000lb.

If you want to haul anything for hire, then you need a CDL. You can get a restriction for no "tractor-trailer" and no air brakes but it will let you haul over 26,000lb as long as your equipment is all rated for it and you license your equipment correctly (you need to pay the weight fee for whatever your max load will be)
 

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I work at a Mack dealership and for the bearings we use Timken bearings for all of the trailers that come in, They are really good bearings and they come with the Bearings and race's in a kit together. For the De-Assembly we use a long punch and a hammer ( DO NOT USE A RACE PUNCH TO HIT THE OLD RACE OUT YOU WILL DAMAGE THE PUNCH), You hit one side at a time, due to if you just hit on one side you will wedge it in were it seat's at. Once your done hitting the race out there is a special punch that is called a race punch, It's oval on the end and its made from a softer metal so you won't put any bur's on the race's when installing, I bought my set from snap-on I don't recall the price. Assembly, Using a lubricant like Gear lube, Penetrating oil, etc. Apply some of it on the race's outer side then continue to get the race center then tap it in with your hammer like you took it out tap it top and bottom to it goes in evenly with out wedging it. Then when you can't tap it in with your hammer anymore that's when you race punch comes into hand, do the same method that you were doing when installing it with a hammer top and bottom even hits so it does not wedge it should go right in.

I hope that helps some, if you wanna change/add anything go ahead if you wanna use what I said. This is for Semi trailer's tho.

Ted
 
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