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Brake Controllers

Discussion in '80-Series Tech' started by Brentbba, Apr 7, 2003.

  1. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Has anyone installed a brake controller for towing in their LC? Local place here in Orange County is quoting $264 for the labor only! Seems way high. Pretty much set on a Tekonsha Prodigy given reviews/research I've done. Easy to install on Ford/GM/Dodge with factory harnesses. Wondering if price is reflective of no factory harness in my Landbeast. Looked at the wiring diagrams online from Tekonsha and it doesn't look to bad, but I'm no mechanic or vehicle electrical person either. Camping World quotes an install price online of $55. Probably if a factory harness is available. Will call them shortly.

    Any info would be helpful. Mfg of trailer will install the brakes on the single axle for $180 (great price given quotes I've gotten so far).

    TIA

    Brent
     
  2. yomama

    yomama

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    I installed one on mine. I think it is a prodigy as well. The expense is most likely what you said, no wiring harness.
    If I recall, you need to connect directly to the battery + & -, fused, the ignition and you also need to run a wire to the rear where you will be connecting the trailer brakes. The LC 4 pin plug is not for trailer brakes, so you will need a differrent connector as well. If your trailer has brakes it should have a 5 or 6 pin connector.

    I pull a 7000lb boat with mine, but I also have many more upgrades (OME springs, slotted/cross drilled rotors, turbo, Kaymar rear bumper/hitch).

    Yomama
     
  3. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    With your boat, I figured if anyone replied here it would be you. :D

    Where did you mount your controller? Any chance of a pic to show the installer? I'm thinking on the passenger side of the center console section. Looks like it should mount under the dash just fine and within reach if I need to use the manual control to apply the trailer brakes.

    Trailer I pull for our scout troop is 3500 lbs and currently does not have brakes. Taking it out to the mfg's factory Saturday. They'll do the brakes for $180 (a great price). California vehicle code requires braking systems on any trailer over 1500 lbs. I'm running stock shocks and use a weight distribution apparatus to level my LC and the trailer. I've heard that Toyota does not recommend them, but don't know why.
     
  4. woody

    woody Internet Fireman Staff Member

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    Tekonsha controllers are great, I've tossed all my others away.

    One wire needs to run off the brake switch, one ground, one constant hot, and the final runs all the way back to the plug. PITA to wire, and do it cleanly, but IMO that price is too much.

    Your factory harness likely does not include the brake wire and must be routed. My guess is most/all modern motorhomes have it included, and I know my GMC has a factory wire harness for the controller. Took all of 5 minutes to install.
     
  5. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Thanks Woody. Got them down to $210 on the install. That's their dealer labor rate. Begged and pleaded that we are a poor scout troop (and we are!) Money for this stuff is hard to come by easily. Must sell more popcorn this year. Not something I have the time to do myself. Still not cheap, but if there are problems, I have someone else to complain to instead of the mirror! &nbsp:Do you have one mounted in a LC, if so where??

    Know what you mean about the Detroit tin. If they have a two package, Tekonsha has a harness that just plugs right in. Not so for Japanese trucks. Hardest part then is mounting the controller.
     
  6. woody

    woody Internet Fireman Staff Member

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    nothing mounted in a LC, my FJ40 with no top, no doors, no heat, and 38.5 tires doesn't make the best towing rig....lol

    In my Toy pickup it was mounted on the tranny tunnel, on my GMC it's under the dash just to the right of the steering column, on my Ford motorhome it's to the left of the column. Convenience is everything, I kept it handy on the pickup since that was on the light side (3500# tow rated) for my trailer/truck (combined 6000#+) :G My hand could rest on it during questionable driving conditions.
     
  7. yomama

    yomama

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    Brentbba,

    You know me too well... I have my controller mounted on the drivers side below the fuse box. Go to my website www.yomama.net, click on more cruiser pics and then look at my cockpit photo. You can see it there.

    Yomama
     
  8. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Thanks guys! Appreciate the laughs Woody

    Yomama - so you don't constantly bump into the controller every time you get in and out? I know the unit itself is removable, but the mounting bracket would still be there. Comments on how you like it there? &nbsp:Do you ever use the manual brake assist? You are towing more weight than I ever will. I notice on your center console, there really isn't the room under the dash in the center that I have on my '94. Should receive the unit Friday and I'll play with mountable locations this weekend b4 I have it installed.
     
  9. yomama

    yomama

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    Brentbba,

    I wondered if it would be in the way there myself, but I have yet to hit it getting in and out. I would have preferred it to be a little more "hand" reachable for in your next question, but for lack of a better place it ended up there. The unit must be mounted at a certain pitch, but can also be mounted sideways. Yes I have used the manual braking button, mainly just to set it. What I like about mine is that it tells me the voltage that is being sent to the brakes, usually it is only a couple volts and it increases if you are trying to stop her quickly. The only time I had an incident is when I had just pulled the boat out of the water (the boat is only fastened by the rope to keep it from sliding off when you pull it out and basically the boat just sits on the trailer) was heading down the road, not even a mile yet when I come over the top if this hill and here is a damn fawn walking down the middle of the road towards me and another vehicle in the other lane on the other side of the deer. I hit the brakes and.......nothing. Oh s***.....Held the brakes, then all of a sudden the water must have gotten off the pads where they could actually grip (only doing like 30mph) and I tell you what, that sucker stopped and stopped quickly, so quick that I felt this huge push like from behind, couldn't explain it. When we got back to our rental cabin to finish packing up I went back and looked.....Here the boat had slide forward from the sudden stop until the rope tightened in the opposite direction, I would say the rope was the only thing that kept the boat from ending up in my back seat. This year I plan to do some work on the trailer to remedy that from ever happening again. Scary. When we left I had to swing down to the launch again and back the boat in and give her a little jerk to get the boat back on the trailer where it was suppose to be. It was putting allot of extra weight on the rear of the cruiser.

    Yomama
     
  10. mts

    mts

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    Brent,

    I've got a Draw Tite Activator II controller. It works pretty well. It's got a 2 way adjustment controlling trailer brake power (how hard the brakes come on) and brake "sync" (which controls how quickly the brakes come on and release). I've found the "sync" setting to be invaluable when towing with different vehicles. Especially towing with the LX 450 which has relatively *soft* brakes.

    I had mine installed, got the controller, the class III hitch, hitch ball and labor for $340. I just didn't want to mess with it myself. My truck had the towing package(tranny cooler, etc), just not the hitch.

    I've got it mounted on the drivers side under the dash above the gas pedal. It works out pretty well, but occassionally I'll hit my shin against it when I have the seat moved up a little.

    I've got a dual 3500lb axle trailer that I pull a car on. Total weight comes in a little over 4,000 lbs.

    Mike
     
  11. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Yomama,

    Scary story - you were lucky not to have that big boat of yours in your lap! Wouldn't have been much left of your cruiser. Glad everything, including the fawn were ok.

    From what I read researching the controllers, I thought the one convenience of the solid state electronics was not having to set/balance (pendulum) the unit. Will have to read the install info this weekend before I have it installed next week to be able to discuss placement intelligently.

    I'd been telling our scout committee that we really needed brakes on our trailer badly. Wasn't until another dad pulled the trailer back from the last campout that I got some real agreement. He drives a quarter ton Dodge p/u and couldn't get over how much he 'felt' the trailer behind him during stopping. I couldn't stop laughing! :D
     
  12. yomama

    yomama

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    Brentbba,

    My controller doesn't have a pendulum (I don't think), but you still need to be able to set (in my case) how much voltage is required to get the desired level of braking. I can set it so I can feel the boat stopping me or put more stopping on the cruiser. I try and set it just enough so as to feel the boat pulling me to a stop, that way I know when I hit the brakes the the system is still working and that is the reason for the adjustment.

    Yomama
     
  13. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Yo,

    That makes more sense. I know you can make that kind of adjustment on most of the controllers. The older controllers, like Tekonsha's Voyager use a pendulum device, so you have to 'set' the controller once mounted in the vehicle. The new electronic ones like what you have and I ordered no longer rely on that. It's all electronic and based on brake application in the tow vehicle (I think). Like the feature of increasing/decreasing the sensitivity. Several campouts we go to require mountain driving and the decents have given me the creeps, knowing I've had 3500 lbs of free floating weight attached to my rear end. :eek: I know the LC brakes are good, but that good? ???

    Will look forward to the tow back from the mfg to get a feel for things.

    Brent
     
  14. scottm

    scottm

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    I have a cheapie Drawtite controller, set on the sloped area in front of the handbrake, with the manual slide at the top. I don't love it, would prefer something that adjusts itself for stopping rate. Most controllers are timer based, you can adjust how hard it brakes and how quickly it reaches that maximum. I tow a tandem 16' trailer, about 3500 pounds, 1000 miles a month. My main reason for having trailer brakes is for when I have to panic stop, so I like keeping the brakes set to max. The problem is, I plan ahead and stop gradually most of the time, and don't want the trailer brakes to come on and yank me to a stop. At least the controller is at hand if I need to add braking in a hurry.

    Wire it yourself! I hooked a marine 50A breaker to the battery, ran 8ga wire through a grommet to the driver's kick panel, terminating with a ring. A 30A fuse and 12ga wire would've been adequate and easier to do. From there through a fuse holder with a thermal resetting 20A breaker, to the controller. Tap into the wire above the brake pedal sensor with a simple squeeze type splice. Run ground from wherever, I used the one under the center console. From the controller run the brake control wire to the back of the truck, along with a power wire (keeps the trailer battery charged). I relayed the power wire so it's only on with the accessory power, you could just tap off the cig lighter wire to. I didn't want my battery always hooked to the trailer battery, but I don't think it would hurt anything. Just put a fuse on it. The wires all fit in a deep channel under the plastic trim at the bottoms of the door frames. Get a 7-pin adapter for your existing 4-pin plug, attach the power and brake wires to that. I did all this in one day for under $100 including the controller. I also ran extra wires for other stuff, and plan on wiring my wife's 80 so the experience will be handy.

    Did you get the Airlifts? What an improvement they are. I don't really notice the trailer other than stopping distances.
     
  15. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Creeper,

    Nice info. Just don't have time to do myself. I'm going to have everything wired to eventually put a battery and dome lites in the trailer. Troop just can't afford it at this time. Hoppy has a nice plug adapter that has both a 4 pin and 7 pin outlet in it. May purchase it and have it installed as opposed to using a 7 to 4 adapter. Our old trailer, which we use occasionally has a 4 pin. Personally, I'd rather have a direct connection than thru an adapter. Lot's of expense for towing a trailer once per month on our outings, but I'll feel much better saftey wise, especially when I've got six kids in the LC that I'm responsible for. LA traffic when we leave on Friday evenings is NEVER fun and that goes double when towing a trailer.