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Towing brake controller in tow package?

Discussion in '80-Series Tech' started by e9999, Jan 24, 2004.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    On our 100 with tow package, the thing comes with a full 7-way connector and the wiring diagram mentions a "Towing Brake Controller" mounted under the dash. Of course, the 7-way connector provides for the electric brake connection. But I don't see any mention of adjustments. I thought that electric brake controllers were adjustable. That not the case? If so, do trailers with electric brakes usually have an adjustment on the trailer itself as well?
    Or is this not an issue, you just connect the thing and forget it, locked wheels and all... :D
    And would this be a delay or a pendulum type of controller?
    So, how does this all work then?
    thx
    E
     
  2. landtank

    landtank SILVER Star

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    I can only relate what my father has on his truck. There are 2 types of controllers ABS and non ABS. there is a setup proceedure so the contoller provides the proper signal for the size orf the trailer. I think this proceedure varies with the controller.
     
  3. scottm

    scottm

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    I did some research when I set up my 80 for towing (construction job I did for a few years). There are a few types of controllers: timers and decelerometers primarily.

    The cheap ones are timer based. They sense your brake light power, and send a signal to the brakes. You can adjust the max intensity of the signal, which adjusts trailer braking power. You can also adjust the time it takes for the controller to increase the signal from zero to the max setting.

    The decelerometer types have pendulums or other sensors to sense deceleration. They were more expensive, sensitive to position, many adjustments, much nicer. I went with the cheaper type.

    An important consideration is to position it where you can reach it easily, you can hit the trailer brakes manually that way, and make adjustments.
     
  4. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, OK, but what about the TLC built-in controller if that's what it is...?
    Eric
     
  5. Scamper

    Scamper

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    Are you sure the 100 has a built in brake controller? In every truck I've ever seen, that's always been an end-user add-on. Maybe what they mean is that it's set up for one? Yes, and it gets mounted under the dash. I can't respond specifically about the 100, but the rest of this relates to an 80:

    You can buy a pretty good solid state controller (uses an accelerometer for sensing how much current to throw to the brakes) now for about $50-75. Has to be wired into the braking system such that it simply knows when you're braking--so it's usually just wired into the brake light switch behind the brake pedal. You also have to supply it with power, as well as a wire that goes from the controller to the 7-way connector to power the brakes. This wire needs to be of sufficiently large gauge to drive the brakes without much loss over the distance.

    There may be some that don't require some sort of adjustment, but I've only seen the adjustable ones. You simply adjust the controller to apply the right amount of braking power to begin with, then let it be. It will depend on your trailer size and brake specs, and it's an actual road-test adjustment, not some lookup sort of thing.

    Tom
     
  6. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, all I can say is that the wiring diagram show a "Towing brake controller" and the socket is a 7 pin socket with the correct pin being connected to this "controller". Seems like this controller gets signal from the brakes and all. No evidence of it being adjustable though, which is why I was wondering if some trailers do have the adjustment on them instead...
    E
     
  7. 96Cruiser

    96Cruiser

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    IF ITS LIKE MY F250 superduty(that i dont have anymore,damn i miss that truck)it came with a "harness" in the glovebox that when you removed the plastic lower dash,it plugged in to a matching point under said dash,and the other end of the harness was spliced to your favorite flavor of brake controller......

    then all ya did was plug it in when ya was gonna be towing,and remove it when ya wasnt..........
     
  8. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    You should still need to purchase an aftermarket brake controller. Some of the most often mentioned are from Tekonsha. I went with a more recent model called Prodigy. They run about $100 bucks now. Did my research b4 purchasing as I'm towing a scout troop trailer and always have anywhere from 1-6 scouts in the LC with me. Their saftey is paramount to me and I wanted something good. You can go cheaper, but I liked the more current electronics of this model and the adjustments it had regarding adjustable braking ability of your trailer. My two cents is that what you have on your LC is just the harness. Any hitch or trailer shop 'should' be able to tell you what you need. Hope this helps.
     
  9. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    dang, what's with this? nothing in the owner's manual and can't find much in the wiring manual either...
    and I don't imagine my local Toy dealer would know either...
    E
     
  10. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Nope, a Toy dealer will NOT touch trailer wiring. You need to go to a trailer/RV place E. When my first converter box to the 4-pin plug I had at the time went bad, I took it to the Toy dealer and they wouldn't touch it and it was OEM!
     
  11. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    OK, now it got even weirder. Just saw that the 03 manual does not show the Brake controller and shows only a 4 pin trailer socket. Whereas the 04 manual shows both controller and 7 pin socket. Yet our 03 definitely has a 7 pin round socket, apparently original. So this suggests that the controller is only standard in 04s, and that our 03 may have a newer trailer socket? Can't tell about there being a controller without taking stuff apart, though. Unless all of this is dealer add-on?
    ???
    Eric
     
  12. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Talk to your dealer or CDan may know. Maybe your '03 got the 7-pin that you say is std on a '04. Possible I guess. Don't know of any vehicle that would have any brake controller installed as std, even Detroit junk (no offense Junk) that is used/designed for towing doesn't come with a controller. Most are wired, but controller is not there. Tekonsha even says that in their info. May US pickup's, suburban's, etc. have a wiring harness that their product plugs right into, but you still have to purchase the controller.

    Could be that you are wired with a harness and just need the controller. I had to have all the wiring installed on my '94.

    Stop beating around the bush and go find a good RV/trailer dealer and ask. :D
     
  13. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    dang, you must be living in a special part of the country. In these parts, nobody you ask knows anything...

    One thing I can do is to see if there is any juice on the electric brake pin on the trailer socket when the brake pedal is on. But that would not show any modulation. What's this pin supposed to show? is it variable voltage or only kicking in a some point in the braking process or what?

    E
     
  14. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Sorry, I don't remember what part of the country you live in and your profile doesn't say. If you've got a 4-pin socket at your hitch, you can purchase a simple tester at your local auto parts store for a couple of $. You do have those don't you? They probably have a 7-pin tester as well, but I never looked for one of those when I originally wired up my LC with the 4-pin for our old trailer. Hoppy makes good aftermarket products for just about any vehicle and wiring set up. No RV place near you? That's where I'd head. They could at least test your 7-pin hook up on your LC.

    Good Luck. I went thru some of this converting our troop's trailer to have a braking system.
     
  15. Scamper

    Scamper

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    [quote author=e9999 link=board=2;threadid=10580;start=msg101984#msg101984 date=1076352851]
    One thing I can do is to see if there is any juice on the electric brake pin on the trailer socket when the brake pedal is on. But that would not show any modulation. What's this pin supposed to show? is it variable voltage or only kicking in a some point in the braking process or what?[/quote]

    All contollers modulate power to the brakes--otherwise it would just be switched with your brake lights via a relay. If you get power to the trailer brake circuit when you see your brake lights on, then you must have some sort of controller in there. You could just use any kind of tester for this. Just be sure you know which one is the brake circuit...

    But I'm sure you'd have found the controller if it were there. The one I have (Tekonsha) has an LED on it that glows with increasing intensity depending on the amount of braking/power; I think they all have some feedback mechanism like this. So it wouldn't make sense to hide it somewhere you couldn't see it. Mine also has a manual test slider--another reason not to hide it since you need to reach it while driving/braking.

    Tom
     
  16. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    makes sense. I was just going by what the '04 FWD shows: a "towing brake controller" with input from the brake switch, but no manual adjustment shown in the manual... I guess this may just be a connector that is ready to accept the actual controller. It's located near the steering column too apparently, which is consistent.
    I guess a test of voltage at rest would not show any modulation since presumably there should be some sort of actual braking input.

    E
     
  17. Jesse

    Jesse

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    If you do not see an adjuster anywhere than i would be willing to bet that the brake controller does not exist. And if it does have a brake controller but no adjuster i would rewire the system with a aftermarket system because you really need to have some way of adjusting the voltage to the trailer brakes etherwise you will be burning through trailer tires really fast.
    When i bought my 69 FJ40 it came with a brake controller that was controlled by the actual brake pressure via a brake line that was spliced in at the master cylinder. Must be a pretty old unit to be controlled like that.
    Jesse
     
  18. Brentbba

    Brentbba Former Golfer SILVER Star

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    Scamper and Jessie are dead on here. Sounds like you are wired for a controller, especially if you have the 7-pin hook-up at the hitch already. That alone will save you a couple hundred to have the wiring done at a shop. My Tekonsha Prodigy also has electronic modulation (a supposed improvement over the older pendulum styles). You can set it multiple ways for braking power to the trailer and modulate each of those settings as well. Basic way to set it is driving slowly with the trailer and manually applying the trailer brakes only thru the controller to the point where the trailer brakes stop the trailer. You should end up not feeling any add'l braking with your trailer vs. the LC alone. Not a great description, but easy to do.

    You can pick up inexpensive controllers for around $40-50 as I recall or a more state of the art one for around $100 (the Prodigy I have is very good - I did plenty of research prior to purchasing - very anal in that regard).

    Good Luck.