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Brake controllers

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jayber View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jayber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Brake controllers
    Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 9:05pm
Being a complete newbie to trailer camping I had a question about the R-pods brakes. If I apply the brakes in the car moderately do the trailer brakes go on full strength ? From what I have read about brake controllers is they will apply the brakes proportionately with how hard I apply the brakes.  Is this something I should consider buying since they are relatively cheap  or just see how it brakes first?  Which controllers would you recommend for my new baby?  Thanks in advance 
Jay
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LunaPod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 10:18pm
Brake controller are made by  Tekonsha, Hayes, or Valleys, they do work proportionately to the applied brake pressure. Any Ase certified mechanic can install and usually have their favorite brand. Its important to have it installed by a competant mechanic as with today's electonics one does not want to attempt on their own. They are adjustable by the owner according to preferene and are really quite simple to operate.
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 10:35pm

I have two answers.  Yes.  And no.

The cheap timer-based controllers usually sold to new trailer owners gradually apply the maximum amount of brakes that you have set (from none to locked-up) after a given amount of time.  They don't care how much brake pressure you apply.  These require constant adjustment of the maximum braking based on traffic conditions.

The newest generation of brake controllers have an intertia sensor.  They apply a proportionate amount of braking pressure based on how hard you are braking your vehicle, up to a maximum amount you've set.  These rarely require adjustment unless you change to a different trailer (or you have a utility trailer with a variable load).  

There is one more braking system, but this is built into some trailers and there is no controller in the tow vehicle.  They will have an inertia system on the tongue and they apply hydraulic pressure to the brakes.  I believe this is usually only found on boat trailers now.

I recommend the inertia brake controllers.  I have a Tekonsha Prodigy but they have several to choose from now.  I towed for years with the older timer style controller and the first time I used the Prodigy I had a V8 moment - hand to forehead and saying "I should have bought one long ago".  The difference in braking quality was night and day.

Somewhat unrelated I also recommend a weight distribution hitch.  I have an Equalizer E2.  The difference in ride quality is also night and day compared to not using one.

Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 10:36pm
  Luna beat me to it while I was writing!  However, if you are a handyman type you can install them yourself.  You just need to run a +12 line and negative line from the battery (with a circuit breaker), then find a place to tap into the brake light switch.  Finally there is an output wire which needs to run back to the Bargeman connector with a high-gauge wire.
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Outbound Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 12:04am
Originally posted by jayber

Is this something I should consider buying since they are relatively cheap  or just see how it brakes first?

Just for clarity: a brake controller is not optional.  You must have one.


Which controllers would you recommend for my new baby?  Thanks in advance

I highly recommend a Tekonsha Prodigy proportional controller.  You'll probably notice brake controllers from other manufacturers on the shelf for $50-$75 less, but spend the little extra on the Prodigy now and you'll be very happy.

There are several models in the Prodigy line available.  For a typical installation, any model will do - although I suggest a P2.  Installation is a fairly simple 4-wire hookup, although you'll likely have to install a 7-pin Bargman connector at the same time which will add to the length of time & frustration level.
Craig :: 2009 RP171 towed by a 2017 F150
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kickstart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 1:56am
I, too, have used a Prodigy and was well satisfied with its performance and ease of install, set up and use. My latest tow rig, an '06 Tacoma Prerunner, came with the Prodigy's little brother, Voyager, already installed. Being used to the Prodigy, I was going to just replace the Voyager for my own comfort level. I tried towing with the Voyager and have found it to also do a fine job. The Voyager is considerably cheaper than the Prodigy. Either would be a good purchase. I've also used a Kelsey in the past, and it was not as user friendly as the Tekonsha brand.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 6:22am
I agree with the others, Jayber.  The Prodigy costs a little more (compared to the "timer" models), but it's worth it.  They all have some sort of adjustment for you to set how agressive you want the trailer brakes to be.  So, you will have some fiddling around to do until you get it set where you like.
 
Installation wise, I agree with both opinions.  The SAFE way is to let someone else do it.  However, I have always installed my own.  If you go this route, there are many of us that can advise.  Also, some sites (like etrailer.com - I think) have installation videos and will recommend the appropriate parts needed.  I've not found it to be difficult, but I like to tinker with cars.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jayber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 6:44am
I was looking at a P3 controller that I'll probably have installed ( because me messing with electrics wouldn't be pretty )Wink  As for an Equalizer hitch the installation seems pretty straight forward, if you installed one yourself what did you do about tightening the nut that requires the thin wall socket? I really don't want to buy the socket just to use it once. 
Jay
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pmjensen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 10:45am
I my sons-in-law and I all have the Prodigy controllers.  I use the P2 which seems to work very well with the POD.

Happy Podding
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 2:06pm
jayber - installing a WDH isn't difficult but it does take a lot of time making adjustments, which requires half-way disassembling it each time.  I took about 3 hours and I think I need to make one more adjustment before its 100% right.  I did it with a mechanic friend of mine so I didn't have to worry about the thin-wall socket.
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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