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Aluminum Car Trailer Restoration and Replacement Brake Recommendations


Hello, First of all, great website. Loved the videos! I have an aluminum Trailex CT-7031 from 1989. The entire front surge brake mechanism and cylinder is rusted and needs to be replaced. Brake line also needs replacement. I have not removed the rear drums, but they have not been used in some time and will need rebuild at minimum. This is a dual axle trailer with 13inch wheels. The front axle has the drums which appear to be 8inch in diameter. Trailer Specs: Currently 7 inch drum brakes on front axle The axle spindle is 1-1/16" in diameter. Both bearing inner diameters are the same. The drum inner diameter is 7". The drum shoe assembly bracket was attached to the axle assembly through four holes (see pic). The spacing of these holes are 2.75". The wheel bolt pattern is 5 by 4.25". The trailer weighs 800 lb. and has vehicle capacity of 3100 lb. for total of ~3900 lb. I assume there are 3 options to move forward: 1. Install new surge system. Can this system be locked out when backing up steep hills? 2. Upgrade to disc brakes. Same question about backing up. 3. Change over to electric brakes. 4. Delete the trailer brakes. Even need for such small trailer I plan to use this for Spec Racer Ford in the future but also could use it on BMW E30 from time to time. Ill be towing with a 2008 Toyota 4Runner equipped with the V8 engine and 4-wheel disc brakes, and a factory installed 7 way connector. Could you give me thoughts on the options above and recommendations to equipment you sell? Thanks,


Expert Reply:

Thanks for the feedback, and I am glad that you are finding our website helpful!

For your 1989 Trailex CT-7031 all aluminum trailer with the specifications that you provided there are three options for restoring or replacing the brakes for this trailer. The three options are similar to what you mentioned, and are:

1.Hydraulic Drum, which is the most cost effective.
2.Hydraulic Disc, which is more expensive, but provides better performance.
3.Electric drum, which is most cost effective and easily adjustable.

Hydraulic Drum Brakes:
For a hydraulic drum assembly, it will be a direct replacement of your current system. If you are only replacing the brake assemblies, then this will be the most cost effective option. But considering the condition of your actuator and brake lines, it may not be the case for you.

You will need a surge actuator that is rated for use with drum brakes like the Titan # T4339720. This actuator is rated for up to 6,000 pounds, it is designed to work with 1-7/8 inch, 2 inch, and 50 mm trailer balls. It also has an electric reverse lockout as you requested, therefore you will need to have the corresponding wiring connection for your trailer to your vehicle that has a reverse circuit.

For your connection point you will need a trailer 7-way or 5-way. I could not tell from your photo if your current connection was a 5-way or 4-way. For a 7 way you can use The Hopkins 7-way molded trailer connector # H20046. This will connect to your 7 way on your 2008 Toyota 4Runner.

For the replacement hydraulic line you can use kit # DM5424 for your single axle brake kit, this kit is rated for use on either hydraulic disc or drum brakes. The replacement brake assemblies are the Dexter 7 by 1-3/4 inch Hydraulic Brake Assemblies # 23-398 for the left hand and # 23-399 for the right hand.

These brake assemblies are rated for up to 2,500 pounds, and according to the weight of your trailer you may need to install brake assemblies on both axles. If that is the case then will need the Demco Hydraulic Brake Line kit # DM5428 for tandem axles.

According to the spindle measurement you gave me, I believe the correct bearings you need are the L44649. Please double check your existing bearings numbers and confirm that your bolt pattern is a 5 on 4-1/2 so these parts will work with your existing hubs. I have included a helpful article that explains how to determine the bolt pattern on your existing wheels, and the bearings can be compared by the bearing numbers or using a set of digital dial calipers to get a precise measurement of the inner diameter of the bearings.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes:

The next option, and my recommendation for increased performance, is to convert to hydraulic disc brakes. For this option, you will need a coupler rated for the appropriate PSI rating that disc brakes use, the same electrical 7-way as referenced above for the trailer, the disc brakes, and a line kit.

The correct coupler for this application is the # T4715420. This coupler is rated for 6,000 pounds, and also features the electric lock out that you will need a trailer 7-way connector for. This actuator is also rated for use with hydraulic disc brakes that have a higher PSI rating that hydraulic drum brakes. It also works with 1-7/8 inch, 2 inch or 50 mm trailer balls.

The necessary hydraulic disc brakes for your trailer are the Kodiak Disc Brake Kit # K2HR2D. This brake kit fits trailers with either 10 or 13 inch wheels with a 5 on 4-1/2 bolt pattern, and an overall a rotor diameter of 8 inches. The brake flange configuration is a 4 bolt application like yours, and the wheel studs are 1/2 inches.

This brake kit uses the same inner and outer bearing of L44649 so the diameters would be the same as your existing bearings, but I recommend checking the bearing numbers to confirm. These bearings are sold separately so you would also need to purchase 2 # BK1-150 kits. Each kit contains the correct inner and outer bearings, grease seal, and cotter pins for each spindle.

Since the rotor of this assembly is larger than your current 7 inch internal dimension that you specified, you will need to measure to see if this will fit with your existing wheels, and confirm that it will work with your bolt pattern.

Electric Drum Brakes:

The last option is an electric drum brake assembly, this option is the most cost effective, and easiest to adjust, but there will be additional wiring routed to the trailer other than the hydraulic brake lines. For this option you will need a brake controller in your 2008 Toyota 4Runner to activate the brakes instead of the actuator on the coupler. I recommend the Prodigy P2 # 90885 and vehicle specific harness # 3040-P. This will install under the dash of your 4Runner. I have linked a video showing this installation process on a slightly older Toyota 4Runner for your reference.

For this application you can use you existing coupler with a slight modification. You will need to run a bolt through it to deactivate-activate the actuating motion of the coupler. If you would prefer you can also replace this coupler with a standard coupler. The correct replacement traditional coupler (if you have a 3 inch wide frame) is either the Fulton # F343000301 for a 2 inch trailer ball, or the Titan # T4845000 for an 1-7/8 inch trailer ball.

For the trailer wiring, since your trailer is all aluminum, it would be helpful to use # 10-2-1 wire that has an included ground wire. Sometimes aluminum does not provide a sufficient ground, I recommend running all the grounds to an appropriate metal surface on your trailer. For your application, I recommend running a continuous ground. To do this you will need to attach ring terminals to the continuous ground, and attach them to an appropriate metal surface or your coupler.

The electric drum brakes that you will need are the Electric Trailer Brake Kit # AKEBRK-2 (left and right hand included). These brake assemblies fit 13 inch wheels, that are 7 inches by 1-1/4 inches wide, and have a 4 bolt mounting pattern that is spaced 2-7/8 inches apart on center. Which sounds like your existing mount flange.

Since you are removing the hubs as well when you use the electric brake option you will need the corresponding hubs like # 8-257-5UC3 for a braking axle, or the # 8-258-5UC1 for an idler axle. Both of these hub assemblies are sold individually and include the corresponding bearings, and seals. Again please make sure that the existing bearings on your trailer use corresponding L44649 bearings.

If you choose to use electric brakes you will also need to install an electric brake away kit like the Tekonsha # 50-85-313. This will charge using the trailer 7-way connection and will need to be wired in-line with it. The correct 7-way is the Hopkins 7-way Trailer connector # H20046. This is also a great place to use a junction box like # 38656 to connect your existing trailer wiring, and new connections.

Which ever brake option that you choose, please inspect your spindles to and make sure that they are all in good condition and show no indication of cuts, scratches, or missing material that would prevent the bearings from properly operating with your new brake assemblies. If you need to replace the spindles as well it might be the most beneficial for you to replace the entire axle. If this is the case for you please feel free to let me know and I can make additional recommendations for you.

Eliminate Trailer Brakes:

Since your trailer is currently equipped with a brake system, I do not recommended deleting the brake system altogether. Considering the vehicle that you are towing this trailer with, I highly recommend a trailer braking system to save wear on your vehicle brakes.

I have provided links to the parts referenced above, a several helpful articles, and videos of the products for your reference.

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expert reply by:
Rachael H

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