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This Old Trailer: Electric Trailer Brake Installation Part 1

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Part 1 of Electric Trailer Brake Installation Episode of This Old Trailer

Alright, today on This Old Trailer, what we are going to do is install electric brakes. Right now this trailer does not have any brakes on it whatsoever, so it has two drag axles. So the first thing that we need to do is go ahead and take off the rear wheels. And then we will go ahead and take off the hubs. At this point we will take off the dust cap on our axle. And basically what you want to do is on this particular unit we have an E-Z Lube cap, so it fits kind of tight. It is a good idea to go ahead and rotate the hub and lightly strike it and then I will just back it off with a screw driver behind the flange. And then pry it off. Alright, let us wipe off the excess grease on the end of the spindle here and we will get to our tang washer. And we will release it so we can back off the castle nut. Alright, we have it cleaned up a little bit. Now right here, this is the tab I was talking about. That is our tang washer. Take this. Push it down flat to the flat spot on our spindle and then you can take the castle nut off. 1:07

Alright, at this point we can go ahead and just remove the entire hub assembly. Alright, now we can go ahead and clean up the spindle so we can have a nice clean area to work with. And then we will start reassembly. Alright, now that we have everything out of the way we can see what is going on. What is going to happen is our backing plate is going to bolt on to this square flange right here with the four holes. Now, if your axle does not have that, what you need to do is get one of these flanges and have it welded on to your axle. Alright, one thing that we need to prepare is the backing plate. We will go ahead and pull the wires up and out of the way and we will route them through the plastic holder. That will keep them safe and out of the way so that they do not get jambed up between the flange and the backing plate itself. Then we will go ahead and install it on the flange. Two things that we want to remember is that the magnet always points towards the ground and, as you can see, the arm that the magnet is connected to, that bow always faces forward. 2:03

And then on the backside we will go ahead and install lock washers and nuts to put everything into place. Okay, let us go ahead and get our hub ready. I will take a finger full of grease and start off by putting it in the race. And then next we will go ahead and our bearing into the packer. You can do this by hand our use a device like we are using here. Pack the bearing full of grease. And then what will happen next is we will go ahead and the bearing inside there and then we will install the seal. In this instance, we actually have an E-Z Lube spindle. So, when we are done with this, we can actually add more grease. Basically, add as much grease as you can to the inside of the hub. If you do not have an E-Z Lube spindle, then just pack it as normal. Alright, at this point here you can actually use a special tool that distributes the force of installing it. Most people do not have this at home, so we are going to use a regular mallet and just lightly tap it in a circle until we get it even all of the way around. You can tell by the tone that you have it all of the way in there and flat. 3:08

Now we will go ahead and flip it over. And go ahead and do the same thing to the races and bearing. With that settled, we will just put a thin film of grease on the spindle and we will go ahead and reinstall the hub. Next we will go ahead and add the flat washer, then the tang washer and then the nut. When we tighten down the nut, what we want to do is run it up as far as we can with the tool. And back it on and off a few times, make sure the hub if fully seated. And then we will go ahead and tighten up the nut until it stops and then we will use whatever tab lines up with the nearest notch in the castle nut. Whichever tab you use, or notch, what you want to do is you do not want to tighten it to use the next one. You want to back it off to use the nearest one. That way, you do not over tighten the bearings. When they get extra pressure on them, they will get hot and wear out faster. And once we have that resolved, we will go ahead and push up the tab back into place. 4:23

Alright, the next thing that we are going to do is go ahead and adjust the brakes. And how we are going to do that is basically we are going to tighten up the brakes while rotating the hub until they just stop. When you can not rotate the hub by hand anymore, then we will go ahead and back it off ten clicks. And then check to see how much drag we have. The end result is we should have a very slight drag on the brakes on the hub. Now, ten clicks will get you pretty close to where you need to be. You may have to adjust it in or out depending on how much drag you get. Alright, we will go ahead and replace the caps on the back side of the backing plate. Then we will go back over to the other side of the axle and repeat the same process. And our next step would be to go ahead and put on the dust caps back on the end of the hubs. And we will just tap them into place. And there are a variety of different methods that you can do that with. We actually use a 2 inch conduit coupling. That actually works great on these types of dust caps. Okay, we have finished our installation of the backing plates and the hubs. And next time on This Old Trailer we will start next on the wiring components.

Questions and Comments about this Video

Heidi K.

Hi, great video! what kind of grease do you use in the hubs and bearings? Is there a special high temperature grease for brakes?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Rachael H.

We use the UltraLube Biobased Red Grease # L20321 for repacking the bearings and on hubs. This grease is recommended for high temperature applications. You want to make sure that you don't get any grease on the braking surfaces.


The shoes on my airstream have been played with by a former owner. My question is : There is one shoe longer that the other, which is the lead shoe? To the front or back that is the only difference in the shoes. Thiosd is on a 73 duel axel that has been sitting for many years hense I am checking out all systems. The wires were cut to the brakes so that is why I have taken on this project.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Patrick B.

The shorter shoe is the lead shoe, it should face the front of the trailer.

Dale K.

Can you use electric brakes on a boat trailer?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Patrick B.

It is not recommended to use electric brakes on a boat trailer as the water could easily short circuit them. They could be used if you made sure to disconnect and reconnect every time you launched or retrieved boats from the ramp, but that proves to be a hassle and if you do not allow enough time for the brakes to dry before reconnecting, you could again short them out. It is best to stick with hydraulic brakes only, on a boat trailer.


When installing the electric brakes with the backing plate. is there a lub made for the magnet so it does not make a lot of noise when applying the brakes?What about the shoes where attached to the backing plate are these lubed or just let run day?Thanks for your timeBest Regards,TJ

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Patrick B.

No lube should be used on the magnets. With a lube the magnets would not be able to properly grip the drum to activate the brakes. A thin coat of oil on the hinge point for the shoes at the top of the assembly would be fine. Just make sure it does not get on the surface of the brake shoes. Once a year before the start of your towing season, you can pull the drum off and add a dab of oil to that hinge. You can work it into your brake adjustment routine each year. It will also give you the chance to visually inspect the magnets and shoes and make sure they have not worn down.

Info for these parts were:

Employee Zack K
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Zack K
Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Jeff D
Installed by:
Jeff D
Employee David F
Installed by:
David F
Employee Dustin K
Video by:
Dustin K

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