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Best Brake Actuator Options

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Best Brake Actuator Options

Speaker 1: But first, let's talk about what brake actuators are actually going to do for us. These are all designed to provide braking power to the hydraulic system in our trailer. So these are going to be for hydraulic disc or drum brakes. Depending on the application you've got, you'll choose the right system. But these will either electronically build that fluid pressure to apply the brakes, or through, with the mechanical styles here, build pressure to apply the brakes on our trailer. Now, the most common question we have is going to be, "What's the difference between the two styles" Basically, our electronic systems are going to use an electronic ram inside to apply pressure to that master cylinder.

They do that when they get signaled from the brake controller inside of our vehicle or, of course, if you have a breakaway situation. Now, when that brake controller or breakaway situation sends the signal through, the electronic piston is going to operate the master cylinder, applying braking force to our trailer.With the surge style that we have here, it's the weight of the trailer pushing on the back of the coupler. It operates a mechanical ram inside, which then operates the master cylinder and sends out the braking pressure. Now, these are also going to have a breakaway switch. It's just basically a lever that operates that internal ram, and they're all going to come with a hook.

We can connect that to the back of the truck. When this gets pulled, it goes into breakaway mode. Now, both types of systems are available for the disc and for the drum brakes, so you're not limited at all with the braking setup you have, on which one you can pick. Of course, you want to pick one specific to disc brakes or pick one specific to drum brakes, that have the right pressures. Or in the case with our surge-style protectors here, for the drum brakes, there's going to be a check valve in there to hold just a little bit of pressure for us where the disc brakes don't have that.Now, keep in mind, with your electric over hydraulic systems, you do need a brake controller inside of your vehicle.

That's what operates the system. With our surge style, we're not going to be required to have that installed. Now, all the electric over hydraulic systems are going to use the same principles in how they work, connecting to our brake controller, giving us that input. Typically, in the larger sizes we see like this, while it still delivers the same PSI as the other ones or close to it, this is going to be something we see on the larger, more open-style utility trailers. It's got the wide mounting flange down here, allows it to get mounted to a little bit wider surface.The little bit slimmer, sleeker design, which I think is a little bit better looking, a little bit more appealing, this we tend to see on your aluminum trailers, your cargo trailers.

This is going to be something you'll see mounted on the front of a fifth wheel trailer or gooseneck. And with the narrower mount, this also works out pretty well for your marine-style trailers, where they just have that single tongue that comes up. Now, in this configuration, you'll see the . We're going to have the dual fill areas. Those are located a little lower. So if this gets into a more confined space, it's going to be a little bit more accessible to get to our fill locations. These, mounted on the top, couldn't be put in a more confined area and still have access to that. So, something to consider, there.Now, with our surge-style couplers, kind of the drawback we have is that when we start to back up, the coupler slides in and it wants to apply the brakes. Now, there's a couple ways around that. Some of them are going to have just a mechanical lever. This is going to require you to get out of the car, and we'll need to push that lever down into the reverse mode. That's going to disengage this so it won't lock up the brakes. When we're ready to tow, just pull it back up into the tow side. Some of your surge-style actuators this would typically be mounted over this for protection, but we've taken it off so we can get a look are actually going to have a solenoid here. Now, this solenoid, when this is wired into the reverse signal, is going to shut off that fluid flow. So this is going to close, and it's not going to allow the fluid to be pushed back to the system, again, overriding that so we can back up.With the larger A-frame style couplers, you're going to have the option of using a bypass solenoid here on the back so you can use it with the reverse signal; or there is also a mechanical option that you can go on there. So we can back up safely with all of these, it's just going to take a little bit of work if we go with the mechanical option. Now, the negatives I see about our surge-style connectors is just that initial force. As we hit the brakes in our vehicle, all that weight comes forward until the brakes start being applied. Now, once they're applied, these work pretty proportionally to the slow-down speed of our truck. They're not a direct proportional system, but they do kind of operate proportionally.The second drawback I see to them is, if you don't go with an electric-style reverse override, you will have to get out every time and flip your lever. Another negative side of the surge-style coupler is going to be that we're not going to have any input from the driver's seat to activate our trailer brakes. The only time these are going to activate is when we hit the brakes in the truck. We're not going to have the brake controller side of it where we can use our manual override lever. The maintenance aspect is also something we need to keep in mind with surge-style protectors. We have an inner tube that's sliding into an outer tube, and that's building our pressure. If we start getting rust, corrosion, and things like that in between the two pieces, that could hamper our braking performance. So we always want to make sure we keep these maintained, keep them lubricated so everything's moving properly.Now, the cons that we typically see out of the electric over hydraulic are going to be the requirement for a brake controller, and it's a very good idea to use a proportional-style brake controller. That's going to reduce the amount of pressure that it's asking the system for in the prolonged stop. So with a time-delayed system, it's going to ramp right up to 100% and it holds that. That can potentially reduce the lifespan of the pump that's inside. These are also going to require us to tie in to the trailer's wiring. But keep in mind, like we said, with the surge-style coupler, that reverse override would have to be wired in as well. And also, these can be quite a bit more expensive than a standard surge-style coupler.Let's do a quick summary on what we've talked about. When it comes down to driver control, the electric over hydraulic systems definitely allow us more. When it comes to ease of installation, our surge-style couplers, especially the ones that just bolt on, are going to be easier to do. I think the electric over hydraulic systems definitely allow for more flexible applications. These can be mounted inside, they can be mounted outside, whereas with our couplers, they're going to be mounted on the tongue. Maintenance is another issue. I think, sometimes, trailers sit parked for a long time, the electric over hydraulic systems are definitely going to be more maintenance-free.Now, when it comes down to cost effectiveness, if there is a surge-style coupler that matches your application, it is going to save you some money. Now, if you want to know which one I would pick for my trailer, if I could afford it, I'm definitely going to go with an electric over hydraulic system. I like that you can fine-tune your brake controller settings and make this operate accordingly. With our surge-style protectors, it does save us quite a bit of money, but we don't have that customized feedback so we can change the way these work, depending on road conditions, load, and weather. That's going to complete our look into the exciting world of brake actuators. We hope you find this information helpful in selecting which one's going to be right for you.

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