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Richard76

Braking while towing and test/set-up

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My caravan brakes hold with the hand brake but I’m not sure they help me slow much when towing. Is there a way to test?

I do get annual service which includes brakes. 

Its a Bailey Pegasus Ancona 2011 with Alko hitch.  

When viewing the hitch with the car rear camera I can see strut compress

under braking. I would expect that to apply the caravan brakes and it would then extend again. It remains compressed no matter how hard I brake and only extends again when I accelerate. 

How should it behave under medium or hard braking? 

 

I plan to jack the wheel and use axle stand to confirm the brakes run clear and lock with the handbrake. Then force in the hitch strut and see how much engagement the brakes have. 

I know the handbrake pulls the cable further than the hitch being fully compressed so any advice on what resistance to expect if correct? 

 

Thanks,

 

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It will compress, this applies the brakes, when it decompresses the brakes are released.

 

If I understand your post correctly you believe it should compress and apply the brakes then decompress so you can apply the brakes more - this isn’t correct; it’s a mechanical link so the level of compression relates directly to the braking effort.

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7 minutes ago, FrankBullet said:

It will compress, this applies the brakes, when it decompresses the brakes are released.

 

If I understand your post correctly you believe it should compress and apply the brakes then decompress so you can apply the brakes more - this isn’t correct; it’s a mechanical link so the level of compression relates directly to the braking effort.

 

True, but if the brakes apply when compressed when the car has stopped braking it should extend. I shouldn’t have to accelerate to extend it. 

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It’s a simple mechanical mechanism - it stays compressed (and braked) until uncompressed which happens by pulling away, which is why if you stop and unhitch you need to move the car forward a few inches first unless you want the hitch going into your rear bumper as you lift it off the tow ball

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Richard76 said:

 

True, but if the brakes apply when compressed when the car has stopped braking it should extend. I shouldn’t have to accelerate to extend it. 

 

Err no because when you come to a stop the brakes on the caravan remain applied until you pull forward and the load is taken off the towhitch. For the brakes to disengage the caravan would need to move backwards in order to “unload” the hitch, and clearly that’s not possible. 

 

If you get a bike pump pump put your finger over the end and push the piston in it compresses the air inside, that pressure remains there until you either take your finger off OR pull the piston back out. It’s the same with your caravan. The brakes remain on until you pull the piston back (by moving forwards) Not that your caravan brakes are operated by air pressure, but the principle remains. 

 

Andy

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Posted (edited)

my elddis is 27 years old, i was worried when first towing it but now i find i dont need to brake as much as when approaching a roundabout i brake early then the caravan does the rest and i even find myself accelerating as ive slowed to early lol

also i tested my hitch damper and it compresses fine and slowly releases fine on its own but its an automatic operation, when slowing you should feel the caravan pulling you back slowing you

Edited by robbie244

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If it puts your mind at rest on my brand spanking new caravan the ram on the tow hitch compresses fully when I brake AND it remains so until I pull forward.

 

Andy

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I understand if you brake to zero.

If I brake from 30mph to 20mph and in doing so it compresses.  I then continue to coast at 20mph. It should not remain compressed as that would mean the caravan brakes should still be engaged and the caravan should pull back. If I have to accelerate it implies the brakes aren’t doing much. 

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Richard76 said:

I understand if you brake to zero.

If I brake from 30mph to 20mph and in doing so it compresses.  I then continue to coast at 20mph. It should not remain compressed as that would mean the caravan brakes should still be engaged and the caravan should pull back. If I have to accelerate it implies the brakes aren’t doing much. 

 

None of that was in your original post! Personally I think you are worrying yourself over a problem that doesn’t exist.

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd
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When you unhitch you will see that the hitch will extend slowly.  The force of this action is not enough for you to visibly see much movement through your camera.  The actual movement between applying and releasing the brakes is probably very small.  The force that applies the caravan brakes is directly proportional to the constantly changing inertia created by the vans mass, speed and the incline.  A very simple but effective system.

 

Regarding testing.  I can see how it would be a confidence booster but not sure how this can be done on the road except for heavy breaking.  Need to make sure everything is tied down.

 

 

John

 

 

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If your caravan brakes were not working  you would REALLY know about it when you tried to slow down! The car brakes trying to stop nearly double the normal mass would be a big issue!

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A ratchet strap attached to the hitch and the other end to the chassis will replicate the over run brakes when it is ratcheted tight and prove they work.

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Thanks for the replies. 

I can’t say I feel the caravan braking so was curious.

I may still put on a axle stand and test as I gradually increase the compression. 

Thanks 

Also I tow with a Landrover Discovery which is great but was curious if it’s capabilities were hiding something that needs adjusting on the caravan 

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7 hours ago, Richard76 said:

I understand if you brake to zero.

If I brake from 30mph to 20mph and in doing so it compresses.  I then continue to coast at 20mph. It should not remain compressed as that would mean the caravan brakes should still be engaged and the caravan should pull back. If I have to accelerate it implies the brakes aren’t doing much. 

 

When you release the brake going from 30 to 20, your car begins to ‘pull’ again as you cruise at 20 and the hitch is decompressed at this point.

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7 hours ago, Richard76 said:

I understand if you brake to zero.

If I brake from 30mph to 20mph and in doing so it compresses.  I then continue to coast at 20mph. It should not remain compressed as that would mean the caravan brakes should still be engaged and the caravan should pull back. If I have to accelerate it implies the brakes aren’t doing much. 

This is a bit of an assumption on my part.

The caravan does not have its own method to move forward, it has to be pulled. You have slowed the car and caravan but wind and road resistance will catch the caravan and try to slow it even more, the car still being driven forward will pull away from the caravan releasing the brakes.  Particularly on an uphill the caravan will try to fall back away from the car, on a steep decent the caravan may push against the car keeping the brakes of the caravan applied.

 

macafee2

 

6 hours ago, Richard76 said:

Thanks for the replies. 

I can’t say I feel the caravan braking so was curious.

I may still put on a axle stand and test as I gradually increase the compression. 

Thanks 

Also I tow with a Landrover Discovery which is great but was curious if it’s capabilities were hiding something that needs adjusting on the caravan 

find somewhere safe and stamp on the brakes, see if you feel it them then.

I fully understand how you feel, with my previous caravan I could tell the brakes were coming on, pulled the car back.

This caravan, like you I do wonder sometimes.   Stamping on the brakes did show me they do come on... we wont go into why I stamped on the brakes :)  All I'll say is, I was not trying to be stupid

 

macafee2

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18 minutes ago, FrankBullet said:

 

When you release the brake going from 30 to 20, your car begins to ‘pull’ again as you cruise at 20 and the hitch is decompressed at this point.

 

I think that's the key for the OP: even when maintaining a constant speed after braking, the caravan is being pulled and the hitch decompressed.

 

That's the test he needs to do (sounds like he may already have).

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6 hours ago, Stevan said:

If your caravan brakes were not working  you would REALLY know about it when you tried to slow down! The car brakes trying to stop nearly double the normal mass would be a big issue!

 

   Stevan is quite correct.  Whilst it may be difficult to tell if your brakes are working, you can certainly tell if they're not working.  Years ago, after having had the 'van serviced, we went off on holiday to France.  At that time went down to Dover and whilst descending the hill down to the port I could clearly tell that I was getting no braking assistance from the caravan brakes.  We crossed the water and I pulled over into the first suitable lay-by and crawled under the caravan to find that the locknut on the  brake operating had not been tightened during the 'service'.  Problem found, I adjusted the rod and tightened the nut correctly to a witness point I could see on the threads and we  continued on our way.

   John.

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Posted (edited)

I would check some of the brake clearances on the shoes ,cables and then rods . 

 

 

When was the chassis last serviced ? The service engineer checked the linings ?

 

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

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Although I rarely use more than light braking, it's easy to feel the caravan brakes come on when I have to brake more heavily. There's a slight lag between the car brakes coming on and starting to slow then I can feel the extra braking effort from the caravan.

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I do not have a rear view camera to see the hitch so do not know what it is doing but when I brake you can feel the caravan braking and I always check a few times at low speed when first setting off. Some caravan brakes squeal as well so the noise lets you know they are working.

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12 hours ago, svimes said:

 

I think that's the key for the OP: even when maintaining a constant speed after braking, the caravan is being pulled and the hitch decompressed.

 

That's the test he needs to do (sounds like he may already have).

 

Yes with the hitch fully compressed and tie off I can pull the van by hand as if it was free with no hand brake on. When I pull  on the handbrake it’s locked solid. 

 

Three weeks ago I had my Baileys approved repair guy out specifically to fix this. He changed the strut and adjusted the brakes and while the new strut reduced the harsh bang when I braked I think it needing replaced was a symptom of the brakes not working when towing.

 

So I have brakes that are free with no drag normally. When the hand brake is applied they lock solid. With the hitch fully compressed they do nothing. 

That supports the feel when towing and observations on the camera that the Discovery is doing all the work. 

 

I assume there is far too much clearance between the pads and the drum when the hand brake isn’t applied but close enough so that the handbrake still works. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

if this helps, my caravan is stored at home on axe stands, now and then i spin the wheels to check they are free and there is a slight bind i think you are supposed to have, just a bit meaning they are just touching, i dont need to do the above test though thankfully as i know mine work while on the road as said above, i can feel the car being pulled back easily, 1 thing i will say though is when i tested my handbrake i had to test both wheels as only 1 side would slighly lockup then the other side finished the sequence and both locked up so if you are testing on 1 wheel it may not completely lockup just go stiffer, i know this sounds strange but it makes sense at the wheel of the tourer, i could hear the mechanism move when i moved each wheel 

Edited by robbie244

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I would have thought that with your hitch compressed like that, your brakes should be hard on.

Did your brake rod move much?

With the hitch compressed, can you get much more movement on the brake rod using the handbrake?

 

Refresh my memory. Does this system handbrake come up most of the way normally, but if the wheels are/were turning in the reverse direction, the brake handle will come up more? Or is it the type where the handbrake lever is almost vertical all the time (when its on!) but if it goes backwards, the stored energy spring takes up the extra movement to apply the brakes? (Often with the loud "bang").

 

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It does seem as if the brakes do not work when towing. I would take the caravan to a dealer for them to be serviced.

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21 minutes ago, AlwynMike said:

I would have thought that with your hitch compressed like that, your brakes should be hard on.

Did your brake rod move much?

With the hitch compressed, can you get much more movement on the brake rod using the handbrake?

 

Refresh my memory. Does this system handbrake come up most of the way normally, but if the wheels are/were turning in the reverse direction, the brake handle will come up more? Or is it the type where the handbrake lever is almost vertical all the time (when its on!) but if it goes backwards, the stored energy spring takes up the extra movement to apply the brakes? (Often with the loud "bang").

 

 

It’s the first option. It comes up most of the way then moves back further if the wheels reverse. 

On rod movement it moves 16mm on hitch compression and a further 8mm when the handbrake is applied. 

 

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