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Electric Brakes On Caravans ?


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Now it is legal to have electric brakes on trailers and caravans on Uk roads I wonder how long before we start to fit them to our caravans ?

 

IMO the old over run system was a non starter when it was developed as it still relies on the tow car stopping for the brakes to activate . A electric braking system is independent of the tow car stopping so all wheels are braking . This would help stop jack knifing when stopping on a bend . In the US they have had independent electric brakes on caravans of twice the weight of ours .

 

I would like to see it introduced here but what are other member views ?

 

http://assets. dft. gov. uk/publications/dft-information-sheets/american-caravan-trailer-brakes-and-coupling. pdf

 

Dave

Jeep Commander 3. 0 V6 CRD

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They are absolutely fantastic.

 

It amazing to apply the brakes pulling 10,000 lbs and not feel anything as the load brakes seamlessly with the vehicle. .. absolutely no nudge at all.

 

You can set the braking force from the dash, even apply the brakes from the dash by pushing a button if you want. The clever brake units also sense how fast the tow vehicle is braking and you can set it to match that force, or even slightly more or less. There is an option for a sway sensor that works like ATC on a lot of models.

 

I don't think it will be too long before they are here. In Australia they brought them in not too long ago and Al-KO brought out it's sensabrake system. ... so I guess they would be ready to enter the market place.

 

One of the reasons that the hitch loads and the loads that can be towed are a lot higher in th eUS is that the actual loading on the tow hitch is a known quantity. In the UK a Landrover Discovery can to 3500Kg, that's the limit, but in the US its a lot higher. I asked a Landrover chap a few years ago (Equinox Landrover Centre, Manchester, VT) about this and he said it was because in Europe, that weight is not fixed. .. it can slam into the back of the vehicle and then be snatched as the coupling moves. Also, having a coupling that has to slide in and out has to have a mechanical maximum weight it can deal with. ... a fixed non moving coupling can be made much stronger.

 

Because of this system, if the nose weight gets too much, they just use something like a Hitch Hog.

 

FT

Edited by FlyingTog

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No trees were harmed by this message, but several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

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I think nearly all vans down here have electric brakes. I have mine adjusted so that if I have to apply the brakes at highway speeds, I can't really feel anything different. When cruiseing through a town (50~60 Kph) and I apply the brakes, it grabs slightly. I prefer this, as I am then confident that at highway speeds, it pulls up smartly. I've unfortuately had to test this out a few months ago when we had a tyre blow out (rear passenger, car). Pulled up dead straight, and quickly (after checking the mirror of course).

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Now it is legal to have electric brakes on trailers and caravans on Uk roads I wonder how long before we start to fit them to our caravans ?

 

Dave

 

Are there any in use?

Electric brakes - that comply with C&U Regs - have been legal for many years but don't Airstream use European braking on their European models despite the body being imported from the U. S. ?

 

The problems seem to be the E. U./U. K. requirements of a breakaway system that will operate the trailer brakes in the event of separation from the tow vehicle and a parking brake that is capable of holding the trailer when it is uncoupled from the tow together with an electric brake controller on the tow vehicle that will comply with E. U./U. K. regs.

 

None of which is insurmountable but, so far, not been introduced.

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Yes Airstream Europe use European braking systems on their caravans which have the bodies built on German BPW chassis in the USA then returned to the UK for fitting out.

 

I am certain that if the law could be satisfied then Airstream would offer electric braking BUT as I understand it there is long way to go yet.

Discovery 4 XS SDV6 and Airstream 532 plus 1996 MGF owned since new.

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Yes Airstream Europe use European braking systems on their caravans which have the bodies built on German BPW chassis in the USA then returned to the UK for fitting out.

 

I am certain that if the law could be satisfied then Airstream would offer electric braking BUT as I understand it there is long way to go yet.

 

US caravans are sold over here with Electric brakes already . It only became law in SEP 2011 so the manufacturers have not caught up .

5th wheels have been sold here for a few years now with a mechanical handbrake and mechanical breakaway braking system .

If you imported a Airstream it used have the axles replaced for over run system installed now it only needs a mechanical handbrake system .

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

Jeep Commander 3. 0 V6 CRD

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Elddis Crusader Storm 2000 Kgs, Unipart Royal Atlas Mover .

 

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It sounds like a good idea but how are they activated, is this another connection to the car and consequential modification to the electrics. I've also no doubt that i would add a fair amount to the cost of the van - if ALKO want £550 for their ATC how much do you think they'll charge for an electrically operated braking system?

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Brake Control by IVRA and then Reich was available over a decade ago

I had one and it was transferred between a few caravans before Alko brought out the ATC

It worked as well as the overrun brakes by pulling on the brake rod much the same way as the Alko ATC does when a sway is detected but it was operated from the car/caravan brake light circuit via relays to give the 12V power

You could just press the car brake pedal lightly and the caravan brake would be applied

Very effective on downhill motorway slip roads like the one northbound at J15 M6

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On my fifth wheel in the states we had electric brakes and a brake controller in the cab, easy to use can adjust on the move have as much gain ( Adjustment ) as you want.

 

I think they are tons better but the UK think differently so who am I to argue with the experts who have never used them, hundreds of thousands of miles I have driven them up and down mountains, fast and slow, never a hint of a problem.

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It would be quite cheap and easy to modify the ATC to give full electric braking. All you need is a relay in parallel with the inertia switch sensed from the brake light circuit. This would operate the caravan brakes as soon as the brake lights come on and in advance of the over run brakes operating.

I wonder if anyone has tried it?

Brian

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I think electric brakes might have reducing effect on snaking, when brakes applied. Because the caravan will be under a force on reverse direction by its wheels.

Edited by doganboncu

Dogan Boncu

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I think electric brakes might have reducing effect on snaking, when brakes applied. Because the caravan will be under a force on reverse direction by its wheels.

 

One of the features of the US systems is the ability to brake the trailer up to 100% of the trailers braking effort without having to apply the tow vehicles brakes. This is in effect all that the Al-KO ATC system does.

 

As nearly all US trailers have electric brakes, I asked a few people if they had ever has 'snaking" or know of anyone that had. ... the only thing they said is "what was 'snaking"?

 

Even the guys' in the building industry haul huge "contractors" trailers with more tool in them than my workshop and they don't seem to have any problems.

 

There used to be a video made by one of the brake manufacturing companies that had a Dodge RAM pulling a loaded twin axle trailer. The video showed the unit doing 50 Mph and then they put the brakes on in an emergency stop. It was not much further than the Dodge on its own. But the impressive thing was when they repeated the test and just used the trailer brakes. I stopped in a straight line and without any drama. It obviously too further to stop, but the distance wasn't as much as I'd expected.

 

If anyone can find it, please post a link.

 

Cheers

 

FT

Edited by FlyingTog

2006 Landrover Freelander HSE TD4 (remapped) + 2011 Sterling Celebration 550
No trees were harmed by this message, but several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

my blog. ..Caravan Chronicles Twitter: @CaravanChron

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I've found the video for the Sensabrake by Al-Ko. .... it's worth watching for the brake distance tests.

 

This comes close to ticking all the boxes for UK/Euro compliance, but I believe that there may be a move on the continent to change the regs.

 

2006 Landrover Freelander HSE TD4 (remapped) + 2011 Sterling Celebration 550
No trees were harmed by this message, but several million electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

my blog. ..Caravan Chronicles Twitter: @CaravanChron

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The problems seem to be the E. U./U. K. requirements of a breakaway system that will operate the trailer brakes in the event of separation from the tow vehicle and a parking brake that is capable of holding the trailer when it is uncoupled from the tow together with an electric brake controller on the tow vehicle that will comply with E. U./U. K. regs.

 

It shouldn't be too difficult Beejay, as the existing mechanical brake rods that are currently actuated by the handbrake lever and the breakaway cable would remain "as is".

 

It should be relatively simple to develop a control unit/actuator mechanism similar to the AL-KO ATC unit to actuate the caravan brake rods, but with a 'voltage sensitive' mechanical output that would match the degree of caravan braking to the voltage of the electrical braking signal that it receives from the tow vehicle. Such an electrical signal could readily be obtained by installing a pressure dependant potentiometer in the hydraulic lines to the vehicle brakes.

 

OK so it all sounds very simple, but design and development problems should be far from insurmountable. Considering the safety benefits that undoubtedly accompany electrical trailer braking, I personally think that this is the way to go.

 

Regards,

David

Lunar Lexon SE (with Truma SE mover) pulled by BMW 540i M-Sport or Mitsubishi Pajero 3. 5 (on LPG)

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Brake Control by IVRA and then Reich was available over a decade ago

 

 

But they supplemented the existing brake system which still conformed to the Regs.

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On my fifth wheel in the states we had electric brakes . ..........

 

so who am I to argue with the experts who have never used them, hun

 

No arguement against them so far! The discussion is about the regulations that do not allow them in Europe.

 

Againif they are legal why don't Airstream fit them to their European models - after all they are bodied in the U. S. .....because they are not legally compliant. ...yet.

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It only became law in SEP 2011

 

Dave

 

What changed in 2011?

 

Electric brakes have been legal for years. ..providing they comply with E. U. / U. K. regulations which, so far, nobody has managed to do.

 

Your link gives a reference to

 

http://eur-lex. europa. EU/LexUriServ/LexUriServ. do?uri=CONSLEG:1971L0320:20070101:en:PDF

 

for regulation 71/320 EEC of 1971 where electric brakes on trailers are on page 114

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Good idea but downside may be cost factor for manufacturers who place profit before safety!

Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring so I go back to being me.

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Good idea but downside may be cost factor for manufacturers who place profit before safety!

 

That's a silly statement !! The cost would simply be added to the caravan sales price and profit is always calculated as a percentage of that cost. The downside is - would ''Joe Public'' be prepared to pay the extra cost for the alleged extra safety ??

Discovery 4 XS SDV6 and Airstream 532 plus 1996 MGF owned since new.

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That's a silly statement !! The cost would simply be added to the caravan sales price and profit is always calculated as a percentage of that cost. The downside is - would ''Joe Public'' be prepared to pay the extra cost for the alleged extra safety ??

 

Exactly my point which is why they probably will not fit them until it becomes law!

Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring so I go back to being me.

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That's a silly statement !! The cost would simply be added to the caravan sales price and profit is always calculated as a percentage of that cost. The downside is - would ''Joe Public'' be prepared to pay the extra cost for the alleged extra safety ??

Judging by the number of people who buy tyron bands, and pay extra for ATC, there may be a market. I guess it comes down to the cost

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I used to have Hydraulic drum brakes on a car trailer .

 

 

Dave

Jeep Commander 3. 0 V6 CRD

Isuzu D- Max Utah Auto

Elddis Crusader Storm 2000 Kgs, Unipart Royal Atlas Mover .

 

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I used to have Hydraulic drum brakes on a car trailer .

 

 

Dave

 

Was that the set up with a master cylinder mounted on drawbar? I remember seeing a couple many years ago but auto-reversing probably killed it off.

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I had an ex-military trailer with hydraulic brakes. They worked very well, but, as beejay says, they couldn't be made to work with auto-reverse. Well, not easily, but I don't suppose it would take a genius to work out a way of fitting hydraulic disc brakes to a trailer chassis and a means of fitting auto-reverse. It could be done taking a feed from the reverse lights, but that wouldn't help trailer chassis manufacturers.

 

The fundamental problem here is that caravan manufacturers have very little interest in anything innovative. They are still struggling with making the things not leak, the chassis construction hasn't changed much since the introduction of the Al-Ko lightweight chassis, the interiors remain unchanged year in year out and they still consider things like the battery and the spare wheel are 'optional extras.'

 

If the Japanese ever start making caravans the European firms will be in for one very large shock with possibly the same results for the British industry as the Japanese achieved over our motorcycle and car industries.

 

Still, we have got 25 Golds in the Olympics. :D :D :DB)

Edited by Patrick stoner

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