Offroad Trailer Brakes - Yes or No?

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Embark With Mark

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Back on the Cheap Jeep Trailer. This time we wire up the trailer brakes. Something that should have been done long ago. Also, we move from a 4 pin to a 7 pin connector. I have built trailers without brakes and trailers with. Would you run trailer brakes on your offroad trailer? Why or why not? Here is my take. The weight of the trailer should be a consideration whether the trailer needs brakes or not, but offroad changes this decision. For me, I think all offroad/expedition trailers should have brakes. The reason being, outside of the obvious safety factor, is that while offroad having brakes on the trailer allows for a much higher degree of control. Thoughts? Here is the video of me working on the Cheap Jeep Trailer.


 
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M Rose

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I agree with you Mark, always brakes on my trail trailers... I’m upset my bot trailer doesn’t have brakes for the control issue you mention.
 
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Embark With Mark

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I agree with you Mark, always brakes on my trail trailers... I’m upset my bot trailer doesn’t have brakes for the control issue you mention.
Exactly. I built my trailers extremely light because I use them behind a TJ. Even so, trailer brakes are awesome with even the lightest of loads. Thank you for your input!
 

Smileyshaun

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I always thought for a off-road trailer having the ability to lockup one tire would be great if you ever needed to Backup and get the trailer to turn But couldn’t get the rig to cooperate with the direction you want to go because of terrain . It would probably never need to be used but if there was that one time it would be a lifesaver
 

Embark With Mark

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I always thought for a off-road trailer having the ability to lockup one tire would be great if you ever needed to Backup and get the trailer to turn But couldn’t get the rig to cooperate with the direction you want to go because of terrain . It would probably never need to be used but if there was that one time it would be a lifesaver
I love the idea of being able to control each tire independently. Reminds me of cutting brakes in an older sand rail I had. Hmm maybe a cool project would be to figure out how to wire something like that up, and make it controllable from the cab.
 

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Back on the Cheap Jeep Trailer. This time we wire up the trailer brakes. Something that should have been done long ago. Also, we move from a 4 pin to a 7 pin connector. I have built trailers without brakes and trailers with. Would you run trailer brakes on your offroad trailer? Why or why not? Here is my take. The weight of the trailer should be a consideration whether the trailer needs brakes or not, but offroad changes this decision. For me, I think all offroad/expedition trailers should have brakes. The reason being, outside of the obvious safety factor, is that while offroad having brakes on the trailer allows for a much higher degree of control. Thoughts? Here is the video of me working on the Cheap Jeep Trailer.


Yes I agree 100% that off road trailers should have brakes on them. All my trailers regardless of size or weight have brakes on them and all my vehicles have brake controllers.
 

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I love the idea of being able to control each tire independently. Reminds me of cutting brakes in an older sand rail I had. Hmm maybe a cool project would be to figure out how to wire something like that up, and make it controllable from the cab.
Actually very easy... 3 position momentary toggle/rocker switch, 2 relays, An extra trailer connector and a 12 gauge duplex wire long enough to go from the back of the trailer to the front of the rig.
For the trailer side, splice the duplex wire into the left and right trailer brake hot wires and run the wire up the frame to the Original Trailer Pigtail.
Vehicle side, pull power to the 2 relay inputs and to the switch input. Switch out put goes back to the two relays (1 wire from position A to relay A and 1 wire from position B to relay B). From each relay output run the duplex wire back to your new trailer plug. Wire A is Left Brake, wire B is Right Brake.
When the switch is off, or you depress the brake pedal, brakes work normal... flip switch one way and Left brake locks, press the other way and right brake locks up. Unfortunately no way to control how much force is supplied while doing this... it’s either locked, or it’s not.
 

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I love the idea of being able to control each tire independently. Reminds me of cutting brakes in an older sand rail I had. Hmm maybe a cool project would be to figure out how to wire something like that up, and make it controllable from the cab.
Actually very easy... 3 position momentary toggle/rocker switch, 2 relays, An extra trailer connector and a 12 gauge duplex wire long enough to go from the back of the trailer to the front of the rig.
For the trailer side, splice the duplex wire into the left and right trailer brake hot wires and run the wire up the frame to the Original Trailer Pigtail.
Vehicle side, pull power to the 2 relay inputs and to the switch input. Switch out put goes back to the two relays (1 wire from position A to relay A and 1 wire from position B to relay B). From each relay output run the duplex wire back to your new trailer plug. Wire A is Left Brake, wire B is Right Brake.
When the switch is off, or you depress the brake pedal, brakes work normal... flip switch one way and Left brake locks, press the other way and right brake locks up. Unfortunately no way to control how much force is supplied while doing this... it’s either locked, or it’s not.
That’s exactly the method I was just thinking through in my head. Great minds think alike. What would be really cool is if this could all be fit into one trailer plug. Hmmm. I might have to go search for different trailer connectors and see what is available.
 

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That’s exactly the method I was just thinking through in my head. Great minds think alike. What would be really cool is if this could all be fit into one trailer plug. Hmmm. I might have to go search for different trailer connectors and see what is available.
It could be done.... unfortunately... industry standards.... largest trailer connector is a 7 pin RV style... although typically the reverse lead isn’t used along with one other wire (I for get wich one at the moment... so you could use that... and hope you never tow anything with a 7 pin.
 
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Embark With Mark

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It could be done.... unfortunately... industry standards.... largest trailer connector is a 7 pin RV style... although typically the reverse lead isn’t used along with one other wire (I for get wich one at the moment... so you could use that... and hope you never tow anything with a 7 pin.
The two wires you are speaking of are reverse lights and a power wire to charge a battery. Normal utility trails do not use those two. Hmm.
 

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It could be done.... unfortunately... industry standards.... largest trailer connector is a 7 pin RV style... although typically the reverse lead isn’t used along with one other wire (I for get wich one at the moment... so you could use that... and hope you never tow anything with a 7 pin.
The Aussie guys seems to have more than one trailer connector. You could always use the 7 as the main one and do a 4 flat auxiliary to accommodate the brake controls.
 

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The Aussie guys seems to have more than one trailer connector. You could always use the 7 as the main one and do a 4 flat auxiliary to accommodate the brake controls.
That’s what I said... or even a flat SAE 2 pin.
 

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The two wires you are speaking of are reverse lights and a power wire to charge a battery. Normal utility trails do not use those two. Hmm.
No not the 12v power... as I always use the 12v to power my trailer battery while driving... use the oem trailer brake wire, wire in a third relay triggered by the brake pedal, powered off the brake controller, and sent to the the other two relays.
 

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The two wires you are speaking of are reverse lights and a power wire to charge a battery. Normal utility trails do not use those two. Hmm.

All my trailers including the small utility one have back up lights and batteries so I use all 7 wires in the plug.
 

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On the trailer I used to have, the brakes were useless on anything other than pavement. The trailer was 1800lbs loaded and would just slide even with the settings at minimum on the controller. So in my opinion, under 2k, not a big deal, over, definitely. One thing I always wanted to do was have a switch on the tongue so I could activate the brakes when I needed to take the trailer off on a hill (turning around on a narrow road usually). Would be easier than chocks. Individual actuation would be really cool here, I like that idea, as being able to set 1 brake would make pushing the trailer around 180 sooo much easier.
 

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On the trailer I used to have, the brakes were useless on anything other than pavement. The trailer was 1800lbs loaded and would just slide even with the settings at minimum on the controller. So in my opinion, under 2k, not a big deal, over, definitely. One thing I always wanted to do was have a switch on the tongue so I could activate the brakes when I needed to take the trailer off on a hill (turning around on a narrow road usually). Would be easier than chocks. Individual actuation would be really cool here, I like that idea, as being able to set 1 brake would make pushing the trailer around 180 sooo much easier.
That might have a lot do with the controller and tow rig. I know that the tow pro elite is adjustable enough that it doesn't bother me while offroad. Maybe the size or type of brakes would affect this too?
 
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I put them on my little trailer that gets pulled by a Pinto powered Willys CJ2A, and a four-cylinder Jeep TJ. I think it especially helps the Willys when trying to stop. I'm using the 7-pin wiring set-up on all my vehicles, but this one also allows you to use a flat-four pin harness if that's what your trailer's got..



Willys and trailer.6 (2).jpgOverland Adventure.12.jpgwiring.4 (2).jpg
 
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Sounds like the ''trailers aren't safe in snow'' crowd, in here.

No, I never run brakes on little trailers with short lengths and light weight. Larger trailers generally can handle braking better. The possibility of a lockup in the rain and snow, and having the trailer swing the tow vehicle is far too likely.

If the tow vehicle needs a little trailer to have brakes, for optimum performance, I recommend a larger better tow vehicle instead.
 

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Sounds like a few people need more practice/experience pulling trailers year around in here. The best advice I have for new to towing people is hook up your trailer on a nice day and go pull it around town, find an out of the way parking lot and practice backing it up straight, then into parking spaces until it's easy to do. The time to learn is not when you're tired, everybody's anxious and you're on a trail in the dark or when it's raining.

Other than on ice or mud the only time I've had a trailer swing out was one with no brakes on it during a panic stop. Also if the trailer is wagging or swaying from a poor road surface, wind or being tail heavy a quick touch on the manual lever on the controller will straighten it right out.

I don't know about other brands but the Prodigy series has "factory" wires that will connect the controller to your newer rig doing nothing but plugging it in.

I don't understand the big worry about "locking up" the brakes on a trailer in here. My controller (Prodigy P2) can be adjusted from locking up the brakes with just a touch on the brake pedal to completely off with the adjustment wheel on it.



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