Tow rig brake controller - Miata Turbo Forum - Boost cars, acquire cats.

Welcome to Miataturbo.net   Members
 


Race Prep Miata race-only chat.
Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Reply
 
 
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 04-03-2011, 09:04 AM   #1
Ben
Supporting Vendor
Thread Starter
iTrader: (33)
 
Ben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: atlanta-ish
Posts: 12,689
Total Cats: 99
Default Tow rig brake controller

My experience with electric trailer brakes is pretty limited. Will be installing a controller in my light duty truck to help slow down a loaded car hauler. Truck is an Explorer, with V8, tow pack, and class IV receiver. Trailer will be a tandem with brakes on single or both axles--yet to be purchased. Truck is currently wired for 4 pin. It's not wired for 7 pin or brake controller yet, so I have a blank slate.

I'm looking for a recommendation on a brake controller. Timed? Progressive?
And if it has a single axis accelerometer, can I mount it vertically on the center console? Based on my reading so far, I think I want a progressive controller that can be mounted approx vertically, off the side of the center console--assuming such a creature exists.

If you have feedback or recommendations on a specific model, please share.
Ben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 11:43 AM   #2
Cpt. Slow
iTrader: (25)
 
curly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon City, OR
Posts: 12,109
Total Cats: 518
Default

Why not the mechanical ones built into the tongue? I'm very limited on my trailer knowledge, but I do know about those. Just don't know any pros/cons of them.
curly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 12:07 PM   #3
Elite Member
iTrader: (15)
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 4,889
Total Cats: 28
Default

If you have electric brakes on the trailer already get a TEKONSHA PRODIGY for the brake controller. After much research that is what I bought and it works great. It will compensate for being slightly off of level on the mounting. I have towed a dual-axle 20 foot loaded enclosed car hauler with it a few times already with no problem.

You will have to wire the truck for the 7-pin connector but it is not that big a deal. I did this myself last year on my Tundra because before 2003 they were not prewired for electric brakes. If you go to etrailer.com they have what you need and also have instructions on how to do the wiring. Their prices are pretty good too. You need the 7-pin connector, wiring, and a couple of self-resetting relays.

For others, if your truck is already wired for a 7-pin brake connector (most of the new ones are) then just get the adapter plug for the Prodigy, mount it, and plug it in to your factory harness. Done.

Electric trailer brakes are fantastic.

Last edited by ZX-Tex; 04-03-2011 at 12:24 PM.
ZX-Tex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 12:11 PM   #4
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Durham, NC
Posts: 409
Total Cats: 19
Default

Quote:
Truck is currently wired for 4 pin. It's not wired for 7 pin or brake controller yet, so I have a blank slate.
Not sure about the Explorer but the F series come prewired for a 7-pin and brake controller if you get the towing package. There is a kit to replace the 4-pin plug with a 7-pin plug.

If you plan on going to VIR get a trailer with brakes on both axles, it's required in NC (and a lot of other states).

This is NC's law.

Quote:
20‑124. Brakes.
(e) Motor trucks and tractor‑trucks with semitrailers attached shall be capable of stopping on a dry, hard, approximately level highway free from loose material at a speed of 20 miles per hour within the following distances: Thirty feet with both hand and service brake applied simultaneously and 50 feet when either is applied separately, except that vehicles maintained and operated permanently for the transportation of property and which were registered in this or any other state or district prior to August, 1929, shall be capable of stopping on a dry, hard, approximately level highway free from loose material at a speed of 20 miles per hour within a distance of 50 feet with both hand and service brake applied simultaneously, and within a distance of 75 feet when either applied separately.

(e1) Every motor truck and truck‑tractor with semitrailer attached, shall be equipped with brakes acting on all wheels, except trucks and truck‑tractors having three or more axles need not have brakes on the front wheels if manufactured prior to July 25, 1980. However, such trucks and truck‑tractors must be capable of complying with the performance requirements of G.S. 20‑124(e).

(f) Every semitrailer, or trailer, or separate vehicle, attached by a drawbar or coupling to a towing vehicle, and having a gross weight of two tons, and all house trailers of 1,000 pounds gross weight or more, shall be equipped with brakes controlled or operated by the driver of the towing vehicle, which shall conform to the specifications set forth in subsection (e) of this section and shall be of a type approved by the Commissioner.
A LOT of trailers are sold with only one braking axle.

I haven't started towing yet but I've already bought my controller and have a trailer on order. What I saw most controllers were okay with being at an angle but they still had to be in line with the direction of travel. So you could angle it up to see the display while driving.

http://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contro...sha/90195.html

Was what I got. Likely overkill for my little Miata on an open trailer but it's a safety item. I'd rather have something better than I need than jackknife when my surge brakes don't work.
FatKao is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 02:39 PM   #5
Supporting Vendor
iTrader: (31)
 
Savington's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 14,370
Total Cats: 1,332
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZX-Tex View Post
get a TEKONSHA PRODIGY for the brake controller.
This is what I use in the truck. Excellent controller. Spend the extra bucks for it - having a crappy controller really sucks. You'll get poor braking on the highway and really touchy brakes around town.

My trailer has brakes on rear axle only, our other flatbed has them on both. The upside to both is that you won't flatspot the trailer tires as easily, but I've never noticed a stability problem with only 1 axle braked.

Surge brakes SUCK.
Savington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 02:51 PM   #6
Elite Member
iTrader: (41)
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Seabrook, TX
Posts: 2,409
Total Cats: 19
Default

I also use that controller in my truck and bus. Works great, is predictable, and is super easy to wire up.
rharris19 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 03:41 PM   #7
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Gainesville, Tx
Posts: 229
Total Cats: 1
Default

Another +1 for the prodigy. Pay a little more for one, cause it's an area you don't want to cheap out on, and it's a one time expense.
sixace is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 06:52 PM   #8
Elite Member
 
codrus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 3,878
Total Cats: 344
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Savington View Post
Surge brakes SUCK.
They have a limited utility for boat trailers that are going to be immersed in salt water, but absolutely no place on a race car trailer.

+1 on the Prodigy. I have one, came with the truck, works great.

--Ian
codrus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 07:21 PM   #9
Ben
Supporting Vendor
Thread Starter
iTrader: (33)
 
Ben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: atlanta-ish
Posts: 12,689
Total Cats: 99
Default

Thanks guys.

The truck is definitely not prewired for the trailer brake controller, but I can take care of the wiring. I will be picking up one of the Tekonsha controllers. Looks like it has to be mounted parallel to the direction of travel, which is too bad. Vertically off the side of the center console would have been a more convenient position (easier to reach and more visible) than under the dash, but so be it.

If anyone has a trailer for sale in the Atlanta area, let me know. Preferably with brakes on both axles.
Ben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 07:36 PM   #10
Elite Member
iTrader: (12)
 
GeneSplicer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 2,006
Total Cats: 147
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZX-Tex View Post
If you have electric brakes on the trailer already get a TEKONSHA PRODIGY for the brake controller.
Man - thats a nice controller. I have single axle brakes on my dual axle shark tank. Only gripe about it (some Pilot brand) is as progressive goes - when I have to brake check b/c of some moron cut me off, the truck does the brunt of the braking as the trailer is not at full brake yet. I wish I also had dual braking axles...
GeneSplicer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2011, 09:00 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 1,272
Total Cats: 32
Default

Those yank controllers are so good I'm even rocking one in my tow rig here in Australia; Prodigy P3.
timk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2011, 02:03 AM   #12
Junior Member
iTrader: (1)
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 201
Total Cats: 12
Default

I had an original Prodigy, and now have a Prodigy 3 (P3). The original Pridigy, and P2 are still on the market (along side the P3. I'd go for the P3.

I've also towed with a Miata with a V8 Explorer. Suggest you look into a bigger truck for towing a car trailer.
wildo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2011, 02:13 AM   #13
Newb
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 14
Total Cats: 0
Default

I like the original prodigy,
ace75 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2011, 06:53 AM   #14
Ben
Supporting Vendor
Thread Starter
iTrader: (33)
 
Ben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: atlanta-ish
Posts: 12,689
Total Cats: 99
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildo View Post
I've also towed with a Miata with a V8 Explorer. Suggest you look into a bigger truck for towing a car trailer.
While I don't disagree with you and would love a 3/4 ton turbo diesel, getting a bigger truck is not a reality for me right now.

Besides I've put a lot into the Explorer within the year--new Michelins, new 4 wheel brakes (rotors, pads, rebuilt front calipers, wheel bearings), rear shocks and overload springs, class IV receiver, plus other normal maintenance.
Ben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2011, 03:17 PM   #15
Elite Member
iTrader: (15)
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 4,889
Total Cats: 28
Default

I am pulling my 20' enclosed car hauler with a 1/2 ton Tundra (V8) and although it is not ideal it works and I am within its towing capacity. Every time I calculate the ROI on selling the Tundra and getting a larger diesel it just does not make sense.
ZX-Tex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2011, 03:22 PM   #16
Elite Member
iTrader: (41)
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Seabrook, TX
Posts: 2,409
Total Cats: 19
Default

People in the US are kinda funny about towing with anything other than a 3/4 or 1 ton truck. Hell Tacomas are rated to handle 7500lbs if propely equipped. Given with a smaller tow vehicle, you have less room for error, but it can still be perfectly safe.
rharris19 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2011, 04:23 PM   #17
Ben
Supporting Vendor
Thread Starter
iTrader: (33)
 
Ben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: atlanta-ish
Posts: 12,689
Total Cats: 99
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZX-Tex View Post
I am pulling my 20' enclosed car hauler with a 1/2 ton Tundra (V8) and although it is not ideal it works and I am within its towing capacity. Every time I calculate the ROI on selling the Tundra and getting a larger diesel it just does not make sense.
If you look at it like an accountant, no the math won't work. But if you have the finances, a heavier, long wheelbase truck with a ton of torque takes a lot of the stress out of long haul tows. A turbo diesel will also get better mileage, especially unloaded--but the up front is easily $20k used with 100k miles or more. I can't justify that and do not want a car payment.

We bought the 2000 explorer in 2002 with 30k on it. It now has 205k. It's been a great truck, and I have the title.

I have already installed overload springs in the back. I hate airbags and hope to not need them. I also plan on getting a weight distributing hitch.
The truck is rated for the load I plan to pull, and should be ok with the weight distribution and trailer brakes so long as I don't need to cross mountains.
Ben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2011, 04:28 PM   #18
Elite Member
iTrader: (41)
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Seabrook, TX
Posts: 2,409
Total Cats: 19
Default

I have never used the weight distribution hitch, but I know people who swear by them. I havn't taken the time to truly understand how they work, it just does. Kinda like a posi track on a plymouth.
rharris19 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2011, 04:31 PM   #19
Junior Member
iTrader: (1)
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 220
Total Cats: 1
Default

+1 on TEKONSHA PRODIGY.

I've had one in my last two trucks, and I've given two as gifts to friends that already had brake controllers in their trucks, but changed them out for the Prodigy.
modernbeat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-05-2011, 04:41 PM   #20
Ben
Supporting Vendor
Thread Starter
iTrader: (33)
 
Ben's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: atlanta-ish
Posts: 12,689
Total Cats: 99
Default

The WDH works by limiting the downward angle of the trailer tongue, preventing the trailer from being able to push the rear of your vehicle down too far. The weight is still on the tow vehicle, but is better spread through the chassis instead of straight down on the rear. With more weight transferred to the front tires, you will have better control steering and braking.
Ben is offline   Reply With Quote
 
 
Reply

Related Topics
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Project Gemini - Turbo Civic on the Cheap Full_Tilt_Boogie Build Threads 59 12-15-2017 09:00 PM
Raleigh: Fiberglass headlight scope, 1.6L ECU, AFM, Hardtop latches, more bigmackloud Miata parts for sale/trade 13 09-22-2017 01:34 PM
1991 special edition with hard top full part out JC, NJ russian Miata parts for sale/trade 6 10-08-2015 04:01 PM
Leaky Wilwoods mx592 Suspension, Brakes, Drivetrain 1 10-01-2015 01:45 AM


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:12 PM.