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What experience have you had with a light trailer equipped with an hydraulic hitch brake master cylinder on a light RV trailer or boat trailer? 

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If your tow vehicle is 12 volts, get electric brakes. The hydraulic ones can be a pain. They don't always release when backing up and the trailer tends to surge and clunk a lot as you are going down the road. If you are are 6 volts you really don't have a choice but they are just another hydraulic brake system you have to maintain and deal with things like frozen wheels cylinders, shoe adjustment, rusty brake lines, etc.  I use the hydraulic hookup when I get a tow and dump cement load and cuss at them every time.  And that is with my F150. Also used them with a boat trailer on a ramp, not a lot of fun. 

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I've been researching electric vs hydraulic and the electric are the preferred choice. I was surprised that a new axle with leaf springs is not all that expensive. Today I bought a fisher upper 12' vintage RV for either my Suburban or my truck. It was very inexpensive and will suit me just fine. I'll pull it home late August for a winter project. 

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As GTK stated, rough when trying to back up...these devices are typically on rental equipment as opposed to private owned setup.  The reasoning is that the man off the street can stop in and rent a rig without the need to install a towing brake controller and associated wiring on a vehicle that will probably not tow anything else for a great while.  The man who owns a rig needing brakes and towing if but a few times a year is better served with the electric brakes.  Check your codes, depending on the weight of that trailer or physical size, it may mandate a self contained break-away braking system.  These are inexpensive and easy to add to your towing rig also.  Besides, it is a good thing to install anyway.   

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I used to own a 36' gooseneck with electric hydraulic disc brakes. It was the best breaking setup I ever had on a trailer. I still had a brake controller in cab - but it was a little fancier with a PWM output that could feed either a traditional electric trailer brake setup or my hydraulic one. there was an electric pump setup on the neck of the trailer that provided hydraulic brake pressure based on the PWM from the controller. I would buy another trailer with this setup in a heartbeat, but its WAY overkill for what you need - go with the standard electric trailer brake hookup and get a good in cab controller.

 

I would also recommend setting everything up for the "7 pin RV" trailer plug - then you can have a battery on board the trailer for powering things - when its hooked up to the truck and driving down the road, the truck is also charging that battery. That might be handy for a winch, or LED interior lighting, or a pump (air, water, ???).

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I had a 1961 Deville trailer. It had a master cylinder mounted on the tongue with a lever to actuate as a parking brake. It also had a hose with a quick disconnect to hook to your vehicles brake system. It was pretty vintage stuff. Considering it was a whopping 12ft, I just ran it without brakes. 

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Wow, hooking into the vehicle's system seems pretty sketchy. I've heard about this setup but never seen one in the wild. 

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It was sketchy at best. Your rear brakes activated a master cylinder on the tongue. Then that master cylinder operated the trailer brakes. My uncle owned it since new and never tried them. He only used the handle on the trailer MC to use parking brakes.

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Hydraulic parking brakes are not a good solution as any bleed back on the master cyl. or leaks anywhere in the system will release the brakes eventually.

 

We had many forklifts with hydraulic park brakes of the lever type that when you flipped the lever and stepped on the brake pedal it would activate the brakes to stay on until the lever was flipped back. The operation instructions decal on the lever stated in large letters do Not leave the forklift unattended with park brake on! If on a hill or unlevel ground they could and Did  often roll away sometimes with Bad results.  😣

 

DJ

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Had a little experience with these in my working life.  We made  specialized trailers for the US Air Force and other air forces around the world.  Trailer weighed in at 19000 lbs.  Only complaint I ever heard about these things ( we called them surge actuators) was they were a pain to bleed because you had to find a way to overcome the spring force to apply pressure to the system brakes so the wheel cylinders could be bled.  Also, trying to back- up the trailer was sketchy because as you did you were first applying pressure to the brake system until the cylinder piston reached an internal relief slot that would bleed off the pressure suddenly.  Now your tow/push vehicle that was throttled up and applying pressure to the trailer brake system was suddenly freed and the trailer would move rearward maybe a little faster than intended.  This was maybe OK on a runway where there was plenty of room but in a confined area the four wheeled trailer was pushed backwards using man power. Regards.

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