brake controller, de-couple, and WDH - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-23-2018, 07:54 PM   #1
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brake controller, de-couple, and WDH

Hi Everyone,

Question about brake controller. We got our Escape 19 delivered at the end of August. Last weekend was our first trip. We have Toyota Tundra with towing package as our towing vehicle. It also has built-in brake controller. We had debated for a long time whether using our 2008 MDX or got a truck. In the end, we decided that having extra buffer with powerful pickup for errors or mistakes may get things easier since we are definitely newbies. The instruction for adjusting the brake controller is: 1. Pre-set to 5.0 (10.0 is highest), 2. Drive at 20-25 miles/hour 3. Apply manual brake to the maximum without stepping brake pedal. 4. Listen if there is any tire screening sound (lock up) or see smoke. 5. Adjust the number until reach the lock up point. 6. The lock up number -1 is the right setting. We turned down all the windows and tried from 5.0 to 8.0. no sounds or smoke at all. But we do feel the trailer was dragging behind. At the end, we just made a guess and set it to 6.5. The driving was smooth. Not feeling anything about not able to brake. But I still doubt if this is correct setting. When you guys adjusted your brake controller, did you really heard the screaming sound? Do you need to held the manual brake at the maximum for a while for trailer to lock up? Maybe we just released too quickly.

Then another weird thing happened. When we reach the campsite, removed the weight distribution bars, extended the power jack trying to de-couple the ball mount. The truck got picked up instead. The hitch was NOT locked. Tried a few times not working, until kicking it(the hitch on the truck side) hard then the ball finally dropped. The ground was a little bit downhill so we thought that might be the reason. When we got back home, this happened again. The ball seemed stuck inside the coupler. The ground was pretty level this time. Not sure why this happen? Have any of you experienced this? How to avoid it?

Another thing is regarding the WD bar. I remembered before the trip when we attached them, it was pretty hard. We basically need to raise the power jack to release the tension. When we were back home, it was quite easy, just removed them by hand… Will it get loosed where towing?

Thank you very much!
Jing
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:19 PM   #2
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Put some grease on the ball, that will help. The ball and coupler have to be level and just right to uncouple, anything other than level will gibe you problems as noted. In addition if there is any pressure forward or aft on the trailer it will prevent uncoupling. You may have to chock the wheels to keep the trailer from moving fore or aft and then try to disconnect.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:24 PM   #3
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You also want to be level to attach or detach the WDH bars. I found that out when I backed into my driveway ( slight upward slope ) with the tow vehicle on the road ( level ). I used the persuader pipe to release the chain. The pipe whipped out of my hand and the end of it slammed into the asphalt.

Never did that again.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:39 PM   #4
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Hitch mechanism

Jing,
If you're not that familiar with these hitch mechanisms, I recommend that you go to a store like Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, or somewhere that sells the hitches before they are attached to a trailer.

Turn it over and operate the latch. You will see how the collar locks in the ball, and why it can seem to hold onto the ball even when you want it to release.

It may need for you to pull your tow vehicle forward an inch, backward an inch, or just jump on it at the right time. These hitches are no more modern than they were 50 years ago when some of us started towing. They may be unchanged over the last 100 years, who knows. But definitely look inside one, even if you have to lie on the ground with a flashlight. Once you see how it works, it will be easier to get it to release, even on a hill.
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:46 PM   #5
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Picked up my 5.0TA May this year and my Tow Vehicle has built in brake controller. After towing this summer I've ended up with 3.0 on my brake controller. For me, this setting makes my tow vehicle and trailer feel like they are stopping as one unit. Remember each TV and Trailer combination will have a different setting for many various reasons.

My experience you do not want your brakes to lock up on the trailer on paved surfaces especially when having to suddenly stop. If the trailer wheels are sliding then the TV is doing all the braking.

If the trailer feels like it is pushing the tow vehicle when stopping, then the setting should be increased to get more braking on the trailer. If the trailer feels like it is pulling the tow vehicle when braking then you need to decrease the setting to decrease braking on the trailer.

My preferred method for setting the controller is to get on dirt road and set the controller to the point where the trailer tires lock up on dirt. I have found this method works best for me and getting the setting close to where I want it.
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Old 10-23-2018, 09:00 PM   #6
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Lubrication

I am a believer in a little lithium grease up in the curved part of the coupler and a coating on the ball. Some folks do not like grease as it’s messy but it helps me unhitch and hitch up.
Iowa Dave
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Old 10-23-2018, 10:42 PM   #7
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Jing,
I also tow my trailer with a Toyota Tundra. If you read the Tundra forums you will find the built in trailer brake control installed in these trucks do not work as well as hoped. Most if not all Tundra owners have the same issues.
I have mine adjusted to just below the 10 (which is the highest setting). If I go 30 kph and slide the manual application button to apply the brakes I will feel the tug but my wheels on the trailer will still not lock up. Usually they would lock on and then you adjust down until you get tension but not skidding. Try it and you will see what I mean.
I travel with a 21ft Escape and do not use a WDH. Tried it with and without and found very little difference.
Enjoy your travels. Cheers.
Jim
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:29 PM   #8
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make sure your trailer's brakes are well adjusted. I need to tighten up the ones on our Escape... I can *EASILY* lock up the brakes on our Casita by turning the trailer controller gain up a notch, but the escape, I can feel it braking but not get it to lockup.
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Old 10-24-2018, 01:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcrv2017 View Post
The instruction for adjusting the brake controller is: 1. Pre-set to 5.0 (10.0 is highest), 2. Drive at 20-25 miles/hour 3. Apply manual brake to the maximum without stepping brake pedal. 4. Listen if there is any tire screening sound (lock up) or see smoke. 5. Adjust the number until reach the lock up point. 6. The lock up number -1 is the right setting. We turned down all the windows and tried from 5.0 to 8.0. no sounds or smoke at all. But we do feel the trailer was dragging behind. At the end, we just made a guess and set it to 6.5. The driving was smooth. Not feeling anything about not able to brake. But I still doubt if this is correct setting. When you guys adjusted your brake controller, did you really heard the screaming sound? Do you need to held the manual brake at the maximum for a while for trailer to lock up?
While this is the usual method for adjusting a trailer brake controller, it often does not work well. If the trailer tires have enough traction the trailer brakes won't be able to break them loose. It would work better on gravel, but even better is to adjust so that braking with the trailer (and working controller) feels about the same - the same pedal force required to slow down at the same rate - as without the trailer.

The manual control does not need to be held for any significant time.

You likely have the right setting now, although it is worth checking the adjustment of the trailer's brakes, as already suggested.
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Old 10-24-2018, 01:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcrv2017 View Post
Then another weird thing happened. When we reach the campsite, removed the weight distribution bars, extended the power jack trying to de-couple the ball mount. The truck got picked up instead. The hitch was NOT locked. Tried a few times not working, until kicking it(the hitch on the truck side) hard then the ball finally dropped. The ground was a little bit downhill so we thought that might be the reason. When we got back home, this happened again. The ball seemed stuck inside the coupler. The ground was pretty level this time. Not sure why this happen? Have any of you experienced this? How to avoid it?
The front of the coupler curves under the ball a little, so unless the trailer is pushed forward a bit it holds on. If the trailer pulled back, it can catch on the moveable jaw of the coupler. Some jostling may be required, and lubrication helps.

If you are going to look at a coupler in a store to see how it works, make sure it's the same style - there are lots of different designs.
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