Originally Posted by jennykatz
Anyway I wish ETI would just install disc surge brakes so so so much easier and they stop a lot better then elec drum brakes One of the trailer mags did a comparison and what a difference it makes
Disk brakes work better than drums in general, but there is no available electrically operated disk brake. There have been two approaches to running disk brakes on a small trailer, and due to the characteristics of these systems it would be surprising for any small travel trailer builder to offer either of them.
This is what the Lil Snoozy has. It is somewhat common on boat trailers. Rental trailers normally use surge brakes (to avoid a need for the tow vehicle to have a controller), but drums rather than disks.
The brake calipers are hydraulic, just like on a car. Instead of a master cylinder operated by the driver with a brake pedal, the master cylinder is inside a special sliding coupler on the trailer tongue, so as the tug brakes and pushes back on the trailer, the trailer brakes are applied. Because the system can't distinguish between the tug pushing back on the trailer while driving forward and braking, and the tug pushing back on the trailer to move it in reverse, a valve to block brake action in reverse is required.
While this is a valid approach, and travel trailers in Europe also use a surge system (but built differently), most people would not accept this design, because
- it does not allow the driver to manually apply the brakes to control sway, and
- the hydraulic system adds complication.
This is the system usually used to run disk brakes on large RV trailers, and some (usually large) boat trailers.
The hydraulic brake calipers are the same as for surge disk brakes. The master cylinder is mounted on the trailer's tongue and driven by an electric motor; it is controlled by the same electric signal from a brake controller as an electric drum brake system.
This works well, but is much more expensive than electric drum brakes, and substantially more complex. I've never heard of anyone putting this on a small travel trailer.