Trailer brake controller/Sway control - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-20-2019, 09:22 AM   #1
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Trailer brake controller/Sway control

As part of the procedure to get a swaying trailer under control, the trailer brakes are applied using the manual switch/lever on the brake controller unit.

While gripping the steering wheel trying to keep the tow vehicle and trailer under control in a sway situation, can you activate the trailer brakes without compromising vehicle control by taking one hand off the steering wheel? I can’t.

If you have an aftermarket brake controller that allows activation without letting go of the steering wheel, I would be interested in hearing about it.

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Old 05-20-2019, 10:20 AM   #2
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trailer brake controller

That's a job for what's her name. She knows how to operate the manual lever very well.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:32 AM   #3
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Interesting question - no, I do not know of a controller that allows hands free application of trailer brakes as you suggest.



Our E21 is rock solid behind the Tacoma. I have deliberately tried to generate sway, and have not managed to make it misbehave even slightly. Has your E21 generated sway with your tow vehicle?
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:43 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by AllanEdie View Post
Interesting question - no, I do not know of a controller that allows hands free application of trailer brakes as you suggest.



Our E21 is rock solid behind the Tacoma. I have deliberately tried to generate sway, and have not managed to make it misbehave even slightly. Has your E21 generated sway with your tow vehicle?

No sway issues of any type but Post #163 on this thread got me thinking about how I would apply the trailer brakes while keeping everything else under control.

Scrambled Egg (Our 19)

Today’s project is jury rigging a way to do just that.


Alexa. Apply the trailer brakes.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:58 AM   #5
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I have, a long time ago, had a trailer get out of control with sway, and was probably lucky to get out of the mess alive. Much younger if not stupider then, the trailer was grossly mis-loaded in order to get a lift of lumber home. Hey, it was only 15k, what could go wrong?


In any case, the issue with sway is not an instantaneous transition into needing both hands on the wheel to control things. The problem is that after an initial disturbance, each sway gets worse until things are truly out of control. As long as you grab the manual lever as soon as you detect the instability, steering with one hand is unlikely to be difficult at all, and early application of the trailer brake will sort things more or less instantly. Ironically, applying TV brakes in the absence of trailer brakes might be the worst thing one can do.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:59 AM   #6
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There aren’t many, or maybe any, options available. While it is indeed safer to operate with both hands on the wheel, there may come a time when it is necessary to use one hand. Practicing that, may be practical for saving life, limb, and property.

But intentionally inducing a trailer to pendulate, might be pretty dangerous. Probably best done by repeated, fast executed, consecutively and sharp right to left turns. But I’m not going to try it. Minus those actions, your Escape probably won’t sway. High winds and passing semi-trucks have all failed to budge my Escape. Knock on wood though, there is no anti-sway guarantee.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:35 PM   #7
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I'm saying this from ignorance so take it for what its work. Perhaps setting your bias/gain (whatever it's called) to apply greater force on the trailer brakes so you can just lightly apply the brake peddle to stop the sway. That being said, I was once towing a trailer (no trailer brakes) with two cords of green firewood and a Suzuki Samari as the tow vehicle. While going down a long grade on I-5 near Weed, CA I lightly applied the brakes to reduce my decent. My trailer immediately started to jackknife. Fortunately, I chose to remove my foot from the brake and the trailer straightened out. Happy ending!
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Old 05-20-2019, 02:00 PM   #8
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John I wouldn’t set the gain higher then normal on the controller as this will cause the trailer to do most of the braking for the TV and thus overheat and prematurely wear out the trailer brakes.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:31 PM   #9
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John I wouldn’t set the gain higher then normal on the controller as this will cause the trailer to do most of the braking for the TV and thus overheat and prematurely wear out the trailer brakes.
I agree - incorrectly setting the gain is not a suitable for this concern.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by EdColorado View Post
As part of the procedure to get a swaying trailer under control, the trailer brakes are applied using the manual switch/lever on the brake controller unit.

While gripping the steering wheel trying to keep the tow vehicle and trailer under control in a sway situation, can you activate the trailer brakes without compromising vehicle control by taking one hand off the steering wheel? I can’t.
I've never had a sway situation with a trailer having a brake controller, but in theory...

Why would it be a problem to hold the steering wheel steady while applying the brake control? If you're trying to compensate for the trailer sway, don't... the best you can do is steer straight ahead. With every modern vehicle having over-boosted power steering, two fingers are enough for that.

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If you have an aftermarket brake controller that allows activation without letting go of the steering wheel, I would be interested in hearing about it.
Short of a foot pedal or voice command () that would need to be a steering wheel spoke button or wheel-mounted lever (such as the now-popular "shift paddles"), right? Those wheel-mounted controls are usually very difficult to use while actively steering unless your hands are essentially locked to one position on the wheel, so I don't think it would be much of an improvement. But more directly... I am very interested in brake control systems and automotive controls, and I've never heard of a steering-wheel-mounted trailer brake control.


If I ever had to do this, I would fix the unstable trailer rather than find a more clever brake control lever implementation.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:46 PM   #11
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You: "Alexa, apply the trailer brakes".
Alexa: "Them's the breaks, on Spotify".
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by AllanEdie View Post
Interesting question - no, I do not know of a controller that allows hands free application of trailer brakes as you suggest.



Our E21 is rock solid behind the Tacoma. I have deliberately tried to generate sway, and have not managed to make it misbehave even slightly. Has your E21 generated sway with your tow vehicle?
AllanEdie: I'm considering a Tacoma with a 21' Escape as well. Do you have the 2WD or the 4WD Tacoma? We love Toyotas.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:16 PM   #13
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"But more directly... I am very interested in brake control systems and automotive controls, and I've never heard of a steering-wheel-mounted trailer brake control."

The concept seems simple. A small button attached to the steering wheel with a simple spring clip. The button activates a battery powered bluetooth transmission to the nearby master control to activate the trailer brakes. There are wireless brake controllers on the market now. Just a matter of the bluetooth button.

Now I can keep both hands firmly planted on the steering wheel for maximum control regardless of what may have caused the sway.

Ed
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Old 05-20-2019, 08:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by EdColorado View Post
The concept seems simple. A small button attached to the steering wheel with a simple spring clip. The button activates a battery-powered Bluetooth transmission to the nearby master control to activate the trailer brakes. There are wireless brake controllers on the market now. Just a matter of the Bluetooth button.
I'm getting close to purchasing the Curt Echo Mobile Wireless Trailer Brake Controller and along with my Ram Mount for my iPhone, the manual brake activation is close to what you described except not steering wheel mounted. The advantage of a dash-mounted button would be that it is always in the same place, unlike a steering wheel-mounted button that turns with the wheel. The disadvantage, of course, is that you would have to remove one finger at best or your whole hand at worse.

I don't know if Siri can activate the trailer brakes during a sway event but if so I will have to change the voice command from "hey Siri apply the trailer brakes" to "oh $hit apply the trailer brakes".

There are some interesting videos on the Curt Echo Brake Controller on the etrailer.com site.

https://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contr...leID=201983209
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:10 PM   #15
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I'm getting close to purchasing the Curt Echo Mobile Wireless Trailer Brake Controller and along with my Ram Mount for my iPhone, the manual brake activation is close to what you described except not steering wheel mounted. The advantage of a dash-mounted button would be that it is always in the same place, unlike a steering wheel-mounted button that turns with the wheel. The disadvantage, of course, is that you would have to remove one finger at best or your whole hand at worse.

I don't know if Siri can activate the trailer brakes during a sway event but if so I will have to change the voice command from "hey Siri apply the trailer brakes" to "oh $hit apply the trailer brakes".

There are some interesting videos on the Curt Echo Brake Controller on the etrailer.com site.

https://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contr...leID=201983209



Didn’t know about this product but that’s the idea. You can mount your cellphone in a place close to the steering wheel as to minimize the distraction of activating the brakes. You will have to be sure the phone doesn’t “sleep” from inactivity
If I didn’t already have a hard wired one, I would take a hard look at this one. I like the concept.

Or mount the phone like this.


https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Pho...gateway&sr=8-5

Lots of possibilities.
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:16 PM   #16
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John I wouldn’t set the gain higher then normal on the controller as this will cause the trailer to do most of the braking for the TV and thus overheat and prematurely wear out the trailer brakes.
For years I've been setting the gain higher than I've read with no problems. I just took our 5.0 in at 10,200 miles and he said the brakes were still like new. Of course, I gear down when descending mountain grades and only pump brakes in that situation when needed. I want that trailer to slow down. And NO I don't put ALL the braking on the trailer, that would create problems.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:44 PM   #17
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Trailer brake controller/Sway control

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdColorado View Post
Didn’t know about this product but that’s the idea. You can mount your cellphone in a place close to the steering wheel as to minimize the distraction of activating the brakes. You will have to be sure the phone doesn’t “sleep” from inactivity

If I didn’t already have a hard wired one, I would take a hard look at this one. I like the concept.



Or mount the phone like this.





https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Pho...gateway&sr=8-5



Lots of possibilities.

Ed


All of these solutions introduce a number of new failure points. The whole point of a manual switch is it’s an emergency control - one that you do not want to fail. I will stick with my hard-wired switch that will always be right where I expect it to be, every time, and that I can manually activate in a fraction of a second because I’ve practiced and rehearsed the move. In an emergency only muscle memory supersedes panic. And in a sway situation there are no extra seconds to spare for fumbling.

Whatever system you go with, learn it, practice it, and train it to be an automatic response. Live and tell the tale another day.
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:49 PM   #18
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All of these solutions introduce a number of new failure points. The whole point of a manual switch is it’s an emergency control - one that you do not want to fail. I will stick with my hard-wired switch that will always be right where I expect it to be, every time, and that I can manually activate in a fraction of a second because I’ve practiced and rehearsed the move. In an emergency only muscle memory supersedes panic. And in a sway situation there are no extra seconds to spare for fumbling.

Whatever system you go with, learn it, practice it, and train it to be an automatic response. Live and tell the tale another day.


Exactly! I practice every time I get in the truck and so does Terry.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:04 PM   #19
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“be right where I expect it to be, every time, and that I can manually activate in a fraction of a second...”

True. And you will steer with one hand for the duration of the control event because you must hold the manual leaver, at least with my Prodigy unit, for as long as you want the trailer brakes to be applied.


I like the hard wired unit. I don’t like steering with one hand whether I’m passing, lane changing, or dealing with a control event.

There just has to be a better, safer solution.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:11 PM   #20
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From someone that has had to correct sway let me share this...the wheel will be moving back and forth as the trailer yanks the tow vehicle but you can “steer” with one hand. It’s more like trying to calmly keep the wheel straight and not overcompensating. Lifting slowly off the gas and activating only the trailer brakes manually saved me from a potentially catastrophic ending. When safe to do so practice reaching down and activating the manual controller under normal driving conditions. Don’t apply the tow vehicle brakes and don’t purposely try to induce sway. Just do it with straight line driving until you feel the whole rig slow down. If this is repeated occasionally and you are confident you will have engrained the necessary motions and be able to do it quickly if sway ever starts.

The cause of the sway was I was light on the tongue, traveling a little too fast, was being passed and hit some uneven pavement. The first two are in my control and won’t happen again.
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