Brake Controller Question - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 09-22-2014, 10:51 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Trailer: 2005 Escape 17B
Posts: 9
Brake Controller Question

Hello Fellow Escape Owners

This is our first post since last December when we posed a question about using a WDH on our TV - which is a Audi Q5 SUV. Since then we ordered a new 15B - cancelled the order when we decided to go used rather than new and then fortunately located a 2005 17B locally on Vancouver Island at a very fair price.

ETI handled the cancellation very professionally and provided a full refund of our deposit - impressive.

Now we are in a RV park in Oliver BC on our first extensive trip. The vehicle is handling the weight of the 17B without any apparent difficulty. We are careful on the weight both total (approx 2800#) and tongue weight (approx 300#). So far we have no concerns on maintaining reasonable speed up long hills, the goal being to maintain 80 to 90% of the posted speed limit but we are very cautious on the long down hills and safe braking. This brings us to our question on setting the brake controller. We have a Prodigy controller. We have gone through the calibration process several times. On the first try there appeared to be too much gain as the brakes were very "grabby" particularly noticeable when braking from a slow speed to a stop. After decreasing the gain the "grabyness" is gone but now we aren't sure whether we are getting enough braking force from the trailer brakes. When the brakes are applied the read out on the controller shows fluctuating readings. So if we are descending a hill at 90 KPH and apply the brakes how much should we actually feel the brakes engaging on the trailer as a sense of drag on our vehicle?

Thanks for the help - there is no substitute for real life experience.


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Old 09-22-2014, 12:57 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Cobble Hill, British Columbia
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
Posts: 174
I haven't used electric brakes until purchasing the Escape from ETI. Dennis gave us good recommendations on how to set up the Primus IQ controller on flat ground up to 40 km/hr and got a feel for how the vehicle and trailer feels with progressively more trailer brakes applied by gradually dialling up the current on the power wheel. I found a power setting sufficient to stop the vehicle without trailer wheel lockup. This process for adjusting power I think is similar to what the manual recommends. Getting a feel with low current and high current, e.g. 13 volts, gave me a good sense of the setting I want.

I do find at low speeds the brakes can feel a bit grabby, if really grabby I will go through the above process to check the power adjustment. I check the power adjustment on flat ground each time I go on a long trip. Haven't used the boost feature but think this would come in handy .

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Old 09-22-2014, 02:23 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Janesville, WI, Wisconsin
Trailer: Escape 19 (sold) Escape 21 2014
Posts: 976
A couple of things to consider. Since you have a used Escape it may be worthwhiile to have the brakes inspected and adjusted. I think the usual recommendation is every two years. If they pass OK then move to the Prodigy. The recommended boost should be set for 1. In the US manual they recommend doing the setting on a gravel road or lot. Drive at 10 mph and press the brakes, the trailer tires should skid on the gravel when it is set properly. Keep adjusting the setting until this happens. Then back off the setting slightly.

I, as a matter of habit, use the manual lever to slow the vehicle at one of the first stop signs after hooking up. It may not stop the tow and trailer but I can feel the pull as the trailer brakes slow me down and it confirms the trailer brakes are at least functioning.
Paul and Janet Braun
2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 now 2012 Toyota Sequoia V8
Escape 19' 2010 now 2014 Escape 21'
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Old 09-22-2014, 06:31 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B - "Toad". '08 Toyota RAV4 V6
Posts: 8,743
I'd have to dig out the info for my Prodigy, and I'm still unpacking from last trip, so that's not going to happen, but, my recollection is it says NOT to use boost with a trailer the weight of a 17B.
I've not had boost turned on since I got the trailer.
2009 Escape 17B "Toad"
2008 Toyota RAV4 V6 Sport
North Vancouver, British Columbia

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:04 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Trailer: 1979 Boler B1700
Posts: 7,267
Originally Posted by Andrew Stewart View Post
When the brakes are applied the read out on the controller shows fluctuating readings.
As it should - the reading is the voltage applied to the trailer brakes, which should be in proportion to how hard you are decelerating. Unless you are very steady on your brake pedal force, your braking effort will change and so the trailer braking will change.

Originally Posted by Andrew Stewart View Post
So if we are descending a hill at 90 KPH and apply the brakes how much should we actually feel the brakes engaging on the trailer as a sense of drag on our vehicle?
The trailer shouldn't drag on the tow vehicle at all. The idea of the trailer brakes is just to have the trailer do most of its own braking, so braking with the trailer shouldn't be different from braking without the trailer, but with a significant cargo load.

Another way to put this: without trailer brakes, you would feel the trailer trying to push you down the hill; with trailer brakes, you shouldn't feel pushed. Applying the tow vehicle's brakes should not feel like you are throwing an anchor or parachute out the back, although if you manually applied just the trailer brakes (something you do only for testing as mentioned in an earlier post) it does feel like the trailer is acting as an anchor or 'chute.

If find with my 3000 lb trailer, my Sienna van, and a Prodigy controller, that the first level of boost works well on the highway, but is "grabby" in low-speed urban conditions. I have turned it on and off to suit the situation.
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