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Old 01-17-2021, 11:59 AM   #1
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New 21NE - Brake Lockup

I've towed for decades, but this one is new to me.

We fetched our new 21NE from Sumas a couple weeks back, and made an uneventful tow back home of about 150 miles. I did notice that braking didn't seem consistent, and was a little weak - even with my brake controller set to max. Even in this setting, moving the manual braking lever would not lock up the rear wheels - but it did noticeably slow things down.

I checked the temps of the brake drums several times on the way home, and they were always inconsistent. I just used my hand, but two of them were hot (normal hot), one was warm and one was cold as ambient temps. I called ETI, and was advised this was "normal" - that the brakes wouldn't adequately seat in and perform as they should until I'd applied the brakes at freeway speeds 20 times or so. I let them know that number had easily been surpassed on my 100+ miles of freeway driving home, but agreed to keep an eye on things and report back.

Fast forward 2 weeks, first trip - and about a mile from the house I'm thinking something doesn't feel quite right. A glance back in the mirror shows smoke coming out the right side of the trailer and I pull over to this.



Somewhat ironic, as on a lesser tow vehicle - I likely would have noticed it far sooner. With the F250 diesel, it happily drug it along and it was very hard to tell.

First thing I tried was disconnecting the trailer hookup. I didn't expect any change, as a fault on the truck/brake controller side of things should have locked up more than one wheel. As expected, no change - the tire still drug, fully locked up, As I'm contemplating the crappy options ahead of me, I recalled reading somewhere about backing up freeing stuck brakes - so I tried that. Bingo - it started spinning freely. Knowing there was a large gravel pullout 1/4 mile down the road, I put on the flashers and slowly rolled there to take care of things.

Before changing the tire, I slowly rolled around in the gravel area checking the brakes, and everything still appeared normal. A mechanic friend was called to help out, and upon replacing the tire we spun the new one by hand (easily, it seemed to have just a hair of drag as is normal) and the wheel locked up as it should when I'd manually activate the brake controller. Not wanting to tear into the hub on the side of the road, my friend agreed to follow me into town to Les Schwab for a new tire and inspection of the failed brake.

Unfortunately, they took it apart and found absolutely nothing. Everything looked and functioned perfectly. Whatever caused the problem wasn't presenting itself. I hate issues without resolutions, but not knowing what else could be done - they sold me a new tire, gave the pads/drum a scuff with emory cloth and sent me on my way. I'm typing this up from 250 miles down the road, and everything now seems...normal. To say I'm a little on edge driving though, is an understatement.

Has anyone else experienced this, and if so - discovered what the underlying problem was? First question my mechanic friend and Les Schwab asked was "How long had it been sitting" - but it had only been a week, and was indoors. And again, when torn apart - everything looked new. Zero significant corrosion.
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Old 01-17-2021, 01:54 PM   #2
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I'm following this thread. Very weird. Good thing the only damage was a tire, the potential for something much worse was certainly there!

In the complete spitballing category: It sounds like one of the drum brake shoes seized to the drum, locking the wheel, and then broke loose when you reversed. I seem to remember reading that if the brakes overheat from being energized when the wheels are not turning, like if the breakaway switch pin was left unplugged for an extended time, you could potentially stick shoes to the drums. I've never personally had that experience. Anyway, hope to see an answer here that makes sense. We pick up our new 21C in about eight more weeks!
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Old 01-17-2021, 02:21 PM   #3
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Oh yes!

Mine happened a few months after getting home. I think.

I took it in to get a full brake adjustment which the guy said was really needed. Bought new tires and I am keeping a close eye on them. It seems fine now. Every new trailer needs to have brakes adjusted. But usually after you get home.

I did not know this even happened until I got home. I like the new tires way better anyway! Goodyear Endurance tires.
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File Type: jpg goodyear endurance tires.jpg (365.2 KB, 12 views)
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Old 01-17-2021, 05:22 PM   #4
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Yikes!

Something is very peculiar. Loose/intermittent wire somewhere sending a voltage to that wheels electric brakes? That's just a stab at your issue.


If it's not a mechanical issue, or electrical problem......voodoo is my next best notion.
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Old 01-17-2021, 05:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HABBERDABBER View Post
Loose/intermittent wire somewhere sending a voltage to that wheels electric brakes?
Can't see how that's possible. The brake was still locked solid when I disconnected the electrical from the truck.
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Old 01-17-2021, 05:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleTim View Post
Every new trailer needs to have brakes adjusted. But usually after you get home.
Agreed, and doing so was definitely something I planned on doing once the brakes had worn in. However, they shouldn't be this far out of whack in 150 miles.

And, as mentioned originally - once it freed up, we could tell the brake adjustment was fine. Spun freely with just very light resistance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleTim View Post
I like the new tires way better anyway! Goodyear Endurance tires.
Great tires! I have them on two other trailers and they've been flawless. I was planning on putting them on the Escape, but not until these wore out.
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Old 01-18-2021, 01:20 AM   #7
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Sounds like that particular brake was misadjusted and was dragging right out the gate. Perhaps the heat from it being too tight locked it up. Did you do the lockup test to adjust your controller? If it was adjusted to be too much power that might have overheated the brake not allowing it to release.
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Old 01-18-2021, 05:09 AM   #8
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Assuming you have an electric brake controller on board your truck, what is the assist set to?

I have been all over the place. I started at 8, then went to 7.5. After as few hundred miles, I set it to 6.5. I kept it there for a few weeks.

Now it is set to 3. Sometimes I notch it up to 3.5, if I am in the mountains and facing big downhill sections. My brakes are fully adjusted now and seem fine.

I also understand this trailer better now too. The fulcrum of the king pin is different than a tow behind fulcrum. So is the weight of the trailer, which is partially transferred to the truck. So with better understanding comes a better understanding of operating and management principles.
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Old 01-18-2021, 09:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syspig View Post
Can't see how that's possible. The brake was still locked solid when I disconnected the electrical from the truck.
Agreed. Even a faulty breakaway switch could apply full voltage to the wheels from the onboard battery but that is unlikely and would have locked up all four wheels. My only guess is that something was defective on that brake from the factory that caused it to lock. Did Les Schwab check the runout on the drum to make sure it’s not out-of-round? We had a lockup but the brakes were way overdue (had the new ones in the garage to install) and I can almost certainly attribute it to worn components/corrosion.

Not sure this helps at all but I attached what Dexter has in their troubleshooting section for locking brakes. Full manual here: https://www.dexteraxle.com/docs/defa...ice_manual.pdf

For peace of mind it might be worth (working with ETI since it’s under warranty) having a shop proactively replace the whole brake assembly:
Right hand:
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...xle/23-27.html
Left hand:
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...xle/23-26.html
(This assumes you do not have the Nev-R-Adjust brakes. If you do they are a different model number)
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