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.