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Old 06-10-2024, 06:55 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: McKinney, Texas
Trailer: 2018 Escape 21
Posts: 377
replacing manual brakes with self adjusting

I have 2018 Escape 21C, great trailer, but lots of maintenance issues. I've heard, if you're not working on your trailer, you're not camping very much, has been true for me.

so, I've been having issues with cheap tires and finally bought 5 new Goodyear Endurance tires mounted up on 5 new black steel wheels. I really like the black wheels with the dark frameless windows, white trailer no decals, looks great IMO.

installing the new wheels and tires I thought good time to pull brake drums and have a look. driver side looked good, but the rear passenger side had some abnormal wear, the magnet literally fell off the brake assembly when I pulled the drum. I had spare brake assembly and installed it.

I hate to say it, but the manual adjustment is not working well for me. the trailer is 6 years old and I have never adjusted the brakes. of course the brake shoes looked good, because they are not working very hard. actually, researching buying another spare brake assembly, I just now figured out I have manual adjustment brakes.

I'm thinking of replacing all 4 brake assemblies with Dexter NevRAdjust brakes and starting out new. will probably keep the original drums and bearings. I use the easy lub feature and have greased the axle bearings every summer for 6 years. when I pulled the brake drum, I verified no grease in drum area, so that feature is working well for me.

any and all comments welcomed. cheers
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Old 06-16-2024, 03:45 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: McKinney, Texas
Trailer: 2018 Escape 21
Posts: 377
rather than go all Never R Adjust brakes, I thought good idea to test brakes before I spent a bunch of $'s, replaced everything, and still had some problem. I ordered another passenger side brake assembly. when it came in, I cleaned up the passenger side that looked bad, but still looked like it had some life. I put it all back together with the old assembly to do some testing.

I've never tested my break away switch, so I tried it and that particular brake didn't lockup. so I thought great, now I've got some wiring issue I'll have to track down. I crawled all around under the trailer looking for loose wiring. was educational, but didn't see any loose wires. there is a box towards the front of the trailer the brake wiring goes through, and I wonder what that is?

next I decided to test another wheel, the one I actually replaced with new brake assembly, and it locked up with the break away switch pulled. then I checked the 2 on the driver side and one worked, the other didn't. then I checked normal brake function which required wife to apply brakes in tow. I found the wheels that the brake away switch didn't work on, also didn't have normal brakes either, so very interesting. all this testing took awhile.

I feel like I'm making some progress. been pulling Casita and now Escape RV trailers for many years and just now figuring out how to test my brakes. as they say, better late than never. my plan now is to replace the 2 brake assemblies that don't work with 2 new manual assemblies which I already have. also, I was able to manually adjust the brakes, was a learning experience, but seems to be doable maintenance item for me going forward. maybe now will stay with manual brakes. will update later, cheers.
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Old 06-16-2024, 07:47 AM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2022
Location: North Newton, Kansas
Trailer: 2020 E21C
Posts: 244
While packing wheel bearings last week I found areas on at least one shoe in all four brake assemblies to be down to slightly less than 1/8 inch thickness. Dexter's minimum is 1/16 inch so those brakes are still quite serviceable and acceptable. But I also found some uneven wear between brakes which I attribute to periods of traveling with broken grounding wires on multiple wheels at a time.

With the wear patterns in mind and also in keeping with my goal to generally reduce the physical work required to camp with the trailer, I rationalized that now is the time to go with the genuine Dexter self adjusting brakes on all four wheels.There will always be the necessity to physically roll around underneath to keep an eye on the designed-to-fail brake grounding wire method chosen by the factory, but I'm looking forward to appreciating all four self adjusting brakes.

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Old 06-16-2024, 09:30 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Lanesboro, MN, between Whalan and Fountain, Minnesota
Trailer: 2016 Bigfoot 25RQ - (2018 Escape 5.0 sold)
Posts: 2,219
We've chosen to go the other way.

Our 2014 Lance 1995 had Dexters self-adjusting brakes. One brake decided to adjust well before the others and the tire was ruined from plenty of flat spots. It was the main braking wheel.

Our Bigfoot was only braking with two wheels, because the other wheels were late in self-adjusting. The self-adjusters were removed and replaced with manual adjusters.

Over 15 previous campers with brakes we've never had to manually adjust the brakes more than once every 10,000 miles. I would adjust the brakes (when greasing the bearings by hand) myself, but now I take it to a utility trailer shop where they know how to adjust brakes.

Haven't had a problem since, but the key is to find someone who knows what they're doing and have years of experience, as well as good recommendations. That's not Discount Tires or Les Schwab with their rotating monkeys.

Self-adjusting brakes work great, until they don't. These aren't your high tech self-adjusting brakes from today's modern cars, but more like the self-adjusters from the 50's.

Food for thought,

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Old 06-16-2024, 09:33 AM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 15,626
Adjusting brakes for me is a once, the odd time twice, a year deal. If I am doing the bearings it takes but a couple minutes per wheel. If not doing the bearings it is a bit more time because of ramping up to raise the wheel, probably 15 to 20 minutes to do all four wheels. For me, this amount of time is really no big deal and I sometimes do it while out camping with some time to spare.

Checking the pad wear is something I should do soon, but needs to be done regards of the brake setup.
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
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Old 06-16-2024, 03:35 PM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: McKinney, Texas
Trailer: 2018 Escape 21
Posts: 377
excellent comments, thanks!

replacing one brake assembly, I discovered the wires from trailer to brake assembly were parted. I connected the wires, put it all back together and appears to be working now. a small victory, yeah!

3 down and one to go. so 1st thing I'll check the wiring on the last one, before taking it all apart.

Jim's suggestion to check brakes when greasing bearings seems like great ideal for me. I've been pretty good at greasing axle bearings, so good time to check the brakes too. now that I know how to check the break away switch and how to manually adjust the brakes it all seems routine now.

Jul 2018, when I 1st got my new 21C, I recall locking up the brakes and flat spotting a few tires. IDK, but think it's lot easier to lock up brakes on tandem axle than on single axle trailer. anyways, I never locked up the brakes on my single axle Casita. seems to me the tandem 21C, if not level will take weight off probably the rear tires if braking hard. when I got new trailer I didn't know anything about breaking in the brakes, or adjusting them, so I did nothing until now. maybe ETI said something about it, when I picked up, I don't recall.

do know now, I should break in the brakes, I think called burnishing the brakes. since I have one new set of shoes, and have manually adjusted all the brakes, I'll give it shot at burnishing the brakes.

maybe another report later?, thanks for all the great comments. cheers
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