What does a brake box give you?

Bought a small used stock trailer today, so I can haul my young horse, Yankee.
We were talking about brake boxes. While everyone said they are a good
idea, nobody could really tell me why a brake box is superior to just the electric brake connection. One person likes it because you could use it to stop in an emergency situation, another adjusts the power to 'em dependent on the size/weight of the horse(s) being hauled.
Is that it? I know they're easy to install, but for just daily driving, usual braking (not emergencies, and not adjusting for load), what does a brake box give you above and beyond the electric brakes?
jmc
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jmc wrote:

The box is what controls the electric brakes. They don't work properly without the controller. Plus I know of no vehicle that comes factory equipped with a brake connection that doesn't require a controller to work. Especially on any vehicle newer than about 1995.
--
Steve W.

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Suddenly, without warning, Steve W. exclaimed (1/8/2011 4:29 PM):

hm. I got the tow package on my 2001 Dakota, has the round 7-pin (I think) connector. I could hear the calipers move and the brakes squeak (faintly; our roads were wet this morning) when I stood next to the trailer while my husband braked. I'm pretty sure the brakes actually do work through the round connector.
Or are we talking varying meanings of "work" - trailers with electric brakes are new to me, so you may have to explain.
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jmc wrote:

The factory connector on that truck doesn't have power to the brake circuit. Sounds like the dealer "did you a favor" and wired it hot. (not supposed to do that unless they actually installed a controller as well)
No calipers on those brakes there is just an electromagnet. When it is on it slams into the inside of the drum. It then transfers motion to the brake shoes to make the brakes work. Sitting still you should hear a loud click when they come on and go off.
Without the controller you have two brake options ON/OFF. Touch the brakes for any reason and the trailer brakes come on full power. Not good because it usually results in damage to the tires as they drag along while the tow vehicle slows down. Also can cause a BIG problem if the trailer is loaded and it is slippery. Nothing like having a loaded trailer slide around and try to lead the combo...
--
Steve W.

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Suddenly, without warning, Steve W. exclaimed (1/8/2011 4:50 PM):

Hm. Unsure... my truck was factory built, not dealer bought, but *something* was happening at the brakes. Guess I better get someone have a look at the wiring.

I heard a click, but not sure I'd call it loud. And I did hear the distinct, if quiet (was only going a couple mph), squeak of wet brake.

That doesn't appear to be happening... on my test run I went down a steep-ish curvy hill that was slippery with a little snow and ice, trailer stayed right where it should be. And in my flat road test (25mph then sudden stop) wouldn't I notice something? Whole rig stopped fine and straight.
Sounds like I'll be wanting to put a brake box on before doing any long trips. So now I'm officially taking suggestions on a good one to get :)
jmc
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jmc wrote:

I would check over everything REAL close. They may have hid some type of controller onboard. I don't recall anything for that year but who knows..
As for controllers there are a LOT of them out there.
As to the best I would say Tekonsha with Hayes as a close second.
--
Steve W.

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There is no hidden controller on the Dak. Simply, Jodi the controller applies power to brakes to stop them. Without a controller, there should not be any voltage going to the brakes unless someone has messed with the wiring or the trailer is wired incorrectly. There are three types of controllers commonly available, a time-proportioned controller, a pendulum controller and an inertia controller.
The time proportioning controller applies a low voltage to the brakes as soon as the brake lamp switch is sensed. It then ramps up the voltage over time based upon the setting on the controller. If the controller is set for low force braking, the voltage may ramp up from 0-12 volts over say 15 seconds. If it is set for high force braking, the voltage will ramp up from 0-12 volts over say 5 seconds. The advantage of the time based controller is that they are cheap. The disadvantage is that they may not be set to stop the way you want them too. For example if the controller is set for low force driving, if you have a panic stop situation, you want maximum braking NOW, not 15 seconds later.
The pendulum controller uses an internal pendulum that senses the stooping force and applies the voltage accordingly. Pendulum controllers are fussy about how they are mounted and are rapidly being replaced by the electronic inertia controllers.
The inertia type controller is much more sophisticated (and thus more costly). It has an inertia sensor built in that "senses" the amount of braking the tow vehicle is undergoing and varies the applied voltage to the trailer brakes accordingly. If it senses gentle braking, it may apply only 3 volts to the trailer brakes, if on the other hand it senses a panic stop, it will apply the full 12 volts IMMEDIATELY to the trailer brakes.
The time proportioning controllers are more "jerky" when towing while the inertia type are much smoother. I think your passengers (the horses) would appreciate an inertia controller much more.
IMHO, the best controller on the market is a Tekonsha. I have the Tekonsha Prodigy which I use with my rig (a 30' travel trailer) and I recommend it highly. A proportioning controller will set you back $50-$60 while a Prodigy can be had for $120-$130. The best deal I got was from Southwest Wheel in Dallas, TX.
Hope the info helps!
Mike
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Suddenly, without warning, Mike Simmons exclaimed (1/8/2011 9:15 PM):

Yes, it does. Meshes with my research. I'm looking at a Tekonsha P3, which is an inertia type that seems to be very well liked. It's over $150 (etrailer.com).
Ah, well. The trailer owner pulled it for quite a while with just the standard OEM setup with no controller. She thought the brakes worked, and really had no problems with the trailer at all; it wasn't until she had to tow at highway speeds that she decided to add a controller.
For now, the trailer handles beautifully even if it has no brakes, but I'll be putting a controller on in the near future, now that I realize in truth it has no brakes, except for the emergency brake.
Any opinion on the comma-shaped jack/chock?
http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Jack/Blaylock-Industries/EZ-JACK.html
Seems kinda expensive for what you get...
jmc
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The P3 is an excellent choice. It is the next generation Prodigy.

As infrequent as flat tires are, I wouldn't waste my $. Since towing the RV over 12 years I have only one flat (knocking on wood) and the Ram's jack worked fine. Speaking of that, take the time before you need it and make sure the Dak's jack will work with the trailer and also make sure you have a lug wrench that will work. Also, since yer trailer was used, how old are the tires... look on the sidewall for the DOT code. This is the voice of experience talking to you ;^)
Mike
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Suddenly, without warning, Mike Simmons exclaimed (1/9/2011 9:15 AM):

Thanks for the advice about the jack and lug wrench. The tires are in really good shape, but haven't looked to see how old they are. Owner didn't mention buying new ones (aside from the spare) so they're probably 2005, since that's when the trailer was built.
jmc
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On 1/9/2011 1:01 PM, jmc wrote:

I can send you pictures of damage done by trailer blow out on mt 7 year old perfect looking tires, thousands of dollars to repair. I did it twice before I became a believer. Please look at any RV forum to verify.
For the pony's sake... -- Pete Arnold
"You win some, You loose some and You wreck some!
-Dale Earnhardt-
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wrote:

We had 2 flats (out of 4 trailer tires) in one weekend with great looking 18 month old tires.. Trailer tires don't handle inactivity or weather well, especially heat on the cheap crap tires most trailers come with..
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snipped-for-privacy@SPLINTERSbajawoodcraft.com wrote:

The rubber is specifically made to handle that. If you read your Good Sam magazines you'd know, it's been written over and over.
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Right.. specifically designed to rot... Magizines don't help blown out tires..
It's also been written over and over that the power smoke is a good engine..
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snipped-for-privacy@SPLINTERSbajawoodcraft.com wrote:

http://www.discounttire.com/dtcs/infoTrailerTireFacts.dos
"ST" tire rubber compounds contain more chemicals to resist weather and ozone cracking.
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wrote:

We've had several flats on the trailer on trips, erspecially in hot weather.. We carried a small flor jack but never needed it as Good Sam road service was very good for us..
Something that I learned the hard way is that most people don't clean/inspect/repack wheel bearing on trailers unless they have a problem, so check those right away..
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I'll second this advice. Would your pony be happy with anything less?
-- Pete Arnold
"You win some, You loose some and You wreck some!
-Dale Earnhardt-

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jmc,
Our trucks that came with he trailer package, has the wires already ran from a connector near your E-Brake lever, out the 7 pin connector, however you need the Brake Controller, you buy separately. I think you would know if you have the "brains" or Controller in your truck usually mounted by ebrake or under by hood release.
There are two basic types of electric brake controller: the proportional and the time delay. Proportional controllers, sometimes also called inertia controllers, have a mechanism that determines how rapidly the tow vehicle is stopping and modulates the power to the trailer brakes proportionally. With this type of controller the trailer brakes are applied at the same time, and at the same rate, as the tow vehicle brakes. A time delay controller, on the other hand, has controls that must be adjusted by the driver to compensate for differing trailer weights and the moment when the trailer brakes are applied. An improperly adjusted controller results in too little or too much stopping assistance from the trailer.
Read more: How Electric Trailer Brakes Work | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5541169_electric-trailer-brakes-work.html#ixzz1Ae5s8xX6
I was getting all my stuff figured out about 2 months ago (then didn't buy it) and I cant find that website that explained it a little better than ehow website I linked above. when I do I will post it.

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