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Old 12-06-2014, 12:49 PM   #1
KawiTexan OP
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Truck guys: Hauling questions

Hi y'all! I was curious if anybody had any pointers on installing a brake controller and setting it up to see if it works correctly? I believe I know where it plugs in in the cab, but is there anything else I need to look for? I have never ran a brake controller. On a side note, has anybody used rear airbags? Worth it?
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Old 12-06-2014, 01:02 PM   #2
shakeybone
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depends on the truck. I think some trucks, GM, after plugging in to the harness you have to have the computer reprogrammed.
Air bags will not increase your GVW, so you can't haul more than you could without the bags but they can help with the ride or suspension sagging when loaded.
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Old 12-06-2014, 01:20 PM   #3
sailah
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I have a tekonsha prodigy brake controller highly recommended. The instructions for calibrating it to the trailer are included. Basically it's a trial and error type thing. I bought the plug that interfaces with my truck so it was plug and play. You can save various trailer profiles for different trailers or loads.

I also have Firestone ride rite airbags. Pretty easy install. Great for leveling a heavy load makes the truck ride and brake more predictably. I ran the valves to the back on either side of my license plate. I keep a ViaAir compressor in my truck which makes adjusting them easy. I keep 10psi all the time in them.

EDIT: to test the brake controller, drive with the trailer hooked up and activate the full power slider. You should see/feel the trailer wheels lock up. After that it's a matter of fine tuning to make sure the brakes are doing what you want especially under hard braking or downhill. The prodigy makes this very easy
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Old 12-06-2014, 02:40 PM   #4
redprimo
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I don't know if Ford still does this but on my superduty I had to add a relay. It came with the truck and plugged in the electrical box under the hood.
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Old 12-06-2014, 04:34 PM   #5
PineyMountainRacing
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Last nite I replaced my 1990's model Tekonsha controller with a new Tekonsha P3. The old one had been on my old '86 F150 and then I moved it to my F250 in 2002. I have 4 different trailers I pull with electric brakes, from 7000# up to 24,000#. With the new controller I'll be able to set it up for each of the bigger trailers, and keep those settings, so I'm not always having to re calibrate when I hook up to a different one. I will need to remember that I have do the initial setup for each trailer before I take off down the road, but the instructions give me a good place to start with each one.
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Old 12-06-2014, 05:03 PM   #6
concours
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KawiTexan View Post
Hi y'all! I was curious if anybody had any pointers on installing a brake controller and setting it up to see if it works correctly? I believe I know where it plugs in in the cab, but is there anything else I need to look for? I have never ran a brake controller. On a side note, has anybody used rear airbags? Worth it?
You need to tell us more.... what are you driving? Many newer trucks are pre-wired, pretty much plug and play, buy from www.etrailer.com with a harness, and read. You need to know how many braked wheels you'll intend to control, different controllers.
Older vehicles require wiring a heavy feed wire, circuit breaker, trigger wire and brake wire to the rear end for connection to the 7 pin plug.
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Old 12-06-2014, 05:11 PM   #7
trailer Rails
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X3 need to know the truck. Air bags are not worth it, get a weight distributing hitch first.
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Old 12-06-2014, 05:52 PM   #8
Strypes
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The air bags that I had installed on my truck I got because they were guaranteed to let me haul an additional 5000 pounds on top of my GVWR. I don't think that the tires would hold out, but I definitely know that I can haul more payload. I would think that it would help with the trailer tongue weight, not the additional pulling weight, but what do I know...

Take your truck to your local, professional trailer/hitch place & have them install it. If you don't have a trailer/hitch place, I know that Uhaul installs hitches & components as well. If that doesn't work for you, any mechanic at any shop should be able to help you out!

Good luck.
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Old 12-06-2014, 06:23 PM   #9
broncobowsher
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Follow the instructions with the brake controller.

Setting the gain is a bit of personal feel. With the manual slider go to full brake while doing about 15 MPH. You should feel a tug of the trailer but not lock the trailer brakes. This setting will vary depending on how heavily loaded the trailer is. Empty flat bed trailer with a high GVW brakes you will end up setting them to almost nothing. Fully loaded you can end up going to near max setting. And if the brakes have not been used in a while it may take a little driving to clean the rust off the drums and get them working correctly, so don't be afraid to re-adjust later.

Don't set the trailer brakes to stop the truck. I know people who love aggressive trailer brakes. They also can't understand why the trailer brakes are always burn up in a thousand miles. Stopping should feel almost as good as without a trailer. The trailer brakes should stop the weight on the axles. The truck should stop itself and the weight of the trailer tongue. It is a little bit of trial and error.
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Old 12-06-2014, 11:03 PM   #10
sorebutt
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I have a novel idea. Read the instructions.

Air bags work great. You can keep the truck level so it handles better and your headlights are not pointed up.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:21 AM   #11
trailer Rails
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No one else here a fan of WD hitches? Air bags can hide evidence of an overloaded truck and can take weight off the front wheels causing the front tires to skid or push through a turn in a panic situation.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:05 AM   #12
sailah
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I love WD hitches too. I also like my airbags. When I moved up from Pittsburgh to Boston I was hauling a trailer with 10k lbs in it. I leveled the truck using a WD hitch. Then I added 2 bikes in the bed of the truck which squatted the rear end down again. I forget how much air I added to the bags maybe 20 psi but that brought it back to level again. Towed great.

But you are 100% right that bags used to level a truck with a tongue heavy trailer don't put the weight back on the front end like a weight distributing hitch does.

Having all three at your disposal is great. I guess it just depends on how heavy you plan on hauling. Personally I would get the prodigy brake controller first for obvious reason and that's about $150. Then I would get bags next as they have proved to be far more useful TO ME and that's about $250 self installed. Then a decent WD hitch, I have a 10k Curt and it's worked well. I don't have sway control on mine, not sure what I am missing if anything. I really just bought the hitch for my move as I was hauling machinery a long distance.

This load I used all three at once

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Old 12-07-2014, 07:14 AM   #13
trailer Rails
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Brake controller is mandatory, beyond that, I'd probably do the WD and lastly the airbags. A lot of that will depend on the tow vehicle and trailer loading. Anti sway is only really useful if you have to tow a poorly loaded trailer. With properly loaded trailers, I have never had sway issues that a quick tap of the brake controller could not fix.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:17 AM   #14
tominboise
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I have the Prodigy on my '06 duramax, along with airbags. The Prodigy was plug and play and is relatively easy to tune. The airbags rock. I have an on board compressor and gages so I can adjust as required. I have a weight distribution hitch, too, but haven't used it much since the airbags went on.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:54 AM   #15
woodsrider-boyd
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I had a Prodigy on my '07 F150 crewcab for hauling a 3500 lb 2 horse slant bumper pull horse trailer + 1100 lb horse + tack. Had a trailer place install it, I did the adjusting on the gain on a regular basis. Worked awesome.

My '12 F250 diesel crewcab has a built in controller, I love it, works great, very easy to adjust.

I will second the adjusting so you are not over taxing the trailer brakes, I just wanted to make sure the trailer did not get ahead of the truck when braking, not to help slow down the truck necessarily.

As a matter of fact, I am on my way outside in a few minutes to check over the horse trailer for a short haul today. Been months since I've used it, need to double check the wood floor boards, lights, lub the jack, tire pressure, etc, etc.

Its nice and rainy, cold and windy. Perfect weather for crawling around a trailer and hauling a horse.
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