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5th-Wheel Trailer Braking Solutions

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8/12/2011

Brake Controllers:


From reading the Forum, the majority of people who've done HDT conversions use either the Tekonsha Prodigy electronic proportional brake controller or the Hayes #100400B air actuated true proportional brake controller which several people had issues with the controller.

BrakeSmart

BrakeSmart Brake Controller:

(Note - no longer available)

However, there is a growing number of us who agree that the more expensive BrakeSmart air activated electronic proportional brake controller is the best of the pack for our applications which is one of the reasons you'll pay a premium price "aprox. $435.00 + S&H" for the BrakeSmart controller and vehicle specific wiring harness.

The BrakeSmart is manufactured and sold by Dr. Performance (1-877-338-7373) and reportedly for about $30.00 to $40.00 less at Trans West - (1-800-909-7071) "ask to speak with Joe or Todd in the parts department"

For our application you'll need the BrakeSmart 78001 Controller (works on any vehicle) and the 78010-5 Air Brake Harness which naturally IS only used on truck's with air brakes.

If your installing the BrakeSmart in a Generation I Volvo VNL you'll need to purchase a 1/4" OD x 1/4" OD x 1/4" ID branch tee with push-in connectors to replace the 3/8" branch tee that's included in the kit as the supplied tee is to large for our application.

The 1/4" tee can be purchased at Suicide Doors for less than $4.00 which includes Free S&H or if your in a hurry to do the install you could also purchase a 1/4" Compression T and Coupler w/Insert which is available at Home Depot, Lowes and most hardware stores.

From Mark & Dale Bruss (Mark): - since this tee in being installed in the brake lines, you really should look for a DOT certified tee.  It may cost a few dollars more but it is a negligible cost considered the investment you are making to get a safer truck.  By nature, most fittings with the slip-on connections are DOT certified.  Compression fittings are highly questionable as being DOT certified.)

Listing of Push-on Air Fittings sources.

BrakeSmart Instructions Wiring Diagram & Installation Instructions - - Required Branch Tee  Branch Tee

Note, Mark & Dale Bruss (Mark) has photos with installation details about his BrakeSmart installations in his Generation I VNL's.

MaxBrake MaxBrake Brake Controller:


MaxBrake is a fairly new company that's manufacturing the MaxBrake brake controller "apx $350.00 + S&H at Southwest Wheel's" that works much like the BrakeSmart in that it also senses either the application of Hydraulic or Air Pressure to the tow vehicles brakes to send brake voltage to your trailer brakes.

If you opt to go with the MaxBrake brake controller make sure you order the installation kit/system for air brakes = "MXAIR1 = Air Brake System w/T Connectors" in lieu of one of their installation kits for hydraulic brakes.

Mark Bruss is now using a MaxBrake in his Generation I VNL770 and he says the installation of the MaxBrake pretty much follows the BrakeSmart installation process as outlined by the details and pictures from his web site.

BTW, owners of newer Generation II VNL's (2003 and Up) see below for changes.

Note:

If your HDT has a Johnson Bar you can manually activate the BrakeSmart, Hayes and MaxBrake brake controllers with the Johnson Bar.

BluDot Trailer Brake Systems:


If your looking for the best braking for your 5th-Wheel then you may want to check out the diverse array of trailer brake systems offered by BluDot Inc.

For more details about the BluDot braking systems check out Adding BluDot brake Actuator, Upgrading to BluDot and disc brakes that includes some installation details along with a couple links to BluDot installation pictures on forum members 5er's.

MaxBrake Brake Controller Installations for Gen II Volvo:


Owners of Generation II Volvo VNL's (late model 2003's and up) will need to install their BrakeSmart or MaxBrake pressure sensor that comes with your brake controller kits under the hood of your truck in lieu of behind the dashboard instrument cluster like the owners of Generation I VNL's have been doing as indicated on HDT Electric Brake Controller of The HDT Resource Guide.

Photos of the installation location under the hood on the firewall on 'Nuf Truck's (Cal) 2005 VNL630 and a Questions for 'Nuf Truck on the sensor installation in both locations on Generation II VNL's..

From 5th_Wheeler (Jon):
I will say that I agree with Bill B (Bill) that running the air line from the Tee under the hood through the firewall into the area directly behind the instrument cluster seems to be a better location to install the pressure sensor versus under the hood like it is on Cal's 630 where it will be subject to high heat plus adverse weather conditions.

The remainder of the installation process for the BrakeSmart controller should be the same as outlined in the photo instructions above and even though I haven't installed a MaxBrake controller it should pretty much follow the same wiring guideline also.

UPDATE for Gen II  Volvo:


MaxBrake Sensor
Bill B (Bill) has installed a MaxBrake brake controller in his recently purchased VNL630 and here are the Photos to his installation showing where he installed the pressure sensor that came with the controller.

As shown in the photo above, Bill opted to install the sensor under the dash near the steering wheel adjustment pedal in the cab rather than under the hood on the firewall which IMPO is a better location for the sensor.

Note:

Be sure to read the Notes that Bill included under several of his photos plus you can read more details about his installation in this Questions for 'Nuf Truck

BrakeSmart Sensor 'Nuff Truck
This is how 'Nuf Truck (Cal) installed hiw sensor under the hood near the brake master.