5th-Wheel Trailer Braking Solutions
From reading the Forum, the majority of people who've done HDT conversions use either the
electronic proportional brake controller or the
air actuated true proportional brake controller which several people had
issues with the controller.
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
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
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.
Wiring Diagram & Installation Instructions - - Required Branch Tee
Mark & Dale Bruss (Mark)
has photos with installation details about his BrakeSmart installations in his
Generation I VNL's.
MaxBrake Brake Controller:
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
BTW, owners of newer Generation II VNL's (2003 and Up) see below
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
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
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.
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:
Bill B (Bill) has installed a MaxBrake brake controller in his recently
purchased VNL630 and here are the
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.
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
This is how 'Nuf Truck (Cal) installed hiw sensor under the hood near the brake master.