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-   -   Hate my surge brakes -- want to convert to electric (http://www.wakeworld.com/forum/showthread.php?t=798109)

Bakes 05-15-2013 8:41 AM

Hate my surge brakes -- want to convert to electric
Ok. I'm getting a little sick of my surge brakes. They need continual maintenance, caliper is sticking a little and so likely need to be replaced. I had the entire system replaced 2 yrs ago or so and I am still having issues.

So, rather than spend another several hundred dollars fixing this system, what do y'all think about electric brakes on my freshwater only boat trailer? Most of the folks online that have switched say its the best thing they have ever done. There are a few nay sayers who are afraid of something sticking or getting corroded in the marine environment. That may be true but I have pretty serious doubts as to how well they are working now.

That being said, has anyone done this? What has your experience been? Any brands I should avoid? Any info on this conversion appreciated



shawndoggy 05-15-2013 10:17 AM

you mean electric over hydraulic, or actually a whole new braking system that's got no hydro fluid at all?

bftskir 05-15-2013 10:25 AM

I have drum surge/hydraulic brakes, no problems-nuthin fancy needed.

boardman74 05-15-2013 10:28 AM

I assume he means the electric magnet style you see on skid steer trailers,car trailers and the like. I worked at a Caterpillar dealer in the compact division(Skid steers) and worked on plenty of these systems. They require lots of maintenance and guys had the same complaints....as in never quite right. There is a reason they don't come on boat trailers. I'm not an engineer and don't know the exact reason, but ALL boat trailers use surge/hydraulic brakes for a reason. If electric brakes were ok in and out of the water you's see manufacturers using them, especially if it was a better option. May have some thing to do with electricity and water.

yjwrangler95 05-15-2013 10:48 AM

they use hydraulic becuase we constantly submerge our trailers in water. Electric brakes and submerging don't belong in the same sentence. Fix your surge breaks.

retoxtony 05-15-2013 10:51 AM

I looked into swapping a few years back and decided it wasnt worth it. I have 3 other trailers with electric brakes and they seem to give more problems than my surge brakes on my boat trailer. As long as parts are cheap and easily available surge brakes are the way to go.

bftskir 05-15-2013 11:00 AM

my guess he has hydraulic disc brakes, it's the disc brakes that don't work as well as drum.

MrPeepers 05-15-2013 12:01 PM


Originally Posted by bftskir (Post 1822392)
my guess he has hydraulic disc brakes, it's the disc brakes that don't work as well as drum.


Bakes 05-15-2013 12:56 PM

Thanks. I do in fact mean electric....not the electric hydraulic ones. Seems to me that the way the message boards go across the web is that some asks the question, folks immediately say they would never do it then a few guys come in and say they wouldn't ever go back to surge brakes. So, I just wants to see if anyone has electric brakes on their boat trailer.

boardman74 05-15-2013 1:06 PM

I've owned in excess of 100 boats..most on trailers. Ski, Fish, sail, small boats and big boats all types of trailers all over the country. Probably have looked hard at 1000's. I have personally never seen a FACTORY boat trailer with true electric brakes. I've seen some big ones with semi style can air brakes. I'm sure on an internet forum some guy has done it. I personally wouldn't do it. I know driving in the winter with the salt eats them literally right off skid steer trailers and like Tony said parts are way more than hydraulic. From my experience as a mechanic working on them I think there would be a high rate of failure with constantly being wet. Just my 2 cents.

If you want to try it go for it and let us know how it works.

jv210 05-15-2013 1:08 PM

I'know of boat trailers using electric over hydraulic, but I've never seen a full electric setup on a boat trailer. I believe you would have to switch to drum brakes to have a full electric setup, but to me water and electric don't really mix well. With electric over hydraulic you would still have hydraulic fluid back to the brakes, so it's not that big of a difference.

I tow a lot and the only maintenance I have had to do in 6 years is flush the brake fluid, I've never had a sticky caliper. There might be something in the water which is giving all this grief with your braking system, causing pins and cups to corrode sooner. Maybe a good rinse of the calipers after each outing is a good solution.

What kind of maintenance are we talking about?

Did they really change the ENTIRE brake system 2 years ago?

Bakes 05-15-2013 1:17 PM

Also, I live in west BF central Louisiana and can't find an honest trailer repair shop anywhere. If I could just drop it off at my local/trusty dealer, give them a few hundred bucks and know it was done right, I would just do that. Instead I have to find one that can spell their name and then hope that they do a good job. I have not had good luck with trailer mechanics. The first guy that got my trailer ready for a long trip left the calipers on so loose that 3 put of 4 them fell off on the trip and just sort of sat inside the rim gouging out a nice valley...kind of like a lathe would do. He also forgot to put the safety wire back on the castle nuts so all of my tires were about to fall off. Frankly, if he had not screwed up the calipers I wouldn't have jacked the trailer up and would not have noticed the wheels were about to fall off. The next guy to fix my trailer couldn't find a 26 inch spring so just put a 25 inch spring on it. Now I need to replace those springs since the tandem equalizer thingy is not exactly level.

Bakes 05-15-2013 1:53 PM

Yep...they changed the entire brake system. New coupler, new brake lines, new calipers, new disks, new rims (this was after the caliper falling off fiasco).

Given at the parts needed for this are less than 400 I think I will try it as I am sure the local/semi local trailer dude will gouge me for at least twice that and have my boat out of commission for a month. I hate west central Louisiana....although the red river is one of my favorite places on earth to ride.

If this does not work out I will try the electric-hydraulic set up or maybe just get a new trailer.

cowwboy 05-16-2013 7:10 AM

Trailer brakes are not that hard to work on.
Have you ever worked on the brakes on your car?
I am lucky to have a couple trailer manufacturers and a few trailer shops local so they keep the prices competitive. You can even find the kodiak parts fairly cheap on ebay.
If it's just sticky calipers take the wheel off and break out the sand paper and the teflon or whatever the special grease for brakes.

My first wake boat had been converted to electric. They worked when I got it home, but by the first fall the thing was junk.

richnnorcal 05-16-2013 11:24 AM

FWIW, I was having the same problem as you, I went to a shop, they changed everything as you described. It was still sticking! I then did some of my own research, and finally found the source of the problem. it was all located up front on the hitch/tongue. The spring on the actuator had worn out, so it wan't fully engaging or releasing the brakes, it just didnt have enough pressure. I took it to another shop CTW (California Trailer Works). They fixed everything! and I was right about my hunch.

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