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Monday, 5 Nov 2007

Before you tow have you done everything you could to protect you, yours and other road users?

Handy drive-through campsites at Goulburn Valley Motor Village Shepparton
Handy drive-through campsites
at Goulburn Valley Motor
Village Shepparton


To be safe towing the question to ask before going is - have you done everything in your power to protect you, yours and other road-users?  The towing safety goal is that the tow vehicle and trailer must slow down and stop at the same time.

So here from our fit up of the new company Captiva Diesel SUV is a coal-face guide to how to get it right with electric trailer brakes from Hayman Reese.  As the Captiva  diesel SUV first attracted our attention during an editorial tour in New Zealand and the topic of electric braking is  of general interest we  post this feature to both GoSee websites.

Umhauer's Geelong 4x4 Centre, in Victoria  fitted a Hayman Reese Guardian Electronic Brake Control unit to the Captiva in about three hours  at  $344 the lot and then we took it on the road with two Coromal caravans from Caravans West.
Recommended Retail Price on the Guardian unit is $A199. Fitting is generally $A145 by Hayman Reese authorised distributors.
 
The key feature in fitting the Guardian Electric Braking System is that it is connected correctly to the battery with a special relay which is bolted onto the engine bay and connected to the red terminal of the battery.
Hayman Reese brake controller. Price is rrp $199
Hayman Reese brake controller. Price is rrp $199
The special relay- is actually a self-resetting circuit breaker, this is a fuse protection and is used so if there is a fault in the wiring i.e short circuit- the circuit breaker will disconnect the battery supply- then reset itself so you have brakes again and if the fault is still present, it will go through this cycle until the fault is rectified.

A special wire is run from the engine bay under the vehicle trim to the rear of vehicle and soldered into the wiring harness for towbar electrics on pin number 5. The special wire to the 7 pin plug is a 4mm blue wire  which is the national standards, so any person needing to work on a vehicle with a brake controller will identify the blue wire.
 It is then tested with a specific testing unit which lights up to indicate braking power when the brake pedal is depressed.


The Coromals we towed were carefully matched by Caravans West in Sunshine to the Captiva. At the lightweight end we tried an Excel Compac and to stretch the Captiva we also used an Excel tandem pop-top 541 caravan.

We tuned the Guardian Electronic Brake Control unit to cope well with the difference in weight of the Coromal caravans. 



The big benefit of the Guardian is that it is a proportional brake controller. This means that once set-up is complete the unit then really operates itself by using the pendulum inside the controller to determine the appropriate level of trailer braking required in each stopping situation to match that of the vehicles brakes.

Stamp on the vehicles brakes and the pendulum will swing and apply maximum force to the trailer brakes.  But lightly brake the vehicle and the pendulum won't swing as much and therefore only applies light trailer braking.

While we were at it we gave our new Hayman Reese Weight Distribution hitch a thorough workout too on both the Captiva and our 1985 restored Retro Sahara Land Cruiser as we swapped the easy to use Coromals between the tow vehicles. In practical use the Hayman Reese products proved perfect for the job.
Connections are securely soldered into the wiring harness pin 5 for electronic brakes
Connections are securely soldered into the wiring harness pin 5 for electronic brakes


Electric performance braking controls are directional. This means positioning the braking sensor correctly. The back of the control must be positioned toward the front of the vehicle or in the direction of travel.

The control must be easy to reach and located in the best position on the dash.

Most electronic brake controllers have primary operating range nose up or nose down. In this case the critical range is between horizontal and 70 degs. The dash clip allows for three mounting positions. New vehicles may have connection point in the primary wiring harness under the dash.

Use the vehicle specific wiring harness. In older vehicles or if there is no plug in point read the instructions or talk to the dealer.
Captiva diesel hauls Coromal Excel tandem 541
Captiva diesel hauls Coromal Excel tandem 541


Set the brake controller for the weight of the trailer being towed and the condition of the trailer brakes. The sensor in the unit must be set for optimum performance.

First set the power output to the trailer: As every trailer is different electric brake control sensors needs to learn the weight of the trailer.

This determines the optimum power needed to stop without wheels locking up.

To do that connect the trailer  and .c with show in the display to show that connection has been made.

Then squeeze the manual over-ride control (it is the black slide on the right top of the controller) - and set the power to 4.0.

Tow the trailer to dry and level surface take the trailer up to 40kmh and use the manual over-ride again. If the trailer wheels lock up slighty reduce power, (just thumb the blue control wheel towards you) if the trailer wheels turn freely increase power (thumb the blue power control wheel away from you) to a point just before the trailer brakes lock-up.
A special wire is run through the car under the trim
A special wire is run through the car under the trim


Never set the power so high that braking locks up the trailer brakes. If the trailer goes into a skid it can take the tow vehicle with it. When the power setting is correct the driver should feel braking unity through the tow vehicle and trailer.

Editor's note: But If you are unable to produce trailer brake lock-up by using the electric braking manual control during set-up this generally means something is not right with the trailer brakes themselves and an inspection is needed.

To set up the Point and Go sensor in the unit:

Connect the trailer to tow vehicle .c should show the connection has been made. Press down on the brake pedal.
Guardian brake performance reads out
Guardian brake performance reads out


Point the sensor positioning arm (it is the blue one on the right side of the controller) in the direction of the floor of the vehicle until the display reads from .1 to .5. Make small adjustments, 0.5 at a time is fine. 

For more agressive braking pull the pointer towards you to a higher number. For smoother braking push it away from you towards the front of the vehicle until the display barely shows 0.

After driving for a few kilometres and with the brakes warmed up it is a good idea to go through the process again to adjust the sensor to the best possible level for smooth safe braking with the tow vehicle and trailer working together. 

The trailer brakes warm well if you drive a short distance (about half a kilometre) using the brake controller manual control lever to engage low level trailer braking.

Remember - Always make small adjustments when setting up the sensor to reach the ideal levels for tow vehicle and trailer.
Hooks at equal points we tighten down
Hooks at equal points we tighten down


Here is a check list before you get rolling: Check all engine fluids, trailer lights, electric brakes, emergency breakaway switch, hitch, trailer ball, safety chains, trailer electrical connections, trailer first aid kit, grease levels on all wheel bearings, wheel nuts on trailer and tow vehicle, double check the awning clutch is locked.

On the road: Allow for vehicle size when turning, allow time to brake, change lanes and enter a highway, travel 25 per cent below the speed limit, Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, remember the height of your trailer, avoid sudden manoeuvres, never be in neutral on a downhill run.

On arrival: Double check coupling and safety chains, make sure lights are working, check tyre pressures when cool, check the load, doors, and electrical covers are secure, check that the awning clutch is still locked.

Good stuff to remember: Carry a jack which will handle the weights you are dealing with and take extra wheel lug nuts, Take a good torch, tool-kit, ground-sheet and coveralls, adjust all rearview mirrors, make sure that all couplings are attached to the towbar and latched, carry spare tyres and and the gear to get them off and on easily, give thought to weight distribution.

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Email: garth@contact.com.au
Special testing equipment is plugged into the power plug on vehicle which indicates braking power when brake pedal is depressed
Special testing equipment is plugged into the power plug on vehicle which indicates braking power when brake pedal is depressed
Adam Whyte of Umhauers Geelong 4WD Centre points out the importance of fitting a special relay
Adam Whyte of Umhauer's Geelong 4WD Centre points out the importance of fitting a special relay
GoSee Coromal Excel campsite Seymour
GoSee Coromal Excel campsite Seymour
Coromals and GoSee towing team take a rest stop off the Hume Hwy
Coromals and GoSee towing team take a rest stop off the Hume Hwy
Hayman Reese WDH fitted to Toyota for Coromal Excel 541
Hayman Reese WDH fitted to Toyota for Coromal Excel 541
Lock down for travel
Lock down for travel
Get it right
Get it right
Retro Tojo and Coromal friends Seymour
Retro Tojo and Coromal friends Seymour
Cupboard space Excel Compac
Cupboard space Excel Compac
Rolling up for the road the pop-top to come down
Rolling up for the road the pop-top to come down
Retro Toyota Excel 541 and Captiva Excel Compac swap tows
Retro Toyota Excel 541 and Captiva Excel Compac swap tows
Set up for the night Excel Compac
Set up for the night Excel Compac
Shackled at two points for extra safety
Shackled at two points for extra safety
Stabilisers wind down easily. They are not jacks
Stabilisers wind down easily. They are not jacks
Underbody and suspension Coromal Excel tandem 541
Underbody and suspension Coromal Excel tandem 541
Storage under the double bed
Storage under the double bed


Hayman Reese Products
The "Guardian" an essential part of the complete towing system. Visit our website for details of your nearest Hayman Reese Distributor.
Hayman Reese Products
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Cobb Australia & NZ Pty. Ltd.

The amazing Cobb!
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Cobb Australia & NZ Pty. Ltd.
brian@cobb.com.au
www.cobb.com.au


Umhauers Geelong 4WD and Towbar Centre
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Umhauers Geelong 4WD and Towbar Centre
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