View Full Version : Hydraulic brakes vs. electric brakes?

01-29-2013, 07:04 PM
Hey guys...

Wrench here. I haven't been here in a while, but thought I'd stop in to get some input.

Does anyone have electric brakes on their boat trailer?

There are no brakes on my trailer now and never have been.

I never did get around to putting brakes on my trailer (some of my posts from 2007 stated I was starting the project), nothing like procrastinating. So now I find myself revisiting this project as I think I will be doing much more trailering this year than in past summers. So I'm thinking of putting electric brakes on. I already have my tow vehicle set up with a 7 pin plug and brake controller for the brakes on my Pup trailer. It would be a lot less work to put electrics on rather than surge brakes. Change the elec. connecter at the tongue, run a wire back to each wheel, install backing plates and install the drums. Solder and good quality heat shrink will be good for underwater.

That way I don't have to change the ball coupler over to a surge actuator, and go with extra flex hoses because the tongue folds sideways for storage, plus making steel lines, (or getting a kit), steel lines on the axle, problems backing up my driveway.......

This way I unplug my elec. connecter before I back into the lake, which you do anyway so your lights aren't on. This way there's no power to the magnets underwater. Also just unplug to back up my driveway.

This all seems good to me, BUT... is there something that I'm overlooking? Does anyone have any ideas why this would be a bad idea?

Trailer and boat together are about 3300 - 3500 lbs. I was thinking of 10 x 2 1/4 inch brakes.

Let me know what you think.

01-31-2013, 06:42 PM
Hey guys....

17 people have read this thread and no one has an opinion? Tell me what you think? Good or bad? Let me know.

02-11-2013, 05:22 PM
52 views.......and no one has an opinion.

Thanks guys

02-20-2013, 10:59 AM
The big concern I'd have is with the longevity of the electromagnets after they have been spashed for a while....

If your favorite ramp is steep enough and your setup allows you to launch and retrieve without submerging the trailer's axle, you will probably be ok with the electric setup (I'd be inclined to look for a "marine grade" kit)...if you have to submerge the axle to launch/retrieve, you'd be better off in the long run with the hydraulics...

if you go electric, call the MFG and get their tech support group on the line...ask them how long their product would last given your specifics...if you are happy with their response, go for it.

11-13-2013, 05:02 PM
OK i know this thread is old but for what its worth here is my personal experience. I have tried most setups.

Electric brakes work by a "floating" magnet being energized and grabbing onto the face of the brake drum. This magnet is attached to a lever that moves the shoes. Pretty simple and very effective

BUT put them in water and a couple of things happen:

The brake drum itself & the face of the magnet both rust and the magnet has to wear this rust away before it can work properly. This may take a few miles of travel but its not such a big deal.
The big problem is there is always a fair amount of dust in the brake drum from wear from the brake pads and from the face of the drum where the magnet rubs. This dust turns to sludge when you add water and acts like a grinding paste and the magnet and brake drum face just grinds itself to death. It may only take a hundred miles or so :eek:

Even if it does not grind the magnet disc badly, the sludge can dry out and set solid and may prevent movement of the magnet or the lever or the shoes.

Best set up for boats is mechanical over run (depends where you live whether these are legal along with the weight of the boat) then Hydraulic either electric air/ hydraulic (Sensa Brake) electric hydraulic, air hydraulic (like trucks), vacuum hydraulic (uses the cars vacuum to operate hydraulic, much less common these days).

Whatever you use you can get galvanized parts, bronze & stainless parts ( including the discs) or just use standard parts and replace them every couple of years. It is only a matter of justifying how much you wish to spend. Water heat & cast iron (drums & disks) will nearly always rust whether its salt water or fresh/brackish water

My current setup is a Sensa brake with galvanized calipers & discs.
Where I live, over run brakes have a cut off of 2000kg so I cant use them. Also its law here that the brakes must come on automatically if the boat/trailer disconnects from the car while traveling, and you must be able to have control of the trailer brakes manually (as well as automatically ) from the towing vehicles brakes. (so you can put the trailer brakes on without the tow vehicle brake)

02-13-2014, 12:19 PM
Thanks guys.... I came back to the forum to search out some other info and thought I'd check up on this. I wound up putting the electric brakes on. Everything was purchased brand new. Before I installed it all, I got a spray can of tremclad and gave everything a good waterproofing (I hope) on the backing plates. I didn't paint the important surfaces of the drum, or the magnet faces. So far, so good. We'll see how they last coming into this next summer.