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Old 03-11-2005, 12:27 PM
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Default Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

I have been looking at installing trailer brakes on my boat trailer for the past year and a half (read = procrastinating). I looked at lots of products from lots of manufacturers like Kodiak, Tie-Down, etc. In my quest, almost everyone told me to stay away from electric trailer brakes, unless I used an electric actuator on a hydraulic braking system.

I recently ran across Fulton Performance's web page. They are advertising an electric braking system make SPECIFICALLY for saltwater boat trailers. The electronics are completely sealed and their "Sharkskin" coating is supposed to last over 1000 hours in a salt spray.

Does anyone have experience with these brakes? If they are as good as they say, I may have found a reason to stop procrastinating.
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Old 03-11-2005, 12:43 PM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

I have no idea why people are trying to steer you away from electric brakes. All the "electric" parts are located on top of the trailer where they never go into the water. Every trailer is set up pretty much the same way with the braking unit on top of the tongue. This unit sends the signal back to the brakes via brake fluid pressure. It doesnt matter if it is electric or surge. After researching this issue quite a bit myself I have learned that drum surge brakes offer the least amount of braking and probably the most headaches as to how much maintenance they require and probably need replacing more frequently than others. The electric disc brakes are the way to go up here for hauling a boat up and down hills. Surge brakes will constantly keep the pressure on while you are coasting down long hills. Surge discs can easily get hot enough to catch on fire. Using electric brakes allows you to fine tune everything from inside the cab to give you the best of both worlds. Disc's are easier to replace and easier to hose down after launching in the salt water. If you chose to go with discs I would not use a surge system if you trailer a lot through Turnigan pass. I vote for a electric disc set up. My triple axle King trailer has discs on all three axles with a remote electric braking system. This remote system plugs into your cigarette lighter and sends an infra red signal back to the brake actuator on the trailer telling it when to apply pressure. You can adjust how much pressure you like. This remote sensor can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle which means it does not have to be wired in permanently.

This is the electric system I went with:
http://www.carlislebrake.com/spec_electricactuator.html
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:24 PM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

I misread your post. I went to fultons web site and looked at those electric brakes. I certaintly do not have any experience with them but with all those electrical connections going into the saltwater I would avoid them. Just an opinion and not based upong facts.
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Old 03-12-2005, 08:14 AM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

You are talking about 2 different things there. One is electric over hydraulic brakes were you have a hydraulic disc or drum system but the actuator operates on an electric signal from the tow vehicle. The Fulton system are completely electric drums, that also are operated by the controller in the truck. On those, they are like RV trailer brakes with a electromaget and and the electrical connections do go in the water since they have to operate the electromaget in the brake assembly. For a relatively light trailer, surge drums can work well if you maintain them and flush them out often. Kodiak discs are supposed to be the longest lasting trailer brakes. I intially considered the Fulton elec brakes but I am in salt water so I kept looking. I would up installing the surge drum system I got from Champion Trailers and I have been happy with that. The Tie Down Galvax drums are pretty corrosion resistant, with an aluminum wheel cylinder and SS springs, big difference from the RV style drums.They advised me against disc brakes (surge) since I live in a hilly area. If I had a bigger heavier boat I would probably go for the elec over hyd disc which is the most expensive but probably works the best.
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Old 03-12-2005, 08:35 AM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

We are currently having a tri-axle aluminum trailer built by BoatMaster* www.boat-trailers.com* in Ft. Myers, Florida for a 32' Boston Wahler Outrage.* They make the trailers for the Boston Whaler Commercial Products Division.* We are going with electric over hydraulic (see below).* There are many benifits, as you'll read, over hydraulic or electric braking systems alone.* The added cost to a trailer is about $700.00 for the actuator and $130.00 for a controller in the cab.* They can be retrofitted to existing hydraulic brake systems easily.* IMO opinion any boat over 5000# should consider them.* I see no downside; please let me know if you disagree.* Thanks.

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Old 03-13-2005, 09:36 PM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

I put them on a tri-axle trailer I had built. I didn't own it long enough to comment on how well they will hold up. But I liked the way they performed. I went through the whole process of trying to figure out what brakes to put on it. I was going to go with high-end Kodiak. What made my mind up is when the trailer builder (who usually puts Kodiak's on their trailers, and had never put the Fulton electrics on one before) told me that even the best Kodiaks would need replacing after 3 years or so. I looked at the prices and figured the cost of the Fultons would work out to about $100 per axle per year even if I completely replaced them every 1-2 years. You would spend more than that on maintaining and replacing parts even on the best Kodiaks. Plus you don't have to deal with maintaining the hydralic system (fluid, bleeding, line rust, etc). Another plus is you have brakes backing up. If you ever had a brake hanging up, just disconnect the wire to deactivate it until you get home to repair it. I think they make a lot of sense. You will have to deal with people thinking it is strange, but that's their problem. I will put them on my next trailer.
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Old 03-14-2005, 06:36 AM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

Quote:
LuckyDog - 3/13/2005 9:36 PM

I was going to go with high-end Kodiak. What made my mind up is when the trailer builder (who usually puts Kodiak's on their trailers, and had never put the Fulton electrics on one before) told me that even the best Kodiaks would need replacing after 3 years or so. I looked at the prices and figured the cost of the Fultons would work out to about $100 per axle per year even if I completely replaced them every 1-2 years. You would spend more than that on maintaining and replacing parts even on the best Kodiaks. Plus you don't have to deal with maintaining the hydralic system (fluid, bleeding, line rust, etc). Another plus is you have brakes backing up. If you ever had a brake hanging up, just disconnect the wire to deactivate it until you get home to repair it. I think they make a lot of sense. You will have to deal with people thinking it is strange, but that's their problem. I will put them on my next trailer.
While I have no experience with the Fulton electric drums I respectfully disagree with your dealers opinion on the longivity of the Kodiak disc brakes. My last trailer is now 5 years old and has the "low end" E-coated cast iron Kodiak disc and they still work just fine. As long as you do the small amount of maintenance (lubricating the guide bolt sleeves) every 12-18 months they will last quite a while. There is no way that Kodiak would warrant the SS disc brakes for 6 years if they knew they failed after 3 years.

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Old 03-14-2005, 12:09 PM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

East Coast, I certainly defer to your knowledge on this topic. But, let me ask you this, give us an estimate of the cost breakdown of having the Kodiaks for 6 years, including original cost, regular maintenance of brakes and related components, and parts that would need to be replaced, assuming average use and someone who takes good care on the brake system. Figure brakes on two axles.
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Old 03-14-2005, 01:19 PM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

LuckyDog,

That is a tough one to answer without knowing the longivity of the Fulton drums because they are relatively new. I know they are supposed to be corrosion resistant but they are still a drum meaning they have more moving parts that have the potential to fail.

I'm certainly not going to say anything negative about the product because I have not used them and I have not seen any feedback from anyone who has had them in service more than six months.

The maintenance on the Kodiak disc brakes (lubricating the guide bolts sleeves) is about 15 minutes per caliper once a year. The Kodiak disc brakes also use standard GM pads that are inexpensive. If the pads need replacement you could count on 30 minutes per caliper or longer if the rotor needs machining.

One advantage the disc brakes have that I consider priceless is the ability to stop much faster and avoid an accident. A disc brake is far more efficient than a drum brake.

Without knowing how long the Fulton drums hold up there is no way to answer your question. My only argument is that the Kodiak brakes, when properly maintained will last much longer than 3 years.

I certainly would like to hear some good reports on the new Fulton drums. I'm always open to new technology and if it solves the problems with drum brakes rusting out that would be great

I do think there is a market for drum brakes on smaller trailers because the tow vehicle can really help them stop quicker. On larger trailers you need all the stopping power you can get.
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Old 03-14-2005, 07:43 PM
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Default RE: Fulton Performance Electric Brakes?

Interesting stuff. I have heard from friends with boats that trailer brakes (not mentioning Kodiak since none of them have any disc brakes on their trailers) can be constant trouble in salt water. I figured I'd give the tie down galvax drums a try, based on champion trailer's recommendation.
They have an interesting article on disc vs drums and electric brakes that explains a whole lot. One interesting thing they noted is that lighter trailers tend to have better braking response with drums than with discs. Over 3000 lbs, the differences are less and they are felt to be comparable. The reason being is that given an equal pressure at the actuator, drums need less hydraulic pressure due to their self energizing quality (rotation of the drum pulls the shoe against it while the wheel cyl is pushing it against the drum as well).
We'll see how long they last!!
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