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Go for the anchors with confidence

January 07, 2005

The panic stop capability of the Energize 111 electronic trailer brake system from Hayes Lemmerz is impressive.

Wiring through the firewall It reacts instantly to sudden use of the tow vehicles brake pedal through its patented pendulum device and gets an immediate response from the trailer at the same level for panic stops.

We also slammed our camper trailers brakes on in four downhill crash stops using the brake controllers manual slide lever and the camper trailer brakes did most of the stopping. The further the independent manual slide lever is moved from right to left the more braking effort is applied to the trailer's brakes.

We were towing through the Otway Range and chose the long, steep descent from the ridge-top township of Lavers Hill to valley of the peaceful Aire River to go for the anchors.

The result was reassuring, but not something we recommend as a fun thing for the family. Using the trailers brakes to stop the tow-vehicle should never be necessary and it certainly calls for serious concentration on steering and direction, particularly in the wet. Trailer brake lockup can cause loss of control.

But, can the Energize system hack the heat, you bet!

The clever system designed for trailers with two or four electric brakes is particularly good in hilly going as the patented pendulum sensing device uses technology which can be tuned for the road conditions.

This is easily done through the gain setting wheel on the front left hand side of the controller which adjusts the amount of current going to the trailers brakes. With a little tweaking the system applies less braking to the trailer going uphill and more going down.

Rotate the gain wheel up and you get more current, rotate it down and the amount of current decreases. A red indicator light gives a clear idea of how much current is being used by glowing from dim to bright red during a stop. Use it to tune the system before setting off. This should be done every time you hook up.

Wiring up under the dash Use a good section of flat road and set the gain wheel at midrange. At about 40kmh brake normally. The result should be a firm braking action. The red indicator light should go from dim to bright and back to dim when the stop is complete.

The manual trailer brakes override operation is independent of the gain setting to allow full 12 volt output when it is needed and a much harder stop is always available. As we said earlier take care not to produce trailer brake lockup.

A real safety benefit is the stoplights on the tow vehicle and trailer come on in both automatic and manual braking.

The pendulum sensor automatically always monitors what the vehicle is doing and provides smooth trailer braking to suit in direct proportion to the tow vehicles braking effort.

Final wiring hook up ADP Caravan Services boss, David Backhouse, and his techo Ian Sword fitted the Energize 111 system to the Mitsubishi Advance 3.5 litre V6 we used for the Otway towing job.

They found an acceptable mounting position which met the controller units -35 to 90deg angle requirement just left of the steering wheel on the underside of the dash.

The controller can be seen through the lower half of the steering wheel. As we said the result is not ideal, but acceptable. We like these kind of jobs done by professionals and this paid off twice over when David and Ian found they had to 'modify' the vehicles firewall to feed cable through from the battery and again when our towing plug turned out to be faulty.

The fitting took an hour, including the modification and replacement and rewiring of the faulty plug.

Facts file:
What: Hayes Lemmerz Electronic trailer Brake Controller. #81741B
Suits: All trailers with two or four wheel electric brakes and vehicles with 12 volt negative ground systems.
Warnings: Manual operation may not disengage the Cruise Control in some vehicles.
Must do: The black power wire must be connected through a 25amp self resetting circuit breaker to the positive terminal of the battery.
Cost fitted: $305.45 including GST.
Cost of Controller unit: $150.