I'd like to discuss these 2 styles because almost all brake controllers fall into these 2 catagories. i'm purposely skipping the old fashioned hydraulic/electric controllers. They were very good, but dont do well with the newer tow vehicles. So lets break it down:

Timer style: these controls are timer based. you basically set 2 features; overall gain, and delay. When the brake is depressed far enough to activate the stop lights, the controller activates. You set the delay for the controller to ramp up to the gain setting you chose. So it takes 1 to 5 seconds to ramp up to however many amps you set. It does this every time you activate it regardless of how you brake. drawbacks:
1. hard to anticipate. you end up braking and lifting alternately to make a stop.
2. since there is a delay in activation, valuable time may be lost in a panic stop.
3. since it activates the same way every stop, the user generally adjusts the brake controller too low for anything more than a gentle stop wasting a great deal of potential braking force.
4. as a driver negotiates long gentle downhill grades, he eases up on the brake pedal leaving the towed vehicle to do a disproportionately greater amount ofmthe braking causing premature brake wear.

I found dealers love these controllers. The uninitiated can always get a strong sense of braking out of these. Drawtite activator, POD are a couple of brands. They have a gain knob and another knob or slider that will say "sync" or delay.

Inertia style: These activate by the stoplight switch as well. However, they sense how hard the driver is trying to stop and brake proportionately. They kind of have a pulsation that takes a little getting use to. But the benefits over the timer are plentiful. they offer immediate braking that is potentially life saving. properly adjusted they will brake the trailer to near the point of lockup in the hardest braking application. since they are proportional, the trailer will do only its share of braking and no more, saving brake wear. no more pumping the brakes to make a common stop, so the benefits are felt every stop. drawbacks:
1. since they sense the change in inertia, if the antilock brakes on the tow vehicle activate in snow or ice, the controller will send little power to brakes. during these types of conditions, it is preferred to drive with one hand on the controller to manually activate the brakes.
2. These controllers need to be specifically mounted in a ridgid fashion to operate. timers dont care.
3. Some users may think they are not applying properly because the big "tug" is gone. But think for a moment, if the truck stops the truck and the trailer stops the trailer, there is no big drag, even though braking distances havent dramatically increased. these can still be adjusted for a "lead" that most drivers prefer.
These controllers have a gain knob and usually a "level" adjustment on the lower end models. Upper end stuff now levels automatically leaving you with only a gain knob...hooray! Tekonsha is the primary manufacturer of this style of controller, seemingly having the technology sewn up. models include prodigy, primus, voyager.
cequent recently bought tekonsha and has been marketing the latest inertia controllers under the drawtite moniker. tekonsha also made timers...so do your homework and choose wisely.

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Tags: activator, brake, controller, drawtite, inertia, tekonsha, timer

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Comment by david craft on November 26, 2014 at 5:04am
Dang Lakota, i was thinkin you were the guy to try this with all the road work you do. Especially if your in the bad stuff. If the variable resistor would be worth a try, then maybe you could give the inertia/timer combo a try. I could scrounge parts...
Comment by david craft on November 26, 2014 at 3:56am
You ever seen the old variable resistors they used onthe old hydraulic/electric controllers? You could use one of those to cut current to the small pup. But, they would start to energize at the same time. There should be one lurking onthe wheel well of an old 60s/70s truck near your location...
Comment by Lakota Wolf on November 25, 2014 at 11:36pm

With a double ple switch your committed to only one brake controller working at a time.. The reason I have 2 controllers is one for the trailer brakes and one for the pup trailer behind it, (hence having 2 controllers), so both trailers apply brakes evenly. I wouldnt want the last trailer to have the responsibility of slowing down the 5th wheel,, or the 5th wheel having to brake itself PLUS the load of the pup trailer. I usually get pretty even braking from the truck, the 5th wheel and pup without either taking on to much of a demand.  I did TRY a 3 axle brake controller to control the 2 axles on the 5th wheel and the single axle on the pup, and that was a huge mistake,, The pup trailer brakes would lock up just as the 5th wheel brakes were engaging.

Comment by david craft on November 25, 2014 at 2:24pm

this allows to choose between controllers.  I dont think it wise to back feed power to a controller.  thats why were switching downstream from the BC

Comment by david craft on November 25, 2014 at 2:17pm

i was thinking...mount both controls and wire as instructed.  take the individual blue leads out of each controller and hook to a SPDT (single pole double throw) switch.  hook the power out to the brakes to the center pole. voila!...you could use a DPDT switch and switch the power into the brake control as well if preferred. 

Comment by Lakota Wolf on November 25, 2014 at 12:14pm
Dave croft mentioned a Switch to run both controllers and that caught my attention. I would like to know how this could be done. I'm old school and have just accustomed myself to installing one controller each towable and adjusting each to sync my braking.
Comment by david craft on November 23, 2014 at 8:09pm
Somewhere during this thread, after I posted timers should be outlawed, I had a thought. A timer might have a place inthe very situation I mentioned with snow and ice. This is hypothetical but maybe inthe extreme conditions that require the inertia model to be manually operated, a timer would allow 2 hands onthe wheel. You could mount both controllers and a SPDT switch on the output to the brakes.
Comment by Lakota Wolf on November 23, 2014 at 7:21pm
I thought I would bring up a topic on brake controllers when towing doubles or triples (yes i still do doubles and triples). With that said I have to use dual brake controllers and they MUST. be sync to work as a pair. I don't recommend running dual brake conttollers unless your well educated and have experience pullin doubles or triples. Its not something you learn over night or on a weekend excursion.
Comment by david craft on November 23, 2014 at 2:13pm
I personnally think the timers should be outlawed...antiquated and dangerous technology. The inertia controllers are not that much more money. If fact, many dealers sell timers for more than inertias can be had for. Kudos to Cequent for not jacking the price when they bought Tekonsha. This tech needs to be affordable.
Comment by david craft on November 23, 2014 at 1:51pm
Pat...ive read your thread over a few times...looking at all the pics. I found 13 service bulletins on the 03 yukon with the rear steer. Looked like yours may have been a rear steer. Dont know if that may have been a factor. Im going to post on weight distribution next. Dont know if spring bar tension or automatic suspension leveling might have been a factor. It must be unnerving to have had the experience youve had towing and yet endure such a harrowing wreck. I think you had a lot stacked against you...more than you know.

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