Installing A Trailer Brake Controller
When towing, each state has its own rules as to how much you can tow before trailer brakes are required and for good reason; you don't want to find out on a downhill, during inclement weather, that your vehicle is underbraked for the loads that will soon be swapping ends with you as the base of the hill nears. Having a quality brake controller for these situations is critical to a safe and successful haul.
Most trailers come with one of the two most common styles of brakes-surge and electric. Surge brakes work independently of the vehicle, where deceleration of the trailer is sensed mechanically and the brakes are applied hydraulically, while electrically activated brakes work in conjunction with the tow rig's own braking system, where a controller mounted in the cab controls the amount of input to the trailer brakes for the present conditions.
Because we regularly tow more weight than the 1,500-pounds California allows without trailer brakes, behind our project Power Wagon, and our 2005 Dodge was not offered with an integrated controller from the factory, we decided to get with it and install a suitable trailer brake controller. In our case, we chose the Odyssey II controller from Valley Industries.
As most things go, trailer brake controllers are available in a variety of styles, features and price points. The Odyssey II is the next-generation controller based on Valley's original Odyssey. One of the coolest features of the Odyssey II is the ability to save your load level and output gain presets to any one of four memory positions, which means you can easily switch between towing your trail rig, fishing boat, travel trailer, and car hauler and know with confidence that your brake settings are ready to go. More realistically, it is helpful if you only have one trailer with multiple operators who prefer different settings, or the trailer brakes need different settings between a loaded and empty trailer. It also features a pressure-sensitive switch, in place of a slider, to manually operate the trailer brakes.
In addition, the Odyssey II incorporates a patented dual-axis accelerometer that senses current conditions, and it can be used for light- or heavy-duty applications with up to eight axles. There is also polarity protection in the circuit in case power and ground wires are confused. Valley backs its controller with a limited lifetime warranty and it can be found for under $150.
Installation is plug-and-play basic, while operation of the Odyssey II is intuitive.