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View Full Version : I'm all trucked up! (And a Brake Question)



Chaila
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:23 AM
After what will be known as the "Winter of Waffling" my dad vacillated between fixing up the '84 Chevy Diesel and buying a newer truck.

Neither he nor I need a truck full time, so it totally made sense for us to go in on one together. He's way more romantic about his truck choices than I am so he's much harder to please. It had to be a Chevy or GMC 3/4 ton diesel and nothing else would do. We also decided it needed to have some sort of back seat and thought a short bed would be better because we would occasionally have to park it in the City.

I spent the winter combing through Craigslist trying to find something suitable. And after many wild goose chases to visit some Angry Man's Nasty Beat Up Overpriced Plow Truck we FINALLY found something suitable.

We went to go see one last Saturday that we initially decided to pass on. It had been off the road for a year. But it hadn't been beat up and in spite of being dirty, it was really well taken care of. There was a bunch of annoying but relatively small repairs to be made. We initially decided to pass on it on Saturday. But Sunday, we both woke up and looked at each other and said "I think I want that truck." So he made an offer, the guy countered and we picked it up yesterday.

So, I can finally pull my trailer! It's a midnight blue 98 Chevy 6.5L with a heavy duty factory towing package.

So, here's my question. The original owner towed with a GN and the brake controller is in the truck bed. Does it make sense to move it, or is there an extension cord for such a thing?

Also, he said it had the heavy duty springs for towing. What does that mean?

Thanks!

GoForAGallop
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:48 AM
So, here's my question. The original owner towed with a GN and the brake controller is in the truck bed. Does it make sense to move it, or is there an extension cord for such a thing?

Also, he said it had the heavy duty springs for towing. What does that mean?

Thanks!

Assuming that GN brake controllers work the same as bumper pull ones...then no, you don't need to move it because it is wired directly into the wiring of the truck, and into the plugs that you will plug your trailer's electric into. However, are you sure it's the brake controller in the bed? They're usually in the cab, right by the driver's knee.

But like I said, I don't know if there is a difference in what's needed for GN vs. BP. Maybe someone else who has a GN can chime in.

Heavy duty springs means just that. Many trucks come equipped with softer springs, which make for a more comfortable, smooth ride while just driving around. Heavier springs are stiffer, so make for a less pleasant driving experience.....but really come in handy when you dump a ton of weight into the bed of the truck (or on the ball of a hitch) by preventing the vehicle from sagging too much, like it would with softer springs.

Chaila
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:55 AM
Assuming that GN brake controllers work the same as bumper pull ones...then no, you don't need to move it because it is wired directly into the wiring of the truck, and into the plugs that you will plug your trailer's electric into. However, are you sure it's the brake controller in the bed? They're usually in the cab, right by the driver's knee.


The cable from my trailer isn't long enough to reach into the truck bed. Which is why I was wondering about an extension cord. Usually I see them mounted next to the hitch, but this one is definitely in the bed!

GoForAGallop
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:14 AM
The cable from my trailer isn't long enough to reach into the truck bed. Which is why I was wondering about an extension cord. Usually I see them mounted next to the hitch, but this one is definitely in the bed!

Ohhh, wait, so you're not talking about the brake controller then, just the 7-pin plug? Yeah, I don't THINK I've ever seen a big extension cord deal for them....but it shouldn't be a big deal to move it back down to the BP-hitch.

The brake controller is a box that you find in the cab of the truck, it is usually right by the driver's side knee, although if you want to wire in enough wire it can be almost anywhere. The brake controller is what reads you pressing on the brake, and transmits that signal back to the trailer's brakes. You will want to make sure that you have one. :) They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install if there is not already one there.

Chaila
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:20 AM
There was a little box by the driver's right knee sticking out of the floor that we forgot to ask about. Is that what you meant?

YES! I did mean the brake controller plug is in the bed.

Sorry... New to all this!

GoForAGallop
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:28 AM
There was a little box by the driver's right knee sticking out of the floor that we forgot to ask about. Is that what you meant?

YES! I did mean the brake controller plug is in the bed.

Sorry... New to all this!

It's not necessarily a brake controller plug, only if you have one. ;) Otherwise it is just all of the electric/lights/etc that the trailer needs. A "trailer plug" or "seven pin plug."

Without seeing pictures/info on brand/etc it's hard to tell if that's what the mysterious box is. It could be a fuse box, or it could be the brake controller, or it could be something else. The "traditional" place to put them is by the driver's knee mounted to the underside of the dash, but like I said, with enough wiring you can stick them anywhere you please! "Sticking out of the floor" is the phrase that makes me think it's NOT your brake controller....it's hard to mount them "into" the floor, but it's also hard to get a picture/correctly explain in text on a BB. :)

Chaila
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:32 AM
I looked at some pics of brake controller boxes after I saw your post and I'm pretty sure that's what it was. It may have been coming out of the dash somehow.

I'll peek at it in a couple of weeks when I see my truck again.

Maybe I should start a "What do we name our truck thread???"

:D

Trakehner
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:53 AM
There's usually a plug installed on the bumper somewhere to plug your trailer in. With Goosenecks, they'll usually have one further up near the bed so you can close the tailgate. once the trailers hitched.

Look around the back for the other plug.

Chaila
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:57 AM
There's usually a plug installed on the bumper somewhere to plug your trailer in. With Goosenecks, they'll usually have one further up near the bed so you can close the tailgate. once the trailers hitched.

Look around the back for the other plug.

The only plug is in the bed. There are some funky wires by the BP hitch, but no plug.

I think we may take it to the trailer place to get it all checked out first.

GoForAGallop
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:33 AM
The only plug is in the bed. There are some funky wires by the BP hitch, but no plug.

I think we may take it to the trailer place to get it all checked out first.

Well if there are wires there, then most likely you'll just need the $8 plug from Walmart and you'll be all set!

Taking it to the trailer place sounds like a great idea. They'll be able to check out your possible break controller (and deem if it's appropriate...some are designed for lighter trailers, some for trailers with just two brakes, etc), make sure everything works, and get you started off right. :)

CatOnLap
Apr. 5, 2011, 12:22 PM
good idea to take it to a truck or trailer place to have the electric connections checked (the connections in the truck is usually what goes wrong when your trailer won't light up or activate its brakes- 90% of the time it's NOT the trailer). Simple inexpensive repair to have the electric plug moved from the bed to the bumper- but get it done professionally unless one of you happens to be an auto electrician, because tracing what goes wrong can be tricky.
Heavy duty springs were installed to take the tongue weight of the goose neck. They are a good thing. Means you can load her up without bottoming out on the axles. My old half ton had super duty springs and it took a ton of hay ( literally) before the truck would start to sink on those springs, and it never bottomed out. Does make the truck sit a little higher behind, so when you have the bumper pull hitched up and loaded with horses, make sure your trailer floor is level, or else get aa proper hitch extender ( "ball carrier") made with a step in it to level the bed of the trailer. Stressful to haul horses when they are constantly standing "uphill".

Having several small annoying repairs to be done on a used truck is always a red flag for me. Makes me think the thing was parked after years of little to no maintenance, when the annoying repairs made it annoying to drive. And you can't check whether it's had regular oil and lube jobs without tearing down the engine. Get a thorough drive train check up from an experienced diesel mechanic before you lay money down.

Chaila
Apr. 5, 2011, 12:38 PM
The annoying things are cosmetic, like a loose door handle that works, but needs to be fixed and the handle for the hood pop is stripped and you pop the hood by grabbing the cable with a pliers. We'll probably install new glow plugs. It had a tiny ding on the front fender where he'd hit it, but he'd already bought a new fender and grill and the orange plastic lenses for the turn signal lights, but just hadn't installed them. But the body was absolutely mint with no rust besides the silver-dollar sized ding in the fender. The engine was quiet with very minimal smoke from the tailpipe only at start up when we cold started it yesterday.

It did sit for this past year. But the guy's wife primarily drove it so he had the "I don't want to sleep on the couch for a year" incentive to do maintenance on it. :lol: They were pretty religious about oil changes and engine maintenance when it was on the road.

We will get it checked out. My dad's been working on Chevy's since he was about 9. He's not a mechanic, but can swap out a water pump if the occasion calls for it and he could tell by driving it that the engine and transmission were well maintained.

He drove it about 40 miles home yesterday on hills and highways and it was perfect, straight and very quiet (for a diesel). So we're very optimistic about its long term prognosis.

Tom King
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:13 PM
There's no need to "move" the plug. I have multiple receptacles for not only different locations on my truck, but for different types of plugs since we have all ages and types of trailers that get pulled with the same truck.

There should be a plug for a trailer wiring harness beside the receiver. If not, you can just wire in another one.