Bleeding Boat Trailer Brakes: The Phoenix System

In the Phoenix System, fresh fluid is pumped in reverse up toward the master cylinder. Illustration credit: Phoenix Systems.

In the Phoenix System, fresh fluid is pumped in reverse up toward the master cylinder. Illustration credit: Phoenix Systems.

A buddy of mine called with a puzzling question. He had just bought a new-to-him boat, and the master cylinder on the surge-brake system on his trailer had failed. He sourced a new one and installed it, but he couldn’t figure out how to bleed the brake system on the whole trailer. He was beginning to regret his purchase.

With no brake pedal to push and a really strong surge spring, pushing in the piston on the master cylinder was a vexing problem. Then I remembered seeing something on “Gearz,” an automotive television show with a goofy host who spends most of his on-camera time laughing at his own jokes. But I did learn something about bleeding brakes from one of his shows, and it was just what we needed to bleed the system on my buddy’s trailer.

Phoenix Systems makes a reverse bleeder system. Here’s how it works. Instead of having somebody pump the brake pedal to build pressure and push any air in the system down to the wheel cylinder or caliper, the Phoenix bleeder takes fresh fluid from a bottle and pumps it from the caliper or wheel cylinder, forcing it up and into the master cylinder. Air bubbles naturally rise in any fluid, so it makes sense, and more important than that, it works.

So my friend bought a kit. Phoenix used to make a DIY kit for around $85, but the company discontinued it for whatever reason, which means my buddy had to buy its next cheapest kit. At $185, it’s definitely isn’t cheap, but it can be used for cars and trucks, too, so it’s not like he’ll never use it again. Besides, I couldn’t figure another way to bleed the surge system on a trailer. If any Waterblogged readers have other solutions, I’d love to hear them.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this post. This is just the information we needed to know. It is also good that there is a solution to his problem of having a bleeding system. I will let my husband see this as well.

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