How to Set Up a Kelsey Trailer Brake Controller

by John Cagney Nash
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Kelsey-Hayes, often called simply Kelsey, was a manufacturer of wheels and wheel braking systems. The company used to specialize in hydraulic brake control devices, but these devices are now considered unsafe and are no longer manufactured. In 2011, Kelsey currently produces in-cab electronic brake controllers, which have a similar set-up to that of any other manufacturer's controllers. The Kelsey trailer brake controller works only in 12-volt vehicles, and on single- and twin-axle trailers; it cannot operate more than four electric brakes.

Step 1

Hook up a trailer to the tow vehicle and connect the round seven-pin hitch. Start the tow vehicle engine and confirm that the red control module indicator light on the front right of the unit is dimly illuminated.

Step 2

Drive slowly to a flat, level road surface where other road users will not be inconvenienced. Disconnect the tow hitch.

Step 3

Depress the brake pedal just far enough to illuminate the tow vehicle brake lights. Use a finger to pull the pendulum leveling arm -- a small lever on the left side of the unit -- toward the front of the Kelsey trailer brake controller and confirm that this makes the control module indicator light glow brightly. Push the pendulum leveling arm slowly in the opposite direction until the control module indicator light is at its dimmest. Release the brake pedal.

Step 4

Slide the manual actuating lever fully to the left; confirm that this action causes the control module indicator light to glow at its brightest. Release the lever.

Step 5

Reconnect the trailer hitch and have an assistant confirm the trailer brake lights illuminate when the manual lever is again slid fully to the left. Adjust the load control knob -- a circular handle on the right side of the unit -- to its medium setting, then accelerate to approximately 20 miles per hour.

Step 6

Brake the tow vehicle normally. The trailer should brake at the same pace as the tow vehicle, neither pushing forward nor dragging. Release the brake pedal and turn the load control knob clockwise to increase trailer braking, and counterclockwise to decrease trailer braking. Repeat the exercise until the setting is ideal.

Step 7

With the set-up complete, depress the brake lever again. Concentrate on the control module indicator light. Check that its brightness increases as the stopping force increases, so that it is at its brightest when the pedal is fully depressed.

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