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Ask Dave: Why are my RV’s Workhorse UFO brakes locked up? What to do?

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses Workhorse UFO brakes.

Dear Dave,
We just bought a 2008 Forest River Georgetown XL with UFO chassis. It has 15,000 miles on it. We live in Florida and drove it home from Kentucky. Just before we left we had new tires put on and placed on a scope. As we arrived in Florida, the brake light and hydraulic brake fluid warning light came on. The problem is, at this moment, we need to find someone to work on it but we have not found a mobile mechanic as of yet, and for some reason it seems to have locked up. Any suggestions to get it unlocked to get it to the mechanic safely? We didn’t know if this was a safety thing or we are just not doing something right. This is our first one and we have no idea about it and we’re trying to learn as much as possible. —Katrina

Dear Katrina,
The UFO™ chassis is a Workhorse brand chassis that was a Universal Fuel Option (UFO), Universal Floorplan Option (UFO), and Universal Footprint Option (UFO) but is no longer offered in the RV market. It was designed to offer either a gas or diesel engine located at the rear of the framerail. However, there are still several service locations that work on these, as this chassis was used in the trucking market as well as the bus industry, if I remember correctly.

Image courtesy Workhorse Parts & Service

I also remember several instances of similar issues with lockups on the brakes and parking brake assembly with this chassis. Most of the time it was a hydraulic compact unit that went bad. Have you tried disconnecting the engine batteries to do a reset? This is not a cure-all, but has worked in some cases.

Components probably need to be disassembled

Unfortunately, in most situations the unit needs to have the parking brake and other components disassembled and towed to a service facility. According to my source at Winnebago, the parking brake needs to be removed from the Spring Applied Hydraulic Release (SAHR) canister located on the driver side frame rail. Make sure whoever does the procedure chocks the wheels, as it will roll on an incline.

Also, I would recommend contacting Forest River, as well, to get a recommendation for towing, as there are certain points on the chassis that are designed for towing and others that are not. I have seen units towed that almost tore off the front end!

For informtion on the UFO chassis

For additional information on the UFO chassis, I would recommend contacting Precision Sales & Service here:

451 64th Place South
Birmingham, AL 35212
205-591-2266

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Toni Calzone
23 days ago

fmca has a workhorse chapter and facebook page. there is a wealth of info on the units and one of the main members is considered a huge knowledge base and knows trusted shops. chapter dues worth every penny. i have a 2005 winnebago adventurer on workhorse chassis with the gm 8.1 ltr engine that i had the chassis and engine mechanically refurbished and windshield frame fixed when i bought it 3 years ago. worth every penny i put into it. i new the coach since 2009 and its problems and the quirks.

a shop or mobile tech needs to be found that has some experience with the workhorse line that will not be hard on the wallet

DW/ND
23 days ago

I am not sure about the Workhorse chassis – but this sounds like the same system I have on our Winnebago with a GM Chevrolet chassis. The parking brake is a drum (shoe) brake assy which clamps onto the driveshaft just behind the transmission, preventing vehicle movement. It can happen while driving, as it did with mine – however, I was able to continue driving albeit without a parking brake. A trip to a Ford Truck Center solved the problem for about $1,200. with a some new parts and brake shoes which were fried!) (7-8 yrs. ago!).

Important to note the system is run thru the power steering pump – so be sure to use the proper fluids in the brake and steering reservoirs – there is also a large tank located under the motorhome filled with transmission fluid – as I recall. It is centered under the floor.

Google “auto-park” for references and also if you can research the archives of the former Motorhome Mag. – you will find several references to the GM system by Ken Freund.

Jim Armstrong
23 days ago

In response to Dave’s UFO issue. Having worked on school buses with the same setup I found that the only way to fix the issue was to replace the unit. Not cheap. The system uses hydraulic pressure to operate a piston that moves to apply the parking brake cable. If stuck, cut the cable. Be careful though. Make sure the wheels are chocked so the unit doesn’t roll.

Last edited 23 days ago by RV Staff
Irv
23 days ago
Reply to  Jim Armstrong

Thanks! (The internet can be a wonderful and helpful place.)