When AL-KO launched its Australian-designed iQ7 Electronic Air/Hydraulic brake booster in mid-2014, its primary market was people towing heavy boat trailers. Using a patented compressed air pressure chamber to apply instant pressure to the brake system, iQ7 differed from other products that relied on a pump starting up to supply pressure after the brakes were applied. By reducing this reaction time dramatically, iQ7 delivered much faster braking response and hence reduced stopping distances.
I tried it out on both wet and dry surfaces at the offical launch of the iQ7 Outback at Melbourne’s Sandown Racecourse. The reduction in stopping distance with panic stops from 80km/h with a 2.2 tonne boat in tow was dramatic – almost half that I achieved with the same rig with iQ7 switched off.
It was offered initially in two versions: an iQ7 entry level version that could be used with an existing brake controller; or an advanced ‘XTREME’ version, complete with specialised in-car kit that incorporated full self-diagnostic electronics including detection of lack of air pressure, air leakage, inadequate power feed, excessive duty cycle, or trailer disconnection, with audible and visual information provided to the driver.
Some Australian caravan manufacturers such as Caloundra’s Australian Off Road have since fitted iQ7 as standard equipment to its range-topping Aurora and second-tier Matrix full height and pop-top models for use in conjunction with AL-KO’s disc brakes. But while ‘marinised’ for boat trailer use, the system still wasn’t purpose designed for the caravan market.
That has now been addressed with the introduction of iQ7 Outback as an additional version. While the previous iQ7s are still mainly used for boat trailers, iQ7 Outback is purposefully designed for caravans with hydraulic disc brakes and incorporates feedback from caravanners who were using the standard iQ7/ iQ7 XTREME products.
BUILT FOR THE BUSH
The key difference of the iQ7 Outback version is that it is designed specifically to handle harsh, dusty off-road conditions. To do this, it incorporates ‘tool-free’ air filter servicing for its compressor and pneumatic breathers, along with an internally or externally mounted hydraulic actuator.
A remote-mount pneumatic breather with a replaceable filter is now fitted to ensure the air being drawn into the pneumatic system remains clean, while the unit’s heavy duty air compressor now comes with a replaceable filter to produce a quicker recharge of air, reducing run times and increased product life.
To achieve this, the unit is required to be remotely mounted – ideally in an area with good airflow, but not on the A-frame where it would be in the firing line of dust, dirt, stones and water during creek crossings.
Following extended off-road testing, AL-KO Australia is now convinced that these features make the iQ7 Outback suitable for the harsh, dusty conditions that caravans can experience and expect a much greater take-up for the unit and its advanced disc brake system than was previously the case.
More details on the new iQ7 Outback can be found by visiting http://www.alkoiq7.com.au/
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