Electric brake breakaway cable vs. 7 pin connecting sequence

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by Lug_Nut, Feb 3, 2019.

  1. Lug_Nut

    Lug_Nut Active Member

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    All my prior trailers with brakes have been hydraulic 'surge' type. We've just purchased our first trailer with electric solenoid brakes. I'm concerned about how to 'test' the electric breakaway cable and switch.
    I see that some simply pull the cable and pin to confirm the brakes activate at full power.
    I also see that activating the brakes in this manner while the tow vehicle is plugged through the 7 pin connection can back-feed trailer battery power into the controller and damage it.

    Is there a preferred manner to test the operation?

    When hooking up, or disconnecting at the site, is it prudent to leave the 7 pin for last on the chance that the e-brake cable and pin might be snagged and pulled out, possibly frying the brake controller?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  2. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    With the trailer 7 pin disconnected, have helper hold a compass by the wheel hub, then pull the pin. If the needle on the compass moves, you know the brakes for that wheel were applied...Or just pull the pin and try to move the trailer with the TV and see if the brakes are activated
     
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  3. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I pulled the pin and pulled the camper. Additionally , i pulled the wheels and checked the brakes enguaged. Its pretty tough to pull the emergency pin by accident.
     
  4. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

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    Every Spring when I do brake inspections/adjustments I will check the break away system. I simply pull the pin before I lower the wheels back to the ground and check to make sure the brakes engaged.
    And yes, it is pretty difficult to pull the pin by accident!
     
  5. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    The camper needs a battery in order to use the break a way. The break a way would get its power from the camper battery so that it could work independently from your tow vehicle. So always make sure your battery has juice and connected before heading out. That break a way won’t work without it.
     
  6. Lug_Nut

    Lug_Nut Active Member

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    Mt. Wachusett area, MA
    The user's manual with our new trailer: "Important: Disconnect the 7-way connector from the tow vehicle prior to testing the breakaway switch or you could damage your brake controller."
    e-trailer web page: Step 1. Unplug the trailer connector from the tow vehicle. Step 2. Pull the pin straight out of the breakaway switch. Step 3. Attempt to pull the trailer with the tow vehicle. Step 4. Reinsert the pin into the breakaway switch and reconnect the trailer plug to the tow vehicle.

    Both are pretty clear about the brake test being performed without the 7 pin connection made. But what happens when towing if the hitch should come uncoupled? Is the tow vehicle mounted brake controller sacrificed in the process of the trailer battery and brakes saving (hopefully) the trailer?

    There are as many other on-line advisors that don't make mention of disconnecting the 7 pin contacts prior to pulling the break-away safety pin and confirming the trailer's e-brake works.

    Is the advice to disconnect the 7 pin just an added layer of security for the brake controller when intentionally activating the trailer emergency brake to confirm it works?
     
  7. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Probably both over cautious and maybe basied on some reality. Who knows for sure! If your tv becomes unattached, the plug will most likely become unattached also. Im thinking that if unpluged it runs the breakes from the battery on the pup only, so this tests that. And that is the whole purpose of the disconect. So your are testing the disconect system in totality. If you need to test the breakes through the tv, you push in the break conteoller. This is done through the 7 pin conection. Will it damage the system to check the disconnect with it pluged in to the tv? I dont know, but i dought it. I think its more a test for your battery.
     
  8. Lug_Nut

    Lug_Nut Active Member

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    Another
    Tekonsha instructions: "3! CAUTION Disconnect trailer plug from the tow vehicle prior to testing a breakaway switch or you may destroy the Prodigy."

    The breakaway circuit is intended to activate the brakes if the hitch comes undone. I expect the safety chains will still be attached in most of those situations. I further expect that if the chains are still connected and the breakaway cable is slightly shorter than the chain length, as the towing set-up indicates it should be, that the second point of 'failure' after a hitch disconnect is the breakaway pin being pulled.
    The chains are probably still attached and the 7 pin is probably still attached when the pin is pulled.

    Now, ... I've not ever had a coupler come undone, and it is a slight chance that I'll ever actually experience that situation first hand, but with my former hydraulics I'd only need to re-set the lever and arm the spring again, easy enough to do on the side of the road.
    Electrics? It appears there's a reasonable likelihood that I'd have to drive on without trailer brakes when/if the controller fried, or I'd need to carry a spare controller, because there's no re-fill kits for the magic smoke when it leaks out of the box.

    I think that I'll save the 7 pin for last connect and first disconnect. I'm clumsy enough that I can see myself yanking the cable, pulling the pin, and sending the controller up in a poof of wispy haze..
     
  9. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I think your overthinking it. Its very hard to accidentally pull the cord out of the switch. And yes it might fry your conteoller, but its better then lossing your trailor. Look at the vids or people here that made mistakes hooking up. It beats the allternative. Its a saftey, just in case. Not perfect but better and cheaper then most allternatives. You have smoke detectors in your home, as a just in case. As an allternative you, can you put in sprinklers and other messures, of course. But its a big cost. Its a risk reward type of senerio. You can surly have exactly what you want , but at a cost, when that cost is more then the reward then its not worth it. If you like the hydraulic breakes that much better and think there worth installing, then do it. Its your pup after all. For me to worry about a 50 to 90 doller break controll that may or may not break is honestly, the least of my worries. I will atually try this when the weather gets nicer, i think its that much on a non issue. Im pretty certian one , whatever is stronger, current will override the other. So it will not get double voltage. So no magic smoke. I dont know this for sure. But im sure enough to test it out.
     
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  10. Dingit

    Dingit Active Member

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    Yeah...if the breakaway switch is engaged while towing, that means the **** has already hit the fan and you're just trying to minimize death and destruction. At that point, you shouldn't be caring about your brake controller.
     
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  11. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    I doubt if my "emergency" brakes would ever be activated. My two safety chains are 33" long. The tiny cable for the emergency brakes is 48" long. So if I follow the manual and connect the brake cable to the point the safety chains are connected, the brakes will not activate if the camper becomes unhitched. Even if the hitch drops off the tow vehicle with the camper, the public is still in peril until gravity and friction has finished stopping the camper.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Then your hooking it up wrong. The cable should pull the pin if trailor comes off the ball. There are a few ways to do this.
     
  13. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I do mine diffrent, i wave it through and attach it to the chain on the way back so ot will pull out before the chains get to full length. As he said it needs some slack, just not too much that it will not activate if it comes off.
     
  14. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    I was basically pointing out how useless "Owner Manuals" can be pertaining to critical safety components. That's why I included the Aliner manual page. It is vague and if followed, useless. You have to do your own research on how to do things "properly". Even then, you need to wade through the information and sort the good from the bad. In the video, I disagree with knotting the brake cable for adjustment, and I see the safety chains were twisted to "adjust" the length. Knotting and twisting reduces the strength of the components. I also question looping the brake cable through the same hole as the safety chain attaching point. Could the safety chain cut the brake cable into before actuated? Maybe, if not adjusted properly.
     
  15. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Your right, not alot of good info out there. I never had or read the owners owner's manual until i found it later in the pup. So it was internet wisdome for me. Lol. I tell my kid all the time , you tube is not reality, but i use the same. Diffrence is i check it and think about it. I loop mine through the chsin itself, then through the attaching point on tbe tv , then back across to the chain itself with a carabiner. So when the slack comes off the chain, it pulls out. I even have a few links more on the chain, i take the slack up with zip ties. So it works. I tested it, yes , im crazy....
     
  16. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    I like the zip tie idea. I use a rubber strap to lift the chains a little.
     
  17. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    I've never heard that before, about having the saftey change longer than the breakaway..... (It makes perfect sense)
    I've always envisioned the emergency breakaway switch only getting engaged when the trailer has left the ball, and the chains have failed.

    I wonder how this reconciles these types of cables:

    upload_2019-2-8_11-57-2.png
     
  18. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    I use one of these D-RING coiled cables from ETRAILER... Keeps everything up off the round and works great for me...

    [​IMG]

    I always test my setup from the house in Virginia by using the BRAKE CONTROLLER manual squeeze knobs 'only' on the controller coming up to the neighborhood stop sign just pulling out from the house. This stops the trailer and the truck by just using the trailer brakes...

    ADDED NOTE: MPKING looks like we entered the same idea at the same time haha...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
     
  19. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    Actually, there is no reason you couldn't double the coiled one back as well.
     

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