New trailer popped off

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Sneezer, Nov 17, 2021.

  1. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,248
    Likes Received:
    572
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2014
    Since moving to a weight distribution hitch it has become impossible to get this wrong. I use side-mounted chain hangers on the trailer frame so I have to use the trailer's jack to lift the tow vehicle enough in back to engage the chains. This is an absolute positive test that I'm coupled and latched.

    But I have seen many times on many trailers where the coupler latch can be closed without being properly seated. I understand these things are in use all the time, around the world, every day. But there's a bit of a design flaw if they can appear latched and not actually be.
     
  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,790
    Likes Received:
    8,170
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    I would want the trailor breakaway switch to engage before it came off the chains. So , you can feel there is something wrong and slow down safely.
     
  3. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,125
    Likes Received:
    2,437
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    I have had a trailer come off the ball at interstate speed. The ball was seated and properly latched. The jaw had wear on it and flexed enough to get pulled off the ball when I hit an expansion joint at a bridge. The trailer is under 3k pounds, so no brakes. I was pulling it by the chains. I eased over in the emergency lane and more or less coasted to a stop. I didn't brake because I didn't want the trailer to hit the truck. It all worked out. I had no damage.
     
    Sjm9911 likes this.
  4. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,248
    Likes Received:
    572
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2014
    I was curious how we might have different views on this, so I looked it up and discovered that even trailer manufacturers have different guidelines for proper breakaway switch setup. So I guess it's understandable why we would be in disagreement given that manufacturers can't even seem to agree.

    As I investigated I found PDFs and manuals from various makers with some variation of the two following options:

    • Breakaway switch cable shorter than safety chains so that the brakes engage while still attached to the tow vehicle.
    • Breakaway switch cable longer than safety changes so that the brakes engage as a last resort after safety chains fail.
    One common thread I was seeing is that the cable should be shorter than the electrical connector.

    I can see the logic in wanting the brakes to engage before chains fail. And I can see why one would want to avoid driving a tow vehicle attached to a trailer that had its brakes engage full-on suddenly. But now I'm starting to come around to appreciating the alternative position. :)
     
  5. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,790
    Likes Received:
    8,170
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    If your chains are still attached, it makes it easier for a controlled stop. Otherwise the trailor has a chance to rear end the camper, or go back and forth and stress the chains. A shock load on older chains may break them. To me , having something more in my control is better , and cheaper to fix. But everyone can have diffrent opinions.
     
  6. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,790
    Likes Received:
    8,170
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    Oh, and best way to do ot is to just make sure your hitched up correctly in the first place. [:D] That way we dont have to test our theories!
     
  7. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

    Messages:
    6,569
    Likes Received:
    3,461
    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Watched the video. Not wild about tying a knot in the break-away cable. It causes a stress point that will break first. If a cable is not quite long enough, add a shackle/quick link or two for extra length.

    Also, had twisted chains that reduces the chain load capacity.

    Another note: Don't run the break-away cable through the hitch safety chain hole. The safety chain hook can easily cut through the thin safety cable.

    This was my setup with the Aliner. I added a quick link, for the break away cable, in the safety chain connection hole. It gave me a little extra length to get the cable clip to the first loop. Since the cable was springing open and catching everything, I used another quick link that floated in the middle to contain the middle of the cable runs and weight it down below the hitch. It traveled to the keys, to the top of Kentucky, and many places in between with no issues.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,125
    Likes Received:
    2,437
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    I have heard some people say not to hook the break away lanyard to the TV hitch. The theory is the pin may not get pulled if the hitch fails and separates from the TV.
     
  9. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

    Messages:
    20,128
    Likes Received:
    3,116
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    Everything I’ve read and seen over the years is to hook the TV side of the cable to the connector of the chain to the TV.
     
  10. theseus

    theseus Living the Darkside...

    Messages:
    3,403
    Likes Received:
    846
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Location:
    Centerville, OH

    I will be honest, I think this guy is doing it wrong myself. A couple of points:

    1. He passes the breakaway cable through the hitch area, an area that can fail.
    2. The way he passes the cable back to attach to the other end only will work if your breakaway switch is mounted like his.

    In my opinion, the point of the breakaway switch is for when the trailer is completely disconnected, not when you are still attached via chains. If your chains are still attached the odds are the trailer’s 7way is still connected and your brakes are still going to work when you hit the brake pedal.
     
  11. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

    Messages:
    20,128
    Likes Received:
    3,116
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    Something I haven't seen in this thread is, what happened to the power umbilical cable?
     
    theseus likes this.
  12. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

    Messages:
    20,128
    Likes Received:
    3,116
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    Here’s a quick little mod so you don’t loose the latch pin.
    AD9BF83A-534B-4849-82C2-ACB59B931D00.jpeg
     
    Sjm9911 likes this.
  13. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,790
    Likes Received:
    8,170
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    If thats the case why not have the cable longer then the chains?
     
  14. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,817
    Likes Received:
    2,394
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Technically the break away cable should be attached to a point on the frame and NOT the hitch and NOT the bumper.. 97% of people attach it to either the hitch or the bumper..
     
    xxxapache and theseus like this.
  15. theseus

    theseus Living the Darkside...

    Messages:
    3,403
    Likes Received:
    846
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Location:
    Centerville, OH
    Exactly, which is the way most trailers are set up.
     
  16. David Blackwell

    David Blackwell Active Member Platinum Supporting Member

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    87
    Joined:
    May 10, 2017
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    -----------
    Thank you WrkrBee - I've studied the photograph you provided. That makes perfect sense to me. I especially like the use of the bungie cable/hook to keep the extra chain length up and way from the ground.

    A) If I understand the above comments correctly, there are two possibilities:
    1. the emergency brakes should be triggered when the safety chains are extended for any reason (i.e. the hitch comes off the ball); or
    2. The trailer is completely separated from the tow vehicle and the safety chains have failed as well.

    If the emergency brake unit is triggered, and I can only assume it would apply full braking power, scenario (A)(1) could itself make the situation worse. Scenario (A)(2) above seems to match up with (D) below.

    B) Can I further trouble you to opine on what you mean by the "twisted chains"? Are you saying:
    (a) do not twist the chain itself;
    (b) do not cross the chains to create a "cradle" i.e. the chains should be installed without crossing [see this link for a contrary opinion*];
    (c) the chains should be untwisted but crossed once (?) to make a cradle; or
    (d) something else?

    C) Does anyone know how much braking force is applied if the emergency trailer brake is triggered? I can only assume this would be full force braking i.e. wheels wanting to lock up and/or the potential to start a skid.

    D) this seems to confirm (A)(2) above - from my breakaway trailer brake manufacturer's website: https://www.expediter.com/catalog/ - see Section L, page 27

    "The breakaway switch device connected with electric trailer brakes consists of (1) a switch mounted in the front end of the trailer and connected to a special or auxiliary battery also mounted on the trailer and (2) a cable (or wire) which extends forward from a pin mounted on the switch to a permanent part of the towing vehicle hitch other than the ball. Upon separation of the trailer from the towing vehicle the pin is pulled out of the switch and the electric brakes are automatically applied using the power from the trailer battery."

    [hydraulic brake section omitted]

    "Note: Where a Breakaway Switch and Safety Chain are provided on the same unit, care should be taken to insure that the breakaway switch actuating cable will not operate the switch until complete separation from the towing vehicle has taken place. This would include failure and disengagement of both the hitch and safety chains."
    [comments bolded in emphasis]

    *In reference to the need to cross the chains:

     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
    Sjm9911 likes this.
  17. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,790
    Likes Received:
    8,170
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    I was looking for that sentance earlier, david. But didnt find it. That makes ot clear.
     
  18. popup-flyer

    popup-flyer Active Member

    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    185
    Joined:
    May 11, 2021
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Having read all this I will say I 100% agree, the breakaway cable should be at a point on the vehicle not associated with the tongue/hitch or chain points OR bumper.

    I have seen more than one set of accident photos showing the bumper on the ground being drug by the trailer and the breakaway cable was attached to the chain slot or woven in to the chain.

    This is an emergency system intended to engage when total trailer separation occurs.

    To that end I bought a small cable looped on both ends that goes through a hole in the underbody in front of the bumper and hangs down (zip tied) behind the 7 pin holder so I can clip on to it.
     

Share This Page