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Old 05-24-2015, 09:51 AM   #1
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2016 30' Flying Cloud
Port Saint Lucie , Florida
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Unhappy Breakaway Switch melted - 2015 Flying Cloud 27 FB

Well, Friday night our house washing machine broke down and today wanted to tow the trailer to our house to load up /clean tank/ for our trip starting next friday. Was hitching up and connected/pulled the cord on the breakaway switch and noticed the plastic covering was melting and burning.

Turned off the 12 volt but too late. Anyway, I pried the contacts apart stopped the process. Would like to know if a brake/12 volt electric/or just bad switch caused this issue.

Any ideas on how to proceed? I'm talking to Airstream tomorrow.


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Old 05-24-2015, 10:40 AM   #2
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Weatherford , Texas
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The breakaway switch is supposed to supply 12v power to the brakes if its cable is pulled. This is to stop the trailer if it breaks loose from the tow vehicle.

Sounds kinda like your breakaway switch was doing its job, which is supposed to be for emergency use only.

Why did you pull the cable?

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Old 05-24-2015, 11:00 AM   #3
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2004 25' Classic
Prescott , Arizona
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This is from the manual :

In THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENTAL SEPARATION of the tow vehicle and the trailer, the BREAKAWAY
SWITCH will set and lock the trailer brakes for a sufficient length of time to stop the trailer. The
switch is activated when the wire attached to it and to the tow vehicle pulls out the small pin in the front of
the unit.


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Old 05-24-2015, 11:33 AM   #4
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1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
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The break away switch should NEVER melt. So, you have some kind of short or defect in your system which in the case of your 2015 is a warrantee item and the dealer should find the problem and correct it.
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Old 05-25-2015, 06:45 AM   #5
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Yes, the breakaway switch should be frequently tested - I usually do so at the beginning of our season. If it has melted, that's an issue.
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Old 05-25-2015, 11:27 AM   #6
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The breakaway switch can be pulled and tested,it is not recommended to have it pulled for more than approx.30 seconds. It can weaken the magnets is left on for longer periods. Have you checked the wiring to the breakaway switch? Sometimes the bottle cover can damage the wire if it is sitting on it.Definitely call Airstream to document. They will recommend taking to a dealer for inspection as it would be hard for them to diagnosis over phone.
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:58 PM   #7
2006 34' Classic
Fort Worth , Texas
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At least in the past, Airstream has not used a breakaway switch, nor are any available that are designed heavy duty enough to for continuous duty. Take a look. The wires and contacts are too small to take a normal load encountered in breakaway circuits. I don't know why they are not designed HD, but several minutes is all I can get out of switches on my trailer. Then they burn up. You can see from Inspection the wire and contacts are much smaller than the trailer wires they are hooked to. On my TT the electric/hydraulic brake pump needs 30 amps in the summer and 40 amps in the winter to adequately run the pump. That means 12-10, or 8 gauge wire. I think Lew recommends 6 gauge. But that is not what is installed. When Airstream recalled the Acti-Brake pumps and installed the Dexter pumps they did not change the wire to the larger sizes. When the tech was testing my modified pump he burned up two switches. I have since burned up three. Now to live with the situation I never set the trailer brakes using the breakaway switch. I only pull it out long enough to test the system and right back in the switch. I have looked every where and the available switches are all the same. I would suspect that through the years magnets and pumps have slowly increased in amperage load, also causing the switches to overload. Then you have the added resistance of long wire runs to the brake components and three axle systems adding to the load. Plus, the breakaway switch should have a continuous load rating capable of indefinite use. Who is to say how long it will take a separated trailer to stop coming down a mountain?

No offense Schu!
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:32 PM   #8
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Checking the break away switch by pulling the pin periodically. Is like turning a light on just to see if it works.
There is no guarantee that the light will come on the next time you turn it on.
I do check to see that I have 12 volts to the switch periodically. Along with checking out the wiring.

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Old 05-27-2015, 09:44 AM   #9
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Update on Breakaway Switch

Craig at Customer Support Airstream has not heard of this either. A first time for him!

Anyway, I'm taking it to the dealer on Friday for a recall on the Propane Gas Tank Tray and they will check this out at the same time. They will check the wiring and Brake operation. Hopefully, all being well, we will take off for our 2 month Yellowstone Tetons Santa Fe straight away.

Thanks for the thoughts and comments. I'll update when I can from the road.


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