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Old 05-27-2014, 11:43 PM   #1
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1978 25' Tradewind
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Breakaway Switch - problems!

I had the original Bargman metal cylinder breakaway switch on the front of my '78. Looked just like dominicjohn's picture, here:

It developed a straight short to ground somehow (!), and I took it apart to see if I could just fix it.

I didn't keep track of it well enough to take a picture of the inside, but it looks just like you'd think it looks. There's two metal contact leaves that are separated by a plastic rod - which is attached to the safety cable. When the safety cable is pulled, the plastic rod is pulled out and the leaves are supposed to touch, sending full battery voltage to the trailer brakes, and slamming them on full.

The key word there is, of course, "supposed." When I drilled out the two little rivets and took the cover and rod off, the two leaves never did touch. Apparently, they had been separated for so long, and through so many hot and cold cycles, that the springiness had left the building.

The two leaves did not make contact when I removed the pin.

Just about the last thing you want if (God forbid) your trailer ever pops off the hitch is for it to pass you going downhill because you have a Broke Dingus Breakaway Switch.

I just ordered a new Bargman switch off some popular auction site; I'm sure our supporting vendors have them as well.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:15 PM   #2
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They certainly should be checked for function at least annually. I replaced the device on my Airstream shortly after buying it nearly 8 years ago.
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Old 06-14-2014, 02:54 PM   #3
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Found the old one for a picture!

It still bothers me, even though the new switch is in.
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:42 PM   #4
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Before opening the device did you test for "continuity" across the contact terminals/wires? I wager the "short" was internal where the "leaves were rivited that corrosion shorted the positive lead to the case and grounded it.
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:54 PM   #5
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After I bought my 2001 trailer in January I tested mine (a Tekonsha). It didn't work. In my case, the spring tension was fine but the contacts were corroded and the housing had a bunch of crud in it, probably road dirt. I cleaned it out and cleaned up the contacts. That's going to be a pre-trip check for me now.

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Old 06-14-2014, 05:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwf View Post
Before opening the device did you test for "continuity" across the contact terminals/wires? I wager the "short" was internal where the "leaves were rivited that corrosion shorted the positive lead to the case and grounded it.
It's been two or three weeks, and I've slept since then, so I really don't remember. I know the hot side (as installed) was shorted to ground. I do believe you're right, that the short was internal.
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