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Old 07-31-2016, 02:07 PM   #1
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2014 27' FB International
Cary , North Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 15
"Trailer Disconnected" Message

On our last trip out I was towing our 2014 27FB with our 2013 Ford Expedition TV with an integrated brake controller and was driving along smoothly and then a heard a beep and my dash displayed "TRAILER DISCONNECTED". Yikes! The first thing I did was check the rearview mirror, and sure enough our trailer was still there! I pulled off at the next exit and checked the cord connection at the hitch and everything was fine, plus all of the trailer lights were working fine as well, but as I continued to drive to our destination I still got the warning message intermittently.

Later I had the TV brake controller checked out and everything was OK. Then I got totally under the trailer and discovered the problem: The trailer brake wires had a large loop just hanging behind each wheel, and I found 3 of the wires were totally disconnected, making 2 of wheel brakes (both driver's side) inoperable. I spliced the connections back together (2 wires per wheel), and sure enough the dash error message disappeared and I could see my brake controller "TBC GAIN OUTPUT" again showing the current signal strength being applied to the trailer brakes.

So my TV was accurate telling me I had a problem with the trailer brakes! My question is has anybody out there encountered brake wires coming loose like this? Is it normal to see the large loops behind the trailer wheels like this? (I am assuming something on the road caught these and pulled them out)...
Should I do something to prevent this in the future? Thanks

P.S. I have posted 3 images showing this..
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Old 07-31-2016, 02:37 PM   #2
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2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
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Yes, I have had exactly the same thing happen. Once from a broken trailer brake wire, and another time due to a corroded trailer brake wire connector.

At least TV brake controller is doing its job!

The loop of wire is indeed a vulnerability from road debris but I suppose it is a necessary evil because of trailer suspension movement - if the wiring were too tight it would likely jst break.

Last winter on our annual snow bird trip I replaced all the brake assemblies on our trailer - complete assemblies, new backing plates/shoes/magnets as a complete assembly. Less expensive than messing around with component parts and a whole lot easier - jusr five bolts to undo and two wires to connect!

When I connected the new assemblies, I soldered all the connections then used the special waterproof shrink tube connectors over the soldered joints.

Some folks say that soldered joints can make the wire more brittle and subject to failure but I still like this method and have yet to experience a failure.

I did find that the brake wiring on the trailer was quite oxidized and black. (The copper strands I am speaking about) I'm not sure if this is just due to heat or corrosive atmosphere or both. Even if I stripped back the insulation further I found the same thing.

I did the best job I could of splaying out the wire strands and scraping with a craft knife to remove oxidation and return them to bright copper before attempting to solder.

All seems well and I got the correct current measurement when applying brakes when all was back together!

It is a pain that AS has the enclosed belly pan making replacement of these wires difficult.

In may ways I think the belly pan is more a detriment than an asset!

If I had further problems with brake wiring, I think I would run completely new brake wires in conduit clipped below the belly pan.

Brian.
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:20 PM   #3
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Yes, I have had exactly the same thing happen. Once from a broken trailer brake wire, and another time due to a corroded trailer brake wire connector.

At least TV brake controller is doing its job!

The loop of wire is indeed a vulnerability from road debris but I suppose it is a necessary evil because of trailer suspension movement - if the wiring were too tight it would likely jst break.

Last winter on our annual snow bird trip I replaced all the brake assemblies on our trailer - complete assemblies, new backing plates/shoes/magnets as a complete assembly. Less expensive than messing around with component parts and a whole lot easier - jusr five bolts to undo and two wires to connect!

When I connected the new assemblies, I soldered all the connections then used the special waterproof shrink tube connectors over the soldered joints.

Some folks say that soldered joints can make the wire more brittle and subject to failure but I still like this method and have yet to experience a failure.

I did find that the brake wiring on the trailer was quite oxidized and black. (The copper strands I am speaking about) I'm not sure if this is just due to heat or corrosive atmosphere or both. Even if I stripped back the insulation further I found the same thing.

I did the best job I could of splaying out the wire strands and scraping with a craft knife to remove oxidation and return them to bright copper before attempting to solder.

All seems well and I got the correct current measurement when applying brakes when all was back together!

It is a pain that AS has the enclosed belly pan making replacement of these wires difficult.

In may ways I think the belly pan is more a detriment than an asset!

If I had further problems with brake wiring, I think I would run completely new brake wires in conduit clipped below the belly pan.

Brian.
Instead of scraping wire use small cup of diluted muriatic acid, will clean rite up but don't over do it or leave in solution very long. Don't do this with aluminum as will eat it.
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:23 PM   #4
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Yes, I have had exactly the same thing happen. Once from a broken trailer brake wire, and another time due to a corroded trailer brake wire connector.

At least TV brake controller is doing its job!

The loop of wire is indeed a vulnerability from road debris but I suppose it is a necessary evil because of trailer suspension movement - if the wiring were too tight it would likely jst break.

Last winter on our annual snow bird trip I replaced all the brake assemblies on our trailer - complete assemblies, new backing plates/shoes/magnets as a complete assembly. Less expensive than messing around with component parts and a whole lot easier - jusr five bolts to undo and two wires to connect!

When I connected the new assemblies, I soldered all the connections then used the special waterproof shrink tube connectors over the soldered joints.

Some folks say that soldered joints can make the wire more brittle and subject to failure but I still like this method and have yet to experience a failure.

I did find that the brake wiring on the trailer was quite oxidized and black. (The copper strands I am speaking about) I'm not sure if this is just due to heat or corrosive atmosphere or both. Even if I stripped back the insulation further I found the same thing.

I did the best job I could of splaying out the wire strands and scraping with a craft knife to remove oxidation and return them to bright copper before attempting to solder.

All seems well and I got the correct current measurement when applying brakes when all was back together!

It is a pain that AS has the enclosed belly pan making replacement of these wires difficult.

In may ways I think the belly pan is more a detriment than an asset!

If I had further problems with brake wiring, I think I would run completely new brake wires in conduit clipped below the belly pan.

Brian.
Instead of scraping wire use small cup of diluted muriatic acid, will clean rite up but don't over do it or leave in solution very long. Don't do this with aluminum as will eat it. Also will eat copper if left to long just dip then flush. I aslo agree as to belly pan on older AS that fiber glass insulation in floor as gets wet esp. in wraps won't dry out then floor rots IMO if not used in cold weather doesn't need insulation and there is another thread about venting belly so what good is insulation when venting.
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Old 07-31-2016, 04:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by featherbedder View Post
Instead of scraping wire use small cup of diluted muriatic acid, will clean rite up but don't over do it or leave in solution very long. Don't do this with aluminum as will eat it.
Will try that! Thanks!


I always keep Muriatc acid around as I have found it is the only thing that will get rid of oil spots on our concrete driveway! Not sure about its long term effects on the concrete though!

I do dilute it - always carefully adding acid to water and not the reverse!

Brian.
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Old 07-31-2016, 08:54 PM   #6
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Northville , Michigan
Join Date: Apr 2016
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FWIW, there is a long thread on the F-150 forum (www.f150forum.com) about the brake controller throwing the trailer disconnected message. As I recall, the controller monitors current going to the brakes. If the reading is not within expected parameter - error message. Some of the posters noted doing a LOT of testing and often coming up with bad/weak wire connections as a root cause. This was often after taking both the truck and trailer back to dealers for diagnosis and getting clean reports, replaced brake controllers, etc. Many reported this error on new trucks when the prior truck/brake controller did not have a problem.
So, if you have a newer Ford, get this message, and don't have broken wires, you may want to check your connections.
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:16 AM   #7
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2015 25' FB Flying Cloud
Sandy , Utah
Join Date: May 2015
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I had the exact same problem. For some reason I was convinced it was the truck and replaced the trailer plug on both ends. I wish that I had looked underneath the trailer before driving 300 miles with the 'Ding Ding Ding-check trailer wiring" going off every five minutes! I had one broken wire on the RR wheel. I repaired it using proper fittings and shrink tube and reduced the extra play somewhat to get all four brake wires further out of danger. There is too much play when they come from the factory. I checked the uppermost wheel travel by jacking up the other side of the trailer as if changing a tire.
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