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Old 06-09-2014, 07:13 AM   #1
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1976 Argosy 26
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Help! One wheel locks up while backing up trailer

Hello, I am hoping someone can give me an answer for this issue. I just bought an Argosy 26 ft. It pulled amazing on the ride home. The first time I tried to back it up though, one of the wheels locked up. Pulling the camper forward seemed to be fine. When I unhooked the electrical to the camper, the problem stopped and it backed up as you would expect. (which tells me this is an electrical issue?) I am all set to try to camp in a few weeks but I will be alone with my 2 children and am wondering what needs to be done before we go to allow the camper to be maneuvered without running back there to unhook the electricity to the camper from the tow vehicle on our trip. Thanks for any input.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:18 AM   #2
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I know this sounds nearly impossible, but could someone have wired a brake to the backup light terminal in the umbilical cord?

Does that brake function normally when going forward?
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:27 AM   #3
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I have no idea. I should go under and see what it looks like.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:30 AM   #4
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I don't know how to tell if it works properly while pulling it either. It seemed to pull great and didn't notice anything until I tried to reverse the trailer into my driveway.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by shiva-shantz View Post
Hello, I am hoping someone can give me an answer for this issue. I just bought an Argosy 26 ft. It pulled amazing on the ride home. The first time I tried to back it up though, one of the wheels locked up. Pulling the camper forward seemed to be fine. When I unhooked the electrical to the camper, the problem stopped and it backed up as you would expect. (which tells me this is an electrical issue?) I am all set to try to camp in a few weeks but I will be alone with my 2 children and am wondering what needs to be done before we go to allow the camper to be maneuvered without running back there to unhook the electricity to the camper from the tow vehicle on our trip. Thanks for any input.
I would suggest that you examine that brake carefully by removing the drum.

If the adjuster spring broke, that could cause the issue.

Also, if you find everything OK, I would make sure that a voltage is being applied.

However, if a voltage is being applied, then all 4 brakes should lock up, since the brakes are wired together in parallel.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:52 AM   #6
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Pull the wheel and brake drum off and see if you have a broken or missing return spring. If you are not sure what to look for, pull off the one next to it that works correctly and compare them.
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:00 AM   #7
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The wiring in the 70's and the wiring today is different. When I picked up my parents Argosy, I spent and hour rewiring the 7-way plug so it worked correctly. The owner kept saying, it has always worked for me, but it was wired up wrong for my Ford!! Also check your brake controller, is it doing something funny when your in reverse?

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Old 06-09-2014, 08:09 AM   #8
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If that wheel had been locked while you pulled it forward, it would have been smoking hot when you got home.

The brake wires will be concealed by the belly pan, so looking at them might not be much help. Someone with a volt/ohm meter needs to trace the wires from the umbilical cord to that brake.

This is a fairly simple job for someone who understands 12-volt electrical systems, but it's also fairly time consuming. If you don't feel qualified, then the best bet is a patient friend or neighbor. Commercial shop might run up a fortune in labor charges.

Lots of threads here on testing brakes. One simple test is to hook up the U-cord to the tow vehicle, then have a helper hold a compass near each brake while someone applies the brakes using the manual switch on the brake controller. The compass needle should move when the brake magnet is energized.

You might try the compass test on the affected brake while someone shifts the tow vehicle into reverse to activate the backup lights.

It would take a really strange wiring error for only one brake to be connected to the backup light circuit, but the idea works in theory. Weird things happen when previous owners work on their trailers.

Does anyone else on the forum have any ideas?
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:18 AM   #9
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Thanks for the suggestions! We do not have a break controller in my TV. I will start with these suggestions and go from there. My brakes were not smoking or smelling weird when I got it home, so that is probably good. I should think about getting a brake controller soon I am sure.... There is a wire hanging down by the wheels on the side of the camper, but it looks like it isn't hooked to anything. Hmmm.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:53 AM   #10
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I would suspect the leading shoe return spring is broken or has no return capacity. Under this condition while backing up that shoe would lock against the against the pin and lock the drum.
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by shiva-shantz View Post
Thanks for the suggestions! We do not have a break controller in my TV. I will start with these suggestions and go from there. My brakes were not smoking or smelling weird when I got it home, so that is probably good. I should think about getting a brake controller soon I am sure.... There is a wire hanging down by the wheels on the side of the camper, but it looks like it isn't hooked to anything. Hmmm.
I honestly didn't know you could safely tow a trailer equipped with electric brakes (especially a big trailer) without a brake controller. For my 2c, after you've pulled the drum and inspected the magnets and springs etc, before plugging the 7 pin into the TV, I'd hook up a controller.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:25 AM   #12
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Electrical or mechanical?

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I would suspect the leading shoe return spring is broken or has no return capacity. Under this condition while backing up that shoe would lock against the against the pin and lock the drum.
Far be it from me to consider myself an expert. Any of this is possible.

The OP's statement that the problem went away when the trailer's umbilical was disconnected from the tow vehicle let me to think electrical.

Have you tried re-connecting the umbilical to see if the affected brake energizes when the TV is shifted into reverse? The compass test should confirm this without having to move the trailer.

If I recall correctly, there are two different 7-pin wiring schematics. One has the 12-volt charging line from the TV on the center pin, and the other has that line on one of the outer pins. Is it possible that the trailer is wired for one of these options while the TV is wired for the other? Or, it's often the case that someone has just messed up the wiring when they put a new connector on an older trailer.

On the trailer, at the umbilical cord, all the brakes should be on one wire. If this problem only affects one wheel, it's possible that only one brake is working.

Checking all the brakes, electrically and mechanically, and getting them in good shape should be a priority before the trailer is towed further than to a facility where this can be done.

I'll also definitely agree with the recommendation to install a good brake controller in the TV. Without one, all you have to stop the trailer is the tow vehicle brakes, which were not designed to stop the extra weight of the trailer.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:59 AM   #13
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My Bad

I did not read that the problem was electrically activated.

It is hard to believe that someone might have wired one of the brakes off something other than the brakes. But if the problem does in fact go away when the umbilical is disconnected you would have to look there first.

If the parking lights and turn signal are both off when this happens there are 2 choices. Battery voltage to the trailer or the back up lights suppling voltage to the effected brake.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:08 PM   #14
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My Bad

I did not read that the problem was electrically activated.

It is hard to believe that someone might have wired one of the brakes off something other than the brakes. But if the problem does in fact go away when the umbilical is disconnected you would have to look there first.

If the parking lights and turn signal are both off when this happens there are 2 choices. Battery voltage to the trailer or the back up lights suppling voltage to the effected brake.
Hi, on that thought, maybe only one of the brakes is actually working.
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