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Old 07-28-2009, 12:46 AM   #1
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2006 34' Classic S/O
Parkdale , Oregon
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Close call today

On our trip to Salt Lake City today, I made a bad mistake. I drove for 3 hours and we had stopped for lunch and a nap at a rest area 129 miles out of Salt Lake City on I84, in Southern Idaho.

Something about the trailer causes the back of the van to have a buzzing noise when the cable is attached, and the van is turned off. I have found that if I unplug the cable from the van, the buzzing quits, and I donít worry about draining the batteries on either the trailer or the van. I will check this out when we empty the back of the van of the furniture.

After lunch and a nap Anne-Marie and I decided to change driving positions, and I groggy headed walked straight to the passenger side of the van and got in, and Anne-Marie walked around the front of the van and got into the drivers seat. Had I been the driver I would have stepped over the trailer hitch and seen the cable unplugged. She had no clue.

Anne-Marie drove 129 miles with no lights, and no brakes on the 34 foot trailer, clear to the RV park in Salt Lake City. Anne-Marie was complaining that it felt as if the van was skidding or on ICE when she was turning off of the freeway, and she barely stopped at the first light. She said that she felt the van sliding at the turn into the RV park, and barely stopped at the registration area. I looked and listened but could not hear the tires sliding. I looked at the hitch, and saw the trailer cable neatly coiled just like I left it.

The cable could have drug for 129 miles and ware off the plug-in head or wore the cable in to 2. Brake fade and brake fade. We could have had a horrible accident with 10,000 pounds of trailer pushing our van into any thing. The brakes seem to have recovered on the van. Now, I shall check the trailer cable every time we stop for anything.

We have talked about making a check list for things to do when stopping and setting up, and hooking up, and I think the time has arrived.


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Old 07-28-2009, 01:26 AM   #2
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Hi, glad to hear that nothing really bad happened to you or anyone else. You really need to find out what that buzzing noise is and why it has happened so you never have to disconnect you umbelical cord while on the road. The buzzing could be one of the relays for the trailer tow package on the van.


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Old 07-28-2009, 06:18 AM   #3
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Common Sense , Texas
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You are fortunate, to say the least, and I agree you need to find the buzzing and correct it. That is not normal.

However, I have done a simular thing...left the electrical connector unplugged after a short nights stay at a KOA while traveling. We had gone thru an immigration check point on IH10, and a trucker behind me called on the CB and told me my brake lights were not working, and I knew instantly what I had done. Seems I did notice it not stopping as good as normal.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:16 AM   #4
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A Prodigy brake controller will show "NC" on the screen if you are Not Connected, a good feature. I also try to remember to always activate the manual trailer brake feature when starting out, just to make sure they are working right. I used to pull a 2,000 lb pop-up camper with a Sienna mini-van, no brake controller, and realize now I was somewhat lucky that my van brakes stopped that whole package. You were lucky too!
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:27 AM   #5
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My brake controller lights up with the adjusted numerical setting each time the brakes are applied. Yours should also. If you have yours mounted out of your line of sight move it. When my does not light the trailer lights are not activated either. Occasionally I have to replug the cable but never (yet) before I move.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:52 AM   #6
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Parkdale , Oregon
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Our Prodigy brake controller shows two dots in the display when not connected, and C when connected, then a number display when brakes are applied while connected.

The buzzing noise could very likely be a relay that is a part of the trailer wiring package, and maybe a relay, in the rear of the van. I noticed this noise when refueling, and it sounded similar to a bass speaker when a radio is off station, just white noise, and at a very low volume. I remember our dealer saying to be cautious of leaving the umbilical cord plugged in for extended amounts of time, hours or overnight, with the vehicle not running, because it could drain the vehicles battery.

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Old 07-28-2009, 08:59 AM   #7
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Whenever we hook up, Anne-Marie insists on doing a walk-around check on all of the lights. This is a hold over from 12 years as a bus driver. This one time, it just wasnít questioned.

The brake controller is positioned so that the steering wheel just blocks the view of it, barely.

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Old 07-28-2009, 09:42 AM   #8
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I am sure glad to hear that everything turned out OK.

Thank you for mentioning this incident. It is a very good reminder and lesson for us all.

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Old 07-28-2009, 10:07 AM   #9
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Good wake up for all of us. Thanks!
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:26 AM   #10
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We drove home without our sway control that first summer we had the trailer, and since then we have made a checklist and use it every time we hitch and unhitch. If we stop for food or gas along the way, I always stop and take a long slow look at the hitch, just to make sure no one has fiddled with anything. Someone on here had a story of stopping for gas and another driver took a shortcut and stepped over the hitch and knocked the plug out. I also just want to make sure nothing has come loose. I'm ultra paranoid, but so far it has paid off.

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Old 07-28-2009, 12:02 PM   #11
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You were very fortunate. It sounds like a good idea to relocate that controller so it is in line of sight while at the wheel. Thanks for posting as a reminder to us all to take extra precautions when heading down the road.

Be safe out there.

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Old 07-28-2009, 01:45 PM   #12
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Winston Salem , North Carolina
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You are sooooo lucky.
The van must have huge brakes
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:01 PM   #13
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Thanks for sharing!

I try to be just OCD enough to push the brake controller and turn on the parking lights every time we pull away from somewhere, but forgot once. Caught it before we got out of the park, but ...

Did get to check the anti-locks as a silver Focus ran a red light in front of us on our last trip. I guess the trailer brake controller was OK, as it didn't swap ends on us.
Missed by 6" but only that.
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:37 PM   #14
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Richmond , Virginia
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glad you both are ok!

Glad to hear that you both were ok. A check list is always a good idea, and because we are "The Airstream Knowledge Sharing Forums" I applaud you for sharing a mistake that will help us all be more careful!

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1976 Overlander "Spirit"
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