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Old 04-18-2005, 10:35 AM   #1
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1971 23' Safari
Joshua Tree , California
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Brake controller flashing "OL"

We just took our '71 safari down to our mechanic to have the brakes checked, bearings repacked, and (brake related) wiring checked out.

We were having a problem with our brake controller intermittently showing an "OL" (offline) warning and were naturally very concerned - like; "no more trips until this is resolved". They checked it out, made sure everything was connected, and my husband towed the trailer home, about 16 miles, mostly highway. About 1 mile from home, the controller started flashing "OL". Arrgh.

I suspect there is a short between where the line plugs into the trailer, and the brakes - hopefully just right there in the junction box under the front couch. One assumes the mechanics already checked the line between controller and oultet on the truck, although intermittent problems can be tricky to isolate. could there be a bad/worn wire further along the line, is this one of those situations where a one minute fix is going to require hours of tear out to get to? This is my greatest fear.

Anybody have any opinions or suggestions?

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Old 04-18-2005, 11:09 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mtpalms
Anybody have any opinions or suggestions?
You might throw a second ground strap across the connection - doesn't take too long to do, along with, of course, checking ALL of the contacts and connections - back when I had boats that was a yearly chore - replacing all of the wiring exposed to the elements - I found it was cheaper in the long run to replace it rather than to chase faults when I'd rather be on the water..


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Old 04-18-2005, 02:05 PM   #3
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1993 21' Sovereign
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Thumbs down OL=Overload=Dead Short?

Are you sure the "OL" doesn't mean "Overload"? I had the same issue with my brake controller, when I stepped on the brake, all the load indicator lights started flashing. Mine doesn't have a readout, just the lights. According to the manual, this indicates a short in the main brake feed wiring from the controller to the trailer brakes.
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Old 04-18-2005, 06:15 PM   #4
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1971 23' Safari
Joshua Tree , California
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Okay. Info update:

My husband also has a flatbed trailer, and has never had any problems with it, so that kinda rules out any wiring on the truck itself.

The dealer installed the brake controller when we bought the truck, and (keeping my general opinion of car dealers to myself), didn't give us the manual. As I type this, I realize that I may be able to get a manual online, duh.

So - "OL" could mean overload, or open line. Thanks so much for the input so far. It has got us thinking anyway. The trailer is going back to the mechanic at no charge (as it should be, although we live in interesting times, yes?), so we will have some theories. He's a good and patient man, will listen to our opinions, and not charge us for that, either.
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Old 04-18-2005, 07:53 PM   #5
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It would help if you could post the brand and model of controller you are using. They all have their own quirks.

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Old 04-19-2005, 09:03 AM   #6
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It's a Draw-Tite Activator II, and I did indeed get a manual from Draw-Tite's web site. OL means either a short, or overload. Since the brakes check out okay, it looks like a short is most likely.
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Old 04-20-2005, 07:33 PM   #7
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Brake Controller Issue

I have a new brake controller`and had the same issue where it goes offline. I solved the problem by purchasing some connection cleaner at Radio Shack. I sprayed it on the truck and trailer connections.
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:44 PM   #8
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1973 27' Overlander
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Angry worn magnets

I had the flashing "OL" problem, too. After I ran a separate wire and tested the brakes on the road, I found out it wasn't a wire short after all.

I should have removed the drums and looked at the magnets. They were worn out and the internal wiring was touching the drum, thus the "overload." It's a very intermittent kind of problem, as the magnets may bounce a little or the electrical fault path isn't good enough to throw the controller into overload all the time.
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Old 02-01-2006, 05:27 PM   #9
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Intermittent Warning Issue

On a different controller, I had a similar problem. A loose wire inside the drum was starting to wear. The signal was very intermittent and brief. When the wire finally broke, the signal would show for longer periods of time.

Check the drum wiring for insulation wear.


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