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Old 11-14-2014, 02:58 PM   #1
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Breakaway cable

How do I replace the breakaway cable?
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Old 11-14-2014, 03:10 PM   #2
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Are you talking about the cable coming from the breakaway brake controller on the trailer tongue?
If so, simply unplug it and plug the new one in.
I unplug mine every time I tow for 2 reasons:
1. To stick it through the hole under the bumper where I hook the safety chains and put the plug through the loop on the other end of the cable, ensuring it will do what it is supposed to do (stop the trailer) if the trailer was to become separated from the truck.
2. To verify that it is working. When you unplug the cable the trailer brakes engage/lock. You can hear the brake magnets/brake shoes working/engaging. It is a high pitched hum.
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Old 11-14-2014, 03:30 PM   #3
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Just like everything else there are 2 schools of thought on the brake away cable.

One states the cable should pull the pin before the safety chains got tight when the trailer brakes away from the TV. This applies the trailer brakes while the trailer is still connected to the TV by the chains and thus it can be brought to a somewhat controlled stop.

The second is the cable only applies the brakes after the safety chains also fail leaving the trailer free to go where it want to. In this case if the chains don't fail you have several thousand pound wagging your tail and you can't afford to put the TV brakes on lest the trailer come up and say hello as you stop.

Cable length is critical in each case depending on your choice.

I hope I have convinced you on the path to take
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Old 11-14-2014, 05:37 PM   #4
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Interesting choice. I hadn't thought of that tradeoff. However, if the hitch fails somehow but the chains are still connected, at least on my trailer, it is likely the electrical cable is still connected, in which case I would still have brakes. If so, then I would still have controllable brakes, instead of full-on brakes. Now I'm going to have to go study the geometry of it all and decide what to do.
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:00 PM   #5
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Safety chains are just that a Safety system and Safety systems are not designed or intended to assume that some parts of the original system are still functioning. It is hard to assume that the dynamics that would cause a trailer to become separated from the TV is going to allow the umbilical cord to remain attached.
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:00 PM   #6
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Breakaway cable

When you look at the logic of not tying the the cable to any part of the hitch. It doesn't make sense to set the cable shorter than the safety chains.
If on the very slight chance that the entire receiver hitch fails and the trailer leaves the TV. The emergency brakes would be applied to the trailer. Who knows where it, which direction the trailer would go?
The odds of all of the coach brakes applying equal braking is also very low. Which means the coach will not travel in a straight line when stopping. Even if the brakes all worked in unison. An oil slick, wet pavement or gravel would change the braking profile considerably.
I think if I were on the receiving end of a situation where the coach came unhitched. I would rather dodge 1 vehicle out of control, rather than two. Meaning the TV is being flung around by the coach.
For example: If the coach decides to take a sharp right to the ditch. The TV will be dragged sideways. The brakes on the TV don't work well when the tires are sliding sideways.
As for pulling the pin to check the breakaway switch. To me it is like checking to see if the light bulb is good by turning on the lights. You could turn the lights on successfully 100 times. On the one hundred and one try, the bulb failed.
I routinely check the coach brakes while driving with the manual lever of the brake controller. That check only tells me the brakes worked at that time.
Even with that precaution. I do my best to drive like I have no brakes on the coach. By doing my best to leave plenty of room to maneuver and room to stop. I know it's hard to do in many situations.


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Old 11-14-2014, 11:17 PM   #7
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To the original poster's question, you can purchase a new break away cable and pin at most well stocked RV dealers. Then it is just a matter of pulling the old one out and putting the new one in the actual switch. There are several types available, be sure you get the right one.

However, if the switch is a few years old (5 to 10 in my opinion) it may be best just to replace the entire switch and cable. the pins in the switch get old and lose tension, and sometimes the internal wiring becomes loose or defective. The entire switch is probably around $15.
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Old 11-15-2014, 12:00 AM   #8
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I agree with replacing the entire unit. That way you know the parts are compatible.


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Old 11-15-2014, 09:45 AM   #9
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We could write hundreds off different failure modes and each one if taken by its self would warrant a different reaction. We have to look at the original intent of the chains and the breakaway switch.

Originally safety chains were designed to be attached to the tongue of the trailer. Attached in such a way that if the hitch failed the trailer would come to rest on the chains. That required that the chains be crossed beneath the hitch ans short enough that the tongue would not reach the ground. The breakaway cable should be short enough to have pulled the pin before the tongue reached the resting point on the chains. Now if one except the fact that a driver should accelerate when a trailer is out of control, jackknifing, or while going into a curve you will see that the trailer, is still pulled by the TV and under some level of control. If the cable has pulled the pin and the trailer brakes are applied the net effect of keeping the combination under control is accomplished.

Luckily the head failed just after I had parked. I was stand right next to the tongue and heard if snap. Looked down and saw nothing at first because the tongue was resting on the chains.

The cracks in the receiver were just after returning from Alaska.

You just have to be careful out there.
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