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Old 07-08-2008, 12:53 AM   #1
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Breakaway Device

I am curious, do I need to install a breakaway brake device on my trailer? I have checked certain state requirements (such as Utah) and they require having these devices installed. Are they sticklers in these & other states about having them, and/or do Nat. Parks require that you have them? I haven't seen too much written up on these devices in the forums, any advice would be greatly appreciated....
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:08 AM   #2
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If you check Calif DMV reg's, I think you'll find that any trailer that has brakes, must have a device to actuate the brakes in the event of trailer/tow vehicle separation...the desired effect is to help stop the offending 'loose cannon' as quickly as possible!

If you're stopped by the CHP, they will probably look at your hitch set-up and look for a breakaway trip wire, etc.

Smaller trailers with brakes are equipped with a small battery to 'power' the brakes when the breakaway is tripped...RV trailers with electric brakes utilize the existing deep cycle battery system.

If you have electric brakes, it's an easy matter to mount a breakaway switch and hook it into the brake circuit...you can probably do it is less than an hour...one less item you have to worry about on the road!
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HansenClan View Post
I am curious, do I need to install a breakaway brake device on my trailer?...
while there are threads that deal with this topic,

the freshest info will likely come from checking your state or dmv website....

here is some of the cali stuff...

Towing Your Trailer Safely

and here is a spreedsheet of all the states that include a LOT of issues, but isn't uptodate....

http://www.towingworld.com/articles/TowingLaws.htm

the column heads go waaaaaaaaaay over to the right...

and don't forget to click on the 'footnotes' tab in the lower left, there are 50 of them...

even IF there is some region where a a breakaway brake switch isn't required..

i still WANT one.

it can be pulled and will STOP unintented movement, like...

IF the trailer starts to ROLL in a camp site, lets say toward the water or cliff!

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:54 AM   #4
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That is intresting advice 2 airish. So I can pull the tab and use it to hold my trailer still when parked. I wonder how many amps it pulls and will the bagnet heat up. You got my curiosity on this one.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:27 AM   #5
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Mustang, I think you misinterpreted 2air’s advice…the breakaway is for emergency use only, not to be used as a “parking” device. It will draw power and overheat your magnets if used long term…best to use a good set of chocks.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:48 AM   #6
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I agree Bill. 2air seems to be saying it's the last thing to try before going over the edge when you camp at Echo Point.

Some say the magnets will overheat & be damaged in as little as 5 minutes of continuous power.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:02 AM   #7
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also keep in mind that drum brakes do not stop as well when moving backwards.
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Old 07-08-2008, 12:03 PM   #8
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you should check the breakaway switch perhaps once a year. Pull the plug and see if all wheels hold firm as you try to pull it a few feet.

The breakaway switch should never be left engaged for more than a few minutes as per above.

Some controllers do not want to be connected when the breakaway switch is activated. Disconnect the umbilical when testing.

It seems very unlikely than any LEO will notice hitch problems like improper safety chains or breakaway switches much less the less visible things like trailer brakes unless there is some evident reason to actually investigate. All you have to do is to look at how many are out there that are mis-connected, missing, poorly adjusted, connected to the wrong points, or otherwise useless.

I've seen dealers who route the breakaway cable through the safety chain as a common problem, for instance. Many times safety chains droop so far they drag on the ground.

The laws in many states require trailers over a ton or so in weight have brakes and breakaway switches. It is an important safety issue related to basic control of the trailer.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:17 PM   #9
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sorry for any confusion 'clan...

the example was meant to suggest "in an emergency" u can pull the wire...

and having witnessed a couple of trailers with unintended roll off...

YES use wheel chocks or blocks or rocks or anchor bolts when camping...

otoh disc brake set-ups have none of the issues noted for drum brakes...

except 4 draining the batteries.

cheers
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
otoh disc brake set-ups have none of the issues noted for drum brakes...
what are these 'issues' and how significant are they?
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:35 PM   #11
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Value of a break away switch

A couple of years ago a friend of mine was given a low boy trailer. On his return trip the trailer came loose and crossed a wide grass median and hit a oncoming car head on. It killed a young girl. A properly working switch would have probably prevented this.

I should also mention that the trailer did not have safety chains as they are not required of farm trailers in Texas. However I am not sure how much most people's safety chains would hold up to a heavy Airstream anyway.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:35 PM   #12
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...not sure how much most people's safety chains would hold up to a heavy Airstream anyway...
hi vernon and that's a good question...

we touched on the inadequately rated chain extension kits sold by hensley in the haha thread and,

there have been multiple threads that attempt to the cover the issues of safety chains,

including 6 or 7 in this link...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/sear...archid=1121352

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leipper View Post
what are these 'issues' and how significant are they?
the issues "as noted" in the prior posts, and related to prolonged USE of the breakaway switch...

sorry folks, but this thread has now got the feel of heading over the cliff, down the rock wall and into the raging river...

perhaps needing it's own breakaway control...

i'm SO outta here...

cheers
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
the issues "as noted" in the prior posts, and related to prolonged USE of the breakaway switch...

sorry folks, but this thread has now got the feel of heading over the cliff, down the rock wall and into the raging river...
anticipating, again. not good. It is too bad that there is a "feel of heading over the cliff" when civil discourse and reasons for assertions are requested. That is indeed a high cliff.

There are many good things to discuss if we can get out of the regime of belief and ingrown paradigms. We (should) learn more as time passes and the dialog evolves.

I don't think trolling or lobbing bombs are good ways to foster productive discussion.

Quote:
I am not sure how much most people's safety chains would hold up to a heavy Airstream anyway.
As this is, at least my impression is, that this is a discussion forum, I don't think it good practice to cite other threads and presume that the whole story is told.

As I understand it, the primary purpose of the safety chains is to keep the hitch point off the ground. That means a working load of about a thousand pounds. That is well under the 2900# working load mentioned here (forum discussion post).

I think many tend to think the chain should be able to handle the trailer GVWR but its purpose is much different than just lifting the trailer. Its purpose is to provide a degree of control until the trailer can be brought to a safe stop. Besides keeping the tongue off the ground there isn't much force to load the chain.

This idea of a controlled stop is also perhaps why you want your breakaway cable to be separate from the chains. Whether you want emergency brakes first or only after the chains separate is a matter of some debate from what I have seen. There is also the question of when in this sequence the umbilical should go and you loose the ability to control the brakes through the tow vehicle controller.

Relevant to this is the proper torque on the hitch ball nut. For most Airstreams, the ball shank is big enough to require 450 ft-lb. Make sure it is tight and stays tight. You should check all the hitch hardware frequently and have a checklist when you hitch up to make sure all pins and connections are properly in place. Then check again. Do not allow yourself to be interupted in this process. Most of the time, hitch separation is due to operator error and you can avoid that.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:08 PM   #14
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Boy am I rong.

I have always been under the impression the safety chain was supposed to keep the trailer attached to the tv allowing the tongue to drag and help stop the whole rig without separating.

Man I'm dum..
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