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Old 10-11-2006, 11:43 PM   #1
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Breakaway switch.

If you read my recent thread "Cooked??" you shared in my relief that a defective breakaway switch on my '66 Tradewind 'saved' me an expensive (4 on my AS) brake magnet replacement. Briefly... I had discovered that the pin that activates that switch was acidentally pulled and not discovered for 5 days.

I can't help but wonder how many of you have experienced the real advantage of that switch on your Airstreams. Does any one have that terrifying time when your trailer for whatever reason becomes detached from your TV on the road? Do those wimpy looking chains fail too? Are those breakaway switches like your smoke alarms that are never, hopefully, needed and never as in my case tested occassionally?
Neil.
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Old 10-12-2006, 02:59 PM   #2
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Never seen an Airstream untethered but growing up near the Chesapeake Bay I have had occasion to see large trailered boats walking their safety chains side to side with growing amplitude untill the 'crack the whip' moment when everything comes apart. I can only imagine if the break-away cable was properly sized to activate brakes from a fully charged battery that oscilation would not have occured...
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Old 10-12-2006, 03:04 PM   #3
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I tested mine at the begining of the season, found it to be defective, and replaced it.
It does seem a bit "overly redundant"...a backup to a backup. but the law requires them on any trailer that has brakes, in most places.
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:09 PM   #4
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When I unhitched this Sunday after a weekend camping, I noticed the wire cord that is connected to the break away switch that you attach to the chain hook was frayed and broken. Must have been dragging on the pavement during tow. Not sure where to purchase new.

Larry
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickleton
When I unhitched this Sunday after a weekend camping, I noticed the wire cord that is connected to the break away switch that you attach to the chain hook was frayed and broken. Must have been dragging on the pavement during tow. Not sure where to purchase new.

Larry
Larry,

You can either purchase an new breakaway switch or go to the local hardware store and purchase a piece of wire cable and the clips to make new loops on the end.

Bill
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:26 PM   #6
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Thanks Bill, will replace.

Larry
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Old 10-17-2006, 07:50 PM   #7
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If you bring the switch and hook to an old timey hardware store they will do the cable for you. Instead of screw cable clamps they will use the brass or lead crimp type. I had mine done 6 months age - Parts were more expensive at Home Depot and I would of had to buy the crimp tool. Mom and Pop Hardware did it all for $3 and a smile.
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Old 10-17-2006, 07:57 PM   #8
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If you bring the switch and hook to an old timey hardware store they will do the cable for you. Instead of screw cable clamps they will use the brass or lead crimp type. I had mine done 6 months age - Parts were more expensive at Home Depot and I would of had to buy the crimp tool. Mom and Pop Hardware did it all for $3 and a smile.
For the crimp on style, I used a 2 1/2 lb hand sledge and a steel bar as an anvil and beat the clamp. I also did that with a 20 foot piece of plastic covered cable for a lightweight security cable to keep various items from walking away from the trailer.

Bill
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Old 10-17-2006, 11:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clancy_boy
If you bring the switch and hook to an old timey hardware store they will do the cable for you. Instead of screw cable clamps they will use the brass or lead crimp type. I had mine done 6 months age - Parts were more expensive at Home Depot and I would of had to buy the crimp tool. Mom and Pop Hardware did it all for $3 and a smile.
Those little crimp types are called Nicopress sleeves and installed with a dual action overcenter type crimping tool. We use them to make cable lanyards to capture pit pins, dust caps, etc.

Kip
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:38 AM   #10
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Any sailboat hardware, sailmaker or rigging place can do it!
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:44 AM   #11
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RV stores all seem to sell spare pins with cables already attached.
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Old 10-18-2006, 08:47 AM   #12
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Unless your trailer brakes are adjusted PERFECTLY, the breakaway switch could cause more problems than it solves. For example, if your roadside brakes were tighter than curbside and the trailer became detached, your trailer would "steer" itself into oncoming traffic. If the opposite, it would leave the roadway and end up who knows where, into a pole, a vehicle waiting at an intersection, children waiting for a school bus, etc. Draw your own conclusions from these facts, as to whether a breakaway switch is a good idea.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:13 AM   #13
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don't you think you would feel the effect of such an unbalanced brake condition, while driving with the trailer still attached?

Like I said earlier, the law requires that it be there. I don't really live in fear that some day, I might get 5 to ten in the state penetentiary on a breakaway cable wrap... ...but I don't want to temp fate, either.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:40 AM   #14
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My Airstreams' 35 year old brakes will lock all four wheels up effortlessly. A breakaway application should not be gentle - skidding and smoke with the trailer chiseling into the pavement with the hitch tongue.

If the safety circuit is sound, untill the magnetic fields propagate in the coils there is essentially UNLIMITED 12V amperage flowing through a short circuit so the wheels locking up should be nearly instant. The biggest concern I have is that van tailgating me (driven by a Nun and full of Orphans) will be wearing my trailer as a hood ornament as the trailer will be coming to a full panic stop w/o warning if it jumps off the hitch and chains fail.

Proper operation of a breakaway circuit means NO current limiting.

1) Implies a fully charged battery.
2) Breakaway switch contacts clean & sound so no resistance there.
3) No light weight conductor cables.
4) Soldered & weathertite harness splices @ hub pigtails & inside belly shell.
5) Remember there is no brake controller in the circuit now.

Yes, trailer may wander from the luck of a bounce but it would still be better than a shiny aerodynamic 2-ton juggernaut passing you going down the hill and beating you into town...
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