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Old 06-27-2011, 01:35 PM   #1
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1990 25' Excella
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Breakaway switch is away

I bought a '90 Excella a little over a week ago. I've never owned or been around travel trailers before. Because I don't have a lot of knowledge about trailers, I'm studying the owner's manuel. Going through the manuel, I've read about breakaway switches. I knew I didn't hook one up to my truck when I picked the trailer up, so I started researching the forums and my trailer. I've found that my breakaway switch has been removed and I assume the wires simply cut (near the jack there are 2 cut wires). I'm going to replace the switch. Should I have other concerns? My brakes seem to work fine. I had no trouble towing it home 125 miles - it's a 25' trailer and my truck is a '09 F150. I had no trouble braking; but I made no emergency stops. Also the 2 cut wires are painted - how can I know how to wire up the new switch? Thanks
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:44 PM   #2
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My break away switch only powers the hot wire, so it doesn't matter which wire goes to which switch lead. To test, I just jacked up one side of the trailer and gave a wheel a big spin and pulled the switch cable.
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:49 PM   #3
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To check those leads, to get an idea if it's all gonna work, one wire should be hot and one not. The spin test can be done with just touching the two wires. Don't leave the wires touching and don't leave the break away switch pin removed because the brake magnets could be damaged if the brakes are like mine.
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:50 PM   #4
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Of course, you have to have a good, working battery on board the coach, or it won't work when it's supposed to...
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:23 PM   #5
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To tow without a breakaway switch is illegal in many states. Once you get it wired properly, don't leave it out for an extended period of time. Just test it and grease the part that pulls out so it comes out easily if needed. On ours the part that pulls out is plastic and once out, closes the circuit and the brakes will lock.

See of you can scrape off the paint, but both wires may be black. If one side is ribbed—hard to feel sometimes, especially if painted—but the ribbed side might be the hot wire.

The other question is why was it cut? Is there a break in the wires and it wasn't functioning properly, or was their a short, perhaps locking the brakes? You may have to do a continuity test, something that someone else can surely explain better than I can.

For years Airstream ran wires under the propane cover causing the wires to wear the insulation off and shorting them out. This is also true of the jack wire if you have an electric jack. Re-route the wires from under the cover. There is only one wire to the jack—it goes directly to the batteries and is connected to a positive terminal. The jack is grounded by being attached to the frame at the tongue.

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Old 06-27-2011, 02:36 PM   #6
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On our trailing vehicle, Break away only stops trailing vehicle when the connection breaks, the brakes are applied with either a momentum change or electrical switch used by driver. From what I've read yours controls an electromagnet brake for stopping and on breaking away stops the trailer. Depending on state rule 1000 or 3000 pounds requires brakes.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:49 PM   #7
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It doesn't matter which wire from the breakaway switch is hooked to which wire from the trailer. Just hook one to each - all the switch does is complete that wires circuit when the pin is pulled.

Break a way Switch 96-8375 [2009] - $26.95 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!
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