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Old 09-13-2012, 08:00 AM   #1
Rivet Master
Wingeezer's Avatar
2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,730
Checking brake magnets

Just returning from a Fall one week trip, I had the feeling that our brakes were not performing as well as they should (2005 Classic 30).

I raised one wheel at a time, spun each wheel while my wife applied the brakes and found two wheels with no brakes - no wonder it didn't feel quite right.

The problem turned out to be broken wires on both wheels. I have had previous problems on this trailer with brakes and tongue jack wiring due to wire corrosion at connectors where the wire has completely corroded through. Surprising for a trailer not all that old - maybe it is due to exposure to salty water on the highway when we head south for the winter.

Anyway, all is fine again now.

I just wanted to pass on a little info that might be of use to someone. It is a tip I read someplace, maybe on this forum. I just tried it, and it seems to work very well.

An easy way to quickly check if your magnets are activating in each wheel is just to hold an ordinary magnetic compass near the wheel in the area of the magnet. When the brake is applied, if the magnet is operating, you will see a very substantial swing of the needle.

Works pretty slick!


Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:15 AM   #2
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
Yes, corrosion of the connectors is a very real and very common situation on all trailer brakes. When and if you get new Axels, Dexter at least makes an option of a much longer brake magnet wire, which can be spliced, soldered and shrink tube wrapped and pushed up into the belly pan, virtually eliminating the issue for the life of the magnets. Luke, in Ft. Collins CO, who did my axel orders that option for all the ones he installs.

Another test you can do for your brakes is to take a simple ammeter and use it between the pins on your trailer cord. Find the brake wire and the + 12 volt wire and measure the current draw of the brakes. Each magnet should take about 2.5 to 3 amps if they are all hooked up and working well.

Of course, working magnets does not always equal working brakes, but it is a good place to start.
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