Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 05-01-2016, 08:51 AM   #1
New Member
 
Mount Pleasant , South Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1
Craziest Electronic Brake Problem I've Ever Had - Need Help Please!

Ok, first, some background information. My friend, Frank, and I converted a 34' 1984 Airstream Excella into a mobile cigar lounge. We pull our airstream several times a week here in Charleston, SC, as we do various events around town.

Anyways, getting to the issue: about two weeks ago, while pulling the lounge with my truck (a 2002 Chevy 2500 duramax), we noticed the brake controller light intermittently flashing on and off and could feel the airstream's brakes engaging for about a half-second to a second at a time, and making for a very jerky ride. It would happen with such intensity that we would occasionally hear the tires squeal for the time the brakes were engaging. We hadn't gone far from my home, where we keep the lounge when we're not using it, so we turned around and hooked up the lounge to Frank's truck, a 2002 F-350 7.3. His is the primary truck anyways, and we'd only recently purchased the chevy to have as a backup truck. We didn't notice any flashing brake controller lights, nor did we feel the trailer brakes engaging, so we thought it was probably just a bad controller in the chevy and that was that.

Until about a week later when the same thing started happening with the F-350. If you look at the pictures on our website, you can see why having such a jerky ride going down the road is a huge hassle, as the humidor shelves fall down and everything has to be repositioned in the lounge, not to mention the fact that it's a huge safety concern as we never know when the brakes are going to randomly activate.

So we started troubleshooting. Knowing that it happened on two different trucks with two different brake controllers and two different wire runs to the female 7-pin connectors in the back, we were pretty sure the issue was somewhere on the airstream. The first spot we checked was the male 7-pin connector to check for corrosion on the pins. There was some, but not much at all. We cleaned it and moved on. I opened up the trailer to 7-pin cable connection to look at all the connections and make sure one hadn't gotten loose or corroded. All looked good, so we taped everything back up with electrical tape and zip-tied the cable connection to the airstream's frame just in case there was some kind of wiring issue within the cable itself that got activated when we went over bumps, etc.

So, after making these adjustments, we had an event to do at a local brewery, and we didn't really get a chance to test it. Trial by fire! Anyways, we hooked everything up to the F-350 and were on our way. Well, the airstream's brakes were still engaging randomly, so we took a drastic measure: we unplugged the 7 pin connector. Both of our trucks have sufficient braking capacity to stop the lounge, if we keep in mind we'll need a longer span to brake in. I had two concerns with it: 1, if we needed to stop in a hurry, we were screwed, and 2, no brake lights. It was, however, broad daylight when we left, and we justified to ourselves that this would only be a temporary (as in that-day-only) fix.

So, we continued towards the brewery, 7-pin connector unplugged. We were very cautious, but thankful that at least the brake problem wouldn't be occurring.

Except that after about a mile down the road, we felt the lounge's brakes engaging! Completely electrically disconnected from the truck, the brakes would still intermittently lock up!

So we pulled over again and plugged the 7 pin cable back into the truck. If we were going to still have brake problems, at least we could have brake lights and emergency braking abilities. And so we hobbled to the brewery.

At the brewery, I thought about what could possibly be causing the brakes to engage when the cable was disconnected from the truck, and it occurred to me: the breakaway switch could have an intermittent short! So, while we were setting up, we unplugged the the 7 pin connector and put the battery switch in off to remove power. Then, I disconnected power from the breakaway brake module, taped up the ends, and put the battery switch back in on. We have a heavy-duty hensley torsion hitch and two 10000 lb chains connecting the lounge to the truck as back-ups if the hitch fails, and since we were still troubleshooting, we figured we'd be ok to see if this solved the problem.

The event at the brewery ended, and we packed everything up to go home. The 7-pin plug was connected to the truck, and as soon as we started making our way out of the parking lot, before we got on the road, the brakes were locking up again. I knew that if the brakes were engaging earlier when the 7-pin cable was disconnected, they had to be getting power from the trailer batteries, so I turned the battery switch to off.

And that's how we got home without any jerking brake problems. It's not the brake controllers in the trucks. It's not the 7 pin cable. It's not the breakaway module. So, my question is, what in the world is causing this problem, and how do we fix it? I hate running long-term with patches, and I just want to fix this issue, but I'm at a loss. Is there anyone out there who can help me?
__________________

__________________
trbostwick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 09:37 AM   #2
Rivet Master
 
J. Morgan's Avatar

 
1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
Currently Looking...
Benton , Arkansas
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,039
Images: 11
Craziest Electronic Brake Problem I've Ever Had - Need Help Please!

1. You have a short circuit between the trailer brake circuit and a normally "hot" circuit, powered by;

A. The house battery
B. The tow vehicle hot line
C. Both of the above

OR;

2. Your breakaway switch is failing.

I would change the breakaway switch first.


Superat stultitia.

(I had a similar issue where the the trailer brakes had shorted to my running lights, everything was cool til the lights came on....

The short was where the umbilical entered the trailer)
__________________

__________________
The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

J. Morgan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 09:48 AM   #3
2 Rivet Member
 
1965 26' Overlander
Walhalla , South Carolina
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 59
Sure it's not a mechanical brake problem ? Find the brake wires at the axle tap onto the 2 wires run that back to the truck with a light bulb to confirm where the problem is.
__________________
DougEW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 04:52 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
87MH's Avatar
 
1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,435
Images: 292
Question-

Are the brakes magnetic drum brakes, or has the unit been converted to electric over hydraulic disc brakes?

Lots of possibilities for problems if you have the disc brakes.
__________________
Dennis

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

WBCCI # 1113
AirForums #1737

Trailer '78 31' Sovereign

Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.
87MH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 08:07 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
J. Morgan's Avatar

 
1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
Currently Looking...
Benton , Arkansas
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,039
Images: 11
If the light on the brake controller is coming on when the brakes apply, the problem is electrical, and it is either the break away switch or a cross to a "hot" circuit.

This will be true whether the trailer has electric brakes or elec/hyd brakes.

The light coming on on the controller is a "tell".


Superat stultitia.
__________________
The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

J. Morgan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 11:48 AM   #6
4 Rivet Member
 
B00merang's Avatar
 
2010 20' Flying Cloud
Hailey , Idaho
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 390
Proving once again that most problems can be solved in breweries....
__________________
B00merang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 12:54 PM   #7
New Member
 
2015 30' Classic
London , Ontario
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1
Cut the two wires off the breakaway switch, but leave enough to reconnect if it is not the problem. Cap and tape the wires and so they don't short and give that a try first.
__________________
Towit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 01:07 PM   #8
Overland Adventurer
 
AtomicNo13's Avatar
 
1991 34' Excella
2009 34' Panamerica
Telluride , Colorado
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,885
X2 on the breakaway theory. Its the simplest of all scenarios to troubleshoot and fix.
__________________
AtomicNo13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 01:14 PM   #9
Rivet Master
 
jdalrymple's Avatar
 
2009 27' FB Flying Cloud
1991 35' Airstream 350
Jay , Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,601
The break-away switch should not be effected by the battery disconnect. Assuming a normal "factory" installation, the break-away should have it's own lead to the battery or some un-switched source.

By any chance do the trailer brakes activate with a turn signal? Just thinking of voltage sources in the umbilical that go on and off.....


Regards,

JD
__________________
Jeff & Cindy
'09 27FB Flying Cloud
'91 350 LE MH
jdalrymple is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 01:29 PM   #10
Overland Adventurer
 
AtomicNo13's Avatar
 
1991 34' Excella
2009 34' Panamerica
Telluride , Colorado
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,885
Check inside the 7 way plug. There is a possibility of a stray little strand of wire from either the charge line or the brake line is shorting applying the brakes. This could explain brake actuation while the umbilical cord is unpligged from the tow vehicle.
__________________
AtomicNo13 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 01:54 PM   #11
Rivet Master
 
Gene's Avatar
 
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,840
The wire from the breakaway switch runs under the cover for the propane tanks and then goes back to the trailer. It may be covered with a protective cable covering. There may be a partial break in that wire and/or it may have been pinched by the propane cover causing a short. Normally the breakaway switch is off until it is pulled out closing a circuit that engages the brakes. If there is a break the wires may intermittently touch briefly engaging the brakes. Do not confuse that wire with the one powering the jack as that one goes directly to the batteries so the jack can work anytime.

Gene
__________________
Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-02-2016, 05:47 PM   #12
4 Rivet Member
 
1973 31' Sovereign
Middletown , California
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 423
Kind of a tough one! Do you have drum or disc? What exactly do you mean "breakaway module" is it just a switch or something electronic? Do you by chance have a electrical schematic diagram for the trailer and a Volt Ohm Meter? On a problem like this I'd start with a beer and trace the wires on the diagram to see where there could be any possible connection between the battery and the brakes. Or start drawing one of my own as I go. Oh, also I wasn't clear if the brakes worked normal with the trailer battery disconnected and the truck hooked up; and do they work normal if you operate the brake controller by hand? It seems like you might have a wire that is getting pinched as you drive, or maybe not. This could be fun.
__________________
ijustlee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2016, 09:57 AM   #13
New Member
 
Currently Looking...
Orient , Ohio
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 1
Pretty much the same problem with my 1965 22' Safari. And thanks for the advice, I'll start with the breakaway switch as it is the original. Problem happened on the road and my solution was to scoot under the trailer and snip the brake wires. It worked. But I did not keep track (it was raining) of polarity. As both wires from the electric brakes are the same color (red) may I assume that it does not matter which wires get reconnected? Thanks.
__________________
PeterTod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2016, 11:55 AM   #14
Rivet Master
 
Lumatic's Avatar

 
1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
Currently Looking...
Estancia , New Mexico
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,642
Images: 16
Blog Entries: 1
Is the problem on all wheels? I had one wheel intermittently lock. Turned out to be a broken spring inside the drum.
__________________

__________________
Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
Lumatic is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Atwood water heater electronic ignition problem Deairstream Plumbing - Systems & Fixtures 0 07-09-2014 05:32 AM
2003 Dodge Ram + 67 30 ft. sovereign=electronic brake controller? meghanhester Brakes & Brake Controllers 2 09-25-2012 05:05 PM
New owner, problem with electronic hitch (stab jack) MStewart Jacks, Stabilizers, Lifting and Leveling 30 09-27-2011 07:08 PM
Electronic brake control David Blaska Brakes & Brake Controllers 4 02-08-2010 01:25 PM
Ever had a window break by itself? gparker Windows & Screens 11 09-07-2006 09:20 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:04 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.