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Old 01-22-2010, 05:51 AM   #1
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1988 35' Argosy 5th Wheel
Austin , Texas
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Emergency flashers apply brakes and ID brakes

Just getting into the mechanical part of a 1988 35' Argosy fifth wheel. Checking out brakes (I am replacing them) noticed that whenever I turn on the emergency flashers on TV the brakes apply. Know it has to be something to do with how PO wired the controller. But any ideas?
Also does anyone know the brand of brakes they used on Argosys of this period? Can I use any updated ones as long as size and bolt pattern work?
Thanks much
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:11 AM   #2
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What tow vehicle do you have? Some models have a trailer lighting controller that can do goofy things when they go bad. Other than that, the 5th wheel should be wired the same at the connector as travel trailers. That is, power and clearance lights at 11 and 1 o'clock, left and right turn signals at 9 and 3 o'clock, and brakes and ground at 5 and 7 o'clock, with backup lights in the center of the plug.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:26 AM   #3
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This is a common problem with some TVs. It has nothing to do with the trailer, and is all about how the brake controller, brake lights, and emergency flashers are wired.

See the instructions that came with your brake controller for ideas and fixes. With TVs that do this it can be necessary to add an extra brake switch to fix it.

Some people who don't tow in the hills much just put up with it and don't run the four-ways while moving.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
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1988 35' Argosy 5th Wheel
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Thanks to you both. I tow with a 1989 Ford E350 Cabriolet conversion van so it is older technology. The wiring is done as you mentioned so this may be something to live with. The switch is a good idea or thought possibly of changing to a brake controller not operated by a light connection.
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:46 AM   #5
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It is where the PO picked up the BRAKE SIGNAL to activate the trailer brakes.

It is often hard to get to the secondary side of the brake light switch because of it's position up on top of the brake peddle.

On some TV I have found a good place to find that signal is the wire going to the central stop light on the back of the vehicle. This light does not flash and thus is a brake light signal only picked up before the flasher circuits.

You will have to get a Ford schematic and see if you can locate a connector, often in the kick panel by your left foot, that will give you this signal.

There is no load on that wire going to the controller so the size of the wire you find will be OK.
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Old 01-22-2010, 02:44 PM   #6
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I have had time to check on the circuit you are looking for.

Ford does not generally change wire color code or circuit designation from year to year. With that in mind I think you are looking for circuit #511 a Light Green wire. There should be 2 connectors coming from the steering column. If things have not changed you should find a Light Green wire in a corner of one of these connectors. If you see that wire stick a pin into it and test for voltage when you depress the brake pedal. If so hook up the brake controller there.
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Old 01-22-2010, 04:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by detree View Post
Just getting into the mechanical part of a 1988 35' Argosy fifth wheel. Checking out brakes (I am replacing them) noticed that whenever I turn on the emergency flashers on TV the brakes apply. Know it has to be something to do with how PO wired the controller. But any ideas?
Also does anyone know the brand of brakes they used on Argosys of this period? Can I use any updated ones as long as size and bolt pattern work?
Thanks much
Sure would like to have the VIN info of you 5th wheel for the Squarestream registry.We now have only 1 Argosy 5th wheel on the registry.
Please see Squarestreams under the Airstream trailer forums secton of the airforums.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:44 PM   #8
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Article in Trailer Life Magazine

I just got through reading about this. The Feb 2010, Trailer Life magazine has an article on page 41 about brake controllers. What yours is doing sounds like what they call a Time-Delay-Activated controller. It says that "if it is set too aggressively when towing with the hazard lights on, the flashers will pulse the trailer brakes. A pulse preventer can isolate the control from the flashers, but it is not needed on vehicles with separate bulbs for the stop and turn signals."

Maybe this has something to do with it.

Randy Bowman
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:19 PM   #9
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Tekonsha Prodigy Controller

I noticed the same situation the original poster talked about once when my vintage tow vehicle's emergency flashers were necessary for the traffic condition at hand.

My Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller has different "boost settings" available to accomodate various situations. You can read Tekonsha's one page briefing here.

Without getting into the feature's potential benefits, Tekonsha's approach appears to be that, once the brake pedal is pushed, a small amount of power is sent to the backing plates to get the brake shoes ready to slow the trailer. I find the premise sound.

But, to me, it would appear that if the Boost is set too high, too much unnecessary trailer braking might occur.

If prolonged low speed travel with the emergency flashers operating is required, I adjust the Prodigy's gain control for less braking. The gain is then increased after the flashers are switched off.

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Old 01-23-2010, 05:38 PM   #10
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I have reviewed the Ford flasher circuit. If the brake controller was originally connected as noted above I do not see any way the flasher could cause the trailer brakes to be applied.

The switch that applies the hazard lights also opens the path to the secondary side of the brake switch thus preventing the condition you are describing.

I would still say check the source being used to activate the brake controller and make sure it is coming from the correct circuit.
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:49 PM   #11
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The devil is in the details

Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
I have reviewed the Ford flasher circuit. ...
Which year's ciruit did you review?

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Old 01-23-2010, 06:23 PM   #12
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2004

The technology for the flasher has not changed over the years.

If there was a feedback path to the secondary side of the brake switch the flashers would never work as that path would cause the brake lights to be on all the time. The source fuse is the same and used for both the flasher circuit and brake lights thus there has to be a way to seperate the 2 functions. That separation is in the fifth position of the hazard switch. The frist4 positions feed the directional lights and the fifth opens the path to the secondary side of the brake switch thus not allowing voltage to be applied to the tai lights while the hazards are on.
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:16 PM   #13
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1988 35' Argosy 5th Wheel
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Hey, thanks to everyone for all the good info, especially for specific wiring circuits and ids. The problem must be in where the controller is tied into the circuit. In my collection back at another shop I have full manuals including the wiring diagrams for the TV. WIll check it out within the week and let everyone know.
The Argosy project is now back up to speed in restoration. Started some time ago and then was unable to do anything for a while. Right now I am able to devote a lot of time to it and will post some pictures of what I found and fixes. One thing I found out was although the floor was rotted out it was due to a cracked wheel well from old blowout and a poor awning install by PO. I will get info gathered up and link a new thread here on the before and after. Just really busy now trying to get it on the road.
I'll also get the VIN and other info out to the registry. This is a rare one and wonderful layout and construction.
Thanks again to everyone. These forums are a wonderful source of information and I would have given up otherwise.
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