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Old 07-20-2009, 10:15 PM   #1
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Forgot to put the pin in the hitch!

Trying to figure out whether the emergency-break-cable should be longer or shorter than the chain length.

Hypothetically speaking of course, let's say I forgot to put the pin in to attach the hitch to the trailer. I pull out of the driveway and get to the first hill leaving the neighborhood. When the hitch slides out of the receiver, it falls on the crossed chains. The power/controller cable is longer than the chains so it remains intact.

Let's say the brake-break cable length is short. As soon as the receiver slides out as you accelerate from a stop up a hill, the trailer brakes lock, the hitch falls on the chains which stretch taut and at 3-5 miles an hour it's very loud and feels like someone ran into you. Luckily, you were only going 3 miles an hour and there is zero damage-- a lesson about checklist and a mistake you will never make again with the memory imprinted forever; particularly the embarrasment after accusing a neighbor behind you of rear-ending you, only 30 seconds later to discover the true cause of the loud thud and sudden stop. You also count your blessings that it happended at 3mph pulling out of the neighborhood instead of at 20mph at rush hour on the one lane highway your neighborhood exits onto. Could there be a risk that the trailer brakes at 20mph would snap the safety chains?

Would it be better if the break cable is longer than the chains, but shorter than the controller/power cable. The hitch would fall on the chains, the trailer brakes would still work, and you pull off to the shoulder. If the trailer brakes were perfectly set, you could slow down and get to the shoulder without much difficulty, hanging on the chains. If the brakes were too sensitive, tapping them to slow down would stretch the chains pretty taut but you'd get there. If they were not sensitive enough, when you slow the truck the trailer would slide under bumper and rear end the tow vehicle.

Obviously the controller/power cable should be longer than the chains. But, should the break-brake cable be shorter than or longer than the chains? Saw the thread below but it didn't quite answer.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ing-47093.html

Thanks,
Craig
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:28 AM   #2
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Power Breaks

I would think best if brakes stay off until a complete disconnect.
If safety chains are holding, you will be able to control the stop a little better than a locked up skidding TT.
Going to be tense either way.
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:26 AM   #3
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Even the instructions included in the breakaway switch are a little ambiguous.

I read this as "the vehicle"= trailer, and "separates"= complete disconnect.



"when the trailer separates from the tow vehicle, the switch immediately sends a signal to the trailer's brakes to slow down and safely stop the vehicle."
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:33 AM   #4
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The break away cable should only activate after the trailer has broken completely free of the tow vehicle.

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Trent
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blacksheep View Post
The break away cable should only activate after the trailer has broken completely free of the tow vehicle.

Godspeed,
Trent
...and therefore, the break-away cable (which activates trailer *brakes*) should be longer than both the chains, AND the electric umbilical cable.
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:47 AM   #6
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I have heard arguments both ways on this one. There are also advocates of wrapping the break away cable around a chain. The argument opposite the above is you want the break away cable shorter than the chain to prevent a complete disconnect and an out of control free wheeling trailer.

By the way, I always felt the OEM chains on my 71 were not substantial enough. When I put on a new hitch I had new heavier chains welded on. I also found out I had been making a potentially dangerous mistake of using connector links with a threaded nut to close the link and connect to the TV. At a recent 4 corners/ NM Unit rally a member brought some links that were bent straight by hitch failure. I switched to J hooks which attach in a snap and are safe.
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Old 07-21-2009, 08:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
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I have heard arguments both ways on this one.
me too. the other ones are just wrong.

Quote:
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There are also advocates of wrapping the break away cable around a chain. The argument opposite the above is you want the break away cable shorter than the chain to prevent a complete disconnect and an out of control free wheeling trailer.
and that is just double-dog wrong. it won't prevent anything, but could create a situation with an out of control trailer, as well as an out of control tow vehicle...with me in it.
the problem is that the chains are attached to the receiver. Receivers can fail, and fall off the truck...in which case, neither the chains OR the break-away are going to serve any purpose at all, and you'll have a run-away trailer. Having the break-away attached there is defeating the purpose of the break-away. Attaching the break-away to some other part of the vehicle will ensure that the brakes activate ONLY when all else fails. and if all else hasn't failed, you don't want the trailer brakes activated.
In the situation described by the OP, the failure was with the shank separating from the receiver...the chains were still intact, and the trailer could have been guided to a safe, controlled stop on the side of the road. If this had happened on the highway, it would have yanked the whole rig to a stop in the middle lane of 60mph traffic...or worse, caused a complete loss of control situation.
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Old 07-21-2009, 08:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
I have heard arguments both ways on this one. There are also advocates of wrapping the break away cable around a chain. The argument opposite the above is you want the break away cable shorter than the chain to prevent a complete disconnect and an out of control free wheeling trailer.
Just to clarify the above are 2 separate ideas, not wrapping a shorter breakaway cable around the chain.

Personally I would not do the chain wrap thing at all and take the middle ground of having the breakaway cable about the same length as the chains, but just a tad shorter. I attach the breakaway cable to my bumper not the hitch.
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Old 07-21-2009, 08:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
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...and that is just double-dog wrong. it won't prevent anything, but could create a situation with an out of control trailer, as well as an out of control tow vehicle...with me in it.
the problem is that the chains are attached to the receiver. Receivers can fail, and fall off the truck...in which case, neither the chains OR the break-away are going to serve any purpose at all, and you'll have a run-away trailer. Having the break-away attached there is defeating the purpose of the break-away. Attaching the break-away to some other part of the vehicle will ensure that the brakes activate ONLY when all else fails. and if all else hasn't failed, you don't want the trailer brakes activated.
In the situation described by the OP, the failure was with the shank separating from the receiver...the chains were still intact, and the trailer could have been guided to a safe, controlled stop on the side of the road. If this had happened on the highway, it would have yanked the whole rig to a stop in the middle lane of 60mph traffic...or worse, caused a complete loss of control situation.
Thanks for that *tip*. I have been wrapping my break-away around a portion of my hitch - as shown to me by the PO. Being new to towing, I never considered an alternate. Now, where the heck can I find a spot on my truck undercarriage to attach the break-away line to? My line is fairly short .... not to hijack the OP, but what is the typical length and where could I look to attach it?
Laura
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Old 07-21-2009, 09:02 AM   #10
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The break away should be long enough to be the last thing connected to your vehicle. so...slightly longer than the umbilical.
I replaced one of the license plate screws w/ an eye-bolt, and attach the break-away to that.
The "bumper" isn't necessarily the place for this; depends on the vehicle. I've noticed that on many late model suv's, the receiver is encased by the bumper. Looks to me like if the receiver became disconnected, it would yank the bumper right out with it.
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