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Old 04-11-2016, 12:19 PM   #1
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1969 21' Globetrotter
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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Smoking brakes and new converter

I recently got a converter at Pep Boys to connect my 2016 Nissan Frontier to the brake lights of my 1969 Airstream Globetrotter. I tested them out and everything seemed fine except for my right brake light needed replacing. On the way to do that, my truck didn't want to go and after about a block or two the trailer started smoking. My trailer brakes were engaged! Could the converter have anything to do with that, or is it a wiring issue?
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Old 04-11-2016, 01:48 PM   #2
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Okay, the terms are a bit confusing...

A brake converter?

A brake controller provides current to the electric brakes on you trailer as you apply the brakes on your tow vehicle, usually in proportion to the braking effort.

If that is what you have, then it would appear to be misfired.

It could also be the breakaway switch has failed or the pin is pulled.
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Old 04-11-2016, 02:39 PM   #3
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Misfired? Typo = miss wired?

Do the brakes still drag if you ran a short distance w/o the trailer plugged in? All applicable safety cautions blah blah etc.

I really suggest to add an IR temp gun to your collection. Very helpful in diagnosing brake issues, working or not?
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Old 04-11-2016, 02:43 PM   #4
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Older trailers were wired differently than current ones, my 1977 Airstream was not wired the same as my 2010 trailer. I don't remember which wires were switched, but the brakes activated with the turn signals or something like that. If your trailer has the original wiring you'll have to rewire the plug to match your vehicle.

Check that your emergency breakaway switch is not engaged, that locks up the brakes in case the trailer separates from the tow vehicle.

It could also be that the brakes are out of adjustment.
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Old 04-11-2016, 02:49 PM   #5
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A tail light converter is what is needed to convert the power from a TV that has separate brake lights and turn signals into power for a trailer that has brake light and turn signal functions that are in one unit (like an Airstream). A brake controller takes a signal from the brake lights and allows current to go to the electric trailer brakes. Judging by the pics of a Frontier that show tail lights with separate, yellow turn signals, it seems that you need both. If you had a converter installed, they may have wired it incorrectly. It's hard to picture how, as the controller handles only lighting functions and does not involve the electric brakes. But, if they somehow wired the output for the tail lights or brake lights to the line for the electric brakes, it would produce the results you witnessed. Unplug the trailer, tie up the cord, and carefully drive it to a RV or trailer hitch shop where they diagnose the issue. If I were nearby, I'd help you - it would be fun. I've wired in several converters and controllers.
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Old 04-11-2016, 02:55 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=AldeanFan;1775284]Older trailers were wired differently than current ones, my 1977 Airstream was not wired the same as my 2010 trailer. I don't remember which wires were switched, but the brakes activated with the turn signals or something like that.

That certainly could be it, and a simple solution if so. Check the function of each pin or blade on the TV and make sure they match up with the cord. If not, rewire one or the other (cord would be easier - fit a new plug while you are at it).
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Old 04-21-2016, 06:09 AM   #7
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2016 23' International
Austin , Texas
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Yesterday I experienced a locked up rear wheel (left) while towing my 23D less then two miles. Smoke and brake odor coming from the driver side wheel well and the trailer would not budge after I pulled over. The DS rear wheel will not turn and my truck has to work hard to move the rig at all.
It drove fine the initial 24 miles from storage and I didn't adjust the brake controller (set at 4.5) on my F150.
Having it towed to the AS dealer.
Any ideas or thoughts on suggested causes are appreciated.
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Old 04-21-2016, 07:09 AM   #8
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it sounds like it locked up for some reason. did you try backing up to see if it releases? could be that wheel is getting power to the magnet. did you try disconnecting the umbilical cord. it might move after cooling but not for long if it heats up again.
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Old 04-21-2016, 09:02 AM   #9
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Just a note that you probably already know. If having a locked up brake or bad bearing, you can pull one wheel off the tandem axle Airstream and proceed to a repair shop on the three remaining wheels. The procedure and limits are in your Owners Manual.
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