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Old 07-29-2009, 04:35 PM   #1
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Testing Breakaway Switch

Hi, y'all. New (to us) trailer and I'm trying to make sure all the stuff that must work actually does, and the breakaway switch has me stumped. Our 98 Classic has the Tekonsha 2010 switch. Is this wired directly to the trailer batts? From other posts, this appears to be the case.

I've cleaned it. When we pull the key to test, I do not hear any clicks, buzzes, or snap crackle pop from the brakes. I should hear something, right?

What can I do to determine if I should replace this switch?

Thanks!
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:44 PM   #2
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The simple way would be to hook up, then pull the pin and try to move your AS.

Keep the testing brief, and do not plug your AS umbillical into your tow vehicle while you have the break away switch activated. It could damage your brake controller.

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Kevin
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:18 PM   #3
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Another way would be to have someone stand next to the wheel and hold a compass close to the wheel just below the center of the wheel. As you pull the pin the compass needle will move if the brakes are in fact getting power. The compass also is a fast way the check brakes while traveling and you think you have lost a brake do to a broken wire. The failed one will not move the needle.

Yes the Emergency Switch is wired directly to the battery.

An important consideration that all to many don't understand is the wire from the switch to the TV should be short enough that if the hitch or ball brakes the pin is pulled before the chains reach there limit. It is a good idea to route the wire through a clip placed in the ball trigger. This insures the wire can't snag on other parts and defines the shortest routing of the wire. Many have the wire draped below the hitch with so much slack it would never pull the pin on a hitch failure.
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:36 PM   #4
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Yet another way is to jack the trailer wheels off the ground and spin the tire and pull the pin. Tire should stop right away.
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:45 PM   #5
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Before you pull the pin disconnect the umbilical. If you don't you may fry your brake controller in your TV.
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:04 PM   #6
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Tell you the truth, this forum has lowered my blood pressure from the "holy smoke" range back down to almost normal. I've been able to run down every issue (real or imagined) I've come across in the 2 weeks we've owned this unit (our first). Even though I've read almost every word in the manual and bought all the books anybody recommended, it's this forum that has ended up saving my bacon every time. Thanks.
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Old 08-21-2009, 02:13 PM   #7
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better check that switch more often...

When I shredded a front curbside tire a little bit ago, a piece of shrapnel apparently yanked the wires out on the rear curbside brake.

Finally got around to fixing that last night and wanted to test the fix before hooking up for my next trip. While it was still jacked up, I pulled the breakaway...nothing, both curbside wheels rolled. Got the meter out and found I had 12v on one side of the switch and nothing on the other side. Stuck a screwdriver in and got a little spark and lo...brakes locked.

Looks like a combination of corrosion on the contacts and a weak spring to force the contacts together...the contacts were just far enough apart that the switch was rendered useless.

Got a new switch and going to test this much more often (versus once since I bought it new).

Marc
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Old 08-21-2009, 04:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
Another way would be to have someone stand next to the wheel and hold a compass close to the wheel just below the center of the wheel. As you pull the pin the compass needle will move if the brakes are in fact getting power. The compass also is a fast way the check brakes while traveling and you think you have lost a brake do to a broken wire. The failed one will not move the needle.

Yes the Emergency Switch is wired directly to the battery.

An important consideration that all to many don't understand is the wire from the switch to the TV should be short enough that if the hitch or ball brakes the pin is pulled before the chains reach there limit. It is a good idea to route the wire through a clip placed in the ball trigger. This insures the wire can't snag on other parts and defines the shortest routing of the wire. Many have the wire draped below the hitch with so much slack it would never pull the pin on a hitch failure.

A couple of excellent tips, thanks!

Guess I couldn't use my gps instead of my compass? (jus' kiddin")

As for the length of the cable on the breakaway switch, I ever considered that before. I guess in shortening it though you'd need to be sure it couldn't pull the pin on a tight turn if you get it too short.

Brian.
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Old 08-21-2009, 04:49 PM   #9
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I feed the umbilical and the break away cable through a clip on the tongue. This insures against snagging and defines the shortest distance for the cable.
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Old 08-21-2009, 04:56 PM   #10
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An important consideration that all to many don't understand is the wire from the switch to the TV should be short enough that if the hitch or ball brakes the pin is pulled before the chains reach there limit.

Completely disagree, there. IMO, the trailer brakes shouldn't be activated unless or until the trailer has completely disconnected from the tow vehicle. The chains are there so that they CAN reach their limit, and continue to keep the trailer connected. In such a situation, you are still able to bring the truck and trailer to a controlled stop; Only if they fail, do you want the trailer's brakes activated. Having the trailer slam on its brakes, full-force, while its still connected to your truck, could really ruin your day.
as such, the break-away cable should be longer than anything else, and it should be connected to something other than the hitch or receiver. (if the cable is connected to any part of the hitch system, and it falls out, the pin won't pull, and the trailer will go on its merry way). I replaced one license plate bolt on my truck w/ an eye-bolt, to which I attach the break-away cable.
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:01 PM   #11
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I feed the umbilical and the break away cable through a clip on the tongue. This insures against snagging and defines the shortest distance for the cable.
Hi HowieE,

Great idea!

What do you clip the other end of the break away cable to? (Not sure if this is correct, but I clip mine to the factory loop on my GM hitch designed for safety chains )

Cheers,
Chris
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:49 PM   #12
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Completely disagree, there. IMO, the trailer brakes shouldn't be activated unless or until the trailer has completely disconnected from the tow vehicle. The chains are there so that they CAN reach their limit, and continue to keep the trailer connected. In such a situation, you are still able to bring the truck and trailer to a controlled stop; Only if they fail, do you want the trailer's brakes activated. Having the trailer slam on its brakes, full-force, while its still connected to your truck, could really ruin your day.
as such, the break-away cable should be longer than anything else, and it should be connected to something other than the hitch or receiver. (if the cable is connected to any part of the hitch system, and it falls out, the pin won't pull, and the trailer will go on its merry way). I replaced one license plate bolt on my truck w/ an eye-bolt, to which I attach the break-away cable.
Now step back a second and rethink your position.

You are going down the road and the ball or hitch breaks and the trailer tongue drops down on the crossed chains and most likely starts to drag on the ground. The breakaway cable is still not released. The sudden crashing sound would cause the average human to hit the brakes causing the trailer to come smashing into the rear of the TV.

Now if the cable had pulled the pin you would still have the trailer tongue dragging on the ground and the trailer attempting to stopp the combination before you hit the brakes and ruin both the front of the trailer and the rear of the truck.

Luckily I had just stopped to rest after a 5 hour run when the head shattered and dropped. Had that happened while towing I would not have wanted that 8,500 lbs freewheeling behind me.
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:52 PM   #13
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one thing that bothers me about the break away switch is that it applies full power to the brakes. in most cases that results in the wheels locking up. has anyone ever seen any system that would provide a fast stop without smoking the tires. i guess anti lock brakes for trailers is a long way in the future.

i'd sure love to see a test where a trailer (hopefully not an airstream) gets cut free and full brakes are applied.
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:55 PM   #14
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What do you clip the other end of the break away cable to? (Not sure if this is correct, but I clip mine to the factory loop on my GM hitch designed for safety chains )
I use a locking pin and place the loop on the pin before putting the lock on the pin. Again this is essentially a center line location, thus not effected by turning
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