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Old 06-30-2011, 05:55 PM   #1
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Useless Breakaway Cable Routing

Many (most?) of you know that I work for an Airstream dealer. I decided today I'd let everybody know about a sudden upswing in the amount of breakaway cables that are wound through the links of one of the safety chains, then are clipped on the tow vehicle. I don't know what misinformed individual is telling people to do this, but it has to be the absolute worst thing you can do. It will virtually guarantee the breakaway switch will not function if the trailer jumps off the trailer ball, and almost certainly it will not work if the chain it is routed through is torn off the hitch at the same time. The links in the chain will snub the cable, not allowing it to pull out of the switch as designed.
It also will almost certainly abrade the cable to the point it will break somewhere, also making the cable useless. There has been an average of one trailer a day that has been set up this way, and the customer will tell me another trailer dealer told them to do it that way.
For anybody that doesn't know, the breakaway cable is to be routed separately from any other connection directly from the switch to a point on the tow vehicle other than the hitch or receiver itself. A point on the frame of the tow vehicle is good, the hole in the license plate is not good (another thing I've noticed a lot lately).
For anyone that hooks up their breakaway switch correctly, thank you, and please continue. For anyone that runs the cable through the chain links, or duct tapes the cable to the trailer tongue (yes, I've seen that, too), you are performing the trailer brake equivalent of driving your car without wearing your seat belt. Chances are, nothing will happen, but if there ever comes a time you need it, it'll be too late to stop and correct the situation.
For those of you that think I'm ranting, I am, but it's for a good cause--your safety.

You may now resume your scheduled July 4th adventures.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:02 PM   #2
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Pictures

The class needs pictures of one routed correctly. Good post. Something I rarely hear about. thnx
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:11 PM   #3
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I have seen the breakaway cable routing you describe. I encounter it most often on cargo trailers and utility trailers which have 5 year old breakaway batteries that can't apply the brakes anyway. In many cases the perpetrators know exactly what they are doing and are complying with the letter of the law at minimum expense and inconvenience to themselves without regard for safety.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:42 PM   #4
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Terry,
i will second that. Proper routing of my break-a-way cable saved my trailer by activating when the truck rolled off the trailer. The trailer wheels "locked" up and the trailer was saved. The truck was not. I was saved as well.
I was told to weave it through the chain by my delivering salesman. I undid this.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:51 PM   #5
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Duz this pass inspection?

Picture the zip-tie as the loop on the breakaway cable.

POI...notice another zip-tie on trailer plug...tired of the dam# thing coming loose.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:54 PM   #6
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Looks good to me, Bob. I use an eyebolt as one on my license plate bolts - and clip to that.

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Old 06-30-2011, 07:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
Duz this pass inspection?

Picture the zip-tie as the loop on the breakaway cable.

POI...notice another zip-tie on trailer plug...tired of the dam# thing coming loose.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmclemore View Post
Looks good to me, Bob. I use an eyebolt as one on my license plate bolts - and clip to that.

Pat
These are good. Eye bolt yes, directly through that hole in the license plate and nowhere else, not so much...
I'm sure everybody knows what it's supposed to look like, I'll try to snap a couple of photos of "how not to do it" tomorrow. I forgot my camera today.
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Old 06-30-2011, 07:51 PM   #8
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Thank you for this post...

We brought our (used) trailer home last weekend and the breakaway cable was routed through the chain as described. I wondered how effective this would be. I now know, and will "un-weave" it.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:16 PM   #9
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Breakaway Switch

Thank you so much for posting this information about the breakaway switch. We are new to towing with our 74 Overlander. We just ordered the replacement switch and have been wondering just how it works and how to hook it up. Now we know the right way to use it.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:33 PM   #10
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Get on of these: Fastway Trailer Products - Fastway Zip Breakaway Cable & Switch

No more problems with snagged breakaway cables! I've used one of these for at least six trips - it's a great addition!
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexray View Post
Get on of these: Fastway Trailer Products - Fastway Zip Breakaway Cable & Switch

No more problems with snagged breakaway cables! I've used one of these for at least six trips - it's a great addition!
Well, THAT'S going on the list. I needed a new truck-end for my cable anyway to make it easier to securely attach and conveniently detach it. I guess that'll be my Independence Day gift to the Argosy.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:22 PM   #12
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Hi, my trailer came new with the breakaway cable routed through the chains. I paid no attention to it since this was the first trailer that I owned with one. My chains never dragged on the ground, but one day I noticed my cable was broken. After looking at it better, I could see that it had rubbed through. Seems to me that it was worn through by snow and ice on the road. I bought a new cable and when I was installing it I noticed that with the chain links grabbing the cable and the angle from the switch to the first point of the woven chain links, that the cable would most likely break before pulling the plug. It is fixed now, but I still hope it never has to work.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:35 PM   #13
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When we bought the trailer in late 2007 the salesman told us to route it through the chain. He also had said he had a trailer indicating he may have known something. I didn't know much about towing but it didn't feel right.

I looked at it afterward and wondered how the cable would work properly. But before I could figure it out, the cable broke. I tied it together temporarily and then got stronger cable and used split bolt connecters to tie it to each end.

I now connect it with a carabiner through the chain hole on the hitch receiver. I really could not find a simple way to get directly to the frame though there were some possibilities if I crawl under the truck every time I hook or unhook it.

Glad to mentioned this Terry and it sounds from the posts that this practice is very common amongst dealers. I hope someone at Airstream sees this and sends out something to their dealers about it. This is a practice ripe for a lawsuit.

Gene
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:04 AM   #14
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Thanks for the reminder Terry. Some the simplest things so often go overlooked.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexray View Post
Get on of these: Fastway Trailer Products - Fastway Zip Breakaway Cable & Switch

No more problems with snagged breakaway cables! I've used one of these for at least six trips - it's a great addition!
This looks good. Have to get a couple ordered before the next camping trip.
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