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Old 09-07-2013, 05:30 PM   #1
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Broken brake wires.

Just wondering if this is a common problem.

We have a 2005 Classic 30, bought used about four years ago, and I think I have now experienced broken wires on every wheel!

The most recent was on a trip to Cape May NJ last week. Suddenly I got a chime and a message on the dash of the truck saying something like "service trailer brakes." The brakes seemed ok, and after I shut off the ignition and restarted the truck, the message had gone so I assumed it was some sort of computer glitch.

But when we got home I decided to walk around the trailer and do a "compass test" at each wheel - sure enough, no brakes on one wheel and a look underneath revealed another broken wire just behind the brake backing plate where the wires loop down.

It was so close to the entry point of the wires to the backing plate that I had to remove the brake drum and splice in a new wire - but a simple fix.

I have no idea what causes this - maybe just flexing of the wires as the suspension moves or maybe road debris hitting the wires.

Am I alone in having this problem? Just wondering!

Brian.
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Old 09-07-2013, 05:43 PM   #2
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Are your wheels/tires balanced?

Are wires "tie wrapped" to minimize flex/waving in the wind""?

If so, are wires showing corrosion?
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Old 09-07-2013, 06:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
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Are your wheels/tires balanced?

Are wires "tie wrapped" to minimize flex/waving in the wind""?

If so, are wires showing corrosion?

Wheels are balanced and I also have centramatics.

The wires are not tie wrapped and hang in a small loop to the trailing arms, I assume to allow for axle movement.

Whenever I have experienced a break and skinned back the wires to do a solder repair, I have found the stranded copper wire quite blackened with corrosion. I have to do a lot of scraping of the wire to reveal bare copper to get a decent solder joint. Looks like moisture can get under the plastic insulation and move back quite a way under the plastic insulation from the cut end of the wire.

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Old 09-07-2013, 08:17 PM   #4
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This was a continual problem on my old SOB. (I have disc hydraulic on my AS). I would recommend splicing in a flexible wire from the backing plate to the frame area where there is not a lot of continual flexing of the wires due to suspension movement. I cannot remember for the life of me what that kind of wire is called right now. Solder the connections and use watertight butt connectors.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:17 PM   #5
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At least you can see what the problem is, and see the break in the wire. I had the brakes replaced at the local RV dealer, and they left too much wire looped inside the drum. It rubbed the drum and wore through, creating an intermittent short that drove me crazy for over a year until I went to service the bearings and found the short. I kept getting nc (not connected) messages on my brake controller (Prodigy) off and on. I kept thinking it was a connection problem and replaced the umbilical plug and socket.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:33 PM   #6
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I may be wrong (it happens regularly) but I thought that the twelve-volt connections on an AS were all solid wire.

I say this because you mention the supply to your brakes is stranded. To my mind, solid wire would present less surface area to corrode, no?
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:41 PM   #7
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I may be wrong (it happens regularly) but I thought that the twelve-volt connections on an AS were all solid wire.

I say this because you mention the supply to your brakes is stranded. To my mind, solid wire would present less surface area to corrode, no?

I have never seen solid wire on trailer brakes....modern ones anyway. I think it would be very brittle after flexing for awhile.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:54 PM   #8
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Yeah has to be stranded for "flexation" tolerance.

Any "loop" should be stabilized for wind and road vibrations.

On our 1999, I also found same corrosion and broken wire. Went thru all brakes and ensured connection good. I can lock up all wheels if needed.

Strange, the PO had simple butt splice crimp connectors... Water ran inside and it was a brief time we used before failure.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:08 PM   #9
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a related thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...kes-30454.html
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:17 PM   #10
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As an option, when you need new backing plates, you can get new backing plates with extra long, protected wires.
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Old 09-08-2013, 03:03 AM   #11
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After using the "water proof" connectors on the wires, I would wrap with a good waterproof tape as a primary defense against water intrusion into that electrical connection.
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Old 09-08-2013, 04:51 AM   #12
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Lewster may chime in here but I know he has recommended never using soldered connections. Leaves a rigid point in the flexible stranded wire as a stress point. I have used ashesive filled shrink type crimp connectors with an overlay of adhesive filled shrink tubing (I am a chronic overbuilder) and have never had a repeat failure or water intrusion on any of my rv's
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:17 AM   #13
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I think I have reconnected two or three of the four sets of wires on my trailer. I am thinking there is simply not enough slack in the wires to account for wheel articulation and bumps, etc. Definitely on my To Do list.
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:09 AM   #14
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Thanks for the feedback, sounds as though I am not alone in having this problem! I am a bit suspicious of the suspension movement causing the problem as kry226 suggests. The last break I had was a clean break almost as though the wire was cut with a knife - it was not at a connector.

I have no idea what work the P.O. did on this trailer, I half suspect he was towing a second trailer with brakes behind the AS, because when I bought it, the trailer had a 2" welded hitch receiver on the back end! I removed it once I read about the structural problems that could cause (I haven't seen any indication of damage.)

Also, there were Scotch lock wire splices (with the spice wires cut off) on one of the wheel brake lines that further made me suspicious! I have removed those. I also found at least one wire that had been broken and the ends just twisted together and taped!

It has always been my understanding that stranded wire is needed in this sort of application, I don't think solid wire would last long at all without fatiguing. Don't believe I have ever seen solid wire used in any vehicle wiring.

I had always thought that soldered and shrink tubed connections would be the best for this sort of application, but maybe I am wrong - never considered the "rigid" aspect of the soldered joint. But then again, wouldn't a crimped connector cause exactly teh same situation in that it would hold the wire clamped?

I think I have worked on a four wheels now and all are working fine - for the moment!

If I have any repeat problems I will look for a better solution - maybe a more flexible type of wire? Maybe a slightly larger drop loop to eliminate the possibility of suspension movement causing the problem.

I suppose Airstream's practice of closing in the underside of the trailer has advantages, but it also has disadvantages when working on wiring. I wouldn't mind running completely new wiring for the brakes, but that would be easier said than done!

Brian
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