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Old 12-28-2008, 05:38 PM   #29
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On our 06 Burb I take the cable and run it to the left side liftgate striker, pass it under the plastic trim and loop it over u-shaped stricker.
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Old 12-31-2008, 09:47 PM   #30
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Breakaway Cable Length

My safety chains, umbilical cord and breakaway cable, as supplied by Airstream, gave the following results when I lifted the trailer off the ball and eased the truck forward to the end of the chains. The umbilical cord pulled out of the socket first and the breakaway cable wasn't even tight, so there is no possible way left to energize the trailer brakes! If this happens as you approach a stop in traffic or while descending a mountain with switchbacks or even a big hill, your trailer will run up on your tow vehicle until the safety chains limit its forward movement, or your gas bottles are smashed into your back bumper. In my case it appeared the latter is most probable. You just have to pray that your tow vehicle can bring this whole mess to a stop without a fire or explosion. I don't even want to think about the results of all this!!

I want my trailer to keep the chains taut in the pullback position. My logic suggests that the length of the leverage (the length of the frame from axles to chains) will easily overcome any tendency of a grabby brake on one side to swerve the trailer or whole rig.

I think there is no proper length of breakaway cable for sale that fits all of our applications. I resized mine so it pulls the pin before it pulls the umbilical cord out of the socket. This is what I recommend.

Since umbilical cords and chain lengths can vary, my recommendation is not to guess, but try the exercise above and adjust your cable to the correct length. I believe this is a critical safety issue which many people have not given sufficient thought to.

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Old 12-31-2008, 10:42 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddletramp View Post
The umbilical cord pulled out of the socket first and the breakaway cable wasn't even tight, so there is no possible way left to energize the trailer brakes!

Saddletramp
This would be true if the battery on your trailer is missing or not charged. When the breakaway cable is pulled (after the the cord has been removed) the trailer brakes are activated full on by the battery in the trailer.

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Old 12-31-2008, 11:45 PM   #32
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Saddletramp...you bring up an important issue - that of the umbilical becoming unplugged so that you can't apply the trailer brakes from the TV...

And thereby adds some confusion to this whole issue...I believe there are two distinct scenarios here:

1. trailer unhooks from ball - but is contained by safety chains...this is NOT a 'breakaway' situation.

2. trailer completely 'breaks' away from TV, in which case the 'breakaway' switch comes into play to apply the brakes to a 'runaway' trailer.

Your comments about having an umbilical long enough to stay attached in event # 1. above would seem to be of prime importance, as a trailer 'hopping' off the ball, but still attached by the safety chains would happen more often that a complete 'breakaway' situation...IE driving away with the ball locking lever not 'locked' or the coupling not down on the ball completely, etc.

I am undecided on your opinion about having the breakaway cable shortened to the extent it will apply the brakes if the coupling comes off the ball, but the safety chains are still attached...that's a brake 'lockup' situation, and could be an additional problem...

I think I'm inclined to assure my umbilical is long enough to stay attached if the trailer is swinging from the chains so I will have some additional control of the trailer brakes from the TV - maybe I wouldn't need a complete lockup of the trailer brakes, but need to 'feather' them, etc...

Lots of good things to think about on this thread...
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:46 AM   #33
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When should breakaway switch activate

There are strong opinions on all sides of this question. Some of the difference of opinion centers on what constitutes "separation".

I consider "separation" to occur when there is a failure of the primary connection between the TT and TV. IMO, the breakaway switch should activate as soon as there is a failure of any part of the primary connection. The primary connection is the receiver/hitch/coupler system. I do not consider the safety chains to be a part of the primary connection.

Some time ago, on the Open Roads Forum, there was a thread titled Break away chains and Emergency brake away brakes which gives a detailed discussion of this topic. This post contains links to six documents which state the breakaway switch should activate when there is a failure of the primary connection -- even if the safety chains are still connecting the TT to the TV.

Other threads on ORF which discuss this topic are:

Emergency trailer cable

Safety Chains - What is the proper way to use them?

Brake Cable

Brake away cable hookup?

Breakaway Cable Correct Looping Procedure

Safety switch info....

Safety chains too long?

Breakaway Switch Activation

Break away cable

As you can see, there are lots of different opinions.

Ron
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:58 AM   #34
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Breakaway Cable Length

Mexray...l think we are pretty much in agreement, we don't want our trailer tongue hanging on the chains with the umbilical unplugged and not be able to appy brakes to the trailer. Ideally the umbilical would be long enough to not unplug, in which case I wouldn't want the breakaway cable to pull the pin either. We could, as you stated, "Feather the brakes to a stop." In fact I wouldn't care how long the breakaway cable is, as it would pull the pin if the chains broke. However if the chains are the proper length and the umbilical unplugs while hanging on the chains I will want the breakaway to pull the pin. Of course you could always install a longer umbilical to remedy the situation, too.

As an engineer, I am accustomed to taking a theory to the "lab" to test its validity. My 25' trailer, according to the scales when fully loaded, is close to the 7300 lb. limit. When I slam the lever on my Prodigy brake controller fully on, I cannot lock up my trailer wheels at speeds above 20 mph. In fact they only lock up at about 8 mph. My trailer brakes are perfectly adjusted and in perfect working order.

Some day on an open stretch of pavement with no traffic to interfer, I'm going to string a small rope from the pin through the back window of my truck. With the umbilical unplugged I'm going to drive at 10, 15 and 25 mph and jerk the pin out at each speed to see what happens. Personally I want to know this result. My bet is that with a shorter wire from the fully charged trailer battery to the brakes, braking effort will be slightly greater, but the wheels will not lock up until the last 4 or 5 feet. Much lighter trailers may give a slightly different result. There will be no loss of control.

Safety chains, by design, are not supposed to break when the trailer falls off of the ball. It behooves us all to do the simple test I did of slowly pulling the tow vehicle to the end of the chains to check out the umbilical cord. It should never unplug with the chains hooked up.

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Old 01-01-2009, 12:26 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddletramp View Post
It should never unplug with the chains hooked up.
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:47 PM   #36
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When I picked up my new trailer, the breakaway cable was almost touching the ground. So were the chains. I asked the salesman about this. He put another twist in the chains and threaded the cable through the chains and then hooked the loop into one of the chain hooks. This didn't make a lot of sense to me, but I was more worried about towing something which seemed at the time as big as a small planet.

Eventually I got a carabiner and put the loop on the cable into it and put the carabiner onto the "eye" next to where the chain is hooked. Then I unthreaded the cable from the chain and just looped it around the chains loosely because otherwise it would drag on the ground. If the cable is threaded through the chain, and the chain comes off, it may break the forward part of the cable and never activate the breakaway switch. With all the friction caused by the cable threaded through the chains, I doubted whether the cable would do what it was supposed to—I couldn't see how it would actually breakaway. So much for believing salesmen.

My next discovery was to find the cable broken in two. Obviously it had dragged on the ground and come apart. I tied several knots in it and then it was just the right length! Then I forgot about it for a while. I later bought some braided wire, maybe 16 or 18 gauge, galvanized, much heavier wire than came with the original cable, looped both ends and closed the loops them with an electrical connector. I wanted to make it shorter so it wouldn't drag and I wouldn't have to wind it around the chains and long enough not to pull out the switch when turning sharply, as Andy advised in post #2.

Airstream advises connecting to something other than the hitch, if possible. Finding something like that is pretty difficult. I looked for bumper brackets or a hole in something underneath I could reach fairly easily. I ended up sticking with the "eye" next to the chain hook, though I've thought of mounting a eye bolt under the lower edge of the bumper for it—I think Bob Cross did something like that. On my ever expanding list for Spring.

Gene
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Old 01-01-2009, 03:36 PM   #37
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Quote:
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though I've thought of mounting a eye bolt under the lower edge of the bumper for it—I think Bob Cross did something like that. On my ever expanding list for Spring.
Gene
My description may not have been very clear, substitute the white tie wrap for the loop end of the cable. The Burb has two lift gate strikers, this the left side. May or may not be adaptable to other TV.
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:51 PM   #38
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attaching breakaway cable to towvee

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Airstream advises connecting to something other than the hitch, if possible. Finding something like that is pretty difficult. I looked for bumper brackets or a hole in something underneath I could reach fairly easily. I ended up sticking with the "eye" next to the chain hook, though I've thought of mounting a eye bolt under the lower edge of the bumper for it—I think Bob Cross did something like that. On my ever expanding list for Spring.

Gene
We installed a 1/4" X 2" eyebolt through top left license plate hole, stop nut on rear face of license plate frame, fender washer and double nut on blind (forward) side where license plate attaches to bumper.


This puts the breakaway cable connection nearly level with the switch, easy to reach during hitch-up and break-down. Breakaway cable attaches to eyebolt with a chromed snap-hook.

Jim
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:22 PM   #39
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One thing I found on my AS compared to the SOB I had is that (IMHO) the breakaway cable is way to long. I think they only come in one length and Airstream mounted the breakaway switch much closer to the hitch than Jayco did on my other trailer. I guess I am going to have to find another location under the truck to attach because if I attach it to the hitch (which some recommend NOT doing too) it will drag on the ground. Why in the world for such an important item they don't make different lengths is beyond me. Furthermore, it is not recommended that you shorten the cable unless you the the proper (and expensive) crimping tool required. So this leads to people, knoting, wrapping, winding and otherwise unsafely handling the length problem.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:59 AM   #40
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Soy , On ours we replaced the switch and the new cable is twice as long and the old one. I now route the cable between the bumper and tailgate (down) around around the reciver and back to the switch. (One big loop) I hook it with a heavy aliminum spring clip that I got from the hardware store (same section as flag pole stuff). When tested the brakes activate before the chains get tight, but leave enough room to turn and back sharply.
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Old 08-12-2017, 10:57 AM   #41
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I know this is an old thread but a VERY IMPORTANT topic. The Breakaway cable video I watched recently and saw a mention of it from Vinnie at North Bay Airstream states that the cable must be slightly shorter than the chains. The idea is that if the trailer comes loose from the TV the brakes will activate to give a controlled stop versus a situation where the trailer swings from side to side and turns over.

My cable is coiled and VERY long. They recommend putting the cable through the nearest chain connection and looping back to the switch ring but mine is not long enough. They said to NEVER have it touch the chains or be woven through them as it completely defeats the purpose. I am still trying to figure out where to connect mine. In function, it would have to disconnect if a primary coupling failed so it has to be slightly shorter than the chains but the coiled wire requires more tension it seems.
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Old 08-12-2017, 11:13 AM   #42
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TT emergency brake cable

I put an eyebolt in one of the screwholes on my license plate to hook, my cable to. It is just a little bit shorter than the chains.
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