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Old 08-26-2016, 02:01 PM   #1
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Spartan Chassis
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Emergency Break-Away not working?

I had the wheels balanced on one of our trailers today. While the mechanic had the two left wheels off the ground, I thought I would check the break-away switch to see if it was working.

I pulled the pin out, then checked the wheels. I was able to spin both wheels (double axle trailer). Hmmm... That doesn't look right. But, I started to think about it. The trailer wiring harness was still connected to the Tow Vehicle. By the time I thought of this, he had the left wheels complete and had the right wheels off. So, this time I disconnected the wiring harness from the TV and then pulled the pin. Both wheels still spun. I only rotated them a little bit, if that makes a difference.

Is there a problem here? Maybe the little battery in the box on the trailer tongue is dead? It is about 2 years old. And, is often not connected to a TV or other electrical source for weeks or longer. Did I not spin the wheels enough? I only checked to see if the brakes were on. Was my test incorrect?

I faithfully hook this up along with criss-crossed safety chains and wiring harness on every trip. Hopefully I will never have to have the break-away system work for real. But, if need be, I want it to work as designed.


Charles and Beverly
"The Eagle" - 1991 American Eagle 38J - Cummins 6CTA8.3 300hp DP, Allison MT643 4spd. Trans., Spartan chassis.
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Old 08-26-2016, 02:15 PM   #2
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Should be an on-board battery to power the brakes in the event of a break-away. Obviously, it doesn't get used much [except for a short or something] but would eventually discharge over time. Have a similar system on my 16' pipe trailer but have no idea how that battery gets recharged, if ever....haven't checked the system in years--just hook up the lanyard like a good boy and go......

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Old 08-26-2016, 02:17 PM   #3
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If you have not charged the battery regularly over the last 2 years it maybe dead. Charge the battery to see if it will hold a charge and reconnect and try again. May need to replace the battery.
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Old 08-27-2016, 08:10 PM   #4
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When working properly, 1/4 turn is plenty for the brakes to lock. The battery is recharged thru the TV cable. If the trailer is used infrequently then the battery is probably bad and needs replacement.
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Old 08-27-2016, 08:27 PM   #5
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Your profile shows you have a TT. It gets the power for the brake away cable from your house battery. So if you have 12 volt for lights then there should be power for brakes. The break away switch goes to a 40 amp thermal fuse and then to battery. Check power at switch to ground. It should be same voltage as across battery.

I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left
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Old 08-28-2016, 12:21 PM   #6
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I do have a TT. However, this is for one of our cargo trailers. There is no on-board battery. Later this week I should have some time to check that little box mounted on the trailer tongue. I am guessing there is a small battery in there. The trailer is about 2 years old and I am guessing that the battery either needs a) recharging, or b) replacing at this point.

Thanks for the assistance.
Charles and Beverly
"The Eagle" - 1991 American Eagle 38J - Cummins 6CTA8.3 300hp DP, Allison MT643 4spd. Trans., Spartan chassis.
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Old 08-28-2016, 12:56 PM   #7
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You need to see if you have a functioning charge line ( hot all of the time ) in your trailer light cord.

That would charge the break away battery while using the trailer.
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:17 PM   #8
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The simple system he has does not charge from the TV. Some of the systems have a rechargeable battery and a small charger. At one time they used a disposable dry cell, I don't know if those are still produced. Go to eTrailer.com for more information.
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Old 08-28-2016, 04:24 PM   #9
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My cargo trailer has a small 12-volt lead/acid battery on the tongue. I have to remove the plastic box that covers the battery to check it. A good automatic battery charger will tell you if the battery is dead or dying or just requires charging. Use an automatic battery charger set on 2 to not more than 5 amps and leave it connected overnight. Next morning when you pull the disconnect plug, the magnetic brakes should lock up. No need to remove the brake drum to check it. The brakes should be locked when you try to move the trailer.

If the battery is bad, you may have to go to a trailer store to find a replacement. Most auto parts stores won't have that small battery.

If your 7-pin plug is wired correctly, then one of the pins is a 12-volt hot wire that's always hot when the engine is running. That's the pin that charges the trailer battery, whether the battery is the house battery on an RV trailer or the break-away battery on a cargo/utility/horse/livestock trailer.

That reminds me, I need to check the battery on my cargo trailer.
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:23 PM   #10
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As has been said, you need a good on-board battery.
But you should also adjust the drum brakes. It's easy to do. Lots of videos out there.
I do mine every year.

Manny & Larissa
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