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Old 01-31-2007, 03:39 PM   #1
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Hello all, I'm new here, brand new and I was directed here by a fellow member of mine on another (woodworking) forum.

Hopefully I"m posting this in the appropriate place but, if not, please accept my apologies and let me know where it should have been posted. Thanks.

I have had an 18' toy-hauler for about a year and a half now. I bought it new. Dual-axle with trailer brake. I pull it with a 1995 Ford F-250 with a complete trailer package. The truck only has 44,xxx miles on it (now. It had 39,xxx when I bought it) and was only driven back and forth from California to Minnesota, one round trip each year. The previous owner only used it to pull his fifth-wheel to his house in each state and while there he used a different vehicle to run around in. The truck is in excellent, tip-top shape and everything has been meticulously maintianed. I've had no troubles with it since I bought it a little less than two years ago.

My trailer sits alot, this last stretch was for about 5 months. I hooked it up yesterday and I had a little trouble with the electric brakes. I was pulling it again today and the controller, a Draw-Tite "Activator", went out on me. Up until yesterday the controller had worked fine although it was always a little "grabby". I had purchased a TEKONSHA" PRODIGY" controller about a year ago and simply hadn't put it on yet but I did today.

However, after installing it, via direct factory pigtail connections (no splices), I set the sensitivity/power per the instructions and, once satisfied, I went on down the road. But, after about a mile, the digital display started to give me readings that went from no connection to an overload condition to standard operation and back and forth randomly and intermittently. When the normal readings were displayed, the trailer braked accordingly (and it was very nice BTW). However, sometimes I would apply the brakes and the trailer brakes would not engage and an overload reading would display. Then, after a second or two, the normal readings would come back and the brakes would engage. Sometimes the overload display wouldn't go away and the brakes would just not engage. I"m definately not overloaded.

Every once in a while, the display for "no connection" would come up and again, the brakes wouldn't engage.

Does this just sound like a dirty connection to you? I stopped by a Kragen Auto Parts store and picked up some electrical connector cleaner but I haven't sprayed it on yet.

Anyone have any advice or suggestions or experience to pass on for/to me?

And would someone be so kind as to remind me of the type of grease to use inside of my 7-pin connector? For the life of me I can't remember the name of the type of grease.

Thank you very much for your time.


BTW, all of the other functions of the trailer though the 7-pin connector work fine and haven't shown any trouble whatsoever.
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Old 01-31-2007, 03:39 PM   #2
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Hello all, I'm new here, brand new and I was directed here by a fellow member of mine on another (woodworking) forum.

Hopefully I"m posting this in the appropriate place but, if not, please accept my apologies and let me know where it should have been posted. Thanks.

I have had an 18' toy-hauler for about a year and a half now. I bought it new. Dual-axle with trailer brake. I pull it with a 1995 Ford F-250 with a complete trailer package. The truck only has 44,xxx miles on it (now. It had 39,xxx when I bought it) and was only driven back and forth from California to Minnesota, one round trip each year. The previous owner only used it to pull his fifth-wheel to his house in each state and while there he used a different vehicle to run around in. The truck is in excellent, tip-top shape and everything has been meticulously maintianed. I've had no troubles with it since I bought it a little less than two years ago.

My trailer sits alot, this last stretch was for about 5 months. I hooked it up yesterday and I had a little trouble with the electric brakes. I was pulling it again today and the controller, a Draw-Tite "Activator", went out on me. Up until yesterday the controller had worked fine although it was always a little "grabby". I had purchased a TEKONSHA" PRODIGY" controller about a year ago and simply hadn't put it on yet but I did today.

However, after installing it, via direct factory pigtail connections (no splices), I set the sensitivity/power per the instructions and, once satisfied, I went on down the road. But, after about a mile, the digital display started to give me readings that went from no connection to an overload condition to standard operation and back and forth randomly and intermittently. When the normal readings were displayed, the trailer braked accordingly (and it was very nice BTW). However, sometimes I would apply the brakes and the trailer brakes would not engage and an overload reading would display. Then, after a second or two, the normal readings would come back and the brakes would engage. Sometimes the overload display wouldn't go away and the brakes would just not engage. I"m definately not overloaded.

Every once in a while, the display for "no connection" would come up and again, the brakes wouldn't engage.

Does this just sound like a dirty connection to you? I stopped by a Kragen Auto Parts store and picked up some electrical connector cleaner but I haven't sprayed it on yet.

Anyone have any advice or suggestions or experience to pass on for/to me?

And would someone be so kind as to remind me of the type of grease to use inside of my 7-pin connector? For the life of me I can't remember the name of the type of grease.

Thank you very much for your time.


BTW, all of the other functions of the trailer though the 7-pin connector work fine and haven't shown any trouble whatsoever.
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Old 01-31-2007, 04:06 PM   #3
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Welcome to iRV2 !!

Have you inspected the wires under the trailer, at the axle, where they enter the brake assembly and (after significantly more work) inside the brake assembly itself)?
I would be looking in these areas because you report both "open short" and "closed short" error messages.

I think many wires are left 'dangling' out in the open, perhaps subject to snagging on road-trash/vegetation. Maybe even some mice/rats/squirrels have sampled them.

Perhaps you can get someone to monitor the controller for error messages while you wiggle the various wires and connection points.

(Are you looking for the word "dielectric" ?)
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Old 01-31-2007, 04:10 PM   #4
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Mark,welcome to irv2. I'm sure you will find folks here helpful and friendly. It sounds like a magnet or more in your brakes may be malfunctioning. They are exposed to a lot of road grime so perhaps a good cleaning with brake cleaner will help. And of course check all connections. If you jack the rig up please don't crawl under there without jack stands in place. The grease you're thinking of may be diaelectic grease. Personally I clean the connections with WD-40. Any other comments out there? Again, welcome to the forum Mark
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Old 01-31-2007, 05:37 PM   #5
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Sounds like a dirty connection. Could also be a bad plug. I have had that happen on occasion. Really all you want to do is use the contact cleaner to clean the plug contacts. No grease. that will attract dirt and really make a mess. Dilectric grease it intended for a put together one time and not come apart. 95 truck might just need a new plug installed. You could also have a bad wire, or maybe even just need to adjust the brakes on the trailer!
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:40 PM   #6
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Welcome Mark. Everyone has just about covered everything you need to check out. I would start at the trailer brakes and work my way up to the plug in on the truck. I bet you find some wires that mice/rats/squirrels have had fun with.
Let us know what you find.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:09 AM   #7
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Thanks very much for the prompt and imformative replies. I'll check out the items that you mention and see what I find.

Thanks very much again.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:57 AM   #8
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Mark

I have fought this fight several times. You may be lucky and find something external but all mine were found inside the drums. I have the al-ko/Hays 12x2 brakes and the problem was anything from a magnet laying loose inside the drum to the wires going to the magnet inside the drum shorting out to the actuator arm where they were held on with metal clips. I finally solved mine by replacing all the brake assemblies, then on the new ones before I installed them, I took the metal clips off the arms and put protective insulating material over the wires and tied them up to the arm with plastic wire ties. No problems since. That is the one thing I don't like about the prodigy controller, if it senses a problem the brakes don't work at all,or come and go as you've found out. I'd much rather it tell me of a problem but still apply the brakes as best it could. Good luck in your search.
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Old 02-02-2007, 07:31 AM   #9
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I agree with Vette Racer. Even if you find the problem in the plug, if you have had the trailer for a year and a half and haven't pulled the drums and cleaned/repacked the wheel bearings, it's time.

I'd spend the extra money for new seals regardless of how they look. Both Dexter and Al-Ko have excellent downloadable manuals...
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:36 PM   #10
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I'll add some other suggestions. Inspect the trailer brake wires where they enter/exit the axle, they commonly wear through the insulation and create an intermittent short. The snap-together wire splices are notoriously weak connections, replace them with either soldered or crimped connections. Dexter axle warns on their website not to use the snap splices, but the RV manufacturers do anyway. BTW, they have a great electric brake troubleshooting page.
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