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Old 07-18-2015, 05:28 PM   #1
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Emergency "Break Away" cable questions, re: length and funtionality.

My trailer came with the coated braided steel cable, but it was very long. I had to wrap it round the tongue frame at least once, or it would drag on the ground. I feared it would snag something while driving and activate the brakes.

I cut the cable off and added the 4' long Fastway Zip Trailer Breakaway Cable. But now this seems too short.

Questions:

1) In the case of emergency, shouldn't this thing activate (ie. pull the switch) right before the emergency chains are tight?

2) How much pressure does it take to activate the breakaway braking system?

3) I currently have a second carabiner clip hooked to the original cable's first loop. I cut the cable off right after the loop and cinch at the switch. Then I have the original carabiner attached to the vehicle. Is this adding too much length to the original 4' working length? Will the extra 6" or so cause my switch to not engage in time?

Willing to post pictures of my setup if needed for clarification.
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Old 07-18-2015, 06:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottandanna View Post
Questions:

1) In the case of emergency, shouldn't this thing activate (ie. pull the switch) right before the emergency chains are tight?
Good question. In my 30 years of towing, I never heard of setting your breakaway cable like that. I always twisted my safety chains so that they were as short as possible. I'd prefer to maintain tight control of the trailer if it should uncouple for any reason. I'm not sure I would like my trailer or toad to automatically lock up it's brakes while still attached to my vehicle. The breakaway device IMHO should be activated only if the safety chains fail and the towed vehicle actually gets away.

Quote:
2) How much pressure does it take to activate the breakaway braking system?
What type of system do you have? With most that I am familiar with, the safety cable activates a switch (just takes a firm tug) and you get 100% braking out of the towed vehicle.
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Old 07-18-2015, 07:51 PM   #3
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I initially assumed it was to be activated only if the chains failed. Then I read somewhere that it is supposed to activate BEFORE the chains fail, which sorta make sense. It would pull you down and cause you to brake before you detach from the trailer.

This is the reason I posted this question(s).

I want to make sure I set it up correctly so it performs as it is supposed to. Even though I will most likely never use it. But still, just in case.

But at the same time, I don't want it to lock the brakes up just from snagging something off the road while towing. I picture in my mind a garbage bag going up and grabbing the cable and locking the trailer up while I am driving 65 mph!!!
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Old 07-18-2015, 07:53 PM   #4
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And yes, mine activates 100% brakes once the button is pulled out. I tried to pull it by hand today, but could not. Not sure if only works while under an electrical load, or what. I did not have it hooked to the jeep when I was attaching the cable.

New at this, and not sure how it all works.
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:27 PM   #5
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I have the coiled tether like you have. I didn't like the firm pull on the breakaway switch so I added cable to reduce the amount of pull. Now the coiled tether just takes up the slack and there is little worry about accidentally turning on the brakes. Trying to set the breakaway so that it will engage with the chains attached is something I wouldn't do.
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:42 PM   #6
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Agree--break away cable is intentionally longer than the safety chains by design. Ironically, the switch/brakes are only activated by a total break-away, if the towed remains on the safety chains, it can yo-yo into the back of your coach until you get stopped.....pull switch is hard to pull, also by design--no plastic bag snags will be enough to pull it.....
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:43 AM   #7
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OK, thanks for the feedback and comforting words. I will either add a little cable or buy the 6' long coiled cable and replace this short tight one.
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Old 07-19-2015, 03:02 PM   #8
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I added about 8" of 90 lb chain at the switch end, and now it just hangs a couple inches and doesn't get in the way of all the other hitch stuff. Looks better, and much cleaner functioning. I no longer have 24" of cable hanging and twisted around everything.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:20 PM   #9
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Electric breakaway switches are simple, 2 pieces of metal held apart by a plastic plug. Pull the plug out, the metal contacts come together(normally closed) and 12VDC battery power is applied to the system. When operating properly, all brakes receive full power to the magnets.
You'll notice the rounded groove/depression in the plastic plug, it holds the plug in place
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