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Old 04-01-2016, 06:21 AM   #1
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Safety Cables and Breakaway Switch

When we used to tow a trailer, I had the safety chains and the breakaway set up so that if for some reason the trailer came off the ball, by the time the safety cable reached their full length, the breakaway switch would be activated.

I'm think the same would be true for the toad. if I have a problem with the baseplate or tow bar and the toad was only attached by the safety cables, wouldn't having the breakaway activated and keeping the toad from slamming into the back of the coach be a good thing? I know for the turns, you would have to allow for some slack in the breakaway cable, but if you can find the right length I think it would be a good setup.

What do you think?
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:33 AM   #2
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Nope--my thought too but most toad braking systems I have seen, use a lanyard that is much longer than the safety chains. In the event of a hitch failure, the toad could be pulled along indefinitely with the chains without tripping the "break away switch". In retrospect for me, the mounting point on the toad for the lanyard should be separate from the front bumper and perhaps the grill area. In the not so unusual event that the baseplate/frame attachment point fails, the whole front of the toad could pull-off and stay with the tow bar. In that case, the switch would go with the towbar and never activate--wow!!!!!
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:35 AM   #3
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Pulling a toad 4 down. Safety cables are used. Chains Not so much.
Hard to adjust any length other then sizes offered.
You wrap them around the tow bar anyway. The more wraps the shorter it will be.
Breakaway small cable length can be adjusted by where you hook it on the MH

The odds of ever needing them may be close to same as winning the lottery.
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:43 AM   #4
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Interesting--other than the safety cables [chains] that go inside hollows in the towbar arms of some brands, dont recall ever seeing cables wrapped around the towbar arms? The coiled nature of both the break away lanyard and the cables suggest that they simply span the distance between the vehicles??????
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Old 04-01-2016, 12:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triker56 View Post
Pulling a toad 4 down. Safety cables are used. Chains Not so much.
Hard to adjust any length other then sizes offered.
You wrap them around the tow bar anyway. The more wraps the shorter it will be.
Breakaway small cable length can be adjusted by where you hook it on the MH

The odds of ever needing them may be close to same as winning the lottery.
I was talking about the chains on my old trailer, I have safety cables (coiled) rated for 10,000 lbs for pulling the toad. I am not talking about shortening them. I am talking about shortening the lanyard so that the breakaway switch will be activated before the safety cables reach there full length. Trust me, if that breakaway is triggered and that toad is still attached by the cables, you will feel it. Maybe in a 45' DP you won't. I can't say because I have never driven one.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:23 PM   #6
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If your wheels lockup you will feel it. The transmission on my Honda Fit locked into park while towing< felt the tug just before the smoke billowed from the front wheels of the car dragging. I think the idea of having the breakaway switch lanyard a few inches shorter makes perfect sense to this old bird.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:53 PM   #7
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"Old birds" notwithstanding, dont know of any aux brake manufacturer that makes the lanyard adjustable so it activates before the safety cables tighten--wonder why?
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:03 PM   #8
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Funny, I was contemplating this question a few days ago when I was replacing a brake actuator on my AF One. For the first time in 3 years I actually tested the brake away switch.

Anyway...while I did that I was thinking about whether the brake away should activate before or after the cables maxed out.

I won't speak about dolly towing or other vehicles. I'm working with a Honda CRV...

What are the pros and cons to having a break away activate ONLY if the toad totally separates from the RV?

I'm wondering if the brakes locking up and sudden tension on tow plates and hitch will be more/significant damage than the potential of the toad bumping the back of the RV?

Keep in mind that at least in the case of the AFO, as long as the cables hold and the air connection remains in intact I will still have the ability to apply brakes that also will apply them to the toad.

I had a situation a couple years ago where I lost a tow pin and found myself towing the car by 1 arm. It wasn't enough to pull the break away pin and using the coach brakes appeared to do a good job controlling the car. That was AFTER I killed the exhaust brake. Before I realize that was causing a problem I did have little bumper tag going on.
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Old 04-03-2016, 11:21 AM   #9
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Just thinking if the toad separates from the rig the steering tires on the toad are free to turn and could swing to lock position possibly causing it to flip. or at least jerk wildly to one side.
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Old 04-03-2016, 11:57 AM   #10
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I know with the RVI2 brake, I can activate the unit from the coach. In the event I didn't see the problem before the safety cables stretched out, the breakaway would be activated. Yes without a force acting on the front of the car, the wheels may turn, but I don't think they would turn to the lock. If the car has a proper alignment on it, the wheels naturally want to stay straight.

So, if I may, you are travelling down RT95 doing 60 mph (cause we know, nobody goes faster in a coach), and you hear or feel a big noise from the back. Yo look in your rear camera and see the toad has detached from the tow bar. What's the first thing you're going to do? Hit the brakes! BANG! The toad just slammed into the back of your coach. Well that didn't work out well. Now you have both the front of the toad and the back of the coach messed up, and it will happen again if you hit the brakes. Now you could let the toad gently catch up to the coach, and when they meet, apply the brakes and bring them both to a stop. That would be ok if the toad played nice, because remember, the toad hasn't detached completely, so the breakaway lanyard hasn't been pulled, so the toad is still free-wheeling.

Now the same thing happens, but as the cables stretch out (the only way they can is if something happened with the tow bar), the breakaway lanyard is pulled. The brakes are applied in the toad. You see what is happening and you hit the coach brakes. Now both of you are stopping and more than likely, no additional damage to the coach or the toad, other than what occurred during the detachment.

So that's what I'm thinking of. If it is a complete detachment, the breakaway would be pulled anyway, but set up the way I'm thinking, I may be able to minimize some damage... maybe
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:27 PM   #11
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To me, the cables are only to prevent total break-away, then the switch is a last resort to stop the vehicle, if all else fails. Both of these are to protect the general public, not to meant minimize damage to the toad or the RV.
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Old 04-17-2016, 02:09 AM   #12
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My thoughts on activating the safety brake for a trailer that's going to did down with the tough of the two wheel trailers it needs to be ativated ASAP because if the younger dids in the trail it doing something bad. Imo
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:55 AM   #13
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Never really thought much about it, but good arguments on both sides.

Okay students, you each need to call a toad brake company tomorrow and report back with your findings. :-)
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Star Don View Post
Never really thought much about it, but good arguments on both sides.

Okay students, you each need to call a toad brake company tomorrow and report back with your findings. :-)
From SMI/Air Force One

Our break away system is designed to activate in the event of total seperation or complete hitch/baseplate failure. In my experience most tow cables are less than a few feet in length and our break away cable can stretch out to around 7ft.

IMO, that makes a lot of sense TO ME. I understand what Scotty said but here are my thoughts.

1. A toad still connected by the safety cables is certainly a potential problem but at least is still going in the general direction of the MH. Side to Side movement is still possible and presents safety risks to other drivers close by.

2. Depending on the aux brake system, the driver still has some control over a toad. As an example, if you have a tow bar/plate failure but the safety cables hold with AFO there is a very good chance that you still have a functioning aux brake system. This will allow you to apply brakes and maybe even avoid or at least minimize the impact of the toad catching up to you as you slow down to a stop. Tricky but as Scott alludes to, damage to the back of the coach and/or front of the toad is secondary to getting things under control.

3. Activating the aux brake when the safety cables are holding could cause unneeded damage to coach and toad. Even I admit this could be a toss up argument. My thoughts are that application of the breakaway system while still connected to the coach in some fashion other than the safety cables would induce more stress on the hitch and plates, either of which might have failed. I once lost a pin and one arm came loose. I certainly think that had my break away activated in that case it would have made the situation worse.

I think I would much rather have the toad attached to the coach via the safety cables and rolling freely than have the brakes locked up behind. OTOH, I'm certain others can put out a scenario to support their thoughts. That's cool. In the end, it is an odds game of the most likely scenario that will play out and probably scare the crap out of us even if everything works out well.

YMMV!
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