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Old 06-30-2012, 02:20 PM   #1
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Trailer Brakes - Opps! - ????

Just returned from a trip where during the 3 days of camping, the power center in the trailer was constantly running (fan).. Until the morning we departed, I had no idea what was causing it but when we hooked up, the brakes were locked... investigation found that the breakaway switch had been pulled the entire 3 days.. Must have happened during the un-hooking or someone tripped it it by accident (caught cable on shoe).. Once I reset the breakaway switch, I had no brakes for about 15 minutes but gradually they came back to normal (cooled down magnets?) for the trip home. I did have to readjust the controller when they started to work again.. Anything special that I should do or inspect after this event?? I did inspected for burnt wiring and it was all Ok...Is there any kind of warning light I can install to see if this happens again??
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:11 PM   #2
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The system breakaway switch ports battery power directly to the camper's brakes by energizing the magnets when the plastic "isolator" is removed completing the circuit. A 12 volt light bulb in any part of the wire in or out of the breakaway switch would light if the breakaway was pulled.

There are 12 VDC LED flasher circuits that can be wired in as well.
LED Flasher Solid State 12 Volt DC - Automotive LED Lights - Other LED Lights - Other LED Lights - LEDLight
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herk7769 View Post
A 12 volt light bulb in any part of the wire in or out of the breakaway switch would light if the breakaway was pulled.

There are 12 VDC LED flasher circuits that can be wired in as well.
LED Flasher Solid State 12 Volt DC - Automotive LED Lights - Other LED Lights - Other LED Lights - LEDLight
What a GOOD idea! I would only put the indicator on the "cold" side of the switch, however.

I suspect the test light would also illuminate (or flash) anytime the brake controller was outputting (especially near maximum), but that's no inconvenience.

It would be especially useful if mounted where it could be seen in the driver's rear-view-mirror to assure brakes have power when towing. Mounted on the front of the trailer, it would be hard to miss if on when parked, too.

To stay "legal" (due to the placement), only an amber LED or bulb should be used.

It's going onto the "to do" list!

Pop
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:25 PM   #4
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I suspect the test light would also illuminate (or flash) anytime the brake controller was outputting (especially near maximum), but that's no inconvenience.
It would not since the LED is a diode and (assuming you did put it on the cold side) the power be on the wrong leg of the diode. On the hot side it still would not work without a ground.

If you used a regular light bulb, it would still need to find a ground to work since in the breakaway circuit there would be no continuity without the breakaway isolator pulled.
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:30 PM   #5
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Ahh, your proposal was to just put the LED ACROSS the switch. That will work!

EDIT......

Err, hold on! A light across the switch will light only if the breakaway is NOT pulled.

I will run the ground wire and just monitor the magnet voltage.

When parked, or rolling down the highway with no brakes applied, that light/LED will be (should be) off.

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Old 06-30-2012, 03:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpringerPop View Post
Ahh, your proposal was to just put the LED ACROSS the switch. That will work!

EDIT......

Err, hold on! A light across the switch will light only if the breakaway is NOT pulled.

I will run the ground wire and just monitor the magnet voltage.

Pop
No Pop, in series. Just locate the "light assembly" in series on the hot side (battery to switch) or cold side (switch to magnet to ground). The light assembly has a red and black wire to indicate polarity for the LED.
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Old 06-30-2012, 04:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
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No Pop, in series. Just locate the "light assembly" in series on the hot side (battery to switch) or cold side (switch to magnet to ground). The light assembly has a red and black wire to indicate polarity for the LED.
That would necessitate the battery's magnet current passing through the bulb to activate the brakes in a true emergency situation, wouldn't it?

The brakes wouldn't be activated at all, but the light would sure light!

Am I missing something here?

Pop
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:22 PM   #8
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SpringerPop is correct, the light should be hooked up with positive on the brake wire after the breakaway switch, negative to chassis ground.
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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Herk is correct: If an LED is used, the right size (need to know the total current the brake magnets use when energized)then it needs to be in series with the break away switch circuit. If a light bulb is used then it needs te be in parallel with the circuit to the brake magnets.
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Old 06-30-2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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Pop is correct.

The LED or bulb would blow and you would lose brakes.

The fix is what Joe said.
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