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Old 06-15-2009, 07:23 PM   #1
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Question brake problem... help? advice? please!!

On the way out, I noticed my stops were taking a lot more pedal effort and distance. Looking at the brake controller (Draw-Tite Activator II) I noticed alternating messages from the power setting and "OL - Overload" Already being close enough to my destination I decided to drive VERY CAREFULLY and troubleshoot over the weekend.

I found the 7 blade connector a little grungy, but useable... I clipped it off anyway, went to the local RV dealer and bought a new plug and swapped it out right there at the campground figuring the problem would be cured.

I hooked up, loaded up, and started for home after confirming a functioning brake system. Sure enough... 30 miles into the trip home the same thing happening. This time, my better half was in the car behind me. I called on the cell phone (hands free device!) and had her confirm the stop lights were working with both pedal and manual operation. Great! The lights work, but the brakes are intermittent.

I've looked and the grounds, the connector in the truck (factory wired from Ford) bench checked the controller and all seems to be in fine working order.

Today I hooked up the 7 blade, put a cinder block on the brake pedal, and got good readings on the controller this time, good lights and NO BRAKES. No noises, no movement. I crawled under the camper to inspect the brake wires again and noticed they were getting a little warm. Not hot, but warm. I never noticed if they normally get warm when the system is energized.

I'm under the impression this could be the brake magnets, but before I spend the $ to get new ones, I wanted to bounce this off some of you. Could these magnets function intermittently? Anyone got any advice for this ol' boy?

This camper will not move again until I get this fixed... this last trip was hairy enough and I'm thankful nothing bad happened.

Thanks a lot,

Geoff
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:38 AM   #2
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Is the controller set up right? I am not familar with that model of controller, but mine has a light and two knob one is for tilt and the other to fine tune the braking and when its right the light turns kind of a peachy color
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Old 06-16-2009, 06:16 AM   #3
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The controller is set up correctly. I've towed three other trailers with this truck and nothing like this has ever happened. That's why I'm pretty sure it's the trailer with the problem.
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Old 06-16-2009, 09:31 AM   #4
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Since your brake controller was indicating an overload condition you probably have a shorted wire. If it only does it with the RV connected it's most likely on the RV side. It's not uncommon for the wiring to short out where it enters or exits the axle tube. That's where I'd start. It could also be inside one of the hubs. Most of the time if the magnets are worn enough to get through to the coils they'll short every single time the brakes are engaged. You still need to check them. You also don't say how old your unit is.

If I had to replace any wiring I'd replace it all with at least 12ga wire.
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:41 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice... I went and checked it out again tonight and got the brakes working. I don't know how, but they work now.

The unit is a 2004 Salem 23 LE. I pulled one wheel to inspect the magnet inside and it was in good shape. I only had time to look at one. I'll do the rest this weekend.

The suggestion about the wires running inside the axle tube was one I hadn't thought of. I'll take a peek at those too.

After thinking about it, the weather was VERY wet for the duration of the trip. I'm wondering if the moisture had anything to do with this.

Thanks for all the help.

Geoff
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:20 PM   #6
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Thanks to everyone for the advice...

I found what looked like a wire nut on the leads to one of the magnets slightly corroded. I touched it and the connection broke apart in my hand.

I cut the wires and placed a butt connector on each end, crimped it in place, and she's good to go.

With that in mind, I'm guessing it's a matter of time before the others go. I'm going to go ahead and replace the other seven so hopefully this won't happen again.

Geoff
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:32 PM   #7
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Glad it was easy to find. Sometimes those kind of problems can give you a fit troubleshooting them. Good call on fixing all the rest before they give a problem too.
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