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Old 07-25-2018, 09:14 PM   #1
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Breakaway activated on highway...

Didn't happen to me, but to the family we camp with. Received a call last weekend that they were on the side of the road because their travel trailer was smoking like crazy while they were driving to the campground. We figured out that the breakaway switch had closed and slammed the brakes on. He even sent me a picture of the melted switch. I asked him how long he thinks he drove like that and he thought maybe 2-3 miles. I explained to him how to disable the switch so they could limp home. They made it with no more smoke...

Now- I'm a mechanic by trade so I told him I'd take a look at it for him and figure out what we need to replace/inspect to get them back on the road for the next trip. Obviously I'll have to replace the breakaway switch and any melted wiring (and figure out why it applied in the first place). I figure the tires may have flat spots and will likely need replacement. I'll inspect the drums and shoes. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to repack and inspect the wheel bearings in case they got hot.

Anything else I should look at?

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Old 07-25-2018, 09:20 PM   #2
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You may have to replace the magnets as well as they probably over heated.
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Old 07-25-2018, 09:46 PM   #3
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Mind sharing how they disabled the switch? I would like to hang onto that little nugget of knowledge.
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Old 07-25-2018, 10:00 PM   #4
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Mind sharing how they disabled the switch? I would like to hang onto that little nugget of knowledge.
Just 2 wires. I assume the switch is normally open and closes when activated. Cut one of the wires behind the switch.

If it is NC then cut both wires, strip and wrap em together.
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Old 07-25-2018, 10:01 PM   #5
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Mind sharing how they disabled the switch? I would like to hang onto that little nugget of knowledge.
Yes, please share.

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Old 07-25-2018, 10:13 PM   #6
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Normally Open.

Easy, disconnect the battery on the trailer.
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Old 07-25-2018, 10:16 PM   #7
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Yes, please share.



Tuckerdog1


I had him unhook the battery and cut one of the wires leading to the switch. I had him pay attention to how many sparks flew when he hooked the battery back up and he said he didnít really see any. Must have worked as he made it home event free.
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Old 07-25-2018, 10:19 PM   #8
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Breakaway activated on highway...

The picture of the breakaway switch

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Old 07-25-2018, 10:55 PM   #9
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The picture of the breakaway switch

Attachment 181282
So, did they pull the pin from the switch or was the pin missing from the switch when they finally located it? Seems more plausible that something (debris) snagged the cable and pulled it, the current flowing through the switch to the brakes caused the switch to heat up and melt, and at some point they noticed the smoke but never noticed the trailer become extra hard to keep towing which makes me think their brakes are way out of adjustment. If full power were applied to my trailer's brakes while I were towing I would feel it immediately. Even with my brake controller gain set at about 2/3 of max I can still feel a strong tug from the trailer when I manually activate the trailer brakes to ensure they are functional before heading down the road.

In any case, glad nobody was hurt and hopefully the damage/repairs are minimal.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:02 PM   #10
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I had him unhook the battery and cut one of the wires leading to the switch. I had him pay attention to how many sparks flew when he hooked the battery back up and he said he didnít really see any. Must have worked as he made it home event free.
Thanks.

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Old 07-25-2018, 11:48 PM   #11
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How long is his breakaway cord? I agree with above poster, the cable probably snagged on something. Dragging the trailer like that probably overheated the switch. Definitely odd that it took him that long to notice the drag feeling and the smoke. Guess he was in the zone and distracted by family. I would definitely check all brakes, bearings, tires etc. for damage and yes he will likely need a new set of tires.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:51 PM   #12
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The breakaway switch is normally open (NO). Meaning that the pin is holding the contacts apart, keeping current from flowing through the switch, keeping the brakes off.

When the pin is pulled, the contacts connect and pass current through the switch. This applies full current to the brakes.

The switch is in-line between the battery and the brake wire, doing nothing when open, and applying the brakes when closed.

Simply cut either wire and tape it up to prevent contact with the frame. Be very careful not to let the wire or wire cutter contact any metal, ESPECIALLY the propane tanks. Best to disconnect the battery cable to cut the wire, then re-connect it.

No speculation on why it deployed, and melted.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:56 PM   #13
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Notice how close the burned switch is to the propane hose.......... Real scary. Thank goodness it didn't burn through.

OP and family is VERY LUCKY. Glad to hear that this only damaged "replaceable stuff".
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:01 AM   #14
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Notice in the picture that the pin is missing.
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:01 AM   #15
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How long is his breakaway cord? I agree with above poster, the cable probably snagged on something. Dragging the trailer like that probably overheated the switch. Definitely odd that it took him that long to notice the drag feeling and the smoke. Guess he was in the zone and distracted by family. I would definitely check all brakes, bearings, tires etc. for damage and yes he will likely need a new set of tires.
I'm gonna guess he had very weak/poorly adjusted brakes, as was suggested, so his tires are probably fine because it sounds like they weren't dragging on the road, it is almost the equivalent to leaving the parking brake on.
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:19 AM   #16
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Notice how close the burned switch is to the propane hose.......... Real scary. Thank goodness it didn't burn through.

OP and family is VERY LUCKY. Glad to hear that this only damaged "replaceable stuff".


That isnít the propane line, that is the cabling for the trailer plug connection.
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:28 AM   #17
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Thank goodness.
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Old 07-26-2018, 04:40 AM   #18
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While inspecting/replacing the wheel bearing also "REPLACE" the Rear Seals! Yes disconnect Batt.then cut 1 wire from "Breakaway" switch,then reconnect Batt! Youroo!!
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:24 AM   #19
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That happened to me on the way to the tadpoles rally, my brakes were adjusted right, going 60 miles an hour, pulling the trailer, there is no way possible to lock those brakes up period, they will engage but not lock up at a continuous speed. Your going to burn them and glaze the pads. Ask me how I know
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:07 PM   #20
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Just 2 wires. I assume the switch is normally open and closes when activated. Cut one of the wires behind the switch.

If it is NC then cut both wires, strip and wrap em together.
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