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Old 08-18-2018, 04:48 PM   #1
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Trailer brake disconnect

I bought my very first travel trailer - a slightly used 2017 Rockwood 8329SS - in November 2017. My wife and I have taken two trips to southern California since then and we are planning on selling our house this year to full time it.

Talk about jumping in!

Anyway, I have a question that has been bugging me for a long time: As you know, there is a brake activation switch that's mounted on the tongue, with a wire that, when pulled, will apply the brakes. When we got the trailer, it was set up with the wire running through one of the safety chains, and the loop at the end of the wire was hooked in the hook at the end of the safety chain. Somehow, this didn't look right to me, but when I spoke to many other trailer owners, I found that they had the same arrangement.

Here's the thing: the purpose of the safety chain is to keep the trailer from running loose in the event that the trailer becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle. If the chains hold, the trailer will continue to bump along erratically behind the tow vehicle. Applying the brakes in the tow vehicle should activate the trailer brakes, unless the electrical connection has been, well, disconnected. It seems to me, that if the trailer should break away from the tow vehicle, the emergency brake actuator should be engaged, but if the chain and the brake actuator wire are still connected to the hitch, it won't.

Wouldn't it be better if the wire were independently connected to the tow vehicle?
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:55 PM   #2
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Do not run through the chain. They are wrong. You thought right.
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by A32Deuce View Post
Do not run through the chain. They are wrong. You thought right.
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Old 08-18-2018, 05:13 PM   #4
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:56 PM   #5
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I bet the chains will snap like cotton threads
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Old 08-18-2018, 09:39 PM   #6
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Also should not be attached to any part of the hitch or hitch mounts. Safety break away should be connected to the frame of the tow vehicle
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Old 08-19-2018, 08:29 PM   #7
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Messed up the cable on my fifth wheel break away switch. Iím on a two thousand mile trip, Iíll order one from Amazon once home.
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Old 08-20-2018, 05:32 AM   #8
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If the chains are still connected to the vehicle the trailer has not broken away from it. When the trailer breaks fully away from the TV, the breakaway cable should be the last to leave the TV applying the trailer brakes.

When connecting your chains, cross them under the tongue to cradle the tongue if it comes off the ball.
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Old 08-20-2018, 01:38 PM   #9
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You are right, in that the brake lanyard should not be threaded thru the safety chains.
Regarding what to attach the brake lanyard to, it should be the vehicle frame, or something that is welded to the vehicle frame. In my case, my hitch is a fully welded, integral part of the frame itself, so I attach it to my hitch.

However you are incorrect on the order of things. If the trailer comes off the ball, but the chains are still holding, you do NOT want to have the brake lanyard pulled. That would result in you losing control of braking, while the trailer is still attached. You would end up stopped in the middle of the highway, with all sorts of traffic barreling toward you. Rather, you want the brake lanyard, and electrical connector still plugged in, so you can pull over safely. It will feel rough, with the trailer alternately pulling on the chains (when you brake), and maybe bumping into the truck (when you release the brakes), but you'll get there.

It's when the safety chains let go, that you want the lanyard to get pulled, and of course the electrical connection will disconnect a split second before or after that. The trailer will apply full braking, and hopefully veer to 1 side or the other, off of the highway. You will then be left to safety pull over ahead of the action.
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