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Old 05-29-2019, 06:48 PM   #1
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Time to ask for help, tt brakes

Ok, it's time to ask for help. Our 2015 Rockwood 2604WS had been experiencing the lack of brakes. The first problem from day one was the total lack of trailer brakes that was traced to a broken ground stud in one of the frame junction boxes. That restored braking effort as indicated by pulling the break a way cable while the trailer was jacked. Although the drums have been pulled several times to confirm the brakes were infact put together correctly and the bearings were not leaking grease on the shoes, etc. There was still very poor braking while on the road. With the brake bias set at 9.5 on the integrated trailer brake controller and using "moderate" braking effort there was little if any trailer braking. The same result was attained using the manual brake application.

Today I took the TV to the dealer to have the controller checked for proper operation and any software up dates. The system was checked on their diagnostic computer and found to be within normal parameters. They then installed system updates and reflashed the controller. They are satisfied the TV is working as it should. The electrical connector was also verified as being I'm good shape and serviceable.

So. After all this will the brakes work? Before I hook up and head down the road is there anything else I can check. Any thoughts will be welcome.
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:46 PM   #2
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I would check the voltage at the magnet wiring, and the amperage draw. Each magnet should draw around 3amps on full braking power, so a dual axle system should pull around 12amps total.

It is not unheard of for those connectors where the brake side of the wiring are joined to the trailer side to be poor connections. They can let in water over time and start to oxidize which would mean not as effective braking.

Another possibility is the ground wire at the brakes. Did they run it back to the front of the trailer or also ground it to the frame. That could be another poor connection point even if you fixed the one previously described (sounds like you fixed the main ground, but each circuit can have a individual ground to the frame also). Follow the wires to see what you have.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by dward51 View Post
I would check the voltage at the magnet wiring, and the amperage draw. Each magnet should draw around 3amps on full braking power, so a dual axle system should pull around 12amps total.

It is not unheard of for those connectors where the brake side of the wiring are joined to the trailer side to be poor connections. They can let in water over time and start to oxidize which would mean not as effective braking.

Another possibility is the ground wire at the brakes. Did they run it back to the front of the trailer or also ground it to the frame. That could be another poor connection point even if you fixed the one previously described (sounds like you fixed the main ground, but each circuit can have a individual ground to the frame also). Follow the wires to see what you have.
Thanks for the reply. That was going to be my next go at this. Just hate to crawl around under the trailer on a creeper. Anyway, as I said when the break-away cable is pulled, the brakes stop dead quick as one would expect.

Now the wire loom from the brake units to the forward junction box on the frame is the same, whether using the brake controller or the break-away. The power sources are separate. The break-away is powered from the house battery and the 'service breaks" are powered through the integrated break controller. Assuming that is correct, then a current loss has to be from the connection from the truck to the junction box. There is no obvious damage to the cable.... but I might just replace it anyway as it is the only thing that hasn't been touched.

Thanks again for your thoughts, always good to have another set of eyes on a problem. Will post the results.
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:55 AM   #4
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Had similar issue. Found VERY poor connection at the junction box at front of trailer. They tried to stuff too many conductors into too small a crimp connector and the wire that lead to the brakes got pushed out, only a few strands were making contact. I cut out that connection, soldered and shrink wrapped and all is good. Diagnosed via volt meter. With brakes on full measured about 10 volts at trailer connector but only 3.5 at a wheel magnet so started tracing between the two and found the bad splice.

Volt meters is an extremely useful diagnostic tool for 12v systems.

And check your grounds, very common to overlook the negative side of the system.


Doubt very much it's your two vehicle.
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Old 05-30-2019, 09:59 AM   #5
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You said that the brakes were tested with the breakaway cable being pulled while the RV was jacked up. Keep in mind that it doesn't take much braking power to stop an unloaded wheel and tire to the point of you not being able to move it manually. You could have a pretty weak connection and still not be able to manually move the wheel.

I would do as DWard & Nayther eluded to and go through and remake all the connections in the brake circuit including the junction box connections.
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Old 05-30-2019, 10:07 AM   #6
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I may have missed it but have you or anyone actually adjusted the brake shoes? in addition to checking the wiring.
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:37 PM   #7
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As soon as the weather cooperates I'll get under the trailer and replace the wire splices, redo the junction box connection and replace the 7 pin cable. I agree, it doesn't take much to reduce the current flow through a connector. To bad the wiring isn't in conduit instead of open to the elements. Anyway, it'll be a nice afternoon of swatting bugs and pinching fingers.
Thanks to all for the help and yes the brakes are adjusted, clean and grease free.
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:57 PM   #8
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Looks like all the bases are covered. SeaDog asked the question I was thinking of. Hope you have excellent braking from here on.
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Old 05-30-2019, 10:45 PM   #9
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I bought an AC/DC clamp on meter to check the amps on each wheel which should be 3 amps each.
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Old 06-01-2019, 06:16 PM   #10
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SeaDog hit it. Be sure to adjust the brakes where the shoes touch the drum. I would adjust them up to where you can't turn the wheel, then back them off to where you just hear them drag. That will set your shoes to where they should be. Sounds like you've checked the electrical, now you need to check the mechanical. You said you removed the drums and everything checks out so that leaves adjustment.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:18 PM   #11
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Still no brakes

OK, first. Thanks to all who took the time to lend their experience and advice to my brake problem. To continue with the problem I've checked the brake adjustment and they are set to a " medium" drag. I've chased the wiring as best I can to this point and couldn't find anything obvious.
So where are we. On Monday we hooked up and headed out to a local campground about a half hour away. Upon leaving the house there was virtually no braking from the trailer while using the manual "method" . After gradually increasing the bias to 10 we got a slight tug from the trailer. Over a few miles I manually applied the trailer brakes to clean the rust and seat the shoes. Upon reaching the campground we realized a very slight tug from the trailer brakes as they were manually applied upon exiting the highway. The bias was still at 10. Also, it needs to be said, when using the truck brakes with the integrated brake controller bias set at 10, there was no sensation of the trailer braking. Not exactly what one wants if they need to stop in a hurry. Besides, I sure I'm seriously abusing the TV brakes. The final option is to tear-down the wiring and solder and / or replace all the connections. I will be contacting the two vehicle manufacturers, RAM and FOREST RIVER to get
their feel of what's going on. Should be fun.
On a lighter note. The electric tongue jack decided to stop working in the up mode. Sure is a great start to the season. Will post the results when the wire reconstruction is done.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:48 PM   #12
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Something to try which may save you some work. Hook you rig up to someone else's TV and give it a try that way. Maybe your brake controller is not sending enough signal to the brakes. JMHO
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:21 PM   #13
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Have you checked the voltage at the plug on your tv?
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:45 PM   #14
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Try jacking a wheel at a time and pull the breakaway pin and see if the wheel won't rotate.

I just rewired all our brake wiring because I found the splices were badly done at the factory plus the wire ga. was only #18 instead of the recommended #12 for the overall length. See photos for a couple of examples. In one splice, they just crimped the connector in the center and one wire slipped right out when I cut the connector's jacket off. In the other the shoved two wires into one end (can't do that) and the wire on the other only has partial strands inserted. The connectors they used are 14-16 ga. and incorrect. I was pretty choked when I found this. Apparently that kind of bad workmanship on brake wiring isn't uncommon.

As mentioned, check for voltage at the 7-way connector on the back of your TV. If there's voltage at the connector, there's a chance you have a bad ground or connection at the splices in the junction box in the A-frame. Or a 7-pin connector that needs cleaning.

We just bought a "new" 2012 GMC truck and even after rewiring everything, I can't get the trailer brakes to work. I installed our old Prodigy b/c and it's saying no voltage when braking. May have a wiring issue with the b/c, don't know yet.

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Old 06-26-2019, 06:47 PM   #15
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The only real way to test the brake voltage is at the junction box for the pig tail connection. You need to use only the manual lever for the brake controller since the computer takes over with the brake pedal. You do not want to chase a low reading since you are not moving and thinking that low voltage may be your problem. The very best way to test here is with a AC/DC clamp on type of meter. With the lever full on you should have between 3-4 amps to each wheel. If you do not you know where to start.
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Old 06-27-2019, 06:14 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by myredracer View Post
Try jacking a wheel at a time and pull the breakaway pin and see if the wheel won't rotate.

I just rewired all our brake wiring because I found the splices were badly done at the factory plus the wire ga. was only #18 instead of the recommended #12 for the overall length. See photos for a couple of examples. In one splice, they just crimped the connector in the center and one wire slipped right out when I cut the connector's jacket off. In the other the shoved two wires into one end (can't do that) and the wire on the other only has partial strands inserted. The connectors they used are 14-16 ga. and incorrect. I was pretty choked when I found this. Apparently that kind of bad workmanship on brake wiring isn't uncommon.

As mentioned, check for voltage at the 7-way connector on the back of your TV. If there's voltage at the connector, there's a chance you have a bad ground or connection at the splices in the junction box in the A-frame. Or a 7-pin connector that needs cleaning.

We just bought a "new" 2012 GMC truck and even after rewiring everything, I can't get the trailer brakes to work. I installed our old Prodigy b/c and it's saying no voltage when braking. May have a wiring issue with the b/c, don't know yet.

Thanks for the photos. Gives me an idea what to look for. This issue with the brakes has been on going since we bought the trailer 4 years ago. As I said in the beginning of the thread, the TV dealer has updated the controller/truck software and insists the voltages at the 7 pin plug are correct. The RV dealer has checked the brakes as required for our Provincial Vehicle Inspection. Meaning they need to pull the drums to check the shoes, etc to ensure all is in good order. During this process the bearing seals were replaced, not because of any issue but because they were original and the drums were off. The brakes were also adjusted to a medium drag to allow for good shoe seating. The brake away system was checked and confirmed to be working properly. An initial look at the wiring has not shown anything to get excited about, I mean all appears to be in order.

So, as we sit in the campground waiting out the rain, we are discussing our way forward. The plan, as I think I mentioned before is to chase the wiring, redoing all the connectors, splices etc with new connectors or soldering as applicable. I didn't think of increasing the wire gauge. Since I'll be ripping and tearing I'll replace the wiring also..

Lots to think about and once we get home, lots to do. Thanks again to all who have helped with this problem. Also got a clamp on current tester this morning. Will put it to work real soon.
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Old 07-10-2019, 01:49 PM   #17
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Re: time to ask for help - brakes

To all that maybe following this "journey" and to those that have taken the time to pass advice and experience, I say thanks, again.

So, where are we now. Well, after our first trip of the season to shake off the cobwebs, dust and rust, we have realized some progress in the brake debacle. After doing some poking around prior to heading out resulted in the "manual" brake application working pretty much as it should but the regular brakes still didn't really work much better than before.

Today was a bench mark day. I started the morning by removing the wire connectors from the where they joined the trailer wiring to the brake magnet wiring. The wire connections were then soldered, shrink wrapped and taped. The first three units were pretty straight forward with no obvious concerns except for the crappy connectors. Upon starting on the last unit, which happened to be the left front brake, I found the wires that come from the main junction box to the brake unit were cracked and the insulation deteriorating. This was very close to the frame and could be the cause of a significant voltage drop. There was no indication of shorting to the frame etc.

So. Today's results hopefully will go a long way in getting the brakes working. I will be hooking up and trying them out tomorrow. I'll let you all know how I make out.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:54 PM   #18
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Thanks for keeping us updated. It's good to know what's going on in a thread that you've been keeping up with and especially if you've offered advice.
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:21 PM   #19
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It was suggested to jack up your unit one tire at a time and test the brakes one each tire by Pulling the break away switch. Leave the break away switch alone. Do not pull it. This is something to never get it the habit of doing... Just put a cheater wire in the 7-way plug. One side of the wire at the brakes and one at the 12volt. This will cause the same effect of 'exciting' the magnet at the brakes. Spin the lifted tire and see what type of resistance you have when the magnet and arm swing the brake pads outward.


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Old 07-11-2019, 03:58 PM   #20
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It was suggested to jack up your unit one tire at a time and test the brakes one each tire by Pulling the break away switch. Leave the break away switch alone. Do not pull it. This is something to never get it the habit of doing... Just put a cheater wire in the 7-way plug. One side of the wire at the brakes and one at the 12volt. This will cause the same effect of 'exciting' the magnet at the brakes. Spin the lifted tire and see what type of resistance you have when the magnet and arm swing the brake pads outward.


Well!!!! Here I am thinking back to when I was 25 and could do all this brake, wiring stuff. Sometimes it takes a difficult problem to make one stop and REMEMBER the lessons from our youth. So, I've tried to take the easy way to solve a problem, by asking for help from others so I didn't have to think. Now that I'm eating a few pounds of crow, I want to thank all those who have offered their assistance with my brakes.

After reading all the suggestions from everyone, I went back to basics. Started with the diagnosis process I had beat into me by an old guy those many years ago. 45 years does cause some stupidity to creep into our thought process. So, armed with all the suggestions and some new found determination, I believe the brake mystery may be solved. Yesterday I rewired all the connections from the frame junction box to the brake magnet wires. I found that the wire gauge was a bit weak, 14 gauge. I think 12 gauge would be better, but the exercise was to get the brakes working first, then rebuild as needed. Today I jacked the trailer and using the jumper wire technique, proved the brakes worked from the trailer/truck connector. While the trailer was on the backs I spun the wheels and really listened to the drag, Now there are some sounds one never forgets and after some wheel spinning the sound just wasn't right. This trailer hasn't had proper brakes from new and this spring I saw the shoes and drums when the drums were pulled for the vehicle inspection that is required up here. All seemed good in the world and the drag seemed about right but that drag I was hearing was caused by rust! Well, today was a shock. Just to satisfy myself so I could say again that the brakes were adjusted right I adjusted them the old fashioned way. Took about 5 - 6 clicks to bring them up to tight. Couldn't believe it. Then backed them off to get a REAL moderate drag and they should wear in when we head out next week. I'll be watching the TPMS for and overheating, but things should be ok.

So, do I feel stupid for asking for help and then only listening to what I wanted to hear? Yeah, I do. I definately appoligise to all who forwarded their assistance in good faith that I would listen. Took a while, but I finally listened and I thank-you all. Old age is a bitch, but stupidity is just plain, well, stupid.

Again thanks and I'll let you know if all this worked.
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