Breakaway switch cable - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 04-03-2019, 03:15 PM   #1
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Breakaway switch cable

Our breakaway switch cable came from ETI a few inches longer than our safety chains. Seems to me that if the trailer comes loose from the hitch, but the safety chains hold, I would want the trailer brakes to trigger. That’s not likely if the chains are shorter than the switch cable. Am I wrong I thinking that I need to shorten the cable or wrap it so that it is shorter than the chains?
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Old 04-03-2019, 03:23 PM   #2
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Some people thread the cable through the chains to shorten as well as insure that weight on the chains should activate the brakes.
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Old 04-03-2019, 03:37 PM   #3
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There are two schools on this. The first thinks like you do, that should the trailer come off the hitch the brakes would activate pulling it to a stop and not allowing the trailer to swing about causing any further problems. The second sees it as a last resort and that if your chains should break, it would stop the now loose trailer from rolling too far.

I am in the first camp. Other than the full brakes on scenario, it will not cause any issue with stopping and being in control. As well, the trailer will no ram into the rear of the tow vehicle. Besides, has anyone heard of both the trailer coming decoupled under tow AND the chains breaking?

With my 5.0TA if somehow it came decoupled, the tailgate would be a goner for sure either way.

The cable is left long enough for any circumstance, and if you wish to shorten it most any hardware store has the crimps to use to do so.
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:03 PM   #4
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Thanks, Jims!
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:37 PM   #5
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Perhaps more relevant than the relative lengths of the breakaway cable and the chains is the relative lengths of the breakaway cable and the electrical cable.
  • If the electrical cable is pulled out, the breakaway cable should to be pulled to activate the brakes (even if the safety chains are still attached), so you don't have a trailer without brakes.
  • If the electrical cable is still plugged in, you can use the trailer brakes by the normal methods (automatically with tow vehicle braking, or manually with the lever on the brake controller).
So, shorter than the electrical cable makes sense to me, aside from the chains issue.
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Perhaps more relevant than the relative lengths of the breakaway cable and the chains is the relative lengths of the breakaway cable and the electrical cable.
  • If the electrical cable is pulled out, the breakaway cable should to be pulled to activate the brakes (even if the safety chains are still attached), so you don't have a trailer without brakes.
  • If the electrical cable is still plugged in, you can use the trailer brakes by the normal methods (automatically with tow vehicle braking, or manually with the lever on the brake controller).
So, shorter than the electrical cable makes sense to me, aside from the chains issue.

Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems I read some where that if the break away switch is triggered while the electrical cable is still attached to the tow vehicle it can damage your brake controller. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
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Old 04-03-2019, 10:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by sunrisetrucker View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems I read some where that if the break away switch is triggered while the electrical cable is still attached to the tow vehicle it can damage your brake controller. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

My break away switch triggered but no harm came to the controller. Controller is still in use today.
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Old 04-03-2019, 10:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sunrisetrucker View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems I read some where that if the break away switch is triggered while the electrical cable is still attached to the tow vehicle it can damage your brake controller. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
Yes, it's possible, although it takes just the right (or wrong ) combination of conditions. If my trailer rips right off of my tow vehicle, I'm okay with considering the brake controller disposable.
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Old 04-04-2019, 12:24 AM   #9
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I always get this picture in my mind of the safety cable activating my brakes just as I am entering an intersection on an amber light. Everything gets stopped ok in the middle of the intersection...only to get T Boned by a semi.
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Old 04-04-2019, 12:34 AM   #10
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I always get this picture in my mind of the safety cable activating my brakes just as I am entering an intersection on an amber light. Everything gets stopped ok in the middle of the intersection...only to get T Boned by a semi.
I would be more concerned about the hitch failing completely, leaving the trailer flailing around on the safety chains, which is what would need to happen before a properly installed breakaway cable pulls the switch.
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