Wiring for Europe - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 06-02-2015, 05:46 PM   #1
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Wiring for Europe

As many forum members know, Seef imported an Escape 5.0 (classic single axle) to the Netherlands. In a discussion of issues that another member had with the electrical connection between the tug and trailer (7 Pin Plug Fit) he suggested the current Euro-style 13-pin plug as an alternative... leading to this sidetrack, which I am making into it's own topic.

The main story of this trailer is in Let the fun begin!, but the electrical connection was not addressed in detail.

13-Pin Connector
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
Don't know of iT is available in your neck of the woods but switching over to the 13 pin jaeger plug does solve your problem at once. IT twists in the receiver and locks itself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Those current European 13-pin plugs and sockets (ISO 11446) look like a nice system... but I would be very surprised to find one here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
Difficult but doable via webstores. Most of the stuff we need for the Escape is not available over here and we have to use all kinds of webstores to get our hands on it.
Brakes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
The pins and wires are relatively small in the Euro connections, in part because the power supply and ground are split between multiple circuits each, and in part because the electric brake connnection is not used. Seef, you are using electric brakes on your Escape 5.0... are you using a non-standard pin assignment in your connector?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
Yep, i do use electric brakes and to make things more complicated (well at least in this posting. ) i use not the 13 pin connection but the pre 1996 7 pin connector. . It is different to your 7 pin connector though. The fit is, most of the time, very snug.
Next to the 7 pin connector i use a separate 3 pin connector for the electric brakes. No thick wires though. Remember, needed to swap the axle for a EU type axle with electrical brakes.
Our electrical brakes work very different opposed to the US electrical brakes.

I'll try to make a photo of the connectors one of these days and post it over here.
Prior to the current 13-pin connection system, standard European practice for any small trailer was to use a 12N connector, which has seven pins, to run the lights. For travel trailers, an additional 7-pin connector was often used as well (12S) to run charge the battery and run the refrigerator. The 13-pin connection replaces all the funcationality of both 7-pin connections combined.

Seef, it looks like you are using a 12N, and not a a 12S, plus the non-standard connector for the brakes. The sockets on the truck are shown in a photo in post #175 of the big thread about this trailer.

So the questions:
  1. Why the old 12N connection, instead of the current 13-pin connection?
  2. How is the Escape's battery charged while driving, without the 12S or 13-pin connection?
  3. I realize that electric brakes are uncommon in Europe, but what is different between them and North American electric brakes? Knott has a news release about their electric brakes, but it doesn't explain much.
  4. Why a three-pin connection for the brakes?
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Old 06-02-2015, 06:13 PM   #2
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Knott's product page for drum brakes doesn't even mention an electric (electromagnetic) option. The press release is about brakes for forklifts, doesn't explain much, and has a photo (you need to click the image on the right side of the page to open the full image) of a mechanism which might be mounted around the axle spindle, or might be external to the drum of a cam shaft brake - it's hard to tell without a scale or other parts for context.

Fortunately, I've now found a better description, unfortunately (for those with limited internet bandwidth) as a YouTube video:

This design works like North American electric trailer brakes, but instead of a small "puck" electromagnet, it has a large ring. The magnet pulls itself to the flat face of the drum, but in the Knott case there is a bolted-in disk there (which is why they call it a "hybrid" system - a combination of disk and drum) rather than just the machined face of the drum. In either case, the resulting drag rotates the magnet and engages the brake shoes against the drum.
The current required by this system may be more or less than the North American system, and it may be more or less self-energizing, but the operating principle is essentially the same.

Of course, this might not even be the design used for trailers.
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post

Seef, it looks like you are using a 12N, and not a a 12S, plus the non-standard connector for the brakes. The sockets on the truck are shown in a photo in post #175 of the big thread about this trailer.
Hi Brian, i do not know if we have a 12N or 12S, i will check that to make sure and get back at you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
So the questions:
  1. Why the old 12N connection, instead of the current 13-pin connection?
  2. How is the Escape's battery charged while driving, without the 12S or 13-pin connection?
  3. I realize that electric brakes are uncommon in Europe, but what is different between them and North American electric brakes? Knott has a news release about their electric brakes, but it doesn't explain much.
  4. Why a three-pin connection for the brakes?
Answers to your questions:
1. Dunno, the axle/brake/chassis shop just uses this type, with the separate brake connection.
2. It isn't. The electric brakes use their own battery. That battery get's charged by the TV while driving. I asked the shop if it was possible to get the Escape battery charged also and they replied, that all though it is technically possible, they will not facilitate this option because they want to make sure that the brake battery get's charged so you will have brakes when you need them!
The Escape battery get's charged when we are at the campsite. We almost always camp at sites which have electrical hook-up's. Water hook-up's are very rare overhere (at least at campsites).
3. The brakes we have are NOT the Knott brakes. The shop (www.5thwheeleurope.eu). Has engineered their own (ECE approved) brake system (look at: Fifth Wheel Europe - Product - Elektrisch remsysteem (ECE goedgekeurd)) the lower video gives an insight in how the brakes work.
I'm no brake engineer but if i understood correctly the North American brakes use electrical (magnet) power to apply the brakes.
This system uses an actuator to pull the drum brake cables. If i'm not mistaken it is by law that you are not allowed to use more than 15 Amps of power for electrical brakes over here. I believe this is not doable with the North American brake type.
4. Again dunno. If i read the website correctly they say you'll need a 13 pin connector but yet they installed a 7 pin with the separate brake connector.

I hope i could shine a little bit of light on this.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
So the questions:
  1. Why the old 12N connection, instead of the current 13-pin connection?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
Hi Brian, i do not know if we have a 12N or 12S, i will check that to make sure and get back at you.

Answers to your questions:
1. Dunno, the axle/brake/chassis shop just uses this type, with the separate brake connection.
A 12N is for the trailer's basic vehicle lighting, while a 12S is for refrigerator and battery power (and other stuff); Seef, your 7-pin connector must be a 12N.

I understand the separate brake connector, but what still makes no sense to me is using the old 7-pin connection instead of the 13-pin... I wouldn't have guessed that would even be legal now for a new installation.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
So the questions:
  1. ...
  2. How is the Escape's battery charged while driving, without the 12S or 13-pin connection?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
2. It isn't. The electric brakes use their own battery. That battery get's charged by the TV while driving. I asked the shop if it was possible to get the Escape battery charged also and they replied, that all though it is technically possible, they will not facilitate this option because they want to make sure that the brake battery get's charged so you will have brakes when you need them!
The Escape battery get's charged when we are at the campsite. We almost always camp at sites which have electrical hook-up's.
It is routine here to share the trailer's battery for both RV use and braking system use - that's how all Escapes and every other travel trailer I've seen with electric brakes is done. Only cargo trailers with no other need for power get a dedicated brake battery. I agree that there is the risk with a shared battery that the trailer's battery is run down by something such as running the refrigerator, but the owner will notice that at the first stop and will likely fix the problem. A dedicated brake battery that runs down or goes bad may never be noticed, because it is used only as a backup in a breakaway event (not in normal braking); you are supposed to catch this by testing the breakaway switch before each time you tow, but I don't know of anyone who actually does that.
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Old 06-03-2015, 11:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
So the questions:
  1. ...
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. Why a three-pin connection for the brakes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
4. Again dunno. If i read the website correctly they say you'll need a 13 pin connector but yet they installed a 7 pin with the separate brake connector.
Since the shop put in a separate battery for the brakes, and a three-pin connector, my guess is that one of the three pins is to charge the braking system battery (and the other two are brake signal and ground). That makes sense now

The Fifth Wheel Europe electric braking page says (in English) "A 13-pin plug needs to be on the vehicle with contact switched positive." That doesn't make a lot of sense, but perhaps it means that one particular pin of the 13-pin connector is supposed to be tied to +12V power... but it doesn't say if that is just to indicated that the tug is running, or to power the system. Google translates the Dutch version of this section of the page to say "13-pin connector required on the vehicle ignition switch plus", which suggests that they want power only when the tow vehicle engine is running, and that's presumably how power on your 3-pin connector is wired.
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Old 06-03-2015, 11:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
So the questions:
  1. I realize that electric brakes are uncommon in Europe, but what is different between them and North American electric brakes?...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seef View Post
3. The brakes we have are NOT the Knott brakes. The shop (www.5thwheeleurope.eu). Has engineered their own (ECE approved) brake system (look at: Fifth Wheel Europe - Product - Elektrisch remsysteem (ECE goedgekeurd)) the lower video gives an insight in how the brakes work.
I'm no brake engineer but if i understood correctly the North American brakes use electrical (magnet) power to apply the brakes.
This system uses an actuator to pull the drum brake cables. If i'm not mistaken it is by law that you are not allowed to use more than 15 Amps of power for electrical brakes over here. I believe this is not doable with the North American brake type.
The electric braking system from Fifth Wheel Europe makes sense, because they can adapt it to any common Euro-style overrun braking components. The 15-amp limit would not be a problem at all for North American style brakes: those use magnets to drag against the face of the brake drum, which in turn engages the brake shoes, and the magnet only takes 3 amps at most to fully engage. That's 6 amps per axle, and the brake controllers used with them routinely have the capacity to run 3 or even 4 axles. I suspect that the only problem with using the North American parts in Europe for up to two axles would be going through the whole certification process, but I would have thought that AL-KO (who are big on both sides of the Atlantic) would have done that by now.

Drum brakes require relatively little force to apply compared to disk brakes - that's why cars had to go to power-assisted braking systems when they switched from drums to disks (at first only for the front axle). The magnets in North American electric drum brakes - or the actuator in Fifth Wheel Europe's system - don't have to pull unreasonably hard.

The same approach - adding an electric motorized actuator to pull on the brake cables or rods - is used by AL-KO in their ATC sway control system for European overrun brake systems. It works like using the manual lever on a North American electric brake system, but it pulls the brakes on automatically when sway is detected. It would be interesting if Fifth Wheel Europe offered a similar sway control feature in their system.

The Fifth Wheel Europe system is supposed to have a status light on the front of the trailer, where you can see it in your mirrors. Some large commercial trucks have something similar now here, to report the status of the electronically controlled ABS system in the trailer. Seef, do you have this light on your Escape? You mentioned the forward-facing white lights, but those were one per side and I thought they were marker lights.

Thanks for the link. The English version of that page is www.fifthwheeleurope.eu/en/product/electrical-braking-system.html
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Old 06-04-2015, 06:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
It is routine here to share the trailer's battery for both RV use and braking system use - that's how all Escapes and every other travel trailer I've seen with electric brakes is done. Only cargo trailers with no other need for power get a dedicated brake battery. I agree that there is the risk with a shared battery that the trailer's battery is run down by something such as running the refrigerator, but the owner will notice that at the first stop and will likely fix the problem. A dedicated brake battery that runs down or goes bad may never be noticed, because it is used only as a backup in a breakaway event (not in normal braking); you are supposed to catch this by testing the breakaway switch before each time you tow, but I don't know of anyone who actually does that.
Most of the time Travel Trailers are equipped with some sort of pushbrake. If you hit the brake pedal of the car, the mass of the trailer will "push" into the car, the brakesystem uses that "pushing" power to apply the brakes.
In that scenario there's room on the connector to charge the Trailers battery.

back to the electrical brakes:

believe it or not, most Dutch people only use their travel trailers 3-5 weeks per year. Most of the time 3 weeks holliday which requires a 1-2 drive to the destination and 1-2 days back home.
That's also about all the driving experience they get per year with a trailer. They will not notice if the brakes are working or not, just because they do not know what to watch for.
So the brake manufactureor (or maybe the EU) has done something very smart.
After i hook up the trailer and connect the brake cable, the brakes will be applied immediatly and the trailer has the brakes full on so you won't be able to drive away at all.
I then have to apply the brakes 3 times, this resets the electrical system, triggers the safety checks of the system and if all is well it relases the brakes and you're good to go.

Sweet isn't it?
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Old 06-04-2015, 12:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
The electric braking system from Fifth Wheel Europe makes sense, because they can adapt it to any common Euro-style overrun braking components. The 15-amp limit would not be a problem at all for North American style brakes: those use magnets to drag against the face of the brake drum, which in turn engages the brake shoes, and the magnet only takes 3 amps at most to fully engage. That's 6 amps per axle, and the brake controllers used with them routinely have the capacity to run 3 or even 4 axles. I suspect that the only problem with using the North American parts in Europe for up to two axles would be going through the whole certification process, but I would have thought that AL-KO (who are big on both sides of the Atlantic) would have done that by now.

Drum brakes require relatively little force to apply compared to disk brakes - that's why cars had to go to power-assisted braking systems when they switched from drums to disks (at first only for the front axle). The magnets in North American electric drum brakes - or the actuator in Fifth Wheel Europe's system - don't have to pull unreasonably hard.
I did not know that (about the actual power draw for electrical brakes (North American Style).
So it seems that would do the trick also over here, yet our DMV did reject that solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post

The Fifth Wheel Europe system is supposed to have a status light on the front of the trailer, where you can see it in your mirrors. Some large commercial trucks have something similar now here, to report the status of the electronically controlled ABS system in the trailer. Seef, do you have this light on your Escape? You mentioned the forward-facing white lights, but those were one per side and I thought they were marker lights.
Good catch! You're right, i did not mention them but i DO have such a status light, till a few weeks ago it was placed on the left driverside (low) on teh trailer and i could only see it when i did a lef hand corner.
During the last visit to the shop i had it replaced, it now sits on the leftside of the coupler, just below the bottom of the overhang.
It is now clearly visible in the mirror.
So much that is is annoying during nightly travel, everytime i hit the brakes, that light goes on.
[/QUOTE]
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Old 06-05-2015, 12:00 AM   #10
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... i DO have such a status light, till a few weeks ago it was placed on the left driverside (low) on teh trailer and i could only see it when i did a lef hand corner.
During the last visit to the shop i had it replaced, it now sits on the leftside of the coupler, just below the bottom of the overhang.
It is now clearly visible in the mirror.
That makes sense, and it's like the heavy truck ABS light here - at mirror height.
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