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Old 10-09-2019, 05:14 PM   #1
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Brake problem. Grounding issue?

Recently I found I couldn’t adjust the factory brake controller in my 2017 Ford F-150 to get the brakes on my 2017 5.0TA to lock up when driving 20-25 mph (per for Ford Owner’s Manual). This worked fine in the past. Even if I set the gain to 10, it would slow down a little with manual application of the brake controller, but they wouldn’t lock up.

I saw some reports on these forums of bad electrical connections to the trailer brakes. So, I crawled under my trailer and inspected the connections to each of the four brakes.

All the connections looked good. However, I found something that surprised me. The four blue wires from each brake are all connected together and a fifth blue wire enters the trailer under the refrigerator. The four grounds are also connected together, but I can’t find anywhere it is grounded to the trailer’s frame or the electrical system. I can hear the brake magnets actuate when the controller is manually applied, but I don’t understand how this could possibly have ever worked.

Attached is an image of where the wiring splits to the four brakes.

I did manually adjust each of the four brakes (they didn’t need much), but that didn’t help.

Do you think I have a ground problem? Has anyone else had a similar problem? Perhaps something else is going on here.

I’m going to add a ground and see if that helps.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg brake wiring.jpg (177.8 KB, 35 views)
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:28 PM   #2
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Update

I added a ground wire and it didn't seem to make any difference.

The last time I knew the brakes worked okay was before our last trip, which was about 700 miles ago for the trailer.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. We are almost ready to leave on a big trip and properly functioning trailer brakes are very desirable.

FYI, the image in my post above is near the left rear wheel.
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:39 PM   #3
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Interesting. You may have read some of my previous posts about brakes and their grounding. On my Gen 1 19 each brake negative was screwed to the frame. I retrofitted a copper buss line that ran right to the converter negative.

Today I was getting acquainted with the underside of my new 21 in preparation for installing foam insulation. But I did glance over at the brake area to see if they still had individual grounds screwed to the frame. I didn't see any and all the wiring is very neatly installed and in cable wrap. Much neater than previously.

So there's a good chance that ETI has stopped screwing the brake grounds to the frame. If so then the question is where does the mystery blue wire go? My guess would be the ground terminal on the converter.

I'll be under the trailer again tomorrow and I'll see what I can find.

Ron
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:46 PM   #4
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Oops, you posted when I was writing.

It does sound like the magnets are getting power. I haven't had a chance to use my trailer on a gravel road and lock up the brakes. But with my limited miles with the trailer my sense is that the F150 controller, even turned up to a high setting, doesn't result in as strong a braking as the old Prodigy controller on my Ford Ranger.

Maybe one of our many F150 owners can confirm that the high setting does indeed lock up the brakes.

Ron
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
If so then the question is where does the mystery blue wire go? My guess would be the ground terminal on the converter.
Ron
I assumed the blue wire is the break signal from the tow vehicle. That is the traditional color for that.

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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Maybe one of our many F150 owners can confirm that the high setting does indeed lock up the brakes.
Ron
It used to lock up the breaks with a gain setting of around 6 or less (from memory) on gravel. I don't have any gravel handy so I was doing it on hard pavement. Even on 10 the braking wasn't very strong with only the trailer brakes (but I don't have a reference for this).
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:33 PM   #6
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I think you're correct. I looked at some photos of mine when I was improving the grounds etc. I did work on a blue wire that only had a few strands still connected but it was the power side. Yes, I can see that the black wires go to the ground on the frame.

You got me curious now. I'm going to snip some zap straps tomorrow and see exactly where the brake grounds are.

Ron
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
You got me curious now. I'm going to snip some zap straps tomorrow and see exactly where the brake grounds are.
Ron
Great, I'd really like the answer to that too.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:15 PM   #8
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Problem found?

I think I found the source of my problem. My truck has an in-bed 7-wire connector. This was installed by the same company I had install my gooseneck hitch for the Andersen ultimate. They used a Curt 56070 Y cable to add the new connector. I just opened the connection between the Curt cable and the Ford cable that originally attached to the connector on the bumper. Inside I find all the pins have corrosion!

Below are two images. The Ford side is the first image, the Curt is the 2nd. The red arrow points to the brake pin. There is corrosion on all pins. Some have much more than the brake pin, but any corrosion is a problem.

I think I'm going to fix this by just cutting off the connectors and attaching the wires to each other with crimp-on butt connectors. I'll cover the connections with heat shrink tubing with adhesive inside which should be waterproof.

What is the right method to keep the inside of these type of connectors dry?

I'd still like to know how the trailer brakes are grounded since I didn't see any grounding on my brakes. However, the brakes do seem to be getting power, so there must be a ground somewhere.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Ford.jpg (312.2 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg Curt.jpg (316.7 KB, 20 views)
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasG View Post
What is the right method to keep the inside of these type of connectors dry?
Dielectric grease and wrap some electrical tape around the outside where the connectors meet?
http://www.amazon.com/Permatex-22058.../dp/B000AL8VD2
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasG View Post
Recently I found I couldnít adjust the factory brake controller in my 2017 Ford F-150 to get the brakes on my 2017 5.0TA to lock up when driving 20-25 mph (per for Ford Ownerís Manual). This worked fine in the past. Even if I set the gain to 10, it would slow down a little with manual application of the brake controller, but they wouldnít lock up.

I saw some reports on these forums of bad electrical connections to the trailer brakes. So, I crawled under my trailer and inspected the connections to each of the four brakes.

All the connections looked good. However, I found something that surprised me. The four blue wires from each brake are all connected together and a fifth blue wire enters the trailer under the refrigerator. The four grounds are also connected together, but I canít find anywhere it is grounded to the trailerís frame or the electrical system. I can hear the brake magnets actuate when the controller is manually applied, but I donít understand how this could possibly have ever worked.

Attached is an image of where the wiring splits to the four brakes.

I did manually adjust each of the four brakes (they didnít need much), but that didnít help.

Do you think I have a ground problem? Has anyone else had a similar problem? Perhaps something else is going on here.

Iím going to add a ground and see if that helps.

Hi Thomas
I like CRC QD contact cleaner . I use it on connectors like the tow vehicle to Escape umbilical. You can buy it about anywhere that sells automotive products for around $5 a can.. one can lasts a long long time
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
Dielectric grease and wrap some electrical tape around the outside where the connectors meet?
Do you recommend putting the dielectric grease on the pins of the connector or on the plastic shell where the two halves meet (or both)?
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowa Dave View Post
Hi Thomas
I like CRC QD contact cleaner . I use it on connectors like the tow vehicle to Escape umbilical. You can buy it about anywhere that sells automotive products for around $5 a can.. one can lasts a long long time
Iowa Dave
Thanks for the recommendation. I definitely need a can of contact cleaner in my trailer supplies.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasG View Post
Do you recommend putting the dielectric grease on the pins of the connector or on the plastic shell where the two halves meet (or both)?

Dielectric grease in non-conductive. It's used on the rubber boot of a spark plug to prevent water from getting to the contacts.
I would smear it on the plastic parts, not the contacts.

I had to clean the stuff off my tail light contacts to get them to work again, after a buddy used it on them.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Dielectric grease in non-conductive. It's used on the rubber boot of a spark plug to prevent water from getting to the contacts.
I would smear it on the plastic parts, not the contacts.

I had to clean the stuff off my tail light contacts to get them to work again, after a buddy used it on them.
Good info. Thanks.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:53 PM   #15
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I made the mistake of smearing it on my 7 pin when I added the bed port, never again.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:22 PM   #16
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I made the mistake of smearing it on my 7 pin when I added the bed port, never again.
What's the problem with that, I did that to mine and it doesn't have any corrosion on it.

Argh, my first blush opinion of my Gen 2 was that the wiring was better than my Gen 1. In some areas it's certainly neater.

When I was first under my trailer yesterday I glanced over at the brake area and was happy to see that I didn't see the brake ground wire go over and be screwed to the frame.

So today I explored a bit, where do those grounds go if not to the frame. Are they actually running them back to the panel ground, avoiding corrosion prone external sheet metal screws to the frame? That's what it looked like anyway. So I followed the wire wrap. Yup, a black and blue wire heading for the main bundle running for and aft. Check again just before it enters the main wire bundle. What's this? Only a blue wire? How can that be? Wiggle the wire wrap around a bit and what do I see? The ground wire exiting and attached to the bottom of the frame with a tiny sheet metal screw.

Further along, towards the rear under the area where the converter is I see a black cable coming down and sheet metal screwed to the frame. So, 5 possible reasons why brakes could stop working. You might say that you've used your trailer for several years and haven't had a problem. Great, but trailers that have been on roads with road salt or park at a site near salt water will inevitably develop corrosion at places where sheet metal screws attach to the frame. My 19 had corrosion at those connections and it was less than a year old.

OK, now you know what the brake grounding situation is. I'm a little disappointed to see this type of thing still in use. And the current situation is actually worse than the previous way it was done. The ground screw is at one end of an unsupported "U" loop. It will move back and forth thousands of times. Eventually metal fatigue will break it.

No biggie for me. I'm living under my trailer for the next few days installing foam insulation and other wiring. So it'll be deja vu for me. Running a copper buss wire, picking up the brake grounds and running it to the negative terminal on the converter.

Ron
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMGP0022_resize.jpg (211.0 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg IMGP0023_resize.jpg (269.5 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg IMGP0024_resize.jpg (128.8 KB, 19 views)
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:29 PM   #17
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I assume you're not doing this in your driveway Ron.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:37 PM   #18
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Ron,
Do you think the factory foam application protects all those frame grounds from corrosion? It is all foam front to rear. side to side.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:52 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
What's the problem with that, I did that to mine and it doesn't have any corrosion on it.
I had a terrible connection,had to clean all the goop out of it with 2 cans of contact cleaner, but it certainly didn't rust in the hour it was in place.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:39 PM   #20
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What's the problem with that, I did that to mine and it doesn't have any corrosion on it.

Argh, my first blush opinion of my Gen 2 was that the wiring was better than my Gen 1. In some areas it's certainly neater.

When I was first under my trailer yesterday I glanced over at the brake area and was happy to see that I didn't see the brake ground wire go over and be screwed to the frame.

So today I explored a bit, where do those grounds go if not to the frame. Are they actually running them back to the panel ground, avoiding corrosion prone external sheet metal screws to the frame? That's what it looked like anyway. So I followed the wire wrap. Yup, a black and blue wire heading for the main bundle running for and aft. Check again just before it enters the main wire bundle. What's this? Only a blue wire? How can that be? Wiggle the wire wrap around a bit and what do I see? The ground wire exiting and attached to the bottom of the frame with a tiny sheet metal screw.

Further along, towards the rear under the area where the converter is I see a black cable coming down and sheet metal screwed to the frame. So, 5 possible reasons why brakes could stop working. You might say that you've used your trailer for several years and haven't had a problem. Great, but trailers that have been on roads with road salt or park at a site near salt water will inevitably develop corrosion at places where sheet metal screws attach to the frame. My 19 had corrosion at those connections and it was less than a year old.

OK, now you know what the brake grounding situation is. I'm a little disappointed to see this type of thing still in use. And the current situation is actually worse than the previous way it was done. The ground screw is at one end of an unsupported "U" loop. It will move back and forth thousands of times. Eventually metal fatigue will break it.

No biggie for me. I'm living under my trailer for the next few days installing foam insulation and other wiring. So it'll be deja vu for me. Running a copper buss wire, picking up the brake grounds and running it to the negative terminal on the converter.

Ron
Ron what is a copper buss wire ? Pat
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