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Old 01-14-2014, 03:58 PM   #21
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Not sure how you could have the breakaway cable shorter than the chains. After all, the chains are supposed to cradle the trailer tongue, should it come off the ball. And that means they have to be short enough to prevent the tongue from digging into the pavement.
If you were then to make your breakaway cable shorter, it would likely release in a sharp turn.
Don't know how one would shorten that coiled cable either.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:08 PM   #22
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21 hooking up

Today I leveled the 21 with a level on the frame and also measured from the ground to the rub strip as was done to set up my hitch at Escape. My jeep has a set of the magic shocks that are self leveling, they move fluid to the other side when ever a load is added, it's too modern for me. With only our permanent items, no clothes or food and all tanks empty the tongue was 500#, I added 2/3 fresh water and the weight changed to 490#. We'll be leaving Thurs. a.m. and I'll once again check the tongue weight when all loaded for two weeks. My sherline scale appears to be working properly as I ad or remove weight. The top of the ball on the jeep is about 19 1/2 inches and that matches the trailer hitch quite close.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:14 PM   #23
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I am trying to visualize this all - If the tongue comes off the ball, the breakaway cable needs to first activate the trailer brakes, slowing the trailer, pulling the chains to their full extension and cradling the tongue as you say Glenn. So I think that the cable does need to be at a length so that it is pulled out before the chains are tight. Unless I am totally wrong, which would be far from the first time.....
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:22 PM   #24
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I was hoping that Doug and Paul would have a debate, but so far, I'm leaning to NOT having the breakaway cable release, as long as the chains are doing their job. Then, should the chains let go, the cable would activate the brakes on the trailer.
Of course, and I've thought about it in the past, if the entire hitch receiver lets go, it's probably not going to matter. Might as well just keep going.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:11 PM   #25
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Jack
That seems like a pretty high tongue weight. I would expect more in the area of 390#. Not sure what being empty or partially empty does. I had some high weights like that on my Escape 19, Reace said I might have been off by not having the trailer level. He could well have been correct. Something to do with the torsion axles. You said you used a level on the frame, did you by chance check the bubble level on the trailer?

Keep us informed after the next weigh in.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:59 PM   #26
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Quote:
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I am trying to visualize this all - If the tongue comes off the ball, the breakaway cable needs to first activate the trailer brakes, slowing the trailer, pulling the chains to their full extension and cradling the tongue as you say Glenn. So I think that the cable does need to be at a length so that it is pulled out before the chains are tight. Unless I am totally wrong, which would be far from the first time.....
It's never happened to me, but I'd prefer it to go like this ( if it had to happen ):
Tongue comes off the ball
Chains catch it and support it off the ground.
I realize sometimes wrong and lightly apply the brakes and ease off the road under control of trailer & tug.

If the emergency cable is pulled, the brakes will probably lock up and the trailer will be very hard to control. If it's wet out, it may try to pass you .

I think the emergency switch it there to stop the trailer if it separates entirely.

No argument. That's just the way I see it
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:14 PM   #27
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Years ago, I had a weigh wagon come off the hitch. I made the mistake of applying the breaks and the wagon smashed into the back of my van. I think nothing would have happened if l would have just coasted to a stop even though the wagon was doing a little whip lash action until everything came to a stop. The wagon did not have electric brakes.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:17 PM   #28
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I was hoping that Doug and Paul would have a debate, but so far, I'm leaning to NOT having the breakaway cable release, as long as the chains are doing their job. Then, should the chains let go, the cable would activate the brakes on the trailer.
Of course, and I've thought about it in the past, if the entire hitch receiver lets go, it's probably not going to matter. Might as well just keep going.
I was also waiting for a debate. My thoughts are that if the electrical connection to the TV is to remain connected and operating, after a failure of the ball connection, both the electrical & breakaway cable need to be longer than the safety chain. In the case of a total separation the breakaway cable closes the circuit between brakes and trailer battery. Another reason to have a trailer battery in good condition.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:35 PM   #29
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Paul you make excellent points.

I had the not fun experience of having one come loose (I let someone else put the trailer onto the ball and he didn't get it seated properly). Different situation though as It was a popup with no brakes, It was one of those experiences where things were happening a whole lot faster than I wanted them to. All I remember is suddenly seeing the trailer weaving back and forth. I got it onto side of the road, but don't think I would call it under control! LOL
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:31 PM   #30
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My thoughts are that if the electrical connection to the TV is to remain connected and operating, after a failure of the ball connection, both the electrical & breakaway cable need to be longer than the safety chain. In the case of a total separation the breakaway cable closes the circuit between brakes and trailer battery.
I agree, but I suspect that the real reason for breakaway switches is the complete breakaway scenario, in which the relative lengths don't matter.

The only aspect not covered in this discussion has been the relative length of the electrical connection and the breakaway cable. If the chains are long enough to allow the electrical connection to pull out, the breakaway cable needs to have already engaged the brakes, or you have a connected trailer with no brakes, which is bad.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:39 PM   #31
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Thus the chains and electrical and emergency cables are the order of increasing length for the proper set up? Thus 24" chains, 36" electrical and 48" emergency cable lengths from the coupler?
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:42 PM   #32
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You may have hit it there.
I keep an eye on my brake controller because I've lost contact with the trailer from time to time. I've tried zap-straps etc. to secure it, but it wouldn't take much to separate at the TV. If the trailer came off the ball, I would almost certainly lose power to the trailer brakes and I'd want them to automatically come on.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:59 PM   #33
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Thus the chains and electrical and emergency cables are the order of increasing length for the proper set up? Thus 24" chains, 36" electrical and 48" emergency cable lengths from the coupler?
Too many depends to set rules.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:01 PM   #34
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Thus the chains and electrical and emergency cables are the order of increasing length for the proper set up? Thus 24" chains, 36" electrical and 48" emergency cable lengths from the coupler?
If the chains are shorter than the others - as in this example - then it seems to me that neither of the other two will pull out, so which is longer doesn't matter much (if the hitch fails and the chains break, both electrical and breakaway cables will likely rip out immediately)... so that example would work.

If the chains are longer than the others, then I think the breakaway cable should be the next in the series to go
e.g. 24" breakaway, 36" electrical, and 48" chains (although that's way too much slack in all of them!)

Remember that all of these cables/chains attach at different points on the trailer, so the measurement of interest is the amount of slack. i.e. how much the trailer can pull away from the hook-up position before that chain/cable becomes tight. For chains to work well and hold the tongue off the ground in the case of hitch failure, they need to have very little slack, so it seems reasonable to me to assume that the chains should always have the least slack.

I think the combined solution is then
  1. chains with least slack
  2. breakaway cable with more slack
  3. electrical cable with even more slack

So, if your ball fails, the trailer will fall back/into the chains, with the others still connected. If the chains then fail, or allow more movement than planned, the breakaway cable will apply the trailer brakes. Finally, if the trailer becomes completely disconnected the last thing to be lost is the electrical cable.

Of course, turning affects the slack in differently routed cables/chains differently, so all may not go as planned.

That's just my reasoning. And yes, both chains and breakaway cable need to attach to the vehicle or hitch receiver structure, not to anything detachable such as the ball or ball mount.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:06 PM   #35
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Or, how about, I'm gonna just keep doing what I've been doing, because I've been doing it for years and it has worked so far?
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:24 PM   #36
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Or, how about, I'm gonna just keep doing what I've been doing, because I've been doing it for years and it has worked so far?
Sure... But how many times has your trailer come off the ball or has a component of the hitch (ball, mount, etc) failed? If zero - like me - there's no way to know if the setup works or not; no safety chains or breakaway switch at all would have worked equally well.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:09 PM   #37
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But, how many times have you read "it's worked just fine", over on that other site? That's why all the smiley faces.
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:02 AM   #38
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Just a thought quoted here...

BREAKAWAY CONTROLLER REQUIRED:
A breakaway brake controller must be used so that all trailer brakes will be automatically applied in case of an accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle. This is required by all 50 states.
A typical electric breakaway controller has a sealed 12-volt gel cell battery and switch that are mounted on the trailer and wired into the brake circuit. The switch is connected to the towing vehicle by a small wire rope (the cable must be secured to the towing vehicle, not to
the safety chain nor any part of the hitch ball or ball mount). If the hitch separates or fails, the cable pulls the “key” from the switch, allowing the contacts to close and 12 volts will be applied to the
brakes.
Adjust the length of the cable or lanyard from the key to the tow vehicle frame so that the brakes are applied before the safety chains break. Regulations do not state whether the
brakes must apply before the safety chains break. However, if the brakes are applied and the safety chains hold, the emergency braking keeps the trailer directly behind the towing vehicle so you can stop under control. This also keeps the trailer from slamming into the rear of the tow vehicle, minimizing damage.
Should the safety chains fail before the brakes are applied (meaning your safety chains were not the right size or were improperly attached), the trailer ought to at least stop somewhere nearby, but it may collide with other vehicles before it stops.


REFERENCES:
Tennessee Code Annotated:
Definitions: (55-1-103, subpart (3))
Requirements for brakes: (55-9-204, subpart (a)).
Farm use exemption: (55-9-204 subpart (e))
Breakaway controller (55-9-204 subpart (c)(1))
Surge brakes: (55-9-204, subpart (c)(2))
Braking performance: (55-9-205, subparts (a), (d))
Parking brake: (55-9-205, subpart (b))
Brake maintenance: (55-9-205, subpart (e)) (Tennessee General Assembly Main Page)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations, 49 CFR 393, Subpart C
393.41 -- Parking brake system. 393.42 -- Brakes required on all wheels. 393.43 -- Breakaway and emergency braking. 393.48 -- Brakes to be operative. 393.49 -- Single valve to operate all brakes. 393.52 -- Brake performance.
(http://mchs.fhwa.dot.gov)
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Old 01-15-2014, 01:01 AM   #39
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Excellent research Doug.
I would conclude then that the break-away cable shouldn't be attached to the same location as the chains ( the hitch receiver ) or the hitch pin.
One needs to find an attachment point on the frame ( which might be difficult, given few vehicles have frames these days ).
I guess one could have a ring welded to the unibody easily enough.
Problem is the terms used. If it's not to be attached to the ball or ball mount, would it be OK to attach it to the hitch receiver?
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:05 AM   #40
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My 2006 Starcraft does not have a separate batter/charger for the breakaway cable, I take it this is a relatively new development. I'll have to look into the need to replace it before I sell the trailer.
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