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Old 01-15-2014, 06:06 PM   #61
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Break away cable and safety chains

For myself, I agree completely with Jim Bennett. After 28 years with one travel trailer or another I have always made sure my break away cable is an inch shorter than the extended safety chain length so that the trailer brakes will come on before the chains become fully taught. After all if the safety chains are taught when you are towing your situation is the coupler has already come off the ball or the ball has mechanically failed. By the time you can think and react with the manual trailer brake override control its likely all over but the tears. In addition I have always crossed my safety chains in an X so as to cradle the trailer yoke if dropped down to aid keeping the TV and trailer somewhat aligned with each other. Like Jim I also own a Honda Pilot and the safety chain attachment rings on the factory receiver are for me the best place to attach the cable and I use a climbing ring for that. The likelihood of a bolted on receiver actually failing is slim to none if properly installed. My ten cents worth.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:08 PM   #62
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Myron,
Can you loop the breakaway cable through the holes where your safety chains attach? Bring it back and fasten it through the locking pin that holds the hitch lock down. I believe that device was provided me by Escape and is called a Coupler Safety Lock Pin.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:29 PM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post

Actually, I recall once using a combo pin/padlock but after a winter the lock got so badly froze up I had a devil of a time removing it. Went back to what you see here.
Ditto on the locking pin seizing up after being left in place on the receiver over a winter. I had a brake light fixture in place that I did not want stolen. Had to have the pin torched off in the spring as it was so seized - probably a combination of our wet winters, a winter trip over the Rockies to Calgary and multi trips up and back to Whistler with whatever ice melting solutions they use on the roads.

A locking pin is good as long as you do not leave it on for extended periods in similar winter road conditions like I experienced. I would also make sure to use a suitable lubricant on the lock to ensure it does not seize due to water and grime infiltration. Just my 2 nickles worth as we no longer have 2 cents to offer in Canada!.

I have found this safety brake cable discussion very helpful in understanding what length the cable should be. I don't think it was properly covered by ETI when we picked up our trailer. We were just told, like others have mentioned, to put a loop into the cable to keep it from dragging. They did go over the importance of connecting the cable but no mention of the correct length to make sure the system operates properly in the unlikely event that it would be required to function. Dave, who did our orientation, suggested we use the method where you loop the cable end through the clip on the receiver pin also as others have noted.

I am thinking of going to a pin like MyronL uses because on one of our vehicles the plastic bumper shroud is so close to the receiver hole where the pin goes that it is very difficult to grip and pull the clip when needed. I guess there is a bit of an anti-theft safety factor in that though as others who would want to pull the pin would find it too difficult and just move on to the next trailer!! Hopefully that won't be your trailer?
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:42 PM   #64
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Yes, breakaway is in class 2 hitch receiver and ball is in the class 3 and we use a big hitch pin for both instances. Locking hitch pin for the ball.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:47 PM   #65
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21' observations

Ref items 25 and 50,
Trailer now loaded to go for two weeks, clothes, food, margarita fixings, wine, dog food, etc, etc. tongue weight moved from 500# to 490# with only fresh water added, then to 510# with all of our other stuff, ready to go. The hitch on the jeep, the flat surface below the ball was 15 1/2 before hooking up, then the weight dropped it to 14 1/2 , with the chains tightened I raised it back to 15". I'll see how it feels tomorrow and may adjust it to change the feel. When checking trailer level I would use a level on the frame, a level on the floor and cabinets and also check height from ground to the band on the side, for and aft. The installed level was always within the center lines.
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:00 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
My hitch doesn't have any way to loop the cable on it other than about the big pin, or around the receiver shaft (red arrows), or through the place where the chains are attached (green arrow). Seems logical to run the cable through where the chains go and loop it back onto the big pin. That's bad?
Yes, I agree with using the chain loops, but not with then going to the "big pin". You can use one of many types of clip to attach the looped end of the breakaway cable to a chain loop of the receiver without tying it up in the hitch pin; the now-popular carabiner style clip (or security snap) works well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Myron, You must have a sleeve pin holding your receiver, slip the breakaway cable thru it, the side opposite your green arrow.
Jim, what is a "sleeve pin"? Yes, there is a clip or other device on the end of the hitch pin which comes through the receiver hole, typically an R-clip (hairpin clip), but other clips or that rotating device shown are some of the choices. I wouldn't use any of them for the breakaway switch cable.

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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
For example, I would never tow a trailer with a pin and sleeve set up, as pictured in #53. It is too easy for someone to pull the sleeve pin and walk away and you would not know it until too late...
One more observation, drill a hole thru the nut holding the ball on the stinger and wire it, learned this while motorcycle racing, everything and anything can come loose.
I agree with Baglo that someone removing the hitch pin (or even its retaining clip) is an incredibly remote possibility, easily addressed by a proper walk-around. I don't worry about someone removing my car's wheel nuts; why would I expect them to unfasten parts of the hitch? Should I design a locking electrical plug, since there are none available to my knowledge? Do I have to padlock the breakaway cable to the tug? What about the trailer end of the breakaway cable - that must be free to be pulled out for it to work, but someone could maliciously pull it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
Actually, I recall once using a combo pin/padlock but after a winter the lock got so badly froze up I had a devil of a time removing it. Went back to what you see here.
Having dealt with rusted padlocks, I will never again leave one on a hitch component or anywhere else on the outside of a vehicle for any extended period (any more than one trip). My locking hitch pin is the same - I'll use it on a trip but not long-term. I don't leave a ball mount in any receiver when not towing, in part for this reason: even with a non-locking hitch pin, it can seize in place.

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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Can you loop the breakaway cable through the holes where your safety chains attach? Bring it back and fasten it through the locking pin that holds the hitch lock down. I believe that device was provided me by Escape and is called a Coupler Safety Lock Pin.
Again, why connect the breakaway cable to something additional, instead of just hooking it to the safety chain loop? It would be bad if the coupler came off the ball because it wasn't latched properly, and the breakaway switch didn't activate because it was dependent on the same not-properly-latched part of the system. I want simple, because that means less chance of failure on my part hooking it up, or on the part of the mechanical components.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:49 AM   #67
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Another, even better reason for not leaving a ball mount in the receiver long term, or really for any extended time when not towing is the bloody thing sticks out and away from the bumper and you never really appreciate that until your shins send you a painful message.

Using a carabiner style clip for the cable loop through the chains hole and then connected to the chain? That, and what fudge brownie said, works for me, athough the carabiner clip is what I will do. I also agree that anyone who does not do a safety check "walk around" before each and every time they are about to pull out on the open road is flat asking for trouble.

At 50 mph if the coupler jumps off the ball and becomes cradled in the safety chains, in my humble opinion it is not a good thing for the trailer brakes to manually lock up. The trailer coupler will be nested in the chains, and I would want the trailer tires to turn freely while I slow down to pull over, not dragging half-hazardly on pavement. I would be more worried that the jack pipe would now be lower and, protruding down through the chains could be scraping on the pavement. That is a very scary scenario.
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Old 01-16-2014, 09:41 AM   #68
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I would be more worried that the jack pipe would now be lower and, protruding down through the chains could be scraping on the pavement. That is a very scary scenario.

Maybe a good reason to leave a wheel on the jack versus removal…..?
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Old 01-16-2014, 09:58 AM   #69
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I'd be afraid the jack wheel could help it decouple since it would be lower.
Those jack pipes and the part of the coupler where they attach seem to bend when they need to.
I replaced the coupler and jack on the used Scamp I bought because the previous owner had some kind of incident that folded it back and he just bent it back sorta straight. Added a breakaway switch it didn't have from the factory at the same time.
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:15 AM   #70
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I think that jack pipe is going to be toast in most any decoupling situation. But the positive is that it is replaceable and should help keep the tongue from digging into the pavement. My popup that came off the ball had the fold up kind of jack and the tongue got scraped along the pavement until I got it stopped (even with the safety chains crossed).
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:56 AM   #71
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Please explain... how does a wheel on the jack play any role at all contributing to decoupling when driving? Seems to me decoupling must occur first, in order for a wheel on the jack to ever touch pavement. Then, I think, you'd be glad it was there allowing the tongue to roll without friction and thereby saving the entire jack and coupler from serious damage.

Here's a picture of what a Scamp coupler looks like after it decouples at 55 mph and scrapes along the highway because the safety chains had too much play. My tongue jack at the time had a wheel on it but was folded parallel to the frame.

In a worst case scenario I think a good thing is to be able to field-expedient the problem so you can still get to a shop, or home, on your own. A destroyed tongue jack means no way you're lifting that tongue up and back on the ball without a separate, emergency jack, so there you are, staying put, hoping your cell phone works.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:16 PM   #72
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Maybe I'm one of those Obsessive/Compulsive types, but I've always tested how a tongue would actually hang in the crossed safety chains, simply by taking the coupler off the ball and lowering it down with the tongue jack. I drive with the jack pole up as far as it will go, and the wheel removed. If they're proper chains, they're unlikely to break, but the big risk comes in how they're connected. Too many people use good chains, but a poor quality hook and, in some cases, a carabiner-type connection with inadequate breaking strength. I'm also of the school that doesn't want the trailer brakes locking up after a decoupling that is only off the ball, and not completely free of the tow vehicle.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:32 PM   #73
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The jack post wheel I have is as likely to dig in as the post. It's quite reluctant to rotate.
When I picked up my trailer, I asked Reace why there was only one hole in the post, which prevented you from fully attaching the pin that holds it on. He said that was to prevent people from leaving the wheel attached to the post.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:35 PM   #74
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Please explain... how does a wheel on the jack play any role at all contributing to decoupling when driving?
It depends on the terrain ( ie. flow ditches across forestry roads or a steep driveway.
It may not decouple, but it would certainly put stress on the ball, the coupler, the jack post...
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:35 PM   #75
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Clevis Hooks

Bob,
I think anyone who spends the time discussing something as arcane as how long to make the break away cable on an RV trailer is a bit compulsive/obsessive. There seems to be quite a few of us present. Please a show of hands?

Since you brought up the carabiner-type connection used and I believe provided by Escape I thought I would share what I have done. The carabiner was a PITA, especially when raining or cold. So I went to our local farm store and bought a pair of clevis hooks. I made sure they were 5000# rated and had the spring loaded latches.

This is not the exact unit but a representation of what I have installed. I had to shorten the connection on the chains a bit. They are really fast for connect and disconnect and will stow on the bar from the safety chains up under the tongue when not in use.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:54 PM   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
Please explain... how does a wheel on the jack play any role at all contributing to decoupling when driving?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
It depends on the terrain ( ie. flow ditches across forestry roads or a steep driveway.
It may not decouple, but it would certainly put stress on the ball, the coupler, the jack post...
Myron,
I was thinking along the same lines as Glen....
If you had any play in your coupler (not that You would) going into a gas station or similar uneven terrain could cause it to bottom out and put enough upward pressure to pop the coupler.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:59 PM   #77
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Bob,
I think anyone who spends the time discussing something as arcane as how long to make the break away cable on an RV trailer is a bit compulsive/obsessive. There seems to be quite a few of us present. Please a show of hands?


Ya, I think we need to go camping...
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:20 PM   #78
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Paul,
I believe Escape provided me the oval type that screw together, but those were the first things I replaced when I got my trailer home. Not only are they a PITA, but they'll jam up under sudden stress. California requires hooks with safety latches, either exactly as you've shown above or an "S" hook type. If I'd thought about it when ordering the trailer, I'd have requested those type hooks.

I guess I'm OCD partially because I had a small utility trailer come off the ball once when hitting a cattle guard too fast. Fortunately the chains held.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:29 PM   #79
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This is what came on my trailer - are these what you guys replaced? Seems like a very secure safe hookup and I've never had any trouble with getting them on and off. Is there some safety problem about these?

(I'm not OCD, but retired, snowed in and too much time on my hands according to Mary)
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Old 01-16-2014, 02:11 PM   #80
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Eric,
Yes, I replaced those. In California the connectors must have a breaking strength equal to or greater than the weight of the trailer. I don't remember if mine from Escape had a rating stamped on them, but I'd used that type on a previous, smaller trailer, and found that they often got very tight, so tight I'd need a wrench to loosen them. That was especially true when they were in the elements during periods of non-use. I got tired of that. And, If you ever do have a coupler disconnect, the sudden strain on that threaded connection could well jam up so that it would be very difficult to remove. That from a person who had been through the experience. The hooks Paul pictured are much easier to use.
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