Brake diagnosis, 1989 Lil Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-11-2016, 06:29 PM   #1
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Brake diagnosis, 1989 Lil Bigfoot

Hello,

We need to figure out what to do about our trailer brakes, even though it has towed and stopped like a dream on two mountain trips.

Wheels and disks look good, but the wiring looks like a "rat's nest." Wiring should be re-done, but it also may need new solenoid. Is this a doable project for an able gear-head? Any tips?

Thanks,
Ellpea
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:26 PM   #2
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When you say solenoid, are you referring to the magnets attached to the wheel backing plates, or the break away switch. Neither is a solenoid but I'm guessing you are referring to one or the other. No solenoid in the system that I'm aware of and also no disks or discs either.
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:54 PM   #3
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The only wiring you should have is one wire from the connector to your vehicle that goes back to the axle and splits in order to connect to the magnets in your brake drums.

There will be two wires on the magnet in each brake drum, one will connect to the power wire from your connector and the other one is the ground wire which is most likely connected to the frame.

John,
Former Lil Big Foot owner.
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:27 AM   #4
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The brakes on my 1994 Bigfoot have a blue wire and a white wire. The white wire is a ground and the blue wire actuates the brakes. You may only have a blue wire if your trailer uses the frame as a ground as John mentioned in the previous post. Having a dedicated ground wire that goes back to the battery is my personal preference. Using the frame as a ground invites more issues of poor connections. I believe wire with blue insulation is a standard color code for all RV's.
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:40 AM   #5
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You can find good information on this site:

Trailer Wiring Diagrams | etrailer.com
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Old 02-12-2016, 01:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack L View Post
The brakes on my 1994 Bigfoot have a blue wire and a white wire. The white wire is a ground and the blue wire actuates the brakes. You may only have a blue wire if your trailer uses the frame as a ground as John mentioned in the previous post. Having a dedicated ground wire that goes back to the battery is my personal preference. Using the frame as a ground invites more issues of poor connections. I believe wire with blue insulation is a standard color code for all RV's.
What Jack describes is the common wiring for brakes - a blue line for power and a white one for ground - so not a lot of wiring involved that needs to be sorted out.

A poor ground is a common reason for brakes on the trailer not to be working, or corrosion at the 7 pin side on the Blue line connection is another - either on trailer or tug side.

The brakes may also need to be adjusted as that something that some do not do often. When I acquired my trailer for example the pads where making contact with nothing when brake pedal depressed - by the looks of things they may never done so. Also the magnets may be worn.

If its the wiring that concerns you, hook up the trailer and have someone stand by the trailer wheels while someone puts the brakes on in the tug you should be able to hear the brakes working. If no buzzing sound that would suggest that power is not getting to the brakes.

When I first acquired my trailer and looked at the brake assembly it was 16 years old and although the pads still had lots left on them it all looked pretty rusty - decided due to the amount of rust on the springs etc that I would feel better about them if I replaced them with a whole new brake assembly (was less than $25 per wheel) & that was very easy to do. I also took the drums into a local shop and had them cleaned the surface of them up for me before reinstalling.
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Old 02-12-2016, 03:49 PM   #7
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No disks either

Right, that was drums, not discs! So it sounds like the wiring should not be that complicated, or such a mess underneath. Hubby plans to do some direct connections to see if the magnets move, and which wires are which. Do we have any concerns that any of the rat's nest of stuff would lead to other things?

Again, isn't doing a repair on these pretty doable, since it sounds like a pretty simple system? (We have all of the needed jacks and blocks for safety -- no concerns there).

Thanks for the feedback,
Ellpea
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Old 02-12-2016, 03:58 PM   #8
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Just noticed new, helpful replies

Thank you, Giles, I was wishing for a schematic of some sort. Carol (and others), I think you've clarified that this should be a simple procedure.

Hubby has adjusted his own brakes and serviced his vehicles for years, so this should be simple for him. He (until only recently) would lie in the snow under his log truck and adjust the brakes to his own satisfaction.

What you're describing I'm sure he can easily do.

What he discovered yesterday in his preliminary exploration was that the lug nuts on both tires were on so tight that we would never have been able to get them off to change a tire out in the wild. Fortunately, we have a long extension thingy that gave him extra leverage, although it's an item we would not have had with us in an emergency. Another bullet dodged!

He'll read through all of your posts later today, and I'm sure will know just what to do. Thanks for the help and suggestions, and the *friendly* corrections.

Best,

Ellpea
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