My Brakes are Broke - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-26-2012, 11:19 PM   #1
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My Brakes are Broke

Looking for guidance on a "Next Step"

Last night while tinkering with other things, I did a "tap" on the positive terminal of my battery with my trailer side harness brake wire. Nothin..nada.. no click growl or any other noise came from the axle.

I shrugged thinking I will do a better test when I wire the break away switch and get it properly hooked up with my controller etc.

That got done tonite..still nothin'. Brake controller doesn't show that I am hooked up to anything.

The wiring in the car end side of the pigtail is correct, the switch is wired correctly and the controller is known good. Battery is good as well.

When it is daylight, I will take my fancy schmancy wire chaser and check the wiring at the brakes to see if Bubba changed something (Entirely possible) BUT.. if all is well there..where do I go?

I don't know nuttin bout brakes. But I know I am cash poor, and I can't go to a shop. I can no doubt fix a wiring issue if I understand how it works with brakes. I won't charge myself much either.

This is critical as I leave in a week and have to go over the Siskiyous. Up, no problem..down.. I am not sure I even want to think about it.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:29 PM   #2
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How to Repair Electric Trailer Brakes | eHow.com
I found this step by step process that may help guide you through your problem. It is not specific to your trailer, just a general way to look at the whole situation and I hope it helps.
Corrosion of trailer (and tow vehicle) connectors and pin as well as poor connection is very common and that's what I'd check really well first. Also don't require much in the way of tools.
Richard
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:39 PM   #3
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Thanks, I saw that.

Corrosion is not an issue on the tongue end of the wiring. I put on a new pigtail and restripped and cleaned the trailer wiring. (All is wired correctly) The problem is farther back. It very well could be corrosion on the axle end. I haven't a clue how to start checking that.

I CAN trace the wiring back to the wheels, and test with a pulse checker, but thats all. Once those wires disappear into the wheel..I am lost.
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:05 AM   #4
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Thanks, I saw that.

Corrosion is not an issue on the tongue end of the wiring. I put on a new pigtail and restripped and cleaned the trailer wiring. (All is wired correctly) The problem is farther back. It very well could be corrosion on the axle end. I haven't a clue how to start checking that.

I CAN trace the wiring back to the wheels, and test with a pulse checker, but thats all. Once those wires disappear into the wheel..I am lost.
Inside the drum the wire goes through a simple coil electromagnet. The brake controller feed side in and the ground wire out.
I don't know how your trailer is wired but often house wiring does not share a ground with the brake circuit, so if you plan to use the house battery to check the brakes, you may have to supply a common ground from the negative battery post to the frame, to which the brake ground is normally attached.A jumper wire should do. Then you can test the brakes as before.
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:06 AM   #5
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Gina you may need to pull the wheel off and take a look - it may be the wire connection at the brake has corrosion or if corrosion is an issue on the brake assembly it could be the spring is shoot! Replacing the brake assembly is not as hard as it sounds - had to do it on mine last year due to corrosion. Heck you do so much other work yourself I dont think you would have a problem changing the assembly.
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:13 AM   #6
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This is a well done site for seeing this installing electric brakes on your trailer

OK, wiring..simple..Not OK, brute force is required. Sigh. May have to tow without until I can get a manly friend to help.

Floyd, my battery is grounded to the frame by a big old strap. My pigtail shares that ground, as does the trailer wiring.

When it comes to grounding, I am all for the dept. of redundancy dept.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:40 AM   #7
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Floyd, my battery is grounded to the frame by a big old strap. My pigtail shares that ground, as does the trailer wiring.

When it comes to grounding, I am all for the dept. of redundancy dept.
As Floyd indicates each brake magnet also needs to be grounded to have a complete circuit. Look behind the wheels for the brake wire exit point. Sometimes one of those wires will be grounded to the frame right there, very vulnerable to corrosion. Sometimes each of the wires from one side connect to there corresponding wire on the other side and then to the 7 way plug. If you don't see an obvious fault you can use a continuity tester to check the wires by driving a strait pin into the wire to be tested. Make sure to fill the pin holes when done to avoid corrosion.
A multimeter with a continuity buzzer is a worth while investment ($10-20). Good luck, Raz
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:42 AM   #8
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When it comes to grounding, I am all for the dept. of redundancy dept.
Well said!
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Old 03-27-2012, 08:22 AM   #9
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Well said!
I totally agree. Given how cheap wire is, grounding to the frame is a silly economy. Run a separate ground wire to each device. And when you do attach to the frame, solder, don't bolt.
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:27 AM   #10
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May have to tow without until I can get a manly friend to help.

.
LOL Yup can relate to that small issue..... neighbor perhaps?
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Old 03-27-2012, 01:03 PM   #11
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Gina,
Assuming the vehicle plug has been tested for voltage and ground you know the circuit in the trailer is open or shorted. If you measure continuity at the trailer side of the plug between ground and the brake actuator pins and it shows open you will know a wire is broken or a connection is bad where it terminates. You could cut a brake wire near the wheel and measure for continuity at each wheel. (you could use a pin through the un-cut wireto attach your meter) If the resistance is the nearly the same on both wheels then the problem is on in the wheel area. If one reads open the problem is within the wheel assy. Then you would have to remove the hub and investigate. I would recommend using solder and shrink tube to refasten the cut wires.
Russ

Disclaimer: I am not a electronical genius and assume electricity flows down hill and drips out the end of the wires.
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Old 03-27-2012, 01:15 PM   #12
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..........Disclaimer: I am not a electronical genius and assume electricity flows down hill and drips out the end of the wires.
Actually it depends on the voltage. Sometimes it squirts out.
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Old 03-27-2012, 08:05 PM   #13
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if the PO used wire nuts, he could have gotten them too tight and created a 0 ohm barrier too!

I have a cable checker that sends a pulse thru long wire runs. You "Sniff" for the pulse at the other end with a sensor. If your sniffer does not register.. you have a break in the line OR you are looking in the wrong place. Far easier than doing a continuity check from 8 feet away. (The same thing can be accomplished with a 9v battery and a meter as long as you are confident the wire does not feed any other circuits that might take exception to 9v dc being forced on it)

I will get under there when the river that is forming under the rig goes away (LOTSA rain today)

I do have an open there, that was suspected when I "tapped" and was confirmed when my controller registered a "Not Connected".

Hopefully it is just corrosion. Thanks for the tip to look at that first. Running new wire is also a no brainer for me. As Thomas says, it's cheap, its easy and sometimes just saves a whole lotta time in trouble shooting. With such a simple circuit, I am not really motivated to over analyze it. Its not all that important IF its just a wiring failure.
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Old 03-27-2012, 10:02 PM   #14
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Here's a laugh for you. When I bought my trailer, brakes didn't work. I traced the wiring back to each wheel and it looked good. Pulled the drums-prior owner(U. S. Marines )had gutted the brakes, just leaving the backing plates and wires going thru the backing plates. Got to start out fresh with new brakes!
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