Scamp 16' installing breakaway switch - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-12-2007, 01:05 PM   #1
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So here goes my first question regarding our new to us 16' Scamp 1992.
B.C. requires a breakaway switch on any trailer that has electric brakes. The trailer needs to go for it's inspection here shortly (import requirement) and we want to get it right the first time.

I wondered if anyone has installed a breakaway switch on an older Scamp and how hard was it. Have read a bit on the installation and it looks fairly straight forward but worry about best place to break into the blue wire etc as all the exposed outside wires are covered....

Any words of wisdom greatly appreciated.

Carol
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Old 04-12-2007, 05:58 PM   #2
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My guess is that all of the wires in the cable to the tow vehicle are terminated in the same area, somewhere buried in the trailer interior; in my Boler, this is under the street-side dinette, along with the converter. All of the cables to/from the outside (the cable to the tow vehicle, the wires to the brakes, the positive and negative wires to the battery) go through holes in the floor in my case. If the Scamp is like most RV's I've seen, this will unfortunately look like a nest of multi-colour snakes.

When I needed to fix brake wiring (I had a breakaway switch, but it was non-functional and I also had bad connections somewhere and a damaged plug at the tow vehicle end of the cable) I replaced the whole cable to the tow vehicle, and now it ends in a box with a seven-position screw terminal strip, mounted outside on the tongue. It's an enclosed box intended for mounting on the outside of commercial truck trailers. The brake wiring is now kept entirely outside of the trailer body, and all of the seven signals from the tow vehicle are accessible at this box. That's more radical modification than required to just add a breakaway switch!
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:03 PM   #3
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Carol,
Does your Scamp have it's own battery? That is what normally would power the brakes in case the trailer and tow vehicle become unintentionally seperated. A battery just for that purpose was added to my neighbor's utility trailer. I believe it was done by the trailer manufacturer.
To avoid any mistakes, your wisest course of action would probably be to contact Scamp for instructions.

Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 04-12-2007, 06:36 PM   #4
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On your Scamp, the blue wire should be inside the cable harness coming from the tow vehicle connector to the battery area -- I don't know if it actually goes into the battery box or if it exits the harness and ducks under the trailer, but that is the place I would connect the brake-away wires. Be sure the brake ground is also attached to the trailer frame and can get back to the ground of the battery.

The external brake battery is only needed when the trailer does not have its own battery (aka house battery).

Here's the instructions/wiring diagram for the installation in case anyone is interested.
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Old 04-12-2007, 07:48 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone for there thoughts.

Indeed the brakeaway switch works off the house battery no need for another battery. The house battery is mounted outside at the front of trailer. The wiring of the switch is pretty simple. The problem is getting at the blue wire.

I can see the blue wire on the underside were it goes to the brakes but then it goes back inside and disappears. I can't see inside the area of the trailer were all the wires come out of the trailer - suspect they are hidden between the trailer underside and the bottom area of the front bunk storage or at least that is the point they exit the trailer. So it appears there is no way to get at them from inside the trailer that is close to where I need to mount the breakaway switch on the tongue.

I do have the Scamps wiring diagram which shows the blue (which I need to connect to) exiting out of the trailer and wrapped up in the harness going to the connector. The wiring diagram for the Scamp does not show the blue wire going to the battery which seems right as it would not make sence for it to do so and I can actually see that it is only the white and black going to the battery as they should.

Peter your right in that I need to connect to the blue wire just at the point it leaves the trailer or just before but as it's all so neatly wrapped up was hoping not to have to cut the harness off to get at it. Also worry about having the slice exposed as well as messing up my nice looking harness. ;-) I see that the harness has a retaining ring with a screw holding in place were it enters the trailer.

Wondered if I took that off if there might be enough slack wires to pull it all out and slice in and then stuff it back inside. Then I would have only the wire from the breakaway switch leaving the trailer outside the harness.

Would I be making a big mistake to try and take the retaining ring off? Is there normally a fair bit of extra wire length in behind were it exits the trailer that I would be able to pull out to get at?

Any words of advise on how best to slice the harness to get at the need wire without making a mess of the harness if all else fails?


Carol
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:16 PM   #6
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Pete and Carol:

I recently installed one of Tekonsha's breakaway switch systems to satisfy the legal requirements in states other than Oregon. This kit came with its own little battery and charger which is kept up by the regular electrical system. Some other variations of this kit do not have the battery.

I didn't question the inclusion of the battery, and the installation did not present any special problems in getting the two systems meshed. The reason I accepted it was that in the deep dark recesses of my mind the thought had been planted that at least some states required the system to have an independent battery source. Can anyone deny or confirm?

An aside: this little battery serves my purposes well, since I sometimes leave home with fully charged batteries, switch the batteries out of the system and run the refrigerator off the TV from an inverter (the AC element is bigger and does a better job than the 12v) without any chance of the batteries being even minimally discharged. Works for me.
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Old 04-13-2007, 08:50 AM   #7
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I looked that switch system up at etrailer. Here it be: http://www.etrailer.com/pc-BAK~2026.htm
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2026.jpg  
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Old 04-13-2007, 10:47 AM   #8
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The way the local RV shop explained it to me was that by law the breakaway does need to be on an independent power supply but only as far as its independent from the tv. That way if along with everything else the harness to the tv unplugs the breakaway switch will still have a power source. Lets hope that never happens!

They indicated we could just hook into the house battery and that we only needed the brakeaway package that included the seperate battery if we were towing a trailer that did not already have a battery to hook into. A cargo hauler or boat trailer were given as examples of when a breakaway switch package that included the small seperate battery would be needed.

That being said I have no idea what the rule is in other areas.......

Carol
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Old 04-13-2007, 01:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
The way the local RV shop explained it to me was that by law the breakaway does need to be on an independent power supply but only as far as its independent from the tv. That way if along with everything else the harness to the tv unplugs the breakaway switch will still have a power source. Lets hope that never happens! ...
This is the interpretation which makes sense to me. The idea of the harness unplugging is not unreasonable: in any situation in which the breakaway switch is triggered, the trailer must have pulled away from the tug enough to pull the triggering steel cable, and even if the trailer is still attached by the safety chains the electrical cable may well have unplugged.

If the electrical cable were still functional, the breakaway switch would not be needed at all, as the controller in the tug would still work.
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Old 04-13-2007, 01:34 PM   #10
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Based on my experience with a variety of trailers with brakes and breakaway systems, the Motor vehicle code in British Columbia states:

Any trailer with brakes shall have an on-board wet cell battery, fully charged so that when the trailer breaks away the battery will lock up the trailer brakes for 15 mins.
This applies to trailers with 4 wheel brakes such as horse trailers and boat trailers.
I would venture to guess that would also apply to 2 wheel systems, but it would be advisable to check it out. That was the code some years ago so it may have changed since then.
On-board dry cell batteries were NOT acceptable in B.C. but are in Alberta.
When we had to take our trailers through the testing station in Vancouver they used to pull the pin to make sure the system worked. They also check that all wheels have the same ft.lbs. of braking force on each wheel.

When we brought our Featherlite horse trailer from Alberta to BC I had to change the battery immediately. While I was at it I rewired it so that the trailer battery was charged while towing and could be parked and have the lights working without out having to be hooked up to the tow vehicle.
I have used the same setup on our other trailers over the years and also our Boler except the Boler has no brakes.
Unfortunetly the rules and codes and rules in Canda and the US states are not consistant
across the country. Bad for us!

Best advice, check with the Motor Vehicle Branch first.
All you need is some smart cop who knows the code to stop you and give you a ticket, ruins
a good holiday!
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Based on my experience with a variety of trailers with brakes and breakaway systems, the Motor vehicle code in British Columbia states:

Any trailer with brakes shall have an on-board wet cell battery, fully charged so that when the trailer breaks away the battery will lock up the trailer brakes for 15 mins.
This applies to trailers with 4 wheel brakes such as horse trailers and boat trailers.
I would venture to guess that would also apply to 2 wheel systems, but it would be advisable to check it out. That was the code some years ago so it may have changed since then.
On-board dry cell batteries were NOT acceptable in B.C. but are in Alberta.
When we had to take our trailers through the testing station in Vancouver they used to pull the pin to make sure the system worked. They also check that all wheels have the same ft.lbs. of braking force on each wheel.

When we brought our Featherlite horse trailer from Alberta to BC I had to change the battery immediately. While I was at it I rewired it so that the trailer battery was charged while towing and could be parked and have the lights working without out having to be hooked up to the tow vehicle.
I have used the same setup on our other trailers over the years and also our Boler except the Boler has no brakes.
Unfortunetly the rules and codes and rules in Canda and the US states are not consistant
across the country. Bad for us!

Best advice, check with the Motor Vehicle Branch first.
All you need is some smart cop who knows the code to stop you and give you a ticket, ruins
a good holiday!
Thanks for this info. MUCH appreciated. When I called around to various RV places and hitch places no one could tell me what the code read in full! Odd as that may seem. I tried to find the code on line to read the whole thing but only found the part that states all trailers with brakes must have a breakaway system.... nothing further.... will have to look into it further.
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Old 04-13-2007, 05:05 PM   #12
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Carol, Best to go down to the Motor Vehicle office and talk to them, or failing that go to your local RCMP office and talk to the traffic division. The code they pack around in their cars is a big black binder 4"to 5" thick. You may have to talk to several people at the MV office till you find someone who knows what you are talking about. They are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
Just try registering snowmobiles or trailers that come from Alberta. Bin der, don dat. Much frustration involved as there are so many dummies there. You will 3 different answers from 3 different people.
If your going to do it, do it right! Then they can't hassle you. I have been stopped on the highway on a few occasions over the years and they could not find anything wrongto complain about.
Best of luck.
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Old 04-15-2007, 09:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Based on my experience with a variety of trailers with brakes and breakaway systems, the Motor vehicle code in British Columbia states:

Any trailer with brakes shall have an on-board wet cell battery, fully charged so that when the trailer breaks away the battery will lock up the trailer brakes for 15 mins.
This applies to trailers with 4 wheel brakes such as horse trailers and boat trailers.
I would venture to guess that would also apply to 2 wheel systems, but it would be advisable to check it out. That was the code some years ago so it may have changed since then.
On-board dry cell batteries were NOT acceptable in B.C. but are in Alberta.
When we had to take our trailers through the testing station in Vancouver they used to pull the pin to make sure the system worked. They also check that all wheels have the same ft.lbs. of braking force on each wheel.
Hmm, if one's house battery is a large AGM or gel-cell, does this mean it's not suitable? This law was poorly written, IMHO -- The 15 minute spec should be sufficient... And I hope the inspectors are astute enough to disconnect the TV cable before pulling the pin and perhaps destroying the controller.

Remember that any separate battery either has to be charged before a trip or connected to the TV charge wire.

Carol, I wouldn't hesitate to remove the retainer, in fact, you may want to do that anyway to renew the sealant so road water doesn't enter the underbunk area -- The lighting wires should all be available inside the underbunk area underneath the ratfur and likely continue to the driver's side of the trailer, down the side and around the back and I would make an educated guess that the blue wire is right there with them (at least as far as the axle area) -- Likely there isn't enough slack, but you should be able to tap in a length of blue wire inside and then run it back out again to the switch (this way the tap will be out of the weather). While you are messing about inside the bench, find the 30Amp inline fuse so you will know where it is in case it ever needs replacement.
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Old 04-15-2007, 10:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Hmm, if one's house battery is a large AGM or gel-cell, does this mean it's not suitable? This law was poorly written, IMHO -- The 15 minute spec should be sufficient... And I hope the inspectors are astute enough to disconnect the TV cable before pulling the pin and perhaps destroying the controller.

Remember that any separate battery either has to be charged before a trip or connected to the TV charge wire.

Carol, I wouldn't hesitate to remove the retainer, in fact, you may want to do that anyway to renew the sealant so road water doesn't enter the underbunk area -- The lighting wires should all be available inside the underbunk area underneath the ratfur and likely continue to the driver's side of the trailer, down the side and around the back and I would make an educated guess that the blue wire is right there with them (at least as far as the axle area) -- Likely there isn't enough slack, but you should be able to tap in a length of blue wire inside and then run it back out again to the switch (this way the tap will be out of the weather). While you are messing about inside the bench, find the 30Amp inline fuse so you will know where it is in case it ever needs replacement.
Thanks Peter, I had a better look today under the bench (did not look high enough up the first time) and the blue wire is right where it should be heading out the retainer. There is a fair bit of slack on it so should be able to tap in just inside the house as the switch wire is long enough to run back out. I also found the fuse as well. Thanks for the tip.

I plan on trying to find out more tomorrow about the rules regarding what type of battery the switch can or can not run off of.

I will be watching to make sure they unplug from the TV before testing it. Would have to think though that it is standard procedure to do so, as the rule is that the switch must be powered by something other than the TV ..... but stranger things have happend! -:-o



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