Engaging the Trailer Brake - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-25-2017, 03:03 PM   #1
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Name: Huck
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Engaging the Trailer Brake

I'm parked on a steep incline.

How can I engage the trailer brake while hitching? I'm afraid the trailer might roll backward. I have chocked the wheels, but I'm worried that might not be enough.

Let's say I hook up the 7 pole trailer cable first. If the trailer starts to roll downhill during hookup, will the tow brake pedal be enough to stop the trailer? I'm thinking hook up the cable first, then the chains, then the hitch.

I'd post a picture but I'm using campground wifi and I doubt if I have enough bandwidth to post it. I have to go to the top of the hill to get my hotspot to connect.

ETA: Just looked at my chains and I think if I route them over the top and don't crisscross them, I might be able to connect them prior to hitching. That should be enough (if they will reach) to stop the trailer from rolling more than several inches in a worse case situation. It might be handy to carry a couple of 1 foot chains and quick connectors to use as extensions in just such a case.
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Old 02-25-2017, 03:29 PM   #2
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The wheels have to rotate some to activate the brakes. I don't know if they would be as much effective in reverse as when going forward as that is what they are primarily designed for. Hooking the chains when you get the ball within a couple inches of the coupler should be good enough and don't bump the trailer any when you back up the rest of the way.
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Old 02-25-2017, 03:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Huck View Post
I'm parked on a steep incline.

How can I engage the trailer brake while hitching? I'm afraid the trailer might roll backward. I have chocked the wheels, but I'm worried that might not be enough.

Let's say I hook up the 7 pole trailer cable first. If the trailer starts to roll downhill during hookup, will the tow brake pedal be enough to stop the trailer? I'm thinking hook up the cable first, then the chains, then the hitch.

I'd post a picture but I'm using campground wifi and I doubt if I have enough bandwidth to post it. I have to go to the top of the hill to get my hotspot to connect.

ETA: Just looked at my chains and I think if I route them over the top and don't crisscross them, I might be able to connect them prior to hitching. That should be enough (if they will reach) to stop the trailer from rolling more than several inches in a worse case situation. It might be handy to carry a couple of 1 foot chains and quick connectors to use as extensions in just such a case.
Take cushens out of trailer and put ongard rail
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Old 02-25-2017, 04:51 PM   #4
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Only way I can think of to engage the brake while hitching is to get close, but not too close, plug in the wire, then somehow hold the manual lever on your brake controller in the fully on position while you do whatever the rest of your hitching procedure is. This assumes you've got some extra length to your cord. I guess I've never (and hopefully will never) tested whether the brakes will hold the trailer themselves, but I guess I assume they will.

I think that if the chocks aren't enough, they're either sort of "rigged" chocks which aren't adequate for the job, or you back way too fast and slam into your trailer while hitching. Otherwise, I think you're just more worried about it than you should be. If the chocks are enough to keep the trailer from rolling away while it's stored there, there's no reason they shouldn't be enough to keep it there while hitching. You shouldn't even be bumping it when hitching, but if you mess up a little and do, it should only be a very light tap...
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:20 PM   #5
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I always connect least one safety chain first. I never thought about a situation where the chain was too short, but I also carry a tow strap and a 4 foot piece of 5/8 chain with a grab hook, so I could improvise if necessary.
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:24 PM   #6
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If the chocks are enough to keep the trailer from rolling away while it's stored there, there's no reason they shouldn't be enough to keep it there while hitching. You shouldn't even be bumping it when hitching, but if you mess up a little and do, it should only be a very light tap...
The trailer is level now because I have blocks under the wheels. It's hard to put chocks in place when one wheel is 6" in the air (on the blocks). I have a chock in place on both wheels, but I have doubts that both will hold. I'm hoping if one holds, that's good enough.

Think about backing down an incline. After unhooking, to get the trailer level, you have to drop the front way down, raise the rear, or likely both.

Now to hook back up, I have to raise the front higher than normal to accept the ball. Remember I've already got the trailer tires on blocks. That's the point I'm concerned the trailer could roll backward. Instead of the balance point being the middle of the trailer, it will be near the back of the trailer.
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:27 PM   #7
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Pulling the breakaway switch will energize the magnets. As Bob suggested, any roll will engage the brakes. Energizing the magnets draws from the battery so be quick.
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:50 PM   #8
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Raz is exactly right. The breakaway switch is a small black box attached to the frame and is designed to stop the trailer if it completely breaks away from the tow vehicle. Most states require them by law. A wire is attached to a little plastic breaker which separates a switch that, when the breaker is pulled out activates the trailer brakes. This doesn't put much of a electrical draw on the battery and should hold for a good while. Now, this is important...after you are hitched up and ready to go re-insert the little plastic insulator into the switch so you can drive off without the trailer breaks engaged.
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Old 02-25-2017, 06:22 PM   #9
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Huck, do you have enough jack to lift it up and pull the levers out one at a time to get it on the ground?
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Old 02-25-2017, 06:33 PM   #10
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Huck, do you have enough jack to lift it up and pull the levers out one at a time to get it on the ground?
Wouldn't that be like playing Russian Roulette? Or what was the game where you pull one piece at a time out?
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Old 02-25-2017, 06:37 PM   #11
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Pulling the breakaway switch will energize the magnets. As Bob suggested, any roll will engage the brakes. Energizing the magnets draws from the battery so be quick.
Thanks. That's the option I was looking for if I'm not feeling comfortable with the "normal" method for hooking up.
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:25 PM   #12
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Pulling the breakaway switch will energize the magnets. As Bob suggested, any roll will engage the brakes. Energizing the magnets draws from the battery so be quick.
Correct but best done with the trailer unplugged from the TV. My breakaway switch instructions warned that the controller may be damaged if the breakaway switch is activated while the system is connected to the controller.
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Old 02-26-2017, 12:07 AM   #13
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Wouldn't that be like playing Russian Roulette? Or what was the game where you pull one piece at a time out?
LOL, nope, just one way to get your TT on the wheel again.
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Old 02-26-2017, 02:50 AM   #14
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Here it is about 2:30 in the morning and I think I have it figured out. Just woke up and the solution seems obvious.

As long as I can get the chains on, I control the trailer. Worse case, the trailer rolls back a few inches and comes off the blocks. That's actually a good thing, because then I can reset the wheel chocks on the ground.

So either the chocks hold as is or the trailer rolls back a little and I reset the chocks. Then I should be able to raise the hitch as high as necessary to go over the ball.
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Old 02-26-2017, 05:09 AM   #15
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Huck, A real simple solution, Get someone to help you when backing up so you do not ram into the trailer.
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Old 02-26-2017, 06:49 AM   #16
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Huck, A real simple solution, Get someone to help you when backing up so you do not ram into the trailer.
That was a given. The other problem is having to jack the front of the trailer very high so the ball will fit under it. That's why I thought about the trailer brakes, but it seems the chains are a better option.

It's a 2 step process. Leave the trailer as is and back within a couple inches of the trailer so I can hook up the chains. Once the chains are connected, jack up the trailer to receive the ball. That way, if the trailer slides backward, it should be limited by the slack in the chain.
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Old 02-26-2017, 10:07 AM   #17
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Take cushens out of trailer and put ongard rail
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Old 02-26-2017, 10:59 AM   #18
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We learned the hard way to NEVER remove the chocks until the TV is hooked to Peanut! Our fat, black rubber chocks do just fine on our slighly-sloped driveway to hold Peanut while stored/sitting...and hold fine while we hook up to the TV. BUT...we (mere humans that we are) are unable to stop Peanut from rolling when the chocks are removed! It was only Paul's quick turning of the tongue jack wheel sideways that kept the trailer from rolling against the house. It was close, and he nearly hurt himself.

Remember in The Long, Long Trailer: "Trailer brakes first! TRAILER BRAKES FIRST!"
Well, we have a mantra now, too: "Remove chocks LAST! REMOVE CHOCKS LAST!"


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Old 02-26-2017, 12:42 PM   #19
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We learned the hard way to NEVER remove the chocks until the TV is hooked to Peanut! Our fat, black rubber chocks do just fine on our slighly-sloped driveway to hold Peanut while stored/sitting...and hold fine while we hook up to the TV. BUT...we (mere humans that we are) are unable to stop Peanut from rolling when the chocks are removed! It was only Paul's quick turning of the tongue jack wheel sideways that kept the trailer from rolling against the house. It was close, and he nearly hurt himself.

Remember in The Long, Long Trailer: "Trailer brakes first! TRAILER BRAKES FIRST!"
Well, we have a mantra now, too: "Remove chocks LAST! REMOVE CHOCKS LAST!"


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Chains 1st worked for me.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:28 PM   #20
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"Chains first, chocks last!" maybe.
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