Camper trailer electric brakes, proving they work disconnected from the vehicle.

Submitted: Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 15:35
ThreadID: 75093 Views:5496 Replies:7 FollowUps:13
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Hi Forumites,
I have a Tekonsha electric brake controller on my vehicle, when the ignition is on I get the normal two dots on the screen, I also get the normal vehicle voltage at the pin in the trailer socket at the back. When I connect the trailer I don't get the "C" telling me that the trailer is connected.
I was hoping to be able to verify where the problem is, I'm suspecting the camper trailer somewhere.
I've started checking things with my multi meter, if I connect to the live side of the wiring what reading should I get, measuring resistance considering the wire goes to the magnet? If I connect to the earth side I'm expecting the scale to drop right of indicating an open circuit, direct short. If I connect a 12V supply to the camper trailer electrical connection pin will the brakes lock up indicating that everything is right or maybe wrong. I know I could use my vehicle to check things it's just in the shed right now undergoing some therapy, I was looking for an easier way to check things to make sure things are working as they should.
Any other checks to carry out would be appreciated, could I have first hand experiences please and constructive comments.
Thanks to anyone who contributes, it's appreciated.
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Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 15:39

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 15:39
My Prodigy does the same sometimes Usually dirty pins or loose wires in the connector between car and trailer.


Pays to dismantle connecors and retighten screws every 6 months or so as they do loosen
AnswerID: 398837

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:06

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:06
I agree - a poor connection in the Trailer Connector will produce these symptoms.

If you connect +12 volts to the Brakes connector it should lock the the brakes totally. The battery -ve will need to be connected to the Trailer Chassis.
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Follow Up By: Martyn (WA) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:23

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:23
Hi Mike,
Thanks that's what I needed to know, I didn't want to do the wrong thing an melt something, I wasn't sure what to expect if I directly connected the 12v supply. If this still doesn't work what I need to do then would be the brakes one at a time to see if the fault is with one or both brake systems, that's like a rhetorical question I suppose..
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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 08:46

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 08:46
If you access to a variable 12 volt supply (eg: a model train transformer), you could hook that up and then be able to see what a progressive increase in voltage does.
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FollowupID: 668117

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian: SA - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:06

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:06
The only snags I've had to troubleshoot in the same setup were.....1. Loose pins in the connection plugs (as Graham said) - in mine, one brass screw was rolling around in the male connector and providing an intermittent fault. 2. Dodgy magnet - it was probably 80% worn, but had a faulty circuit within - once I put new magnets on, that issue was well fixed - no $ harm, seeing that they would have been required soon anyway. Can't recall the exact error readout. It was a brake specialist that tipped me off to the latter issue - makes sense, re the absolute thrashing that such un-suspended componentry would get on terrain such as corrugations.
AnswerID: 398839

Reply By: Martyn (WA) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:18

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:18
Hi Darian / Graham,
Great information, thanks. What do "worn magnets" look like? I bought the camper trailer a while ago now, I know the trailer has done some klms despite being in great condition, the shoes are worn and a bit scored due to dirt / gravel / dust ingress so I'm suspecting that replacing them would be a good start. I'll check the electrical connector again, all the pins seem to be OK, the screws are all tight this was what I checked first, all the lights work etc.
I was wondering if the voltage at the pin increased up to the car voltage, not sure if the voltage starts at zero and increases with the amount of braking effort applied to the vehicle brakes because of the way the Tekonsha brake controller works. If I applied the straight 12 volts to the pin would the brakes lock seeing it's the full voltage?
Thanks to both people who have replied so far, great stuff.
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AnswerID: 398840

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:27

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:27
What model Tekonsha is it Prodigy or Voyager


Worn magnets will be obvious they are up to 3/4 in thick when new.


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FollowupID: 667813

Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian: SA - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:54

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:54
I'll leave electrical circuitry to others - I've done some, but I'm a bit of a danger with it ! Re magnet wear - the only ones I had have been the HD 'offroad' versions - oblong in shape with a plastic insert in the middle - they have small holes drilled into the steel face - only a few mm deep - to serve as wear indicators - when they are near gone, it's time to replace the magnets (or in my case, sooner if they cause problems).
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Follow Up By: Martyn (WA) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 20:34

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 20:34
Graham,


Prodigy
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Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:48

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 16:48
Hi
As everyone has stated, check your connector first, we had problems with the Indicator Lights on the Van, they would work intermittently, I was allways checking the Bulbs ect, had the Test Light out checking the Square Plug on the vehicle, and couldn't find the problem,then I was reading where a bloke had a similar problem and he used a small screw driver to spread the Male Plugs on the Caravan Connector just enough to make them a snug fit, thats all it took to fix my problem.

Cheers
AnswerID: 398845

Follow Up By: Oztravellers - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 23:20

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 23:20
As Daza quite rightly advises, the pins sometimes become loose after a while. I've often had to use the small screwdriver placed in the split end to spread them.
To test the electric brakes:- I've made up a lead about 4m long with 2 core flex and I've connected it to a 7 flat pin socket (pins 2 & 3 I recall, although this would need to be verified) with a 12V test battery I then plug the trailer lead end into the socket and run the lead out adjacent to a wheel that's jacked up. Then apply the 12V battery to the lead end and the wheel should be locked up.
Cheers, Sparkekev
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 07:44

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 07:44
Pin 3 is usually earth and Pin 5 is electric brakes



Pin 2 is auxilary

Look on the connector they are marked



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FollowupID: 667908

Follow Up By: Oztravellers - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 11:21

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 11:21
Sorry about advising wrong pin number , the brakes are pin 5. It's good to see that it's already been picked up. Sparkekev
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FollowupID: 667936

Reply By: Member - Bucky - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 07:39

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 07:39
Martyn

Since I have had the Patrol, and had a Tekonsha Prodigy fitted, I have had nothing but trouble.. ie never know if the trailer brakes work or dont work..
Kinda got them going, after sooking to the autolec, who installed then.. he came around and did a lift the back wheel of the CT, and rolled the tyre test..
When I had the Navara, the same autolec fitted a Voyager, and once I tuned it, it was simply brilliant .. Same CT... makes me wonder ??????

I had basically replaced everything on the CT.. before the trip..
Kinda didn't help when I smashed the plug to bits, on the Gibb River Road, late August. .. I repaired things at Drysdale River Station, but they were basically non existant from then on till I got back to Alice, on the return trip..

I had also drowned the plug with diesel, for 1/2 hr driving out from Kunawaratji, as I passed flashing lights on the controller as a loose plug, but our long range fuel tank had schyte itself.. thought that the shorting may have caused the Prodigy to die.. but it still seems to only 1/2 work...


As you can see, I have had a bit of trouble, with the electrics..

Once home I simply could not get brakes at all, so I made the decision to replace the main power wire from the rear of the controller, to the plug, and also from the plug to the magnets. I rechecked the earth back to the battery that I powered the controller from..
Have also replaced the magnets..

Now I have sort of got brakes..

Next step is to try another controller..
I have not run a bypass wire to the magnets, thanks to the opthers for the tip !

Wish me luck,... I suppose I have something to be gratefull for.. as I have had something to do on my days off work .. hehehehe

Cheers
Bucky




AnswerID: 398937

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 07:51

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 07:51
The Prodigy is one of the better controllers.

However if it is not setup correctly it wont work properly.

It should be set up according to the instruction sheet that comes with it and it will be OK

You should be able to drive down a road and pull the manual lever across and feel the trailer pulling you up.

If not increase the numbers by turning the roller othe top of the unit.

There is also another way of putting some preload on it so that on the screen it says C1 or C2 cant find my instructions atm .

However if the brakes are not correctly adjusted nothing will work well


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FollowupID: 667910

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 08:00

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 08:00
Graham
Been there, done that..
Even had a trailer maker adjust them up, just to see if I had done anything wrong, or different ..
Made no different,, so at the moment I am putting it down to the controller..
I will have to wait till i come back off shift, next week, to see if it is that problem.
As I said, ,it gives me something to do ,, but my patience is fast running out ..
Cheers
Bucky
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FollowupID: 667911

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 14:26

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 14:26
Could be the wiring is too light.

I have 6mm twin wound together running from the controller to the van and get plenty of voltage.

If I advance it to far i can lock up wheels on the van
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FollowupID: 667956

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 05:36

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 05:36
Graham
I have run 50 amp multi core wiire to the plug, from the controller, then 25 amp multi core, from plug to magnets. This is a lot better then the 15 amp that was originally on it.

Cheers Bucky
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FollowupID: 668107

Reply By: Martyn (WA) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 10:10

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 10:10
Hi Forumites,
Progress after last night, I checked the magnet by putting 12 v onto the correct pin in the socket, I attached a small screw driver to the magnet and it stayed in place, I then removed the power and the screw driver fell off, so from that I deduce that the circuit on the nearside wheel is good, worn but good.
I checked the pin on the vehicle, ignition on and pressure on the brake pedal, I put a wooden block to keep the pedal depressed whilst I checked the voltage at the trailer connection socket, yeap I have 12V so now I've spread the pins a bit and when I get everything back together I'll connect one to the other. Mind you I do like the idea of having a 4 meter cable with a socket and a plug on it to check with the trailer and vehicle disconnected, that's a great idea, thanks ior that.
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AnswerID: 398953

Reply By: kiwicol1 - Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 22:49

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 22:49
Had electric brakes on the trak shack, ended up removing them, as the coanstant off road use flogged out the cross in the magnet where it is mounted and the tolerences differenece can either lock up a wheel or not work to its max performance. Now only use the mechanical overide, which were also fitted from factory, and now can adust the brakes in the cable without having to jack up a wheel and adjust the shoes. Col
AnswerID: 399288

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