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Boat Trailer Question - Breakaway Cable


idn713

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So I have a 2019 175 Alumacraft Competitor, sits on a single axle simple trailer, no brakes of its own. Due to an imprudent pull away while the breakaway cable was still attached, I bent out the S hook on the cable. Now it drives me nuts because it’s too thick to bend back and it doesn’t want to hook on to the hitch well anymore. Does this thing even do anything on a trailer with no braking system? Or is it just a internal fail safe system that is only triggered if the cable breaks away. I ask becuase I’m thinking of getting rid of it altogether. This might be the dumbest question of all time but I don’t know the answer so it can’t hurt to ask. 

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Post a picture of the tongue of your trailer so we can see if you have brakes or not.  Usually a “breakaway” is to pull brakes on if trailer detaches.  The common S hooks on those likely found at a hardware or a trailer store - used on surge brake systems.  Some safety chains use S hooks too- kind of important to know what you have and not just not hook up.

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It is also possible to carefully hammer the hook back to the "s"shape.

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5 hours ago, mr 580 said:

Post a picture of the tongue of your trailer so we can see if you have brakes or not.  Usually a “breakaway” is to pull brakes on if trailer detaches.  The common S hooks on those likely found at a hardware or a trailer store - used on surge brake systems.  Some safety chains use S hooks too- kind of important to know what you have and not just not hook up.

Right, my safety chains use a s hook with a retaining clip. Been around boats my whole life so I do know what’s what, but I wasn’t sure about the functionality of the breakaway cable on a single axle trailer without a obvious braking system. Like why would they put it on there? 

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1 hour ago, Skippers Trophy 01 said:

Looks like surge brakes to me...?

Yep! That looks like either a Tiedown or Dexter actuator.  Alumacrafts are generally packaged with Eagle trailers. If that trailer doesn't have brakes, it did at one time! And if it does...they ain't workin!

BTW, that metal clip on the cable should be inside the coupler. Being outside means the emergency brake is activated.

Edited by Shakemsam
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2 hours ago, Shakemsam said:

Yep! That looks like either a Tiedown or Dexter actuator.  Alumacrafts are generally packaged with Eagle trailers. If that trailer doesn't have brakes, it did at one time! And if it does...they ain't workin!

BTW, that metal clip on the cable should be inside the coupler. Being outside means the emergency brake is activated.

Seems odd, I never noticed a difference in any way shape or form regardless of the pull or not pull. Doesn’t that seem odd for a 2019 trailer? It’s too new to be faulty in that way 

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Don't see any signs of surge brakes.  See other issues with setup.  You should cross the chains so that the tongue has something to land on before it hits the ground if the hitch detaches.  Also, it seems the chains are attached way, way too far back and are too close to the ground, possibly dragging.  Even if they were crossed it wouldn't help.

 

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yes, it has a surge brake actuator for sure. have you tried backing it up a grade to test and see if the brakes are actually working? is there any brake lines going from the actuator to the hubs? that new of a trailer should still have the hardware but the brake pads could be worn out and not working.

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On second look, there is probably a brake fluid reservoir under the plastic cap .  The fact that the pin with retaining rings is in a slot is a definite sign that it slides to actuate. I have just never seen one like that in 55 yrs of boating experience.

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Is it possible that the trailer mfg uses the standard surge brake actuator on every trailer but if the original customer doesn’t buy a brake package they just don’t install the brakes and lines? Seems the only possibility unless someone removed the brake system which doesn’t seem likely. It’s definitely a surge brake actuator. If there’s no lines running back to and between the hubs then it must not have brakes. Seems like it would be easy to verify. If no brakes the break away cable is useless anyway.


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Attached are a couple pics of 2022 Shorelander Single axle trailer with hydraulic surge brakes.  I'm not sure the weight of your Alumacraft 175 and whether it requires brakes in New York.  I'd check to see if you have a master cylinder under that plastic plug on the tongue and if you have a rubber hose brake line in the joint of the swing tongue.  If your trailer came with brakes and someone pulled them off, it could be a problem if you ever have your trailer checked.   Where I live, police have been checking trailers as it is an easy ticket for them.  You could also check a parts list for your trailer and see if two tongues were offered.  You shouldn't have brake components like breakaway and master cylinder if trailer has no brakes.   Worth the time to check out before you have an issue.   As far as the s hook that could be straightened or replaced with one from a bungie.

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Chains being that far back are likely due to the swing tongue.
Breakaway also needs a battery to activate brakes.
I believe that most municipalities require a closed loop connection rather than a hook as well.
S hooks should be a thing resting in the past!

Edited by BC FD
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I have an alumacraft on an ez loader trailer. Cables are hooked behind swing tongue but run through a bracket near the hitch to give it the support it needs at ball. Brake lines are clear as day at hubs, and I put a threaded chain link on my s hook. Works better for me.


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IMG_2457.jpgIMG_2458.jpgIMG_2459.jpg
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57 minutes ago, Cody191 said:

I have an alumacraft on an ez loader trailer. Cables are hooked behind swing tongue but run through a bracket near the hitch to give it the support it needs at ball. Brake lines are clear as day at hubs, and I put a threaded chain link on my s hook. Works better for me.


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IMG_2457.jpgIMG_2458.jpgIMG_2459.jpg

Update it def has brakes as you all pointed out, just don’t think it was pulled enough obviously to make them kick in. I like this threaded chain link idea and I’ll be putting one on my breakaway cable as well. 

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11 hours ago, idn713 said:

Update it def has brakes as you all pointed out, just don’t think it was pulled enough obviously to make them kick in. I like this threaded chain link idea and I’ll be putting one on my breakaway cable as well. 

The adding a link to the breakaway cable...bad idea. The length of that cable is key to when the brakes react. Adding a link delays that reaction. Don't do it!  Now, as I mentioned previously..  The metal clip on the breakaway cable is designed to be inside the actuator. When the cable is pulled with force (usually when you pull away and forget to disconnect it), the brakes are activated and the clip keeps the cable extended, keeping the brakes from releasing. Now the cable is similar to your emergency break cable in your car but different because it does not go all the way to your wheels. The cable is generally attached to a lever on the actuator that when pulled, activates the brakes. Most actuators are mounted above the tongue and all the above would be in plain view. Eagle integrated it into the tongue for appearance. You will have to remove the actuator to service it.

That S hook is tempered steel. It is tough for a reason. If it was easy to bend, it wouldn't serve it's purpose very well. Like a previous poster suggested...try some heat!

If the trailer moves without issue, then the brakes simply are not working. Considering that you didn't know you had brakes...I am sure that the actuator is dry if not full of water. Remove the black cap behind the coupler. That's where the brake fluid goes. Reg DOT fluid is fine.

Now, at the wheels...you could have disc or drum brakes. Servicing the brakes can be a chore. Disc are the easier of the two. Either way, the wheels will have to be removed. If it is drum brakes, the hubs have to come off. If disc, they resemble automotive disc brakes and are self explanatory. My guess...you will have drum brakes and the wheel cylinders are frozen. Replace the cylinders, maybe the shoes, and some hardware. With any luck, the actuator isn't froze but not likely. Rebuild kits are available but I generally just replace the whole thing. If the hoses and lines appear ok, next is bleeding the brakes and adjusting the shoes to the hubs. Sounds like a lot and it is, but it's not terrible. It's also a PITA with the boat on but it can be done. Good Luck and PM me if you have any ?

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Good description of surge brakes by Shakemsam and procedure to check system.  Penetrating oil and patience are assets working on trailer brakes.  Not hard just messy and dirty.

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The adding a link to the breakaway cable...bad idea. The length of that cable is key to when the brakes react. Adding a link delays that reaction. Don't do it!  Now, as I mentioned previously..  The metal clip on the breakaway cable is designed to be inside the actuator. When the cable is pulled with force (usually when you pull away and forget to disconnect it), the brakes are activated and the clip keeps the cable extended, keeping the brakes from releasing. Now the cable is similar to your emergency break cable in your car but different because it does not go all the way to your wheels. The cable is generally attached to a lever on the actuator that when pulled, activates the brakes. Most actuators are mounted above the tongue and all the above would be in plain view. Eagle integrated it into the tongue for appearance. You will have to remove the actuator to service it.
That S hook is tempered steel. It is tough for a reason. If it was easy to bend, it wouldn't serve it's purpose very well. Like a previous poster suggested...try some heat!
If the trailer moves without issue, then the brakes simply are not working. Considering that you didn't know you had brakes...I am sure that the actuator is dry if not full of water. Remove the black cap behind the coupler. That's where the brake fluid goes. Reg DOT fluid is fine.
Now, at the wheels...you could have disc or drum brakes. Servicing the brakes can be a chore. Disc are the easier of the two. Either way, the wheels will have to be removed. If it is drum brakes, the hubs have to come off. If disc, they resemble automotive disc brakes and are self explanatory. My guess...you will have drum brakes and the wheel cylinders are frozen. Replace the cylinders, maybe the shoes, and some hardware. With any luck, the actuator isn't froze but not likely. Rebuild kits are available but I generally just replace the whole thing. If the hoses and lines appear ok, next is bleeding the brakes and adjusting the shoes to the hubs. Sounds like a lot and it is, but it's not terrible. It's also a PITA with the boat on but it can be done. Good Luck and PM me if you have any ?

How would adding 1/2” of length to the cable change anything at all with the actuation. It won’t, it only actuates if it comes un hitched. As long as the cable is shorter than the distance of the chains when it drops it will work fine. Where I live the roads are so filled with potholes I’ve had the s hook bounce off. The downside to a threaded link is if you pull away without disconnecting it won’t bend. You’ll break something.


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You can see by the picture of the wheel that you have disc brakes. A simple way to check if the system is working is to hook the trailer up to your vehicle and leave the electric plug off. Try to back up the trailer with you vehicle.  You shouldn't be able to bake up if the brakes are working. If the wheels lock up and you can't move in reverse the brakes are working. If the trailer rolls in reverse the system isn't working properly. By the questions you are asking here you should probably have someone that knows what they are doing check it out.

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