Thursday, January 23, 2014

Break-Away Blues

It has happened to me twice – back in Europe – that my trailer came off the hitch of my tow vehicle. Over there they have different trailer brakes – mechanical all together. In North America small trailers have electrical brakes. And when a trailer comes off the hitch ball, the trailer’s brakes are activated by something called a break-away switch. Every trailer equipped with brakes has it. It’s a little thingy, usually found somewhere on the tongue of a travel trailer or behind the king pin of a 5th-wheel. The little box has a pin which is connected to a brake cable hooked onto the tow vehicle. When the trailer gets loose, both safety chains have broken (which is very rare) and the distance between tow vehicle and trailer gets too big the cable will pull the pin out of the switch box which is closing an electrical connection and thus activates the trailer brakes. DSC_0047
While our trailer has been parked we noticed a strange odour coming from around the propane tanks. We could not figure out what it was. It smelled like some melting plastic but I just couldn’t find anything wrong. That is until today, when I crawled underneath and looked up against the tongue. There was our break-away switch, halfway molten into a crooked appearance. Last time I had pulled out the pin I had noticed that it was really hard to get out and when I looked at it I realized a part of it was broken and obviously still hiding inside the switch box.
So I needed to replace everything. We don’t have any RV-dealer nearby so I went to a hardware store which advertised trailer parts. They didn’t have it in stock and neither had their suppliers. So off I went to find it elsewhere. I stopped at AUTO ZONE and then at ADVANCED AUTO PARTS but neither could help me. Next stop was 20 miles farther down the road at a boat dealer. They had trailers with million-dollar boats parked in their yard and surly they would have parts there. But NOPE, they just sold the boats. (Poor buyers..)
On I went for another 10 miles to the next boat dealer. But no, they had no such part.
In pure desperation I went farther down the road, scanning both sides for other stores, and just before I hit the bay shore in Ft.Walton Beach I saw a smaller CARQUEST on the right side. Pulled in there and immediately felt that I could be in luck. An older sales clerk just nodded when I had told my story and went straight to the aisle where such brake-away thingy was waiting to be picked up by me.  It was only 12 Bucks which was considerably less than what the first store had quoted me before they found out they didn’t even had it in stock.

I left CARQUEST with a smile and drove all those miles back home. Mission accomplished!

Now, look at our weather forecast. And in a couple of days it’s even gonna get colder. If you don’t believe it, just come on over!


  1. Thats great you finally got your breakaway switch replaced. now you need to hook up that triler and head to Arizona, or is it too late?

  2. Replies
    1. Ruth, we are not in TX yet. Still in AZ. But plan to move out of here next week. Won't be going south in TX though. Maybe heading to AZ. Maybe stay around San Antonio for a while.


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