Breakaway switch wired to "house" battery project

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Breakaway switch wired to "house" battery project

Postby working on it » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:37 pm

* I guess it's finally time to add a breakaway switch to my trailer, since most states require them on 3000 lb trailers, and it seems that the requirement may eventually affect my 2100 lb trailer, as laws are becoming more strict (even in Texas), and my trailer could possibly reach 3k lbs (I hope not). I haven't thought having one that important, as I always use crossed safety chains, a locked coupler pin, and usually use a Weight Distributing bar (which makes sure that the coupler won't likely lift off the ball). But, why not just go ahead and install one, anyway, but by doing it my way.

* I know that there are many who advocate using a dedicated battery (most often with its' own trickle charger) when adding a "breakaway" system on their trailers, but having seen many with dead batteries (at the drag strip, usually) and thus non-functional breakaways, I'm going to use my always-topped-up, on-board AGM battery to power my system. Since I barely ever use 12vdc power, and always (even at camp in State Parks) keep it on a BatteryMinder 1.5 amp trickle charger, I'll be assured of having a good battery if I ever need the breakaway to stop my runaway trailer (not the Runaway trailer brand!). I do not supply power to a battery charger on the road thru my 7-way plug, since I prefer to use an external ac charger, and have no fridge or on board items that need the power while traveling.

* Several friends with high-dollar race cars (and high-dollar trailers to match) used on board power for breakaways, back years ago, and my wife's Puma business trailer came wired the same in 2007, so I always figured to do it that way, if ever I was to install a breakaway switch. I've meant to since 2011 (when I added it to my to-do parts list), and it's been on my Amazon Prime "saved for later" list nearly as long. So, I finally went ahead and ordered one along with lawnmower repair parts (the wife doesn't know the difference!), and it'll go on after I get more wire to use (12 years after I quit racing, my wiring supplies finally ran out).

* I also bought an inline, manual-reset circuit breaker that will act as a fuse and power on/off switch, some ring terminals, and Posi-locks & Posi-taps (I ran out of those, too), so I can wire it together in just a few minutes. I'll make a spot inside the tongue box above the battery, so all I have to do is mount the circuit breaker on the inside with a couple of screws, and use a #14 x 1 1/2" TEK self-drilling screw to attach the breakaway switch underneath the 3"x 3/16" square tube tongue. The hard part is crawling underneath the trailer and opening the sealed (I think I used 3M gorilla snot) Spectro junction box, to connect to the brake. Or maybe just tap directly onto the brake wire at the axle (probably won't). Anyway, with temperatures around 100, I might wait for a rainy day.
plan to use house battery for breakaway brake activation (2).png
the red & black 4 gauge cables to the rear, and master disconnect switch have always been there, but shown here in an adapted drawing from earlier times
plan to use house battery for breakaway brake activation (2).png (360.2 KiB) Viewed 827 times
inline circuit breaker for breakaway.JPG
circuit breaker $12, and breakaway switch $10, both from Amazon
inline circuit breaker for breakaway.JPG (126.22 KiB) Viewed 827 times
Spectro junction box, as-installed in the HHRv TTT.jpg
I had a saved wiring diagram, but my PC ate it, so here's a reconstruction
Spectro junction box, as-installed in the HHRv TTT.jpg (228.27 KiB) Viewed 827 times
2013 HHRv "squareback/squaredrop", rugged, 4x8 TTT, 2150+ lbs
  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
  • *27 x 8.5-14LT AT tires (x 3) *Weight Distribution system for single-beam tongue
  • *100% LED's & GFCI outlets, 3x fans, AM/FM/CD/Aux. *A/C & heat, Optima AGM, inverter & charger(s)
  • *extended-run, on-board, 2500w generator *Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern, Ikea grill, vintage skillet
  • *zinc/stainless front & side racks *98"L x 6" diameter rod & reel carrier tube on roof
156215157958148599
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Re: Breakaway switch wired to "house" battery project

Postby working on it » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:00 pm

* I have received all my parts (save one) from Amazon to complete the project. The blue 14 gauge wire I ordered to make the long run (from breakaway box to the 7-way junction box) seems to have been taken out of the box it was shipped in, and badly repackaged at a UPS facility in Kentucky, while being transported here. The other three rolls of wire I ordered came, but not the blue.

* All my Amazon shipments come in some sort of Amazon packaging, but this one was in a badly-wrapped-taped used "REESE Coupler" box that was inserted into another scrap box. Not the way Amazon does it, nor usually UPS, nor any competent shipper (I know, because I was in shipping/receiving off and on for 46 years). I notified Amazon, and will give UPS 24 hours to find.ship the missing wire, before I notify their management (maybe my connections are still there). I hate incompetence!
wire ordered from Amazon, via UPS, one roll missing - Copy.jpg
name and address edited-out; photo collage of the evidence
wire ordered from Amazon, via UPS, one roll missing - Copy.jpg (212.64 KiB) Viewed 786 times


* While I'm waiting to get the wire (or fetch some from Autozone), I made a drawing for my files, showing the theory of operation behind my project. Not that anyone cares, I like to leave records of my build for whenever one of my in-law's kids get the trailer as a gift or inheritance from me. My own family has long since been disowned, and I even like my in-laws! Unheard of!
theory of operation, house battery breakaway system.jpg
simple, foolproof transfer of power to brakes (one hot wire), while battery & brakes both have a common frame ground
theory of operation, house battery breakaway system.jpg (161.44 KiB) Viewed 786 times
2013 HHRv "squareback/squaredrop", rugged, 4x8 TTT, 2150+ lbs
  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
  • *27 x 8.5-14LT AT tires (x 3) *Weight Distribution system for single-beam tongue
  • *100% LED's & GFCI outlets, 3x fans, AM/FM/CD/Aux. *A/C & heat, Optima AGM, inverter & charger(s)
  • *extended-run, on-board, 2500w generator *Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern, Ikea grill, vintage skillet
  • *zinc/stainless front & side racks *98"L x 6" diameter rod & reel carrier tube on roof
156215157958148599
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Re: Breakaway switch wired to "house" battery project

Postby working on it » Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:44 pm

* After waiting two days to convince Amazon that the missing blue wire roll wouldn't show up from UPS, and getting my refund for it, I tried three places to buy some 14 gauge blue primary wire, and couldn't find any. So, I'll be using the 20-ft roll of white to substitute for blue. My junction box already has three non-std colors wired there already, so if I label it at the breakaway switch, and at the junction box, then the next owner of this trailer will not confuse it with the "trailer normal, white ground wire" standard. I also used a black wire from circuit breaker to breakaway switch, instead of using red there, because it will not be "hot" until the circuit breaker is closed, and the breakaway switch is activated. The battery to circuit breaker wire is always "hot", so it remains red.
wiring color changes in two spots.jpg
wiring color changes in two spots.jpg (170.66 KiB) Viewed 737 times


* I have to pull the trailer out of the garage to be able to get under it (too tight to squeeze under from the sides or rear...a combination of stored clutter, and my bad back making it too tight a fit), so I need the wife here to guide me in/out without clearing the clutter first. Tomorrow afternoon, maybe. It'll still be 100 degrees, so I'll put mover's blankets on the hot ground (sand and road base), and set a box fan nearby, so I won't overheat. It should only take another 15 minutes to route and connect the 10 ft ? of white wire to the brake output wire. I've already done the battery, circuit breaker (in a re-purposed sandwich box w/lid, bolted to the inside wall- {weather sealed}- of the tongue box with 1/4"-20 carriage bolts), breakaway switch, and associated wiring (with stapled mounting points, strain reliefs, and solder/sealed splices).

* When I first opened the tongue box to start the install, I found that the always-connected 12v maintainer wires had been pulled loose from the charger on the wall. I've been rebuilding two old lawnmowers recently, and I must've yanked the wires loose some time ago, moving the mowers in & out past the trailer. The Optima Yellowtop was down to under 12v, so I thought it was dead. But, once again, using my trusty Schumacher XCS15 SpeedCharge 15 Amp Ship 'n Shore Battery Charger, I was able to bring it back to life in just a few hours (again). Then, I re-hooked-up the 1.5 amp BatteryMinder maintainer, to keep it at 100%.
Schumacher XCS15 SpeedCharge 15 Amp Ship 'n Shore Battery Charger.jpg
Schumacher XCS15 SpeedCharge 15 Amp Ship 'n Shore Battery Charger.jpg (99.29 KiB) Viewed 737 times
2013 HHRv "squareback/squaredrop", rugged, 4x8 TTT, 2150+ lbs
  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
  • *27 x 8.5-14LT AT tires (x 3) *Weight Distribution system for single-beam tongue
  • *100% LED's & GFCI outlets, 3x fans, AM/FM/CD/Aux. *A/C & heat, Optima AGM, inverter & charger(s)
  • *extended-run, on-board, 2500w generator *Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern, Ikea grill, vintage skillet
  • *zinc/stainless front & side racks *98"L x 6" diameter rod & reel carrier tube on roof
156215157958148599
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Re: Breakaway switch wired to "house" battery project

Postby featherliteCT1 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:28 pm

Thanks for the detailed explanations … I enjoyed the reading. Respecting that expensive Yellow Top Battery, I hope the battery was not too badly hurt from the deep discharge, for who knows how long, otherwise “the wife” might not let you buy another one. A new battery on the lawnmower repair invoices might stick out like a red cape in front of a bull. :NC
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Re: Breakaway switch wired to "house" battery project

Postby working on it » Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:28 am

* I've let the Yellowtop "die" twice before, and by using high-frequency chargers (ones that desulfate in pulses), and also using the same type of conditioning maintainers, when I've brought it back to life it stays healthy for quite awhile. It doesn't get to 12.9v like it once did, but 12.6v and !00% on my automatic charger is good enough for my needs. At most, at camp, I'll run the two computer case fans on my side-vents for 8 hours each night, and maybe listen to the stereo for an hour, but that's hardly any draw at all. This battery is 7 years old, and if I can keep it charged, I expect 3-4 more years from it. My vehicles usually have chargers on them daily: the HHR Panel battery lasted 10.5 years, my truck battery 11, my wife's truck battery only 9, and her Cobalt's battery is still going at 12 (despite never having it on a charger!). I guess I've been lucky with batteries, lately.

* Except when wiring something.... I managed to pull the trailer from the garage by hand, by myself, when it was over 100 degrees yesterday afternoon. I got the junction box open, and it is an over-packed mess of wires, due to having to use extra wire: 2 & 3- wire cables as extensions for "too short" 7-way, and 4-way sections spliced-in to extend it. Not a clean install at all. Since I had no room in the box, some terminals were swapped from the labelled locations in the box. I snapped a picture before I put in the trigger wire for the breakaway:
Spectro box wiring as of Aug.2, 2019.jpg
Spectro box wiring as of Aug.2, 2019.jpg (363.95 KiB) Viewed 687 times


* I ran the new wire and sealed the junction box, prior to running it up to the breakaway switch. I mismeasured the length of the wire , since I changed the side I was running it to, from left to right. Ok, an extra splice. Then I was stapling a silicon tube under my tonque box with the hot and brake wires going to the switch, and realized I had severed the white wire. Again, another butt connector (my solder seals have gone missing). So, it's all now connected, and since it's getting dark (mosquito time), I gathered and put away tools, and pushed the trailer back inside, before testing. Wrong. Didn't work. one or more connectors isn't right, or I pulled one loose while struggling out from under the trailer (I'm old and semi-broken)...anyway, it rained today, so next week I'll try again.
2013 HHRv "squareback/squaredrop", rugged, 4x8 TTT, 2150+ lbs
  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
  • *27 x 8.5-14LT AT tires (x 3) *Weight Distribution system for single-beam tongue
  • *100% LED's & GFCI outlets, 3x fans, AM/FM/CD/Aux. *A/C & heat, Optima AGM, inverter & charger(s)
  • *extended-run, on-board, 2500w generator *Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern, Ikea grill, vintage skillet
  • *zinc/stainless front & side racks *98"L x 6" diameter rod & reel carrier tube on roof
156215157958148599
User avatar
working on it
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Posts: 1950
Images: 455
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:05 pm
Location: DFW Texas
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