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Trailers and electrical connections to vehicles

Old 04-24-2014, 06:55 AM
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chuckk2
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Default Trailers and electrical connections to vehicles

My new trailer was delivered last weekend. (Finally)
Anyway, It came with a surprise! Of all things the mfr had added electric brakes!
Since I didn't order them, it was a freebee!

Along with the electric brakes, the expected 4 pin flat connector was replaced with a 7 pin
RV style connector. My P/U was all setup for the the 4 pin connector. (Bummer!)
Further, the local stores carrying the necessary stuff to go from one to the other had closed for
the Easter Holiday. (Double Bummer!)

If that isn't bad enough, my P/U, a Ford Ranger, has a bumper and so forth that cannot use
the standard brackets supplied with the usual conversion kits. (No room, etc.)
(Triple Bummer!) Had to order an adapter that no one locally had in stock.

I ended up tie rapping the adapter to a hitch horizontal bar, until the adapter comes in.

Having dealt with trailers and boats in the 60's, I already knew about the usual hassles
when anything but the standard 4 pin flat connector is used. These days, after all that time,
you would think that there actually was a universal standard. As it turns out, there are at least two
for the 7 pin connectors - "traditional" (The way the trailer was wired!) And, a newer? SAE/international standard.
Many of the prewired newer vehicles use this standard. The aftermarket adapters may be either, and some are not marked.
Further, the wire color codes may not be followed.

Anyway, this necessitated getting out a 12v battery, jumpers with test clips, and a DVM/Ohmmeter, and having at it!
When that was done, and everything was sorted out, another little detail reared it's head. Seems that the trailer mfr.
cut two unused wires short on both ends of the umbilical cable. One is optionally used to charge a to be added battery,
and the other as a 12v utility source. I had planned on using either or both to power a charger, since I fly electrics.
(Another Bummer!) The solution is to shorten the umbilical cable at both ends, so all the wires have usable un-jacketed lengths,
and reconnect everything.

Moving on to the Next Problem - -
The P/U has anti-lock and traction control. The usual method of connecting a trailer brake controller
to the low side of the brake pedal switch may not work properly! Ford dropped out the info concerning this
from the P/U owner's towing manuals. Still researching this one!


I had expected to have a serious start on the interior brackets and shelves by now. No such luck!
Old 04-24-2014, 08:46 AM
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I'm glad it sounds as if you have it sorted out . Your post brought to mind the trouble one friend had when attempting to use a small trailer with his car . It seems that a number of the newer cars have all of the lights run by a computer , and the computer don't take kindly to more lights being connected to it . It seems the computer monitors the current drawn by the lights and goes into fault mode when too much (or too little) current is drawn in any given lighting circuit . His solution ended up being a converter/adaptor gizmo sold by the car manufacturer , so much for the good ol days of just wiring up a pigtail and being all set ....
Old 04-24-2014, 01:21 PM
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Easy fix, just get one of these with the tow Pkg and it comes all set for E brakes.

http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/trim/limited/

It's pretty nice and with just the 5.0 it runs good. Only stuff I added was a Flow master exhaust and an Agricover. It pretty much comes with everything else and even your wife will like it.
Old 04-25-2014, 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by topspin View Post
Easy fix, just get one of these with the tow Pkg and it comes all set for E brakes.

http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/trim/limited/

It's pretty nice and with just the 5.0 it runs good. Only stuff I added was a Flow master exhaust and an Agricover. It pretty much comes with everything else and even your wife will like it.

I don't have the OP's problem, but I am seriously considering your solution. LOL My F-150 has a six in it, but pulls my trailer well enough. The truck is a base model, though, and boring. That new Ford was certainly spice things up !
Old 04-25-2014, 02:49 AM
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chuckk2
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Originally Posted by topspin View Post
Easy fix, just get one of these with the tow Pkg and it comes all set for E brakes.

http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/trim/limited/

It's pretty nice and with just the 5.0 it runs good. Only stuff I added was a Flow master exhaust and an Agricover. It pretty much comes with everything else and even your wife will like it.
That's not in the cards! Too big, too expensive, and too heavy.
Maybe I'll re-consider a year or two down the road after they get the bugs out of the upcoming aluminum
changeover.
The 2011 Ranger I have has a 4L V6, and can pull the trailer quite nicely at highway/interstate speeds.
It's rated for more than the trailers gross weight. Don't know about the mountains, though!
It may turn out that I have to add a second brake switch just for the electric brake controller.
This should avoid any computer related problems.
Old 04-25-2014, 03:33 AM
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I loved my Ranger, but I felt that I needed a larger vehicle.

As for your brake problem, it must exist for guys who pull campers. There may be something here, that will help you out. https://www.google.com/#nfpr=1&q=Con...brakes&spell=1
Old 04-25-2014, 04:48 AM
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It sounds like you already have it wired up, but if you got one of these it just plugs in your existing wiring.

http://www.etrailer.com/Custom-Fit-V...id=20101172310

If you don't travel far or have too many hills you can do without the trailer brakes otherwise I would recommend getting a brake controller. If you haven't noticed already, even with an empty trailer, you do get quite a bit of push from the trailer when stopping. The controller doesn't hook up to the electronics of the truck so your computer should not be affected.

http://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contro...sha/90195.html

What kind/size trailer do you have?

Last edited by bolar; 04-25-2014 at 04:51 AM.
Old 04-28-2014, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by chuckk2 View Post
It may turn out that I have to add a second brake switch just for the electric brake controller.
This should avoid any computer related problems.
You should be able to just grab the hot side of one of the brake lights and use that to trigger the brake controller. The brake controller should have a separate lead direct to the battery for the high current, all the brake switch connection does is basically switch a relay.
Old 05-02-2014, 07:07 AM
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Jetdesign
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If it were me: I would take the time to find the right adapters or wiring harnesses, and use the trailer without the brake until I had it all figured out since it was planned for use without a brake anyway. It shouldn't be too hard to find a wiring diagram and see where the factory tow kit plugs in.

I'm looking forward to seeing progress on this trailer. I just got one this past winter and need to get it all setup. I am going to derate the suspension so it is more forgiving to fragile models.
Old 05-03-2014, 05:30 PM
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chuckk2
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Originally Posted by Jetdesign View Post
If it were me: I would take the time to find the right adapters or wiring harnesses, and use the trailer without the brake until I had it all figured out since it was planned for use without a brake anyway. It shouldn't be too hard to find a wiring diagram and see where the factory tow kit plugs in.

I'm looking forward to seeing progress on this trailer. I just got one this past winter and need to get it all setup. I am going to derate the suspension so it is more forgiving to fragile models.
When all is said and done - - -
Found A Draw-Tite Connector Mounting Box P/N 118156 (2 1/2")
That allows me to mount a 7 pin connector With a four pin connector to the receiver bracket.
(No room to use the simpler "L" Bracket)
The adapter plugs into the existing Ranger 4 pin connector.

I also have a 2008 Ranger, and will end up using both Rangers occasionally to tow the trailer.
To avoid various issues that seem to be related to how the vehicle computers are in the middle of things,
I ordered a Tekonsha Prodigy RF Brake controller. It mounts on the trailer, and once setup,
is more or less independent of the towing vehicle. The RF part involves the link to a remote
control/programming unit that plugs into the usual cigar lighter. (or not, if the unit is already setup)

Last night/yesterday evening found loose wood block behind one of the front E Trac strips in the trailer nose.
Had to remove a bunch of interior trim, etc, reposition, and screw down from the outside. Had wife hold in position
from the inside. Glued down to make sure that it stays put.

Spent a good part of this afternoon installing an access plate in the trailer floor within the front "V"
1. Hunt down something to cut a 2-3/4 Diam hole in the floor. Ended up using a router, since I did not find
my hole saw set. (Lots of sawdust, etc.) Cleaned up sawdust, take vacuum cleaner apart to recover an object that fell
out of my pocket and was promptly sucked up, almost before it hit the floor.

Installed circular plate with access door. One screw hit a void in the plywood, and spun. I'll have to squirt
some CA into the hole, let it cure, and see if that solves the problem. The plate allows me to drop an extension cord
through the floor, or other things like an air hose , without leaving the door or ramp open. I may build a box under the hole to store
the cord, etc. I'm trying to keep anything like this above the bottom of the frame rails for obvious reasons.

Bought some clear silicone caulk and used it to seal places the Mfr. missed on various lights.
Had to quit for the evening. Seems the mosquitoes came out in force to make up for lost time!

Next, install 12'x6' roll of outdoor/indoor carpet, This is more complicated than I'd planned, thanks to the way the two floor E-Tracs are installed.
(About 1/4" below the top of the floor) I'll end up removing the "base board" trim to do this. I'd planned on laying the carpet out and so forth on my flat driveway.
Unfortunately, the recent storms made a mess, and blew sand on the driveway, then got it wet. The sand will need to be shoveled and swept off, then the driveway pressure sprayed
to get the remainder out of the way. Or, I can go to the backup plan, to lay it out in the trailer. More difficult, but less work than doing a bang up cleaning job on the driveway.

Details, Details!
At 69. I'm getting a bit long in the tooth to crawl around in and below trailers and P/U trucks!
What used to take me a couple of hours in a shop easily stretches into a couple of days in my back yard!

Last edited by chuckk2; 05-03-2014 at 05:42 PM.
Old 05-03-2014, 06:13 PM
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Jetdesign
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I don't have any experience with those brake controllers but it looks pretty cool. This thread has got me thinking about adding brakes to my trailer. It is not a 'need' but even with the trailer empty the braking distance is longer. If the controller works well, it is safer and potentially reduces brake pad wear on the tow vehicle.

I had a '99 Ranger before my Frontier. The Ranger (little 6) didn't have much on the highway but for a little truck it pulled a trailer pretty good.
Old 05-05-2014, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by chuckk2 View Post
When all is said and done - - -
Found A Draw-Tite Connector Mounting Box P/N 118156 (2 1/2")
That allows me to mount a 7 pin connector With a four pin connector to the receiver bracket.
(No room to use the simpler "L" Bracket)
The adapter plugs into the existing Ranger 4 pin connector.

I also have a 2008 Ranger, and will end up using both Rangers occasionally to tow the trailer.
To avoid various issues that seem to be related to how the vehicle computers are in the middle of things,
I ordered a Tekonsha Prodigy RF Brake controller. It mounts on the trailer, and once setup,
is more or less independent of the towing vehicle. The RF part involves the link to a remote
control/programming unit that plugs into the usual cigar lighter. (or not, if the unit is already setup)

Last night/yesterday evening found loose wood block behind one of the front E Trac strips in the trailer nose.
Had to remove a bunch of interior trim, etc, reposition, and screw down from the outside. Had wife hold in position
from the inside. Glued down to make sure that it stays put.

Spent a good part of this afternoon installing an access plate in the trailer floor within the front "V"
1. Hunt down something to cut a 2-3/4 Diam hole in the floor. Ended up using a router, since I did not find
my hole saw set. (Lots of sawdust, etc.) Cleaned up sawdust, take vacuum cleaner apart to recover an object that fell
out of my pocket and was promptly sucked up, almost before it hit the floor.

Installed circular plate with access door. One screw hit a void in the plywood, and spun. I'll have to squirt
some CA into the hole, let it cure, and see if that solves the problem. The plate allows me to drop an extension cord
through the floor, or other things like an air hose , without leaving the door or ramp open. I may build a box under the hole to store
the cord, etc. I'm trying to keep anything like this above the bottom of the frame rails for obvious reasons.

Bought some clear silicone caulk and used it to seal places the Mfr. missed on various lights.
Had to quit for the evening. Seems the mosquitoes came out in force to make up for lost time!

Next, install 12'x6' roll of outdoor/indoor carpet, This is more complicated than I'd planned, thanks to the way the two floor E-Tracs are installed.
(About 1/4" below the top of the floor) I'll end up removing the "base board" trim to do this. I'd planned on laying the carpet out and so forth on my flat driveway.
Unfortunately, the recent storms made a mess, and blew sand on the driveway, then got it wet. The sand will need to be shoveled and swept off, then the driveway pressure sprayed
to get the remainder out of the way. Or, I can go to the backup plan, to lay it out in the trailer. More difficult, but less work than doing a bang up cleaning job on the driveway.

Details, Details!
At 69. I'm getting a bit long in the tooth to crawl around in and below trailers and P/U trucks!
What used to take me a couple of hours in a shop easily stretches into a couple of days in my back yard!

Sounds like you found the optimum solution Chuck. I know what you mean about stretching out projects like tha, I don't bend as well as I used to, getting under a truck used to be easy, now it hurts.
Old 05-10-2014, 08:24 AM
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chuckk2
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Turns out that the brake controller I ordered, and installed a couple of days ago is quite different than the usual ones.
It, with the exception of an RF linked control, is entirely on the trailer. The usual 4 pin connector wires are needed, plus
a 12vdc line from the vehicle. I suspect that it might be also able to operate from a battery located in the trailer, if
some minor mods were made.
Anyway, to my surprise, no wire from the brake switch is needed. Seems that the unit ands the right and left
stop/turn light wires to sense the need for braking.

At this point, both my Rangers will operate the trailer lights, and I'm currently running a 12vdc line on the first one.
(That's a bit of a pain! Sticky undercoating, wiring paths to avoid things like the gas tank, various mounts and other things.)

Finally got things more or less finished on one truck between rain showers. Setup and tested, now I need to wait for dry roads to adjust brake action. One surprise was that the setup required an initial level of +/- 5 deg. When I checked, the trailer was within no more than 2deg from level at the top of the brake unit. (right left, front to back) Considering that it was parked in a grass area, and I had not previously bothered to level, I was amazed!

Last edited by chuckk2; 05-10-2014 at 03:40 PM.
Old 05-19-2014, 04:23 PM
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chuckk2
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http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/trim/limited/
No way I'm gonna spend 50k (list) on a P/U! Just ain't gonna happen!

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