Quoted from Indespension catalogue (8th edition 2001)
Legislation is currently being drafted and the following is the most
likely outcome. . . . The legislation applies to all trailers
manufactured after 1 January 1997. It does not apply to older trailers.
Its' purpose is to prevent a trailer coming detached from the towing
vehicle, should the principle connections fail for any reason.
Braked trailers up to 3500 Kg must be fitted with a breakaway cable. The
purpose of the breakaway cable is to apply the brakes if the trailer
Unbraked trailers up to 750 Kg must be fitted with a secondary coupling
method. This is a coupling device installed such that in the event of
separation of the main coupling between the trailer and the towing
vehicle, the trailer remains attached to the towing vehicle preventing the
nose of the drawbar touching the ground and providing some residual
steering action on the trailer.
This doesn't provide obvious answers to your question, especially
regarding what you attach your breakaway device to. The point is that it
should (must?) not share the same fixing as the ball hitch or be looped
around the swan neck of the hitch.
Remember that the breakaway cable on a braked trailer or caravan is
designed to apply the brakes, not support the weight of the trailer, so
the typical attachment point - a curly loop of perhaps 3 mm rod called a
pig tail - does not need to be at all robust. In fact it is highly
unlikely to be strong enough to support the loads exerted by your fully
laden trailer swinging off the end of a piece of chain.
Although the Indespension quote talks about post-1997 trailers requiring
the secondary coupling I would think very hard about why you don't require
one on your trailer, especially as the hitch may be worn. A friend lost a
fully laden unbraked trailer off the back of his Landrover due to a worn
hitch. The errant trailer did a lot of very expensive damage to another
car, costing Andy his NCD. I have a very elderly trailer which was a
give-away price at £20. Apart from refurbishing the braking system, I am
faced with replacing the overrun hitch with a newer model along with all
manner of adapter plates because the body of the hitch is so worn that
there is about 3 mm of float in the shaft, the spring is so tired that the
empty trailer locks the brakes and there is about 2 mm of float in the
ball socket! This will set me back about £100. I think it's still worth
the effort - just!
Indespension ( http://www.indespension.co.uk/trailers.htm ) are very
helpful. Towsure ( http://www.towsure.co.uk/ ) are less knowledgeable but
their stuff can be cheaper. Trident Trailers in Tunbridge Wells, Kent are
One last tip: if you can't remove the tailgate from you new toy I suggest
that you buy a pair of lift-off hinges from Towsure and convert it so you
can - makes life soooo much easier when scraping stuff out at the tip.
Best of luck
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