Identifying trailer brake cables

There a several different makes and models of trailer brake cable on the market, with Knott and Al-ko being the most common. Although having different sized fittings, Knott and Al-ko use a similar method of connecting the cable to the expander inside of the brake. Older braking systems such as Lockheed and older Knott systems may use a ‘fixed-eye’ cable.
Below are some examples of different cables.

Al-ko brake cable

Knott brake cable

The following is a ‘fixed-eye’ cable, and has two major differences to the previous cables. Firstly, this cable uses a metal loop or ‘eye’ to connect to the expander inside of the brake, instead of the newer ‘stud’ design. The second difference is that Knott and Al-ko cables have a ‘cup’ style connection that connects externally, over the top of the brake’s cable cover plate. ‘Fixed-eye’ cables have a much smaller connection at this end, and are secured inside the brake’s cable cover plate.

'Fixed-eye' brake cable

When identifying brake cables it is also important to check the fitting that connects the cable to the trailer’s brake compensator. Al-ko cables can have a unique ‘Nipple end’ or a ‘threaded end’ connection. Other manufacturers such as Knott just have a regular ‘threaded end’.

Al-ko 'nipple ended' brake cable

Knott 'Threaded end' cable

An easy way to tell the difference between an Al-ko and a Knott braking system is to look for the stamped ‘V’ in the knott brake’s cable cover plate. The cable cover plate can be found on the back of the brake where the brake cable connects to the backing plate. The cable cover on a Al-ko system should be smooth.

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