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Old 05-03-2010, 12:28 PM   #1
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Auxiliary Brake System

OK now that I've ordered my tow bar the next thing I want to look at is purchasing an auxiliary braking system. I plan to tow a 1984 CJ7 which I've built from the frame up and highly modified. One of the modifications I did was to replace the vacuum brake system with a hydro boost braking system that works off the power steering pump. I know a Brake Buddy system will work but would like to hear from the group as to your recommendations.

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Old 05-03-2010, 01:31 PM   #2
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Do a search in the mh thread on "braking system" that I started a few weeks ago. There were several good comments and Cruzer had a review of three different ones that he has used.

This a copy of Cruzer's post...


I've had three different system on three coaches.

The first was the Brake Buddy. It puts out some serious pressure on the arm that connects to the brake pedal. In fact, the instructions tell you to pump the brakes to dump the vacuum out of the booster first because the Brake Buddy is designed to work with a non-power assisted pedal. The system worked but, like anything else, it has it's pros and cons. It's nice in that it's portable and can be used on just about anything and requires no installation chores (usually). You do have to set it in place and dial it in. If the seat moves you can either lose your braking capacity or drag the brakes. We had that a few times when you press the remote unlock button and the seat retracts for access on the Grand Cherokee. It's strictly inertia operated so going down a grade and using your gears or an engine brake to slow the coach down will cause the Brake Buddy to engage the toad brakes. The BB plugs into the lighter socket so if you tow a lot you may wear down your battery unless you hook up a charge kline to the RV. You also have to unhook it and remove it, then find a place to store it when you want to drive your toad. We wanted something easier to use so we sold it and went to the US Gear Unified Tow Brake.

The Unified Tow Brake is a permanent mounted system. It utilizes an electric solenoid to pull a cable that runs through a pullet that pulls on the brake pedal. It has a vacuum pump to keep the brake booster full of vacuum so it's not pulling on a dead pedal. That's a little different philosophy than Brake Buddy but they both work. The brakes energize via the trailer lighting circuit and a charge lione to the RV is also recommended. The controller is mounted up by the RV's dash and is also inertia operated although you can manually control it if desired. With this system you pretty much connect your tow bar, wiring harness, and breakaway cable to the toad and you are good to go. If you have adjustable brake pedals - forget it. The cable pulls on the pedal and if you adjust the pedal your brakes may drag or else the tow brake will be loose and won't apply the brakes. Also, the pulley takes room in the footwell and needs to line up with the brake pedal and the solenoid is big and needs to find a home as well. On my Grand Cherokee that was a real challenge. After Leann adjusted the pedals one day and my friont rotors were smoked I decided to go another way, which was the M&G.

The M&G was the best yet. It uses the coach's air pressure to apply the toad brakes. I just added a quick disconnect hose coupler next to the trailer lighting socket and the same on the toads (both Grand Cherokee and Wrangler) and connect them with a quick disconnect air line that rides right inside the center of the slinky lighting umbilical cord. This system is totally proportional and the toad brakes only go on when the coach brakes do. The toad module mounts between the master cylinder and vacuum booster so nothing goes inside the cabin. The module is failsafe in that it acts as a big pushrod when using the brake pedal yet applies the brakes via the master cylinder and air pressure whenever the coach's brake pedal is applied. The drawback is that it's only for a diesel with air brakes. You can get a compressor to use this system on a gasser but the extra cost isn't worth it because you are back to the US Gear method of braking so you might as well just get the US GEar or an SMI Stay-in-Play and ave some money.
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:52 PM   #3
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Since my system is activated by the power steering fluid (hydro boost system) not by vacuum it appears that only a system like the Brake Buddy will work for me. Am I missing something?
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:43 PM   #4
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Ken...I think you can also use the SMI and M&G system which is activated from the coach air. They produce their own air for the brake.

This was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. There are sooooo many systems out there and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. I like the air systems and probably would have gone with the M&G system, but their was no room to add their unit to the master cylinder. I went with the SMI Air Force One. I wanted a hidden system that was easy to connect when I hooked up the toad. It works great, but it has a down side. When descending a grade, it only works when you're using the brakes. If you're just using the exhaust brake, it won't engage.

Here is a good article RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Dinghy Towing: Supplemental Brake Systems - update 8/7/06
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:34 PM   #5
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Another Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by kketterling View Post
Since my system is activated by the power steering fluid (hydro boost system) not by vacuum it appears that only a system like the Brake Buddy will work for me. Am I missing something?
Another option it the Brakemaster system. Our Tahoe also has the hydro-boost brakes and like you I was principally looking at the suitcase style brakes ( eg Brake Buddy). After talking to a lot of folks I decided on the Brakemaster for simplicity; the suitcase systems rely on the toad battery for power, has more moving parts, and are quite bulky to store. The brakemaster is basically just a small air cylinder that ties into the coach air brake system and also pushes the toad brake pedal when you apply the coach brakes. It is extremely simple and uses no power from the toad and it stores easily. I had mine installed at Camping World.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:37 PM   #6
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Ken,
I have a stock 1991 Jeep Wrangler and a Brake Buddy that I use in a 2002 GMC Envoy. I tried to put the Brake Buddy in the Jeep but because of the floor pan and seat position I could not get it to fit. Floor is not flat and the brake buddy uses the seat as leverage to push the brake pedal. Because of the mounting issues I would test any system that pushes the brake pedal by using the seat for leverage before I bought it. I think the BrakeMaster by Roadmaster or the SMI might be better choses because of the way they mount in the car.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:18 PM   #7
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Diplomat Don your right. This was a tough decision to make but right now I'm leaning towards the M&G system provided it will fit. I may have to alter one of the radiator to firewall support rods though. I like this unit because I already have an air tank that I built in my front bumper for the air lockers and can use it for the breakaway system. And after talking to M&G I can also utilize this system as an emergency brake (similar to a micro lock but with air pressure) with some plumbing modifications to the Jeep. Only draw back is it is not easily moved to another vehicle. I would have to buy another air cylinder and install it on that vehicle provided it would fit.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:34 PM   #8
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If you go to the motorhome forum under towing issues and toads you will find my thread on The Air Force One system. We had ours installed on our Freightliner XC at Brazel's RV Centralia Washington in Feb of 09. The system uses the air from the coach to apply the brakes in the toad. Spendy but I love it.
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Old 05-08-2010, 05:42 PM   #9
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There are two systems for use on a Jeep far as I'm concerned

If you are towing with a vehicle with air brakes check out: M&T systems

No matter what you tow with: US Gear Unified Brake Decelarator

In both cases once installed hook up is a couple seconds, you do not remove system to drive. Unlike the Brake Buddy, Even Brake and so many other {"System in a box" systems where you have to install them every time you tow.

This is invisible when driving, and takes only a second or two to plug in. In fact the US gear system, if you use a 7 pin light harness. takes exactly 0.0 seconds to plug in.
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Old 05-10-2010, 10:04 AM   #10
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Second US Gear, I installed it on my Jeep and it works great.
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:24 PM   #11
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Don't think US Gear will work because my brakes are activated by the power steering fluid not vacuum or electric hydro boost systems.

wa8yxm. I can't find anything on M&T systems did you mean M&G?

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Old 05-10-2010, 04:51 PM   #12
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The US-Gear system can be used with hydro-boost but you may need to add your own aux-pump for the booster.

I can't tell you much

And yes, I did mean M&G I'm not quite used to the keyboard on this computer (my primary computer is off line for the next week or 3)
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:43 PM   #13
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Can't add anything to Dip Don's post. Both the Air Force One and M&G are about as good as it gets. I have the M&G and it takes about 10 seconds to connect. I installed a "tattle tale" that turns on a LED light that I can see in the rear view camera when the M&G applies the toad brakes. Not a single problem after more than 25k miles of towing.
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