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Old 02-11-2009, 07:18 PM   #1
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Looking for input on the Air force One system. Do you have it? How long? Do you like it?

Now the main questions.

Did you install it yourself. If so how hard was it. If you did not install yourself; who did the install and what did it cost?
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:28 PM   #2
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There are a number of members that own AF1 auxiliary brake units and I'm sure someone will get back to you shortly.

Personally I have a similar unit called a DUO and I did install it myself. What I really like about the unit is that it is installed under the hood and is out of sight and out of mind. The AF1 uses the same install location.
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:17 PM   #3
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I had previously had several other auxillary braking systems on former motorhomes and towed vehicles. Upon purchasing the last one, I had studied SMI's Air Force One and went with it. I had followed the great reports of other owners who had tried it and it is everything that was represented.

I have used it now for a little over two years and have had no issues. I like the proportional braking and feedback via light on the dash it utilizes. It is relatively easy to hook up each time I tow... and I no longer have to fool around with the "brake in a box" types which were hard to fit into the front seat.

Because I lived close to Evansville, IN., I went directly to the factory to have mine installed. I understand that there are several installers around the nation who are competent to put it on both the motorhome and car.

As far as the cost of installation, I am sure it has changed in the ensuing time period, but a call to SMI can give you an idea of present costs. I have had a few friends who had their unit installed at some of the big rallies.

If you choose this unit, you will not be disappointed with it's performance. Also check some of the archives for discussion as to this unit.
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:47 PM   #4
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I am somewhat hesitant to install a brake system due to the safety issues. My only reason for considering it is the overall cost which seems high. I have never had a supplemental brake system before but our new toad a 2008 Explorer is significantly heavier than anything I have towed before.
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Old 02-12-2009, 05:54 AM   #5
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I recently purchased the Air Force One unit at the 09 Florida RV Supershow. There was a little discount I did the installation myself.

It is my first and only aux break system on my first and only towed, on my first and only MH so while I will give my opinion on the AFO I can't provide any comparisons other than cost. And as far as cost goes, just make sure when you compare costs, be sure to include a break-away system, as its included in AFO. Also note that I had to purchase NOTHING else to complete the install, that pleasantly surprised me. Note also, AFO INCLUDES an air relay and separate air tank for the system, I can't express how important I now believe that is. Be sure to factor in those cost for comparisons to other systems.

Here's the overview, if there's general interest I can post more details or I'll respond to pm's, but I don't want to post a novel here yet...

-- Installation was pretty simple, there was nothing that could not be accomplished by a reasonably handy person. The only "uncommon tool" I used was a PVC cutter to make a clean straight cut in the brake line.
-- Installation time of my entire tow system, for me, from scratch (never done anything like this before) including BlueOx baseplate on '02 Envoy towed, wiring on towed, servicing my towbar, installing AFO on coach, installing AFO in towed, troubleshooting coach-towed electric hookup, struggling with safety cables, and testing AFO system was two weekends (4 days). Gotta tell you though, a lot of that time was just sitting and thinking. I'm confident I could now install the AFO system by itself in one day and still be on time for dinner!
-- Installation instructions, now that I read them after the install are OK, but they could be much better, the pictures more numerous, larger and clearer. This is really my only criticism - and I know its hard cuz all chassis are different. Instructions are adequate I'm sure for someone familiar with the systems involved.
-- Installation support was GREAT! I called the support number on a Saturday, caught the tech at home eating lunch. I took pictures under my coach, emailed them to the tech, he suggested mounting techniques based on my pics, and gave me real time support while I was on my cell phone under the coach. Amazing support, his name was Pete.
-- Based on what I now know of air brakes, how the AFO system gets the air for activating its braking system, and visual evidence I saw under the coach from a previous existing "air" based brake system, I would NEVER install an "air" based aux brake system that did not have an aux relay and air tank to supply the air to the aux brake system. I am VERY glad I did not take a shortcut and use that existing line...I almost did.
-- I did have my wife's assistance for about an hour total. Easy, but important stuff like just "being there" when I cut the air line on the coach, one ingenious solution to lining up a washer on a blind bolt(baseplate not AFO), holding a couple of things when I needed 3 hands, and operating the brake treadle and blinkers to test the lights while I used my meter.

So far I'm happy, and I'd do it (self install) again. AFO appears to be a well thought-out and complete system.

Brian
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:30 AM   #6
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Brian_R1, thanks for the great reply. Do you have any pictures of your installation that I could see?
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:30 AM   #7
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I do have some pics, but I'm not where they are right now. I registered for pictures, I'll try to post some tonight.
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:05 AM   #8
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Thanks
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdpreece:
I am somewhat hesitant to install a brake system due to the safety issues. My only reason for considering it is the overall cost which seems high.
bdpreece, If you have any hesitation please read this article:

The Physics of Towed-Vehicle Braking

I'm sure it will prove to be an eye opener and a mechanism for you to justify your expense.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:08 PM   #10
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I didn't express myself very well. I meant I was hesitant to do the install myself. I am fully aware that with a 2008 Ford Explorer for a toad I need to have an aux braking system.
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:31 AM   #11
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I posted some pictures in the photos area, I think I'll keep my day job and not try to make a living as a photographer. This is my first attempt to post pics in-line, we'll see how it goes...
This is the finished base plate install, you can see the airline connection, and breakaway switch for the AFO directly below that terrific license plate.


Here's the tap into the coach brake system. The shiny brass "T" in the 5/8 airline is the air supply to the AFO air tank. It is plumbed from main air tank. The 1/4 line off the service brake relay is the metered air line. It runs to the AFO relay valve. Pressure in this line triggers the release of air from the AFO tank, but the line itself dead-ends at the relay (about 18 inches). The old existing system I replaced had the line off the service brake running all the way to the back of the coach. Would have then gone to the toad to fill and activate the air system on the toad.


This just shows my wiring route from the AFO controller to the front of the towed.


This last one shows the AFO controller mounted between the battery case and fuse cover. Nice little secure spot, just big enough.


I thought I had one of the AFO relay and tank but I could not find it and the coach is stored for the week.

Sorry the pics aren't the best, especially shrunk down, like I said, I think I'll keep my day job
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:18 AM   #12
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Brian_R1, Thanks for the pictures. I may just give it a try.
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:45 PM   #13
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We had an AF One installed in our coach and toad (2008 Explorer Sport Trac) by Brazels in Centralia WA www.brazelsrv.com. Installed price was very close to what SMI said it should cost.

We've only had the system installed since July of last year but after approx 7K miles and many connects and disconnects the system has performed flawlessly and it's confirmed my decision to go with SMI.

There was an issue with the neutral tow kit installed by the original dealer that I bought the Sport Trac from but that's another story.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Triboy:
We've only had the system installed since July of last year but after approx 7K miles and many connects and disconnects the system has performed flawlessly and it's confirmed my decision to go with SMI.
Triboy, I met up with Brent Schuck in Brooksville, FL a couple of weeks ago and they were doing very well with their sales and installs. SMI is largely a family operation and they treat their customers just like family.

If you find yourself going to major rally event SMI or their dealer will most likely be there and they will accomplish field installations.

We are also pleased that SMI Manufacturing is going to continue sponsoring this Forum!
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