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Old 05-03-2006, 05:55 AM   #1
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I am looking for a brake system for my toad. What is the best performing, and the easiest to install and use?
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Old 05-03-2006, 05:55 AM   #2
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I am looking for a brake system for my toad. What is the best performing, and the easiest to install and use?
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:42 AM   #3
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Steve, it's time to open the proverbial can 'o worms.....

As I'm sure you know,or are about to find out,there are as many folks using the Brake Buddy "box in the floor" unit as there are those of us that prefer the more permanently mounted vacuum assist braking systems.
The one I use is the SMI " Silent Partner " which requires a small "t" to be placed in the vacuum line of the toad....This "t" has a line that runs to a small box that's mounted under the seat. The box is actually a DC powered air compressor that uses 10 PSI to energize the brake system.
The system receives it's signal from the coach brakes by way of a wireless transmitter that sends a signal from the coach to the toad via a small antenna.
The brake pedal is activated by way of a cylinder that attaches to the top of the brake pedal arm.

When I'm ready to tow,I hook up the tow bar,the chains,the power cord and then flip a toggle switch.
When I've arrived at the campground I simply unhook and flip the toggle switch.....no box to store!!

I might add that,due to a faux pas on my part,I required tech support a couple of Saturday's ago and picked the phone up and called SMI, thinking I'd get a recorded message saying to call back Monday.....While it WAS a recorded message,the message gave the cell number of the founder of SMI. He walked me through the mistakes I'd made and it works fine today!!

Hope that helps!!
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Old 05-04-2006, 03:36 AM   #4
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I use the SMI Stay-IN-Play which is the more basic model similar to what Bob has. The SMI customer support is excellent. We left for a two week vacation to Georgia and South Carolina in March and arrived in Knoxville, TN to find the car battery discharged. There was an internal leak on the vacuum line inside the SMI box causing the pump to run probably most of the time. We had checked the setup an hour or so into the trip and no problem then. (Note to self - check a little more often in the future!) We called SMI and they looked up our file. They told me they had a problem with some of the early production units (I traded up from the PlugAndPlay model when the Stay-IN-Play came out) where the tubing would begin to leak. There was not any SMI dealer nearby and we were leaving the next day. SMI sent a replacement unit ahead to the RV park we were going to in South Carolina. They had made a couple engineering changes since I bought mine and they talked me through the process. They paid for the shipping of the replacement unit and for the defective unit to be shipped back to the factory. They had me operational before I left for the trip home through the mountains. I would not hesitate to purchase another SMI product in the future.

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Old 05-04-2006, 06:41 AM   #5
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The most highly recommended system is probably the M&G, but it is not the easiest to install. More fulltimer motorhome owners recommend M&G than any other brand, though the Brake Buddy has to be close.

See http://www.m-gengineering.com/BrakeSystem.html

Personally, I would probably go with Brake Buddy or SMI if buying a new one today. I don't think M&G "advantages" touted for M&G outweigh the cost or installation effort/cost.
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:00 AM   #6
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by RV Roamer:
Personally, I would probably go with Brake Buddy or SMI if buying a new one today. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Gary, Having lived with a removable box type auxiliary brake system for over 4 years I can clearly state that there isn't anything like the ease of use and time savings that is offered by a semi permanently, fixed braking system. As you suggested the SMI products are excellent for this purpose.

In order for me to proceed after hook up with activating my auxiliary brake, all I need to do is open the door, turn the thing on, and simply close the door. That's it!

"Man where have you been all my life", was one of the first things that came to mind after I had my SMI Stay-In-Play system installed. The box brake was sold to a willing purchaser and I moved forward in technology from that point forward.

I certainly am pleased with my new auxiliary braking system.

One thing that really made this transition easy was have you ever tried to setup the box in a rain storm? Believe me I'm not missing that!
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Old 05-06-2006, 06:59 PM   #7
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BrakeBuddy....no tee to install, no box to install under your seat, no switch on the dash, no wires to run, plugs into your 12 volt outlet...totally portable, and you can use it in several toads. Pretty much the most popular unit out there

You can get one on Ebay for less than $500....
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Old 05-06-2006, 07:38 PM   #8
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Sheesh, how did I know it would come to this, chocolate or vinilla, no strawberry sir. LOL.

When out at the FMCA in Minot last summer I saw a slew of brake systems, some looked a bit home made I might add . I don't remember the SMI, I do like the concept of the SMI, EBAY $500 Brake Buddies huh, I like that too. Maybe I should make mama ride in the toad and hit the brakes when she see's the tail lights come on. Thanks guyz
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Old 05-07-2006, 05:14 AM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by FrontRangeRVer:
BRAKEBuddy....no tee to install, no box to install under your seat, no switch on the dash, no wires to run, plugs into your 12 volt outlet...totally portable, and you can use it in several toads. Pretty much the most popular unit out there. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>I was with BRAKEBuddy when it was an ugly duckling square box otherwise known pretty much as version #1. I upgraded to the ABS rounded case that we have recently seen on the BB. Since that time I went through 4. units for various reasons.

Dan Decker, the father of the BB was a very committed entrepreneur to his product and I had a 1 on 1 relationship with him at that time and life was good.

Since then BB was bought out and it's the product that you see today.

BB's concept is excellent however in execution I am concerned about its autonomous nature. You see the BB is a self contained complete system in a box. It depends only on inertia to activate and from that point until the vehicle stops its computerized circuitry is the boss.

I wrote all about the early years with the BB and I don't necessarily need to revisit that story but it involved the frying of all the brake components on my front axle of our new 2001 Chevy Cavalier. Dan and BB cut me a check faster that I could spin my head and I certainly was a happy camper at that point.

The bulleted points that FrontRangeRVer makes are valid and it what makes the BB so popular among the auxiliary brake purchasing public.

What differentiates the systems is that the technology built into the SMI puts the driver in command of the braking process.

First, the diver must step on the brake pedal to arm the system. Second inertia must be sensed by the brake unit in order to activate. SMI doesn't respond to speeds below 20 mph. The SMI will apply more pressure depending on the quantity of inertia the unit senses. The SMI builds and uses vacuum so the brakes are used as they were designed to operate.

There is only one switch on the unit itself and that's all that needs to be turned on. The low profile of the case hides well under the seat and requires no insertion or removal or storage space. Once set the unit doesn't require it be checked or reset for pressure and gain. The 12v plug on the BB can sometimes work itself loose since a lighter socket is not as reliable of a connection as a hard wired circuit.

The unique benefit is BB's portability. If you have more than 1 toad with a baseplate then this product is for you.

The reason why BB and I parted ways is because of its autonomous nature. BB has actually applied itself at various times and road conditions that called for BB to lock up the brakes and they wouldn't release until I removed any inertia going to the unit. So when it applied and wouldn't release the brakes I was just going along for the screeching ride until the vehicles came to a complete stop.

An SMI system will never leave you in this condition. If you remove your foot off of the brake pedal, you disarm the system, the brakes release and it's that simple. You're the boss and not the equipment.

BB is an excellent solution if you use your motorhome only a few times per year however if you are either full time or on the road as much as we are the SMI Brake is one of the most logical choices you can make.
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Old 05-07-2006, 06:15 AM   #10
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Very well said Mike....
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Old 05-07-2006, 08:50 AM   #11
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I'm a little slow on this one. I don't see where or how you connect to brake lever. Does it just work off vacuum line and not connected to push brake pedal?
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Old 05-07-2006, 09:20 AM   #12
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SMI system has a small vacuum cylinder that is attached to the toad's brake pedal. A small cable is attached to the firewall. As the coach brakes are applied, (remember with the SMI the brake light switch of the coach has to be activated in order for the toad brakes to be applied) the vacuum supplied by the box (in the toad) activates the cylinder on the toad brake pedal, pulling on the cable attached to the firewall and thereby applying the toad brakes. That is the reason for the splice in the vaxuum hose to the power booster. The one way valve allows the vacuum box in the toad to charge the power booster.

M & G won't fit into all vehicles. M & G advised me that our PT GT didn't have room in the engine compartment.

SMI has been an excellent choice for us, and I installed it myself.

Hope this helped. Driver, Bob, and John have covered the SMI very well. Including customer service.
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Old 05-07-2006, 09:43 AM   #13
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Robert....Check THIS DIAGRAM out....
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Old 05-07-2006, 09:49 AM   #14
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I also found this very interesting,it's the answer to a question in their Q and A...

Why is the SMI Vacuum System better than the others?

The SMI system sends a signal to the RV from the brake light switch of the towed vehicle. Many competing units send a signal from their unit to tell you it is operating. That does not tell you if there is a problem and the brakes on your towed vehicle are still activated. Since the SMI system sends the signal from the brake light switch, that possible problem is eliminated.

The SMI system needs to apply only about 10 pounds of pressure on the brake pedal. Air, surge,
electric, and all the others apply as much as 100 pounds of pressure to accomplish the same thing.
The reason is they do not have vacuum boosted brakes in the towed vehicle. We use the brakes in your towed vehicle just the way the manufacturer designed them.

There is no other system that allows you to control the activation of your system based on the g-forces you create when you stop. Some use a pendulum that is subject to false activation and others just activate every time you press the brake pedal. There is a self-contained air pressure system that has a 3/4 second delay in activation to get around the problem of bumps and grades. A one-second delay will cause the rig to travel 95 feet before that system will activate. That is potentially very dangerous. SMI needs no delay with the superior electronics and logic.
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