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Old 04-19-2013, 12:23 AM   #1
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Brake Buddy Compressor seizure

Last week, we were returning from Arizona in our 2007 Itasca, 35' flat towing an HHR with a BB system. I suddenly noticed a slight surge in the engine. It continued to get worse so I pulled over to check it out. I walked around the entire rig looking for something obvious with no joy. I then went back to the car and opened the door. The entire car was filled with smoke. I noticed the red light was illuminated on the BB. I disconnected the BB. It was obvious that something had seized, probably the compressor.

I have a charge line from the motorhome to the HHR which keeps the car battery charged while towing. I figure that when the compressor seized, it put a tremendous draw on the motorhome alternator which then put the engine under a load. This happened several times making it feel like the engine was surging. Luckily, I pulled over as the 20 amp fuse did not blow. I have a dedicated, heavy duty 12V cigarette lighter harness to power the BB. The bakelite inside the lighter socket melted!

I sent the unit out for repairs. The diagnosis comfirmed that the compressor had seized. I have been using this unit for over 6 years towing my HHR about 45000 miles in that time period. Overall, the BB has been reliable and the cost of repairs was not excessive. I am very pleased with the repair service supplied by the manufacturer. They also supplied a new power cable for the car.

The purpose of this thread is to alert owners of the symptoms. The only indication that a problem was occuring was the surging of the engine.


Knightly 2007 Itasca, 35A, W24 Chassis, Blue Ox Aventa, HHR
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:32 AM   #2
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Thanks for the heads up. We haven't had any problems with our unit, but will certainly keep an eye out for what you described.
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:02 PM   #3
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Glad you caught it before a fire! I'm surprised that you could feel the alternator draw without blowing the fuse. Since you said you felt it a couple of times, could it be there's an auto reset circuit breaker that was cutting in and out? I think I'd install a slightly smaller fuse in the circuit in the future.
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Old 04-19-2013, 07:48 PM   #4
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Brake Buddy Compressor Seizure

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Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
Glad you caught it before a fire! I'm surprised that you could feel the alternator draw without blowing the fuse. Since you said you felt it a couple of times, could it be there's an auto reset circuit breaker that was cutting in and out? I think I'd install a slightly smaller fuse in the circuit in the future.
I am only guessing that excessive alternator draw was the cause of the engine surging. Once I unplugged the BB from the 12V power source in the car, the motorhome engine surging disappeared for the rest of the trip. There is no auto reset fuse but I agree with your suggestion of using a smaller inline fuse, in this case a 15A instead of a 20A.

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Old 11-27-2014, 08:53 PM   #5
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Unhappy Brake Buddy Compressor seizure

I too have experienced a compressor seizure. I have a Brake Buddy digital Classic. I have only had mine for two years and have actually only towed with it about 10000 miles. My warning was the remote indicator in the motorhome was flashing. I too found my towed vehicle filled with putrid smoke. I'm working to get it fixed now
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:52 AM   #6
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Sorry to hear that you had the same problem. I sent my Brake Buddy back to the factory for repairs. I believe it cost $150 for a new compressor. Since that time period, my alternator started to make a whining noise. I took it to a Workhorse shop and it cost me almost $800 for a rebuilt alternator. I thought it was the bearings that was causing the noise but it turned out to be a part of the alternator, capacitor or something, that had blown. I am only guessing, but I suspect it happened when the Brake Buddy compressor seized up which put the alternator under a tremendous load? Anyway, I hope the lower amp fuse in the BB will stop a reoccurrence in the future. Good luck
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Knightly View Post
Sorry to hear that you had the same problem. I sent my Brake Buddy back to the factory for repairs. I believe it cost $150 for a new compressor. Since that time period, my alternator started to make a whining noise. I took it to a Workhorse shop and it cost me almost $800 for a rebuilt alternator. I thought it was the bearings that was causing the noise but it turned out to be a part of the alternator, capacitor or something, that had blown. I am only guessing, but I suspect it happened when the Brake Buddy compressor seized up which put the alternator under a tremendous load? Anyway, I hope the lower amp fuse in the BB will stop a reoccurrence in the future. Good luck
Where was the 20 amp fuse in the circuit? You mention a "I have a dedicated, heavy duty 12V cigarette lighter harness to power the BB." Is it fused? I don't understand how a seized compressor motor in the toad brake system could damage the alternator in the RV. If enough heat built up to melt the plug and cause a noticeable drag on the RV engine you should have had a number of fuses blowing to relieve the load. The charge wire between the RV and Toad should be fused or auto reset circuit breakers, a fuse in the power outlet, the fuse in the BB power plug, etc.

If your system is not protected, perhaps the expenses of the new compressor motor and even the rebuilt alternator will cause you to install adequate fuses or circuit breakers to prevent a worse problem the next time, like burning up the toad.
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:29 PM   #8
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I installed an Amp-L-Start charge regulator in the toad battery charge circuit of my MH. This ensures a maximum 15 amp current draw from the MH for that specific task yet does not open the circuit as a fuse or circuit breaker does, allowing for a controlled charge of a deeply discharged toad battery without over-stressing the MH alternator that already has two other battery banks to charge. It also gives me LED feedback that both battery paths are active as I have a 30 amp fuse at the battery connection point at each end of this 10 AWG wired circuit to protect from a short in the wiring. The Amp-L-Start also ensures that the toad battery will not discharge back into the MH when I boondock without disconnecting the umbilical.
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Old 11-29-2014, 12:52 PM   #9
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RoamingGnome, that's well and good, but those possibilities are pretty remote to begin with. Unless you are hooking up a toad with a completely discharged battery, what type of situation would require 15 amps to charge the toad? If you are boon-docking, and leave the vehicles connected, what is going do discharge the RV chassis circuit to the degree that the toad battery will have to 'share' sufficient power to make the toad battery discharged? Sounds like the Amp-L-Start is a solution looking for a non-existent problem.
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Old 11-29-2014, 08:02 PM   #10
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I too had a brake buddy in my toad burn up but mine fried the PC board, when I E-mailed the factory to find out if I can buy another one they told me that it would cost around $200 and I would have to ship it to a service center because it is a safety item and I couldn't repair it myself. I have replaced many PC boards in computers so I'm sure I could replace that one since there are three wires to connect. I decided rather than spend the money to fix it I would buy a Ready Brake system where there are no electrical hookups to fool with.
I also have a charging wire going to my toad with circuit breakers on each end and a fuse in between and a diode so I wont get any electrical feedback from toad to MH.


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Old 11-29-2014, 11:41 PM   #11
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Brake Buddy

The Brake Buddy comes with a connection to the cigarette lighter. It was installed as the manufacturer recommended. Like most of this kind of plug they are fused. I had supposed since being provided by the manufacturer there was the proper size fuse installed to PREVENT a motor burning up in the case of a Motor seizure. I'm not sure who replied that somehow improper fusing was used but I believe that issue should be addressed with the manufacturer.
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Old 12-03-2014, 06:45 PM   #12
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Yes, it is fused and I thought, protected. It was professionally installed. What else could I have done. In fact, there are 3 fuses, one for the Brake Buddy at the battery which is 20 Amps, second one for the Brake Buddy is at the plug which is 15 amps, then a third 30 amp fuse for the car. The BB compressor was totally cooked, burned smell and all. I do have a separate charge cord from the motorhome to the car battery. When everything is working properly, I can tow the car for days and never unplug or worry about the car battery going flat. Why one of these fuses did not blow is beyond me. Anyway, everything has been fine for quite some time now.


It will be interesting to hear if "hknapp" finds out what caused the problem.
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:53 AM   #13
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Brake Buddy Seized Compressor

I sent Brake Buddy an email before Thanksgiving. Haven't heard anything from them so far. I'll let everyone know when I hear from them.
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Yes, it is fused and I thought, protected. It was professionally installed. What else could I have done. In fact, there are 3 fuses, one for the Brake Buddy at the battery which is 20 Amps, second one for the Brake Buddy is at the plug which is 15 amps, then a third 30 amp fuse for the car. The BB compressor was totally cooked, burned smell and all. I do have a separate charge cord from the motorhome to the car battery. When everything is working properly, I can tow the car for days and never unplug or worry about the car battery going flat. Why one of these fuses did not blow is beyond me. Anyway, everything has been fine for quite some time now.


It will be interesting to hear if "hknapp" finds out what caused the problem.
Knightly, I didn't see the condition of the components. I.E. did the power cable feeding the BB burn up? Was BB unit deformed due to the compressor seizure?

It is possible to create a lot of smoke without burning the fuses open. If you are properly fused, as it appears you are, the power load on the brake buddy failure should not affect your electrical system enough on a properly functioning MH alternator to be able to notice in the drivers seat. I would be more concerned that during the failure, the BB was applying the Toad brakes.

This is why;

20 amps at 12 volts = ~ 1/3 hp load at the engine. The engine/driver shouldn't "feel" that. Now if the MH electrical system is loaded at max alternator capability and the additional load appears, a low voltage could affect your Engine Management. This would have to be continuous to draw the batteries down low enough to affect the ECM.

I believe you have a Workhorse chassis, which if it has an alternator light, that light should have been lit in this event, and/or the voltage gauge would be showing low voltage. The MH driver's first indication of electrical problems should be noticed by lights/gauges, not engine performance.
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