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Old 06-03-2011, 09:50 PM   #1
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Dinghy Brake System

I currently have a Fleetwwod 40 G and have the opportunity to buy a used Blue Ox Apollo Brake system for my Dingy, I am new to the RV industry and dont want to spend $1400 for a new brake system, what do you think? The unit that I am looking at cost $650
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:37 PM   #2
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I'm not familiar specifically with Apollo but as I recall it is similar to my Brake-pro in that it sits on the floor in the drivers side and accuates the brake. If it works---then why would it not be worth $650.? I guess it depends on how old and how much serviceable life you can get from it. My brake-pro is 7 years old and is going strong.

I assume you already have a hitch, tow bar and baseplate----if not---or if you want to consider something else----in a recent thread a person mentioned a Ready Brake---it has the tow bar and braking unit all in one----it is a simple surge brake system with a cable pulling on the brake pedal when the MH surges forward when stopping. If I recall correctly these new ran about $695.---more for different models etc; you might want to take a look.
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Old 06-03-2011, 11:50 PM   #3
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For me the right answer is to have a dinghy brake of some kind. Never mind any legal issues, I want the extra stopping power.

Now to the Apollo. I suggest that you do some research on it. There are basically two types of dingy brakes - those that are self-contained as a box in front of the drivers seat and those that require some level of installation into the dingy itself.

Our Roadmaster Brakemaster is one of the latter. It uses an air line from the MH to activate a piston which pushes up against our Vue's brake pedal. Other systems actually tap in to the toad's brake system. While it was several years ago, I paid $600 for our system and installed it myself. I've move it from our old toad to the Vue with no problems. I personally like the fact that it is 100% submissive - it only brakes the toad when I stop on the MH brake. I'm not a fan of toad brakes that decide for themselves when to apply the brakes. Some people have burn out toad brakes coming down hills with the "smart" systems. Those are not what I want.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:19 AM   #4
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First things first: Do you have a tow bar and base plate (forget the brake)????? If not, that's the better part of $1,000.
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:00 PM   #5
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crawford.....I do all of my own installations and repairs. When it came to the toad brakes, I had no issues in trying to find the best and I was willing to pay for it. With that said, it was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made. There are SOOOO many different systems available that do some things differently. I agree with chasfm11 and wanted a system that was activated by air from the coach. I bought the Air Force One unit and I've been very happy with it. I was able to move it from my old toad to my new one.

The only downside I later found with mine was that I was unable to apply it without applying the motor home brakes. When you're using the exhaust brake, no air is being sent to the brake system (on the Air Force One unit). I would like to have the option of applying some braking to the toad manually from the coach. There are some newer systems that do this, but they lack some other feature.

It's a tough choice!

The only thing NO ONE will ever convince me of is a system that applys pressure to a dead pedal, particularly the Ready Brake that uses a cable to pull on first, a vacumn assited pedal and then as the vacumn runs down, a dead pedal....how does it know?
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Old 06-09-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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Before I had the system installed on my MH I saw a couple of the sit on the floor units for sale on Craigs list claiming to be almost new, however they were several years old and seldom used. I checked with the manufacturer and they no longer supplied parts for the unit. Might be worth while to check the model # and ask before spending money on a used unit.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:28 AM   #7
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There are several different brake systems.. The Apolo is like the Brake Buddy in that it sits in the driver's seat (or rather in front of it) and must be installed EVERY TIME you hook up to tow and removed EVERY TIME you unhook. Every time. This is it's biggest weakiness. The "Oh, I'm only going a short distance it's too much of a hassle" issue.

It also eats of the towed's battery.. You may need to "Beef Up" the ciggy-ligher wiring a bit. And adding the "Towed Charge" device not a bad idea either.

The next kind is air/hydraulic of which there are two systems I know of , M&G which simply may not fit and Air Force 1 which uses a piston that hides under the driver's seat when driving, and you attach it to the pedal when towing.. THIS is much better than the "Brake in a box" types in that you do not do a full install, just a partial.

With these systems the motor home itself controls braking. Still it gets better. ALso they use no electricity period, all air powered.

With all these systems you have to bleed off the vacuum assist by depressing the pedal several times after shutting off the car.

The US-Gear Unified Brake Decelerator is an electric/hydraulic, you do not need to bleed the vacuum booster since it includes a booster pump, it is FULLY controlled by the motor home, in fact you can set the towed brakes (ENgage them) or disab le them from the cockpit. it is both proportional and progressive (you adjust how hard it brakes compared to how hard the Motor home brakes and the harder you press the pedal, the harder IT presses the pedal. NOTE your brake in a box systems do the latter as a rule too. )

Once it is bolted in you only hook up the control cable (Like plugging in the lights) and safety cable.

Though this system does eat electricity.. IT includes a "Towed Charge" device to keep the battery happy.

Finally we have the Ready Brake: Surge brake, this is a very fancy system to describe but in truth very simple

If the towed vehicle pushes against the motor home then a system of levers pulls a cable which pulls the brake pedal till it's no longer phshing,, This is also a purportional and progressive system in that it only pulls hard enough to relieve the pressure of the towed on the hitch.. The harder you brake, the harder it brakes, the heavier the towed the heavier it breaks, as for the vacuum booster, It self adjusts to compensate..

And this system too, uses NO electricity.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diplomat Don View Post

The only downside I later found with mine was that I was unable to apply it without applying the motor home brakes. When you're using the exhaust brake, no air is being sent to the brake system (on the Air Force One unit). I would like to have the option of applying some braking to the toad manually from the coach. There are some newer systems that do this, but they lack some other feature.



The only thing NO ONE will ever convince me of is a system that applys pressure to a dead pedal, particularly the Ready Brake that uses a cable to pull on first, a vacumn assited pedal and then as the vacumn runs down, a dead pedal....how does it know?
One of the reason I bought the ReadyBrake was because it would operate when I am using my engine's Jake brake. Coming down a steep grade with the Jake and the toad brakes I rarely have to use the MH brakes.

As for the "dead pedal" issue on the ReadyBrake, if it is of concern to you, there is an accessory vacuum pump that can be purchased to maintain the boost on the master cylinder. I have not found this to be an issue.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
The next kind is air/hydraulic of which there are two systems I know of , M&G which simply may not fit and Air Force 1 which uses a piston that hides under the driver's seat when driving, and you attach it to the pedal when towing..
For the third one you can add to your two systems you know of.
Roadmaster BrakeMaster System
BrakeMaster is ROADMASTER's 'direct' proportional braking system. It connects directly to the motorhome’s air or hydraulic brake system for rock-solid, reliable braking — brake line pressure in the motorhome controls the brakes in the towed vehicle.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:11 PM   #10
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wa8xym.....Good info, but you're a little off on the Air Force One. The piston for the pedal mounts under the dash and pulls the pedal toward the firewall. After initial installation, it's just plug in the connectors at the bumper and go. The Air Force One also supplys vacumn to the brake booster as part of the system. The Air Force One is using the vehicle's vaucmn assist and has a break away tank to apply the brakes.
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:26 PM   #11
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Diplomat Don

Diplomat Don wrote,

"I was unable to apply it without applying the motor home brakes. When you're using the exhaust brake, no air is being sent to the brake system (on the Air Force One unit). I would like to have the option of applying some braking to the toad manually from the coach. There are some newer systems that do this, but they lack some other feature. "

I'm not sure that I understand what you mean here. Please elaborate. Also, here's a real newbie question. I have an engine brake on my Tropical w/ 350 Cat. You mention "exhaust brake". Please clue me in on the differences, and whether or not my new SMI sytem will work for me when I'm in the Colorado Rockies with my engine brake on.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:16 PM   #12
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michguy......My DP has a Cummins 400 ISL with an exhaust brake.

The engine brakes are built into the engine and close off valves to build backpressure, slowing down the coach (simple explanation). This is the best type and comes with two or three speeds/levels. It was available in my engine, but was a pricey upgrade that Monaco didn't offer on my level of coach.

The bulk of the diesel engine owners, including yours ( I don't think an engine brake was ever offered in your motor), uses an exhaust brake and variable geometry turbo. Basically the exhaust is mechanically plugged causing the engine to build pressure and slow down the coach. They do this in combination with your Allison transmission. When you switch on the exhaust brake, your trans indicator should either show 2nd or 3rd gear. This is the gear the trans will eventually seek as the exhaust brake slows you.

My exhaust brake won't engage above 62 mph and shuts off below 16 mph. If I turn my exhaust brake on at 60 mph on a 6% grade, my coach will build speed. I have to reduce speed, with my service brakes, until the coach reaches 44mph where the Allison shifts into third gear and the exhaust brake will hold me back on the remainder of the grade. This is the downside of the exhaust brakes. With an engine brake, you have two speeds to more closely adjust how fast you want to descend a grade.

I hope that wasn't too basic or insulting.....back to your question about the SMI system. The SMI system is using the air from your coach to apply the brakes on your toad. When you step on the brakes, the appropriate amount of pressure is applied to the toad brakes. When you're using the exhaust brake or even an engine brake, no air is being applied to the braking system, consequently, no braking to the toad. Some will argue that its not a good idea to apply the toad brakes on a 4000 pound toad to stop a 30000 pound motor home. With that said, we found ourselves on a 10% grade, going as slow as we could, using the exhaust brake. We used the service brakes sparingly to prevent overheating them. We just couldn't slow the coach enough and our 4500 pound toad (4x4 truck) was pushing on the back of us. It would have been nice to have the ability to apply the brakes on the toad while the exhaust brake was working.

We eventually started overheating the service brakes on this grade and I had to pull over and let them cool. In 35000 miles, and 33 years of towing, I had never run into this issue. I should have disconnected the truck at the top of the grade or first opportunity and let the wife drive it down.

Once the brakes cooled, I learned a valuable lession. The Allison transmission will not allow you to over rev your engine. If you're descending a grade with the exhaust brake on, the higher the engine speed, the more braking the exhaust brake provides. If the grade is too steep for the speed you're at and the gear the Allison is in, the engine will increase in RPM's until it reaches the rev limit. The Allison will upshift to the next highest gear to protect the engine. The engine will drop RPM's and your speed will increase more. On the 10% grade, I was able to slow the coach enough to get it to shift down to second providing a lot of exhaust braking. The coach still gained speed and then would upshift, finally causing me to pull over and stop the coach.

When the brakes cooled, I put the coach in first gear, knowing the bottom of the grade was near, and was going to creep along until it upshifted out of first. To my surprise, the Allison won't upshift out of first once it's locked in. We crept down the hill and to our destination.
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:43 PM   #13
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In contrast to Don's description of an exhaust brake, a true engine brake (Jake Brake, also called a compression brake) actually uses the engine's own power to help slow it. Our C-12 CAT has a 2-stage Jake and in first stage I can pretty much take a 6% downgrade without gaining any speed. With the full Jake engaged I often have to use the accelerator to maintain speed on downhill runs! The Jake will engage at any speed and will stay engaged until coach slows enough that the Allison shifts into second gear.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:36 AM   #14
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I currently have a Fleetwwod 40 G and have the opportunity to buy a used Blue Ox Apollo Brake system for my Dingy, I am new to the RV industry and dont want to spend $1400 for a new brake system, what do you think? The unit that I am looking at cost $650
As others have mentioned before you buy it make sure it's still supported by the factory. Another thing to consider is the fact that it has "brake settings" rather than being proportional. Essetnially that means when activated it will come on at a preset level of braking. The proportional units brake at the same rate the brake pedal is applied in the coach.
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