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Old 01-08-2016, 11:36 AM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2015
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Roadmaster BrakeMaster.. A cautionary tale.

We all think about installing things ourselves and consider the trade-offs in the choices. I bought the RoadMaster BrakeMaster hydraulic to air system and a RoadMaster Tow kit because I wanted proportional braking, because I am a 'brake a little at a time guy'. Our MH is a 2003 Newmar Kountry Star. We bought a 2016 Ford Fusion to tow since we wanted a midsize and were replacing a Toyota Camry (my wife's car, I drive the Silverado). I'm a DIY guy, so I did it myself except for the exceptions I explain below.
I started to write a complete history of this install, but after realizing it would be longer than 'War and Peace' I decided to summarize.
Don't know what a commercial place would charge for this job, but it would be considerable. There is a ton of work running all the wiring and pneumatic lines. Just the car alone ran over forty hours, a lot of which was figuring out how to accommodate all the parts in a car with no extra space. And where all the hidden bolts were. The MH also took a lot of effort, mostly for the same reason, running wires from front to back, up into the cockpit was a bear. Three broken drill bits there. Had a commercial place install the proportioning valve since you need to cut into the brake line, of course they installed it right over the tailpipe, fabricated a heat shield for that. The MH was about thirty-five to forty hours, mostly for the same reason as the car, finding good grounds, routes for wiring, fitting components, etc.
Needed to go to the car dealer to get the attachment bar installed at the front of the seat due to special bolt heads. Had to spend a half hour educating them in what I was doing. After all the cussing and skinned knuckles I finally got 'er done. Yesterday was a great day as we went to the Walmart parking lot hooked everything up and was greatly pleased as the system depressed the brake pedal in the car in tune with the MH. If anyone is considering this system I'll be happy to give more details.
Semper Fi and Keep Smiling,
Bob R

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Old 01-08-2016, 11:49 AM   #2
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Wow, surprised at these numbers.
I did the install for my AF1 system.
Probably around 6 hours for the coach side, and about 8 hours for the Toad.
The toad was a lot more work because I had a Jeep Trailhawk (cherokee) and had to totally remove the front fascia (plastic grill and below) for the baseplate portion of the install.

The coach was a little easier because it just involved making a bracket to hold the Relay valve and aux air chamber. But cutting the nylon air lines and installing the push on fittings was pretty straight forward.

I am sure every install case is different, and people work at different paces.
I think the important thing is just knowing if you can do it yourself, how long it takes is not too important unless you need to finish before it gets dark.

What I like about doing it yourself, is that later on, if there is a problem, you can probably diagnose and fix it yourself.



2014 40QBH Phaeton DP Cummins 380HP ISL, Freightliner XC, 2014 Jeep Trailhawk TOAD
Blue Ox Aventa tow bar, SMI Air Force One -South Orange County Ca.
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:27 PM   #3
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Removing and reinstalling the fascia on the Fusion was a large part of the time spent. Although the directions had the locations of most of the fasteners it didn't have them all and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was keeping the fascia from coming loose. And with a brand new car you don't want to apply any undue force. As I stated, a lot of time was spend trying to find the right locations to locate/access things. As I had to do with the breakaway accumulator. Typical was the fuse panel which when I finally asked the forum was able to accessed in 10 seconds, but took five hours to get a large enough hole drilled in the firewall to put a protective grommet in, just barely room enough to get my portable drill in around the steering shaft (broke three bits). Another thing that cost a lot of time was putting the darn wire loom (split plastic wire protector) on the wires and tubing, it goes on about an inch at a time. Fourteen years of working on aircraft taught me that it's easier to do the job right the first time, 10,000 feet is not where you want to be when your bad fix breaks again. I certainly agree with your point about ownership of the install, you know where every junction and splice is. Speaking of splices and wiring I threw all of Roadmaster's away, I used Marine wiring and heat shrink splices. Marine wiring is pre-tinned and won't corrode and the heat shrink splices make the junction weather proof. Takes a bit more to install since you have to use a heat gun on every splice, but I think it's worth it. I also added ninety-degree fittings wherever the tubing had to make a tight corner. That was not easy under the driver's seat. I have to laugh at RoadMaster's directions to drill a hole in the Fusion firewall, there is not an inch of space anywhere on the firewall. Ran all the wiring on the inside of the wheel well and up through the cabin floor. Same with the wiring going to the battery in the trunk, up the wheel wells and up through the floor. Everything was hard and time consuming. Knowing what I know now I'd do like I did with my boat, run a multi-conductor cable from front to rear and tap off what I need with some left over for expansion. Oh yes, there was one other thing claiming my attention, we found a leak in our front wall and I had to take off the ornamental stone and strip it to the studs and rebuild the rotted half (nine year old house). Poor construction practices. It's got two layers of Tyvek, two layers of tar paper and two layers of rain screen now. I guarantee it for fifty years.

Semper Fi and Keep Smiling
Bob R

Life is what happened while you're planning other things.
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:49 PM   #4
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I do my own installs and also installed an Air Force One on three cars and two motor homes. I know when you have it done by an installer, they don't take the time to run/hide things as nicely as you would on your own stuff.

My first Air Force One install took about 8-10 hours for both vehicles. Now that I've done it a few times and I'm getting older (harder to get up off the ground), I'm down to 6-8 hours for both vehicles. I think the guys that do it for a lining can knock them out in 4-5 hours.
Don & Mary
2014 Newmar Dutch Star - All Electric - 450 ISL
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Old 01-08-2016, 05:15 PM   #5
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I did the Brakemaster on our 2007 Acadia and it was about a one day job. Coach already had that side installed, so the one day was just the new car. Maybe 3-4 hours of actual work, and the same "figuring out".

The hydraulic-to-air version (for gas chassis coaches) is more difficult on the coach side than an air brake system.
Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition; 2014 Buick LaCRosse
Homebase in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
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Old 01-08-2016, 06:11 PM   #6
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I have to laugh.

Count me in the major double-digit hours-to-complete camp (in this case, an SMI Stay-in-Play Duo). Had to make some custom mounting plates, fabricate wiring harnesses and a terminal box, remove some interior parts for access, rework failed crimps in the "plug-and-play" rear wiring harness- the usual for this detail-obsessed guy. But, I got the results I wanted.

My wife has said she's reluctant to drive the car now because it has too much time invested in it to chance a wreck. ;-)

And then there was the rewiring of the coach rear lights for LEDs, an added third brake light and a new trailer receptacle... all I can say is never hire me at an hourly rate.
2008 Holiday Rambler Admiral 30PDD (Ford F53 chassis)
2009 Honda Fit Sport
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Old 01-08-2016, 06:23 PM   #7
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I've installed the BrakeMaster unit on two toweds and one MH so far, but ours have always been the Air to Air units. Now have all the parts to do the install on the Magna, just need better weather and time.
2009 45' Magna 630 w/Cummins ISX 650 HP/1950 Lbs Ft
Charter Good Sam Lifetime Member, FMCA, SKP
RV'ing since 1957, NRA Benefactor Life, towing '05 Odyssey
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:29 PM   #8
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I will bet that every one of the installs listed here will probably never have a problem caused by sloppy workmanship. It may take us a little longer, but we do it right because we are so picky.

I got lucky on my Trailhawk because there was a hole in the firewall already for a clutch rod. Since it was an automatic, it was plugged with a rubber grommet.

I will admit that sometimes I think the car is "Fighting me" becasue of how tightly things are packed under the hood. Then running wires for a unibody also adds to the fun.

I am also in the camp for soldering and heatshrink for wiring connections.


2014 40QBH Phaeton DP Cummins 380HP ISL, Freightliner XC, 2014 Jeep Trailhawk TOAD
Blue Ox Aventa tow bar, SMI Air Force One -South Orange County Ca.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:40 PM   #9
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Here's an install idea for the Brakemaster when spacre is at a premium.
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:10 AM   #10
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RoadMaster BrakeMaster

Now that is a really neat solution... why didn't I think of that?
Semper Fi and Keep Smiling,
Bob R
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:34 AM   #11
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I have installed the Roadmaster Brakemaster system on 6 toads and deinstalled it on the F150 and installed a M&G system, my installs run about 2 to 3 hrs I run the 1/4 air tubing through the main wire loom boot on the driver side by making a hole with a ice pick and cutting a sharp angle on the plastic tubing and using wire lube to help in threading the tubing through. The hardest part is finding a place to mount the breakaway. As a side note the M&G system was a easy install.
Walt & Will
2000 Dynasty
2013 F150 XLT Crew C 4X4
2015 Kia Soul 6 speed manual
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Old 01-12-2016, 09:24 AM   #12
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I did the same thing on the air canister and cylinder after seeing I had basically mo room to install it on our 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid.
I pretty sure I got the idea from iRV2.
I have seen moved it to my Jeep Wrangler
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Old 01-12-2016, 09:59 AM   #13
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I had Camping Word install the BrakeMaster with Breakaway Air-Air on a HHR.
They charged me labor of $356.48 including shop supplies.

Then 5 years later I had the same system installed on a MKS at a Install shop that charged me $300 for labor including any parts needed for the refit.

My DIY time was around 2 hours of the driving time to the shop and back.
That worked out good for me. But I do a lot of DIY on oil/filter/chassis grease etc.
99 Discovery 34Q ISB
2014 MKS AWD EcoBoost Toad
Fulltime Since "99"
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Old 01-12-2016, 03:48 PM   #14
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My install was a Hyd2Air so had to install the compressor and the proportioning valve on the MH. As I mentioned you have to cut into to brake line to install the Proportioning valve. The wiring for the compressor has two power inputs 12v constant and 12v ignition on. It's fairly large and heavy and has to be mounted up high enough to enable you to reach the drain valve which is at the bottom. Power for the proportioning valve comes from the brake light which allows the valve to open and vent air pressure to the toad. Said I wasn't going to write a long screed, but I did. Just hope it can make somebody else's job easier.

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