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Old 09-14-2011, 02:18 PM   #1
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SMI AF-1 or Brake Buddy

Our (new to us) 2004 Phaeton has a SMI brake sytem installed on the coach. It also came came with a Blue OX tow bar. We've bought a 2011 CRV and called our local RV shop about having the two co-joined. They suggested NOT using the SMI system. They said the Brake Buddy is the way to go. I've not heard horrible things about SMI (AF-1) and find it kind of difficult to just forget about all the SMI stuff that's already on the coach and buy something else.. Thoughts?

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Old 09-14-2011, 02:24 PM   #2
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Sneaking suspicion your RV shop sells Brake Buddy. Stay with the SMI and you'll be much happier.

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Old 09-14-2011, 07:08 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Elkhartjim View Post
Sneaking suspicion your RV shop sells Brake Buddy. Stay with the SMI and you'll be much happier.
Perfect set up for us. Our RV Center didn't know ANYTHING about SMI. Went to a Cummins shop for installation. Love the ease of hookup and away we go.
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Old 09-15-2011, 04:49 AM   #4
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The AF1 is very straight forward to install. Plus, there's no need to remove it to drive the car like Brake Buddy. Just disconnect from the coach, and go.

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Old 09-15-2011, 10:18 AM   #5
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I have used the airforce one system on my jeep since 07. When you say your coach has the system installed on it, the only components that are associated with the coach is a connection box with a flat tow electrical connections and an air line connection. The tow vehicle gets the control box and brake components. This system provides true proportional braking between the coach and the tow. So, with all that said I would guess that the brake buddy system might be the cheaper of the two systems. My recommendation if you're interested would be SMI.
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:42 AM   #6
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Had a brake buddy-worked but mickey mouse. Have Air Force 1 b SMI and its wonderful. I'd find a new RV shop fast. Good luck.
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Old 09-15-2011, 11:23 AM   #7
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The SMI is well ahead in terms of convenience and performance. That's not knocking the BB, but since you are part way to having the SMI AF1 anyway, I can think of no reason at all to go to a BB.

But when yu say you have the part in the coach already, be aware that is almost nothing. Basically just a tap into the coach air system. All the major components - and all the expense- is on the car side. So don't expect to save money by going that route. Youwill, however, end up with a first class brake system.

The only real advantage to the BB is its portability. If you trade cars often, or tow more than one car, a portable brake system is easy to move form one vehicle to another. Not so with the SMI brakes.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:51 PM   #8
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I would not say the part on the coach is nothing. It consists of a small air tank and control valve, 2 DOT approved T's for 5/8" and 3/8" air hoses, the connection for the car and some lengths of 1/4" air hose. The coach part costs well over $300, I'm thinking $370 something.

I would call SMI directly, tell them what you have and see what price they have on the car part of the kit. It should be less than a new BrakeBuddy. Of course, you will have installation costs unless you do it yourself. I did my own and it was not all that difficult.

In case you are wondering how I know this, we recently sold our 08 Acadia to some friends which had the SMI Air Force One and left as part of the deal. While I was deciding what we were going to do vehicle wise I called SMI to price the part for the car but just can't remember what they told me. I do remember the $300 something for the coach part which would have been for my friend to buy to mount on his coach. We decided to go a different direction and just this afternoon I pulled the SMI parts off our coach to give to my friend. Its still sitting in my garage.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:56 PM   #9
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SMI, either Air Force One, or Stay in Play Duo are both way ahead in
convenience. I've had Stay in Play on my DP for two years, works
great, easy to use.
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:49 AM   #10
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The SMI is powered by the tow vehicle, it takes no battery power and it works very well, I've never heard so much as one bad word about it, it is easy to hook up and stores under the seat when not in use.

The Brake buddy uses towed vehicle power, it is NOT controlled by the tow vehicle but rather senses when slowing down and applies the brakes (So going down hill can apply them) and it is much harder to install when you tow and much harder to store once you remove it so you can drive the car. It is also more likely to "Grow Legs" and walk off.

Also, it is easier to install WRONG.. You have to install it every time

With the SMI you only do the last step (hook the pedal pusher to the pedal)

No, the SMI is by far the better product. I rank it #3 on the list of good ones.. Brake buddy and it's competitors I put last on the list (as a group)

#1: US-Gear unified brake decelerator,, Full control from the cockpit, same as a semi driver has over his trailer, in fact better.

1.5 The "invisi-Brake" You do not have the same remote control ability but it too is controlled by the tow vehicle other wise it works like #1.

#2: M&G All the advantages of the SMI, in fact with one exception everything I said about the SMI applies.. that being you don't hook up the pedal pusher since there isn't any, it installs between the vacuum booster and the master cylinder Downside: May not fit all cars.

#3 is Air Force one, works lot like the M&G, fits more vehicles. You do have one device to hook up when you tow (The pedal pusher)
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:06 AM   #11
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wa8, There is no pedal pusher with SMI. It pulls and does not need to be moved for driving.

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Old 09-18-2011, 06:11 PM   #12
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SMI AFO, the Brake Buddy does not compete.

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