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Old 10-07-2013, 12:17 PM   #1
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SMI Air Force One

Hello everyone!

I am off on another project!
I was wondering if any of you that have the SMI Air Force One, installed it yourself?
I am pretty good with my hands and can follow instructions.
(Sometimes according to my DW)

So everyone, how was it?

Thanks Wes
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Old 10-07-2013, 02:56 PM   #2
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I have the Air Force One system, and it was installed by two very informed techs.

I had the brake indicator light installed on the MH dash. They charged four hours for the job, but it took about five hours to complete.

I watched them the whole time. If you are friendly with the installation, it doesn't seem complicated, but the first time could take some extrra time.

There are three issues you need to address:
1. You must find a place for the Toad unit under the hood. For my 1999 Honda Accord, that meant removing the sheet metal (plastic) nose of the Honda to secure the AF1 Toad unit. That took some time and some knowledge. It also took time to re-install the nose.

2. One air hose and one electric wire must be installed thru the firewall in the Toad. Finding an existing fitting to do this takes some skill and time.

3. The normal installation installs the brake indicator on the tow bar. I don’t think that is the proper way to do it. I think the brake indicator should be on the MH dash. That means running an electric wire from the Toad to the MH dash.

I recommend that a spare wire and pin in the normal electrical cord connection be used for this purpose. Then you must run the wire under the MH and finally install the brake indicator on the dash. Not hard, but it takes time.

The advantage of this type installation is that it gives you two very important positive indications.

(1) If the brake indicator lights up when you depress the MH brake pedal, you know that the Toad brake is being applied, and you know that your electric cable from MH to Toad is connected correctly.

(2) If the brake indicator does not light up when you depress the MH brake pedal, you know that the AF1 has a problem or the MH to Toad electric cable isn’t properly connected.

My cost for the installation was about $400. I think it was well worth the cost to have trained people do the job. I’ve never had any issue with this system.

One final thought:
The brake indicator light voltage source comes from the cold side of the Toad brake light switch. Proper diodes must be installed in the normal MH/Toad brake light fixtures to make the system work correctly. Normally that is done when first setting up the Toad for towing.

Good Luck!
Wil
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:03 PM   #3
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I have been watching to install video for the SMI Air Force One, I am wondering if there are any Jeep Wrangler Owners out there that have this set up installed, Where did they put the box?
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:46 PM   #4
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I installed AF1 last year on my CR-V. It was not hard to do, you just need to pay attention to the correct air line on the coach. On the CR-V the box mounted easily on the breather cover.
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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I didn't install it, but it's sort of suspended off other things, on the driver's side of the engine compartment. I'd take a photo for you, but it's dark out. We too have a 2012 Wrangler. Another friend with a 2012 Wrangler had his installed by a different installer, it's in the same place as ours. It's a matter of finding enough real estate to park it in. It does make the vacuum line connections relatively easy, and short.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:08 PM   #6
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Wil01's comments are right on. I ended up installing my AF1 in a Valdez, AK, RV park. We lost our brake-in-a-box system on the way up and needed something for the trip down. Took my time and after reviewing the instructions thoroughly before doing any work, it worked out just fine. I added the RV dashboard light and made my final mounting brackets when I got home, but part placements and line routings were done in the park. I did use a lot of nylon zip ties for the initial (temporary) install but things worked out just fine. The system has since been in 2 coaches and 2 toads and these changes were done by me when we traded vehicles. The toads were generally done at home and the Bus installs in the RV dealer's parking lot or close by. When installing the system in the Chevy Silverado, I had problems with finding a place to tap into the brake lights for an RV dash indicating light. The Chevy brake light system is computer run, but a call to SMI got me the info I needed and a part number for a NAPA air brake switch that I needed to install to make it work.

Anyone with a fair amount of skills should have no trouble doing the job. Don't hesitate to call SMI if you hit a rough spot, but I don't think you'll have any major problems. Good luck.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:41 PM   #7
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Hi Wes,

I installed the AFO on our coach and the CR-V. If you are handy with the toolbox, and if you are comfortable with mechanical / electrical systems, and if you can follow video and written instruction fairly well, and if you have several hours to spare and a place to work.... I would go for it. In my opinion, the two most difficult or nerve-racking tasks were:

1) Drilling a hole through the firewall for the anchor screw that holds the pneumatic cylinder under the dash. Care must be taken not to drill into the vacuum chamber or other components.

2) Cutting TEE's into the coach side air brake lines requires care to be sure you have selected the correct lines. The actual install of the fittings is not difficult, but you must be 100% certain.

Frankly, just to be absolutely certain, I phoned SMI and spoke with a tech to identify the correct air lines while lying under the coach. They were most helpful. They also have an excellent on-line video which I view several times before starting. FWIW, I was able to use an electrical fish tape to pull the small vacuum line and necessary wiring through an existing wiring grommet in the firewall of the CR-V. It was tight but it worked without drilling a new hole for that purpose.

A couple other comments.

a) I'm fine with the LED lights mounted on the tow bar because I always have the rear camera active and it's easy to occasionally check that the LED's are illuminated via the camera. Just personal preference on this one.

b) I did not use the CR-V lights for brake / turn lights and therefore diodes were not necessary. I removed the tail lights and installed new sockets and bulbs inside the lens. Again, fairly simple to do if you are comfortable with the tooling. Simply snaked the wiring under the car being sure it is secured and protected at all pathways. Wiring and lighting kits for this purpose are available on-line. This works very well.

c) I purchased a small rocker switch and installed it in a vacant switch blank on the dash to the left of the steering wheel. The switch is wired to the fuse panel (forget which fuse number) to switch off the CR-V navigation when towing. If you don't pull the fuse or use this switch arrangement, the navigation will drain the battery in several hours.

All of this is time consuming but, in my opinion, it can be an interesting project and not too difficult or complex for the average. Hope this info is helpful and hope things go well for you if you choose to do the install.
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:51 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone, I called a shop today he said 4-5 hours but can't start on it till after the 28th......

So I think tomorrow I will order one and give it a go!
After watching the video I don't think it will be to bad.

I have to say I like the ideal of the light being up front where I can see it.

Thanks for all the tips!
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:58 PM   #9
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When I ran my indicator light forward I used the trailer brake wire in the 7 pin connector. It's already run to under the dash and you can ground the other end of an LED at a convenient point behind the dash.
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Old 10-07-2013, 10:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pigman1 View Post
When I ran my indicator light forward I used the trailer brake wire in the 7 pin connector. It's already run to under the dash and you can ground the other end of an LED at a convenient point behind the dash.
I was just thinking about the bundle of wires I seen under the dash marked brake control wires. Was the wire color coded to the 7 pin plug?
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Old 10-07-2013, 10:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMonroe View Post
I didn't install it, but it's sort of suspended off other things, on the driver's side of the engine compartment. I'd take a photo for you, but it's dark out. We too have a 2012 Wrangler. Another friend with a 2012 Wrangler had his installed by a different installer, it's in the same place as ours. It's a matter of finding enough real estate to park it in. It does make the vacuum line connections relatively easy, and short.
I will look into that area

Thanks
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Old 10-08-2013, 08:40 AM   #12
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Ordered it this morning from Rvupgrades will get coach out of storage tomorrow!

Guess I better put new kitchen faucet in SB for DW today,
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WesinRockies View Post
I was just thinking about the bundle of wires I seen under the dash marked brake control wires. Was the wire color coded to the 7 pin plug?
The whole answer is "sometimes". The Tiffin chassis has the proper wire marked by location on the cover of the 7 pin plug and under the dash each trailer brake wire is labeled in a separate bundle. Freightliner is the same at the 7 pin plug, but they run all their wires (5) into a 6 pin plug under the dash. Sometimes the coach builder actually taps the power and ground from that plug for other functions (Tiffin does this when building on a Freightliner chassis) and some leave the plug empty.
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pigman1 View Post
The whole answer is "sometimes". The Tiffin chassis has the proper wire marked by location on the cover of the 7 pin plug and under the dash each trailer brake wire is labeled in a separate bundle. Freightliner is the same at the 7 pin plug, but they run all their wires (5) into a 6 pin plug under the dash. Sometimes the coach builder actually taps the power and ground from that plug for other functions (Tiffin does this when building on a Freightliner chassis) and some leave the plug empty.
Thanks I will check it tomorrow when I get my coach, I was thinking I seen them labeled in the back.
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