Some Thoughts On Auxiliary Toad Brakes
Once you decide to have them, the issue of knowing when the toad brakes are applied needs to be addressed. That objective is best served with a light that comes on when the toad brake is actuated (brake indicator light). Most agree that a brake indicator light is desirable, but brake manufacturers use or recommend different methods to actuate the light, and this discussion is about those differences.
Here are the requirements I think are necessary:
1. The indicator must be easily visible at all times while underway.
2. You should not have to make a conscious effort to see the indicator give you a signal. To me, that means that the indicator must be mounted in the MH on the dash or elsewhere that makes you see it when it operates.
3. The indicator should alert you when the toad brakes are operated. This may seem obvious, but not all systems do that.
Some systems alert you when the brake mechanism on the auxiliary brake system operates and make the assumption that such action caused the toad brakes to operate. I believe that to be an unsafe assumption. Any number of things could keep the toad brakes from operating after the auxiliary brake system actuated.
As an example, in its standard configuration, the very popular and highly regarded ReadyBrute systems provide a function to operate the indicator because of the surge movement of the brake mechanism on the tow bar. If one forgot to connect the necessary cables or they were out of adjustment, the indicator light would be of no value. They do sell a kit that operates the indicator when the toad brake light is activated. That is a worthwhile addition. This is not to speak badly about ReadyBrake, but to alert you to the fact than you can improve the system at small cost.
The key here is that with most systems, you can always actuate the indicator by running a line from the cold side of the toad brake switch to the toad brake indicator in the MH.
The only system where the installation would be a problem is where the toad brake pedal isnít depressed to actuate the toad brakes.
Most MH electrical systems actuate the toad brake light whenever the MH brakes are applied independent of any axillary toad brake system. To make the system work as described in this section, diodes must be wired into the toad brake light system to prevent feedback from the MH brake circuit to the toad brake light circuit.
4. The toad brake indicator should warn you if you have any cable connections problems between the MH and toad. This requires that the power source for the indicator come from the cold side of the toad brake light switch and continue through the 12 volt electrical cable connecting the toad to the MH.
With this arrangement, if the indicator does not light up when you depress the MH brake pedal, you know you have a problem with the auxiliary brake system itself, the auxiliary brake connection or 12 V cable between the MH and toad.
5. Obviously, the indicator should warn you if the toad brakes are actuated while the MH brake system is not actuated. I know of no way to achieve this except to get the indicator feed from the cold side of the toad brake light switch.
You may have different thoughts, and Iíll be looking forward to seeing them.
2007 Newmar Kountry Star DP
Cummins ISL, Cummins E-Brake