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Old 08-30-2013, 10:10 AM   #1
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Toad Brake System Adventure

I have a 2000 Kountry Star DP with exhaust brake and tow a 99 Honda Accord EX (toad). After many miles and many years, I decided that the time had come to install an auxiliary braking system for the rig. Here are some of the requirements I have:

1. No box like fixture sitting in the floor board and attached to the brake pedal that must be taken in and out when hooking up and un-hooking.

2. Fully proportional braking on the toad.

3. No toad brake operation when exhaust brake energized. Toad brakes applied only when MH brakes applied.

4. Visual indication when toad brakes applied.

5. No complications when hooking or un-hooking.

Extreme Brute Elite Braking System
After much research and discussion with the factory, I bought one. The cost was a little over $1100.00 including shipping.

This is a surge brake system that is fully mechanical and actuated by a cable attached to the brake pedal.
I was assured that the system wouldn’t actuate the toad brake system when the exhaust brake alone was activated. The unit comes with a brake indicator light mounted in the dash of the MH.

I arranged with my local RV service center (Camping Connection in Myrtle Beach SC, and the best I have found) to install the system, and the estimated install time was 3.75 hours at $108/hr.

First Problem:
I took the tow bar out of the box and installed it to the MH with no problem. Then I wanted to hook it up to the Honda to guarantee that there would be no problems. My baseplate is a Road Master and requires ¾” pins to secure the tow bar to the base plate. Problem! The pin wouldn’t fit – the holes in the tow bar were too small. I had to drive 40 miles round trip to get a ¾” drill bit so I could ream the holes in the tow bar to accept the pins.

Final Problem:
I arrived at the installation location at 9:00 AM, and the tech started to work.

A hole must be drilled in the firewall in line with the brake pedal to secure the operating cable to the brake pedal. The hole must be in line with pedal within about ¼” inch. The closest location that could be found was more than 3” away from the brake pedal. After a discussion with the factory and the factory installing dealer, it was evident that this is a fatal problem with my 99 Honda Accord. One dealer said that he had installed a system on a late model Honda, but it was difficult. If you are interested in this system, make sure there is a satisfactory place to run the cable.

Two Additional Concerns:
The cables of the system are actuated by movement of a piston in the tow bar caused by pressure of the toad (surge) on the MH while braking. The brake indicator light is activated by a switch located in this part of the braking system. It knows nothing about the toad brake pedal position or toad brake application. It just tells you if the tow bar part of the system is working. That worries me.

I didn’t buy a break away switch, but one is available, and I expected to get one later. The problem is that another hole must be drilled through the fire wall, and again, it must line up with the brake pedal. That would also make it impossible to install on my 99 Honda Accord.

After explaining things to the owner, I got a full refund, including shipping both ways. Even though this system won’t work on my Honda, the company seems to be fine.

Air Force One
The Camping Connection manager had symphony with my problem and offered a suggested that I look at the Air Force One. I looked at their web site and literature and checked the web where I found a many threads and none with negative comments. Because of all my problems, I got a quoted price of $1099 and an estimated installation time of four hours. I bought it.

Things I Like:
1. The system comes with a break-away system.

2. The system is fully proportional.

3. At most, one small hole must be drilled through the firewall of the toad. In my case no holes were necessary because existing passages could be used. Location of passing through the firewall isn’t important.

4. The brake indicator light is actuated by the toad braking system itself.

5. The system maintains the full power braking system in the toad by maintaining the vacuum on the power brakes while the toad engine isn’t running. No battery current of any kind is used for this. It is air operated.

6. Spartan and Bendix were involved in the design of the system and it is designed to meet federal air brake standards.

7. Connecting and disconnecting one air hose, one electric wire and the breakaway cable is all that must be dealt with when hooking up and unhooking – maybe two minutes.

8. The only toad battery current used is when the breakaway switch is activated. If that happens, battery draw of the toad won’t be an issue.

The installation really took about five hours with two techs working. After the installation, I drove the rig home – about 25 miles, and it worked perfectly.

After all is said and done, I’m happy to get the Air Force One system. I think it is a superior system.

Good Luck!
Wil
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:27 PM   #2
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Glad you found the Air Force One. I installed mine in Dec. 2012 and it has worked perfect ever since.
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:44 PM   #3
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I have seen a lot of people that have this system and like it.. The issue for me is the non portability of it. If you are towing the same vehicle for years and years and have no intent to get another vehicle then that is not an issue. I have a couple of vehicles I like to switch back and forth with towing and do not want to have to spend enough to equip all of the vehicles.

On a side note I have a friend that designed his own mechanical system for his dads toad vehicle. He has a bout 50 bucks in parts in it plus his time building it. It is a mechanical system based something similar to the one you talk about. I think he made it 20 or 30 years ago. His dad has used it a long time.
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:49 PM   #4
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In staying with the topic of toad braking system adventure. I have found out some new information about some of the braking systems. Evidently some of the new vehicles have a safety feature for keeping a vacuum on the brake booster. If you have one of the box systems that sits in the floorboard when you hook it up it runs through a calibration procedure which pumps the brakes and gets the vacuum out of them when it is setting up. It then treats them as a mechanical non boosted brake. Evidently some vehicles have an emergency feature when you lose vacuum to the brakes it has an electronic vacuum pump that supplies vacuum. Your braking system now is putting power on a fully energized vacuum system and thinking it needs a lot more force than it does. The cure appears to be use the setting for electronic brakes. Most of the systems do not have this in their literature. I am going to recommend that when you buy a braking system for your towed vehicle you actually call or email the company that makes it. Tell them the year, make and model of your vehicle and have them actually tell you which setting to use.
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Old 08-30-2013, 10:14 PM   #5
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Love my readybrake. 300$ plus 2 hours of my time to install it is all good
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:34 AM   #6
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I bought my Roadmaster Brakemaster from e-bay for 59.00 WHOOHOO, it was a deal. Just got the air cylinder from e-bay, then went to e-trailer.com and bought a second car kit and installed that along with the motorhome kit.
Did all the work myself and am extremely happy with the results, as I pull a full size dodge ram pickup, brakes are needed.
Did it all for a few hundred dollars, here's a pic of the air cylinder that I bought on e-bay.
Roadmaster Inc. - Tow Bars, Braking Systems & RV Accessories
Bargains can be had and it works great.
Jim
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Old 08-31-2013, 07:20 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by charlie 62 View Post
Love my readybrake. 300$ plus 2 hours of my time to install it is all good
I hope that I will love my ready brake, I just ordered one yesterday and will be installing it myself.
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Old 08-31-2013, 07:24 AM   #8
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Since I have a blue ox tow bar I plan on the Blue Ox Auto-Stop system... Though I have yet to figure out a break-away (Sounds like the read-brake break away may work for me)

There are many systems that might meet your needs... I used to use a US-Gear Unified Brake Decelerator on my towed, Was very happy with it, it has features no other system has..

Like you I'm not in favor of the box in the driver's seat systems.
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:48 AM   #9
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Just a note about something I learned from this whole adventure.

Most systems provide a brake indicator light to show when the toad brake is applied. This is of course important to let you know if the toad brake actuates when the MH brake is applied.

Of equal importance is for it to show you if the toad brake is applied when the MH brake isn't. If that situation occurs, the toad brakes could get destroyed or even catch on fire.

I only have knowledge of the SMI Air Force One and Stay in Play Duo, and the NSA ReadyBrute and ReadyBrake systems. That knowledge came from the manufacturer’s literature and instructions. They say, “A good engineer doesn’t need to know anything, just where to look to find the required information.”

The brake indicator light in the SMI systems is actually actuated by the toad brake pedal. This actually shows the condition of the toad brake pedal. In fact, one of the first system checks after installation is to make sure the brake indicator light is off when neither MH nor toad brake pedal is depressed. Then the toad brake pedal is depressed to check that it really does operate the brake indicator light. Then the MH brake pedal is depressed to verify all is correct.

When installed in accordance with the normal installation instructions from NSA for their systems, the brake indicator light is controlled by a switch in the surge mechanism attached to the MH. The surge mechanism will operate whether the brake pedal cable is connected or not. This normal installation does not actually show the state of the toad brake system, but does show the operation of the surge mechanism. I don’t know how it was done, but I have read a report in some thread that a second brake indicator light was installed for these systems to actually show the state of the toad brake pedal. I think an actual indication about the toad brake pedal is very important.

I have no knowledge about any other system, but advise anyone with any other system or looking to buy any other system to check how the brake indicator light works and be satisfied with its operation.

Good Luck!
Wil
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:04 AM   #10
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I have the M & G system installed and it works perfectly, all the time. All I have to do is connect the air line to the coach. Takes 5 seconds. No adjustments, no indicator lights, no electrics, no problems, no worries.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:57 PM   #11
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I have the ready brute elite that indicates the surge and the towed brake activating. Im towing a Jeep wrangler and it meets all your 5 criteria. It has a breakaway, no electronics, easy setup, brakes doesnt activate on exhaust brakes, etc... To bad it didnt work out with your Accord, I really love this setup.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:07 PM   #12
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Another happy ReadyBrute Elite owner here, it was simple to install and works great!
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:19 PM   #13
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Another happy Ready Brute Elite user here.

I, too, am not too crazy about the indicator only showing when the surge occurs. I thought about hooking a bank of lights to the Jeep's 4-way trailer plug and placing it where I could see it in the rear camera.

This way, I could see the running lights, brake lights, turn signals and 4-ways working and have one less job for the DW.

I have too many mods on my list before I get to this one.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Air Baron View Post
I have the M & G system installed and it works perfectly, all the time. All I have to do is connect the air line to the coach. Takes 5 seconds. No adjustments, no indicator lights, no electrics, no problems, no worries.
Also much easier install at least on my vehicle.
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