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Old 03-06-2005, 12:42 PM   #1
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Location: Moorhead, MN 56560
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I have been researching various toad braking systems such as "Brake Buddy" & "BrakePro" and am looking for input from users. Are there any others out there that are similar?


2006 Vectra 40FD
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Old 03-06-2005, 12:42 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Moorhead, MN 56560
Posts: 41
I have been researching various toad braking systems such as "Brake Buddy" & "BrakePro" and am looking for input from users. Are there any others out there that are similar?


2006 Vectra 40FD
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Old 03-06-2005, 12:58 PM   #3
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Since you have air brakes, you really should at least consider the M&G brake system. There's nothing to do inside the car to prepare for towing. Just hook up an air hose between the RV and the car (and a cord for the optional break-away) and you're ready to go.

Their website is here
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:50 AM   #4
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There are several brake systems similar i n design from blue Ox and etc.

I have experience with Brake Buddy. We have used the BB to tow for many miles with different vehicles. If one follows the simple set up instructions, the unit works great for providing the extra emergency stopping power. In other situations, normal stopping, it is not used as your coach has ample "slow down to stop" braking power.
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Old 03-07-2005, 03:19 AM   #5
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Consider M&G brake system. Once installed, nothing could be easier to connect, with truly proportional braking. No "boxes" to deal with, true "air over hydraulic toad braking.
RedT, US Air Force Retired
2004 Itasca Meridian VMSpc, Pressure Pro TPMS
2003 Jeep Liberty M&G Brakes System
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:44 AM   #6
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The M&G system sounds like a good deal. Our problem lies in there is not enought room under the tow hood to have it installed. Are there any other systems similar to the M&G the can be used with the limited clearance?
1999 Itasca Suncruiser 34V
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:53 AM   #7
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Just out of curiosity, what are you installing the system on?
Rick Buddrus

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Old 03-07-2005, 05:14 AM   #8
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I went with a Brake Buddy and it has worked very well so far. Because I have a DP with an exhaust brake I decided I only wanted braking assistance on hard braking. With the BB it is easy to set the sensitivity to do this. In over 5000 miles towing so far it has only activated a hand full of times, once it probably prevented me from a collision with someone that pulled out in front of me.

I initially looked at M & G, US Gear and others. Decided against because:

1. When I called my toad maker they informed me modification of the brakes with may void any brake related warranty claims on my toad. US Gear puts a pulley under the brake peddal. That also bothered me.

2. Possible warranty issues and safety issues with the Freightliner chassis. In my Freightliner manual the following warning appears in at least two sections:

"Freightliner neither recommends nor approves connecting a trailer or other towed vehicle's braking system directly to the vehicle braking system. Freightliner also neither recommends nor approves tapping into the vehicle air brake system nor operating a towed vehicle or trailer's braking system by means of the vehicle braking system. Failure to observe this warning could result in personal injury or death, or substantial property damage."
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Old 03-07-2005, 05:21 AM   #9
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I've been using a VIP TowBrake from Tow Brake International for a little over two years and am pretty happy with it.

Joe T.
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:28 AM   #10
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I had an SMI controller installed on my 36 ft pusher and I am very satisfied with it. Once installed, all you have to do is hook up the umbilical cord and turn it on. It is not hooked into your coach system at all, and it has a sensitivity adj. It is advertised in MH magazine. The box is relatively small, I have a Saturn, and it is in my trunk. If you do not have power seats it can go under the front seat.

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Old 03-07-2005, 01:27 PM   #11
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Rick Buddrus

We have a 99 Itasca DP with air brakes and bags and will be towing a 97 GMC Jimmy. This is a TWD so that complicates matters. I like the idea of proportional braking but the Jimmy juse not have any room under the hood to add the M&G system. Was looking into the brake master and it looks good but have not heard too much about it.
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Old 03-07-2005, 03:15 PM   #12
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Here's a safety widget for the M and G system.
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Old 03-07-2005, 03:32 PM   #13
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I've had 3 different systems on 2 different coaches. They're all good systems but they are all different. I've give you my rundown on them:

Brake Buddy:

The Brake Buddy was my very first tow brake. This was towing my 2002 Grand Cherokee Overland with my 2003 Suncruiser/W20. The Brake Buddy initially seemed like a good way to go and there were lots of satisfied users so I got one. While it did a god job of braking and was a reliable unit I found it did have a few idiosyncrasies that I had to deal with.

When setting up the Brake Buddy I had to hook up the clamp around the brake pedal, then position the seat to hold the Brake Buddy in place, then plug in the breakaway cables and the power cord, then push the "test" button 3 or 4 times to purge the vacuum out of the brake booster, then adjust set the sensitivity level, and then plug in the remote sensor wires. Then you're ready to go. Granted, it only takes about 2 minutes once you have the procedure down but it is 2 minutes that I may be in the way of other campers. The same holds true for unhooking the system, plus you have the issue of finding where to put the thing when not in use. My 33' Suncruiser had basement air and a freezer so there wasn't much storage space. I also found out that you can't bump the remote door unlock button because the seat automatically moves back for ease of entry. I did this a couple of times and lost my braking power because the seat was too far back.

Again, it was a reliable system once set up but I wanted something more permanent so I went with plan B, which was the US Gear unit.

US Gear Unified Tow Brake:

I sold the Brake Buddy and picked up the US Gear unit. The US Gear unit was a permanent installation and once it was installed it was out of sight and out of mind. No more storing or setup issues to deal with. The small controller in the RV has an LED array showing what's happening and you can also manually apply the toad brakes. This I found to be very handy once when I had hooked up the toad on a slight downhill grade and had problems getting the two tow bar rails to extend and lock because it kept wanting to follow me. I just applied the in-cab lever and the toad stopped and I drove the RV forward until the tow bar locks snapped into place. It's also a very handy way to check if the brakes work. Just apply the toad brakes and try driving forward. You'll feel the drag so you know that it's all hooked up. It requires 2 wires to feed the toad so I just replaced my 4 wire trailer cord with a 6 wire cord and it was a simple plug 'n play thing. The only extra step to hook up the brake was to clip the safety cable to the breakaway switch.

The biggest downside was the install. Installing the RV control unit was a piece of cake but the toad was another matter. You need to locate a fairly large electrical solenoid someplace. My power seat gave me no room to mount it so I mounted it up by the front seat passenger's toe space. Then the pull-cable assembly ran under the dash and over the driveshaft hump to a pulley that had to be mounted behind the brake pedal. Locating this pulley's optimum location was a bit of a chore (there's too much "stuff" under there) and then getting the cable length just right as well as at the right height on the brake pedal was a task as well. Eventually I got it all installed and the skin on my knuckles has grown back too. On a small compact vehicle I think it'd be a real problem. On a full sized pickup it'd probably be just fine.

I did find that it was a bit erratic. Every now and then it seemed like it wasn't doing it's job. Only 2% of the time but because it did rely on a decelerometer to trigger it I think that the complex equation necessary to engage it just got lost. It needs to sense deceleration as well as brake pedal travel and your sensitivity adjustment. All of this is done in the RV's remote control unit so it is important just where you mount it and at what angle. But, 98% of the time it worked just fine and there was never any pre-trip setup.

M&G Tow Brake:

With the Bus coming I had been reading about the very favorable comments by M&G Tow Brake users. Now that I had air brakes coming I thought that might be the best way to go. The previous two systems used decelerometers to decide when and how much braking to apply. I really wanted better control over that because past history wasn't exactly perfect. The M&G system uses your coaches service brake air supply to actuate an air cylinder on your toad's master cylinder. If you step on the pedal the toad brake WILL apply. The harder you step, the harder they apply. They won't accidentally come on unless you "accidentally" stomp on the pedal. The toad's air cylinder is a neat device and is both well engineered and failsafe. It fits between the master cylinder and brake vacuum booster. It operates as a normal push rod when not towing. The minute you apply air pressure to it the push rod basically "splits" and gets longer as the air pressure spreads the two piston disks in the middle of the valve, thus applying the brakes.

There is an optional breakaway device which is an air tank with a solenoid to slam all of the air into the toad's device to lock everything up should you pull the ring out of the breakaway switch. It is fully proportional so there's no jerking, only smooth braking. Plus, if you are coasting down a grade with the Jake brake (and brake lights) on, you won't be dragging the toad brakes. At least not until you step on the pedal, and even then they'll only apply according to how hard you step on the pedal.

In order to connect this system I just connect an air hose with quick disconnects. The air hose generally stays inside the coiled trailer light cord so it only take about 10 seconds to snap the couplers onto the RV and toad. If you have a gasser you won't have an air supply. They do offer an optional air compressor setup designed for use on gassers but I think that the true proportional braking of the DP setup might be lost. Plus, the additional cost may drive prospective buyers to one of the other two choices. Although, you'd be all set up for when you upgrade your gasser to a DP if you went this way.


These are all great systems. The Brake Buddy is a portable system. It works great but has some setup issues to deal with. If you have a number of vehicles that you tow this is a very economical way to go. The US Gear unit can be a tough install but once it's in, it's done. A nice choice for a gas chassis RV. The M&G is by far the nicest way to go but it's engineered around a diesel's air brake system. To use it on a gasser entails some extra costs and you may lose some of the benefits of the DP's proportional braking because you're now reverting back to the decelerometer setup of the other two. For a DP, there's no way I would go with anything other than the M&G system. For a gasser, it's a toss up. You just have to decide which one best appeals to you.
Mark & Leann Quasius
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Old 03-08-2005, 05:50 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I like the idea of proportional braking but the Jimmy juse not have any room under the hood to add the M&G system. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Have you checked directly with M&G? They have adapters for many vehicles that have a close fit such as yours.

Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition; 2014 Buick LaCRosse
Homebase in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
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