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Old 02-19-2008, 12:22 PM   #1
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OK, I'm not out to start a war over who's toad braking system is best, I am just interested in finding out what people think are the pro's and con's of several installed toad braking systems for coaches with air brakes.

I currently have a Roadmaster Even Brake, which is the brake in the box. I think I am ready to graduate to a new system which is permanently installed in the toad, so I don't have to take the time to set up the box, and then to stow it once at our destination.

I am considering the M&G system, the SMI Air Force One system, along with the US Gear Unified Brake.

To my knowledge, the M&G and Air Force One require connection to the coach air brake system. My coach is on a FL chassis with air brakes, and FL specifically warns against tapping into the air brake system for auxiliary brakes. For this reason, I am leaning towards the US Gear Unified Brake system as it only requires an electrical connection between the coach and toad, and my chassis is pre-wired for this application.

All three of these systems offer proportional braking.

What do people think the pro's and con's are of the 3 systems?
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:22 PM   #2
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OK, I'm not out to start a war over who's toad braking system is best, I am just interested in finding out what people think are the pro's and con's of several installed toad braking systems for coaches with air brakes.

I currently have a Roadmaster Even Brake, which is the brake in the box. I think I am ready to graduate to a new system which is permanently installed in the toad, so I don't have to take the time to set up the box, and then to stow it once at our destination.

I am considering the M&G system, the SMI Air Force One system, along with the US Gear Unified Brake.

To my knowledge, the M&G and Air Force One require connection to the coach air brake system. My coach is on a FL chassis with air brakes, and FL specifically warns against tapping into the air brake system for auxiliary brakes. For this reason, I am leaning towards the US Gear Unified Brake system as it only requires an electrical connection between the coach and toad, and my chassis is pre-wired for this application.

All three of these systems offer proportional braking.

What do people think the pro's and con's are of the 3 systems?
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:38 PM   #3
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I agree with your thinking in regards to tapping into the coach's air supply, and that leaves the US Gear as you found.

If a relay valve could be installed on the coach, then I perceive the Air Force One as the system to have.

I would not tap into the coach's air system without the relay valve, regardless if others say it's OK.
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Old 02-19-2008, 02:44 PM   #4
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From SMI'S website......

Our engineering team worked diligently with Spartan Chassis and Bendix Corporation to create the only air brake system designed to take air from your coach without affecting the coach brake system integrity. Federal Regulations (FMVSS 121) require an air brake to air brake system to use a separate air tank, known as a ping tank, a separate relay valve to control the distribution of air to the supplemental system in the towed vehicle, and most importantly a breakaway valve to protect the coach in the event of a failure in the towing system. Air Force One is the only system that meets these federal regulations. Installation is simple and straight forward. Once installed, you can drive down the road knowing that your coach's air supply is protected. Air Force One is the last supplemental brake you will ever purchase.
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:02 PM   #5
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I have the USGear system. It was installed by a dealer. It has worked as advertised. I would make the purchase again.

I've never had a panic stop. I have had a few hard braking stops. When hard braking, all the USGear lights come on and I can feel the drag my towed vehicle puts on the coach.
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Old 02-22-2008, 04:10 PM   #6
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I have had the US Gear for 5+ years and have had to make a panic stop 2 times. Both times I was very glad to have the system. I could definitely feel the toad helping me stop.
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:00 PM   #7
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U.S. Gear unified brake system. Haven't had it long but we really like it.
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:27 PM   #8
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We have an SMI auxillairy braking system. Don't leave home without it!
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:35 PM   #9
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I just had the SMI Air Force One system installed on our new HHR, What a sweet system.
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:26 AM   #10
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I bought the SMI. M&G is also highly regarded, but wouldn't fit in our '08 Acadia. The SMI works great, and hook-up is simple.
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:07 AM   #11
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I agree,SMI is excellent. I have no knowledge of the others but they also have excellent reputations.
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:24 AM   #12
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We use the US Brake and the only problem is when the weather is wet the brake alarm will occasionally go off in the coach. I really like the system overall.

We don't have airbrakes, however.
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:20 PM   #13
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I hate to resurrect a (seemingly) dead thread, but I'm curious about what Pusherman decided.

I'm in a similar situation, but with a slight twist.

New soon-to-be toad (08 Jeep Liberty) with nothing yet installed. 07 Bounder Diesel 38N supposedly equipped with pre-wiring for US Gear Towed Brake system. Here's my conundrum.

I prefer to do my own work. Recent experience has proven to me that my efforts on an average day are frequently better than some "professional's" on his best. Let's add into this the outrageous labor charges to install anything. So, I want to continue to do what I can.

Ten years ago, I wouldn't give a second thought to contorting myself under the car dash to install something. Did an after-market cruise control or two. No sweat. These days, the will is strong, but so is the realization that I really shouldn't try to cram my 6'2" ten year older body under the dash. Bad mojo. So...

The US Gear system is a slam dunk on the coach side, but the toad side seems a quite involved install with a number of screws to be attached to someplace to secure the actuator linkage along with routing wiring.

SMI, M&G and Roadmaster are straight forward on the toad side, but require, for lack of a better word, "tapping" in to the coach air brake lines. I've read much in these posts about the potential legal issues that may arise from this. I'm not terribly worried about that, but I do want to be absolutely certain it is done properly.

For a number of reasons, I've decided against any of the "box in the footwell" systems.

Obviously, I'm leaning towards the SMI, M&G and Roadmaster systems. But, I'm left with the "tapping" into the coach brake system quandary.

I've read the online literature provided by the manufacturers and their processes seems simple enough, but...

Has anyone out there done their own installation? How did it go? What problems did you find?

Thanks
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Old 08-10-2008, 05:19 PM   #14
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Steve

I installed the Roadmaster myself (the model 9160). The toad side did take some time as I had to make a few "custom brackets" for mounting some of the hardware but, nothing that stopped me from doing the install.

On the coach side, this was very easy. I have a Spartan MM chassis -- 2002 as you can see from my signature. At the rear of the coach is an air brake manifold located in the center of the coach above the axle. On my model, there are four access ports -- two are used for the emergency brakes and the other two (service access ports) have plugs in them. I removed one plug and did the test per the instructions -- I had my wife push on the brake and there was a "puff" of air that came out of the opening. Prior to her pushing the brake, there was no air movement coming from the opening (I had removed the plug). This confirmed that this was a service access point and that I could attach the Roadmaster line here. I did and ran the air line to the rear of the coach encasing the air line inside of a heat resistant covering. Inside this same covering, I also ran the wire that runs to the front of the coach to the led on the dash that tells me when the toad brakes are applied.

No problems encountered at all during the entire install of the Roadmaster 9160 except for the custom mounts I did and if you are not afraid to bend some metal to form them, then there is no problems at all. The brake system works as advertised !!!
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