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Old 01-25-2006, 04:48 PM   #15
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Okay, did some shopping this a.m. and found a Brake Buddy for $765 with free shipping from www.PPLmotorhomes.com. The sale ends On 1/27. It also comes with the breakaway and wireless alert. I also got my Aventa II from them for the sale price of $425. I bought my base plate from RV Upgrades for $336 plus shipping. Because I'm disabled, I'm going to have my tech install the baseplate and wiring on the toad. It'll be great to have the Jeep with us.
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Old 01-25-2006, 05:01 PM   #16
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New Brake Buddies are always available on eBay for $795 and they are drop shipped new from the factory.
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Old 01-25-2006, 06:18 PM   #17
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Webster:
Because I'm disabled, I'm going to have my tech install the baseplate and wiring on the toad. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Chief, The SMI Stay-In-Play is a semi-permanent auxiliary brake that is installed under your seat (typically). All you would have to do is turn the thing "On", close the door and walk away. Basically that's all you would have to do.

The BB will require you to place the unit on the floor, fit the unit to the brake pedal, adjust the seat, plug the unit in, fine tune the air pressure and test the unit much from a standing or kneeling position adjacent to the driver's door. The door remains open during rain or any other weather condition when you're having to deal with the BB. When your finished, you have to reverse the setup and find someplace to store the unit.

The Stay-In-Play is a better brake unit than the BB for much the same type of money you're talking about for a BB. The SMI uses a vacuum pump to apply your power brakes on your car.

I used a BB for 4 years, so I speak from 1st hand experience. The Stay-In-Play will allow you to operate the unit by simply turning on a switch and that's it.
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Old 01-25-2006, 08:12 PM   #18
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Now I am completely confused. The three models that I found that sit on the floor have prices from around $700-$750 (BB and Blue Ox Appolo) to around $1200 (Roadmaster) with varying features. The SMI is permanent but I don't know if it has the same features of the "drop-in" models. So far, it seems the Roadmaster Even Brake has the best overall features for the toad braking but at the highest price.

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Old 01-26-2006, 09:55 AM   #19
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The Brake Buddy seems to be one of the more popular units which means it must be pretty good and reliable. I had not seen the SMI, but it sounds interesting. As for features, I read the installation PDFs on several and they all seemed pretty equal. The main reason I got the Brake Buddy is because of its popularity and it comes with the Breakaway and the wireless indicators.
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Old 01-26-2006, 12:24 PM   #20
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George,I especially agree with Driver....With the SMI unit,there's no box to carry around and stow,which I would believe would be an issue more even with someone with a disability. With the SMI unit,there's NO box in the floor,it is under the seat premanently mounted.
HAving used the Brake Buddy,there's always a box you have to disconnect off the brake pedal and find a place for,usually some place wife wants to put things she buys!!
SMI all the way Chief....
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:02 PM   #21
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Hi Bob:
The problem is that I didn't know about SMI. For some reason, in my research, I didn't see that one. If I had, then I would have spent the extra $100 or so and gotten it (say it for $899). But, alas, I have already ordered the BB. It also came with a free bag to store it. I will just put it in the back of the Jeep when not being used. Also, when at a CG, I can store it in the front compartment that has the fuse box. It's not for storage so I keep it empty.

As for my diability, I was exposed to Agent Orange and have diabetes, kidney failure (dialysis in the near future), blockage of the carotid artery, anemia, but my prostate biopsy just came back clean. I feel fine. I have to go to the doctor to find out I'm ill. I had a toe amputated a few years ago. I'm having surgery on Feb. 1 to reshape the bone as I have an ulcer that won't heal. I wear a special boot that does interfere with my mobility, but as soon as my foot heals I can chuck it.

I'm expecting my BB to arrive within the next few days. Sure wish I had known about SMI.
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Old 01-26-2006, 10:06 PM   #22
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George,

I would call PPL and tell them the situation. You can probably send it back. Of course you will have freight going back but it couldn't be too much.
SMI would suit you much better as Bob and DriVer have said. In our PT I have to remove the box if people want to ride in the back seat, but it (SMI) will surely fit under the front seat in your Jeep.
You might check out US Gear's Unified Tow Brake,http://www.usgear.com/unified_tow_brake.htm PPL sells it and it is much like SMI, and that might help the return of the Brake Buddy.
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Old 01-27-2006, 08:31 AM   #23
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OK, I did it. I ordered the SMI Stay-In-Play today. I hope it is everything that people have said.

I will let you know how the installation goes.

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Old 01-27-2006, 10:22 AM   #24
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Hi Tom:

Thanks for the info. I called PPL and the BB is scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday. But, if I refuse it, it gets returned (no shipping). I order the SMI and after reading your link, I agree, it's better and makes me feel safer. It was listed there at $1,300 but there's a sale on at PPL and I got it for $759 (less than the BB).

Big Red...hope you went to PPL to get yours. Those people have some great prices and sales.
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Old 01-27-2006, 12:15 PM   #25
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I'm sure you folks won't be disappointed....
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Old 01-28-2006, 05:25 AM   #26
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BigRedLancer:
I hope it is everything that people have said.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>You will surely not be disappointed. Yea I know "... and don't call me Shirley!".

If I didn't say it before, I know and have met Peter one of the the company owners and he's one heck on a nice guy. I met him out in the desert of all places in Casa Grande, AZ.

It was a hot day out there in August and they came to my site and installed the unit. They started during the late afternoon daylight and ended just about dusk so they we're doing their best to beat sunset. Altogether there were 3 of them working on our Vue. Peter the owner one tech that was completely familiar with the install and a trainee. On the Vue mounting the vacuum cylinder on the firewall was the biggest challenge but they got it done.

I recently met up with Peter here in Florida at the Holiday Rambler/Monaco Rally in Orlando and it was like old home week! Peter took a look at my unit just to make sure it was still doing "excellent" which it was however we made a minor adjustment to the tilt setting on the box. I thought that the brake wasn't aggressive enough so we cranked it up a bit and right now it's in the sweet spot. The adjustment is made using a knob on left side look from the rear of the unit so it was easy to do.

What makes the SMI a great auxiliary brake is that it needs 3 things to come together before the brakes are engaged.

<LI>The driver must step on the brake in the motorhome.
<LI>The toad must be traveling at or above 20 mph.
<LI>Sufficient inertia has to be sensed before the brake triggers. The more inertia the more braking power is applied.

What made me actually switch from the BB to the SMI was that on 2 or more occasions the BB actually triggered a brake event when it wasn't wanted. The BB actually locked up and wouldn't release its grip until I completely came to a stop. So you can see the the BB is a completely autonomous unit that does want it feels it wants to do and you as the driver have no say in the matter whatsoever. The SMI on the other hand will take no action until you close the circuit on the brake lamp switch or open it which in all cases would disengage the SMI.

The BB served us well for the past 4 years however technology has eclipsed the unit we feel and we're much more pleased with the SMI.

The US Gear unified Tow Brake is similar however the weakest link there we believe is the cable that goes from the unit, under the rug and up to the brake pedal. The cable pulls on a 90 degree turn in order to make it up to the pedal. The directional change made me a bit cautious about the system especially when we've all seen that that component has to be just about perfectly set in order to operate. Once set it works fine but now were dealing with location.

The floor of any vehicle will host water, snow, dirt et al. With the cable living down there as well I can't say for sure how reliable it will be over time. The SMI's key component cable is only about 6 to 8 inches long if that and it's located up off the floor and it pulls in a straight line.

Comparing the 2 systems we opted for the SMI. What I have seen though is that some manufactures have integrated wiring into the coach harnesses to accommodate the US Gear so there are people out there that Like it a lot. Workhorse for instance has endorsed the US Gear system as well. Sitting clearly on the shelf behind the counter at the Lazy Days parts counter were a pile of US Gear Unified Tow Brakes.
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Old 01-28-2006, 09:49 AM   #27
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As always,good advice Mike.
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Old 01-28-2006, 04:27 PM   #28
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Well now on to the installation. I hope I don't run into any real issues with the install. I must admit that I have experienced excellent support with the local saturn dealer with questions about after market installations. For example, we were installing a after market radio in my son's saturn and we could not figure out how to ge the panel and door handle back on the car. We went to the saturn dealer ot ask the question and instead of an answer, one of their technitions came out to the car and installed the door handle and panel on both doors for us. No charge of course! Too bad other car manufactures and dealers can't provide support like saturn. I guess that is why I own three saturns.
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