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Old 02-04-2011, 03:34 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 53
Braking System Recommendation??

Hi all,
I need to replace my braking system that I have been using for my Alpine 40' MDTS motor home which is an older model SMI Silent Partner system, which I had moved from our Beaver MH to the Alpine.

I have had it repaired 4 or 5 times and it is at the point of disposal as it recently burned up my brakes again on our 3/4 ton 4WD Suburban towed vehicle that weighs 5900 pounds curb weight.

I am wondering what other Alpine owners are using? I am leaning towards either a US Gear or anothe SMI model as they are pretty much plug them in and go without clutter in the towed vehicle. Any recomendation from Alpine owners would be appreciated as most systems need coach air brakes to work well without a lot of setup each time you tow.

Marvin C
Marvin & Donna C. with Lila (our dog & Third Musketeer) 08 40' MDTS Low Roof, 400 ISL, Towing 2016 Yukon XL Denali
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:58 PM   #2
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Alpine Owners Club
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Location: Surprise, AZ
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My primary goal in selecting a supplemental braking system was to be able to easily install it myself and without being intrusive to the MH or Toad. I chose Roadmaster Even Brake and purchased one off of Ebay for $600. Thankfully, that's half the cost of a new one because it failed shortly after starting to use it. Roadmaster rebuilt it for $300 + shipping so I was still money ahead. However, it then developed an air leak so I had to return it. Shortly after receiving it back from that fix it became inconsistent in communications between MH & Toad.

My experience sounds really bad and it was from an inconvenience point of view but Roadmaster has been easy to work with and paid for all shipping beyond the original rebuild. If I was going to purchase a new unit, I'd look closely at the new Blue Ox Patriot system which is similar to the Even Brake but with advanced features.
Bob Bowers (Surprise, AZ)
2003 Alpine Coach 40' FDTS
2014 Jeep Cherokee Lattitude
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:43 PM   #3
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I had the SMI Stay-In-Play Duo installed in my Honda CR-V. (A much lighter toad than yours.) Just flip a switch in the car, connect the Break Away cable, and tow away. No air connection. Seems to work fine. It is momentum activated, but only if the coach brake lights turn on, so it is not affected by the jake brake.

Others in the club said they use the M&G Engineering system in their Jeeps, and love it. It is trickier to install in the Honda CR-V, which is why I went with SMI instead.
Jim A
'04 Alpine Coach 36' MDDS
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:00 PM   #4
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I have the SMI Air Force One and towing a Dodge Ram 1500. Well worth it, That is my vote,,,l)
Tim Heinzen
2013 King Aire
'12 Jeep COD MWF
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:58 PM   #5
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I've got the M&G Engineering system that Jim A mentioned. Works great, hook-up when traveling is connecting an air hose between the MH and the towed.
'99 Alpine Coach
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:04 AM   #6
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Hi Marvin,

We're using the US Gear Unified Tow Brake, self installed on the Honda CRV. The motorhome end was originally on our Safari Trek and I moved it over to the Alpine. It connects with one simple 2-wire connector and the break-away cable. There are never any adjustments in the car or anything to do at the car-end to switch from towing to driving.

We are quite happy with the US Gear unit and I'd buy it again. On the other hand, I haven't used anything else so I have no knowledge of any of the other units.

There was one wiring trick necessary since the Vansco system, I believe, offers a negative 12V output off the brake light switch. Most of these supplementary brake systems are looking for a positive 12 volts to activate. So, Alpine supplied a recommended relay and diode wiring schematic to turn that -12 to a +12.

Mike and Mike (Michele)
2017 Winnebago Tour 42HD
Previously: 2004 Alpine 34 FDDS
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:13 PM   #7
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The M&G works great....however, one issue. Make sure the installation has no leaks, especially where they "T" into the hydraulic brake line above the rear end. It's quite a surprise to be pulling over a bridge, into a town, downhill, with a stop sign ahead.....and your brake peddle goes to the floor.

Not a brake system issue....I love the M&G. It was an install issue.
Terry McGuire
09 Alpine Limited SE 36FDTS
14 Chev Silverado Toad
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:35 PM   #8
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We use M&G as well, and we tow a GMC Yukon, only slightly lighter than your Suburban, Marvin. We really like it, and after installation, it is just a single hose connection between coach and SUV...simple!
Gail, John & Mindy Stacy
2007 Alpine SE 40FDQS, 2011 Equinox
ACA & Alpine SoCal
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:12 AM   #9
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I use the US Gear on my 2008 Wrangler and it has worked well for the last two years. I bought it because of good reviews and at the time Monaco was going out of business and sold their inventory on ebay at $350. How could I go wrong at the time?
2014 Phaeton 36gh
2008 Jeep Rubicon or 2012 Ford F150 4x4 Lariat towds
or a couple of different trailers
Retired in Apple Valley, California
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:56 PM   #10
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I installed the U.S. Gear Unified Tow Brake on both my toads. It works great. The customer service was very good. I purchased mine through the same Monaco sale as Rich (I think he told me about it). The second toad's setup was purchased, used, off eBay.

I was able to make hook-up even simpler by passing the electrical connections through the umbilical cord (instead of a separate line-pair).

I didn't want to tamper with anything on the coach, other than the lighting wires, no hydraulics, no air hoses. I also felt it would be easier to install. I like the progressive and proportional braking.
2003 Alpine 40FDTS (400HP)
Long Beach, CA
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