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Old 07-09-2020, 04:59 PM   #1
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Question Aux. brake working ? Maybe

I often wonder while sitting in my coach how do you know how well the auxiliary brake system is working in my toad. I drive a big heavy rig and canít tell if the brake is working, half working or not working at all. Unit is an Air Force 1.
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Old 07-09-2020, 05:26 PM   #2
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I rigged a Linear potentiometer slide switch to the cars brake pedal. I then ran a wire to the coach dash hooked to an ohm meter. This gave me a relative gauge reading of how far the brake pedal in the tow was actually moving.
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Old 07-09-2020, 05:57 PM   #3
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sailn2nite-

First, the Air Force One has come with a "coach notification kit" for many years now. See the manual (link here), page 25. Did yours not get installed?

Second, Demco also offers a wireless notification solution for the Air Force One (link here).

Finally, many of us have used the umbilical between coach and toad to pass the wired notification signal to the dash, where it lights an LED. If you are interested in that, we can dig up some prior posts with the details.
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Old 07-10-2020, 09:36 PM   #4
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I use a small push button switch against the brake pedal. It's wired to ground. I run the ground wire through the umbilical and up to the dash, where I installed a red LED. The red LED is wired to 12 volts (+). By running the wire from the toad as a ground, there are no issues if something gets pinched or broken. The moment my brake pedal moves, the light illuminates.

The light is also a good way to know that my umbilical is attached and has not come loose, if the light illuminates when I step on the brakes.
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Old 07-11-2020, 04:23 AM   #5
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I just had Air Force 1 installed on my 2020 F150 and there is a light attached to the rear view mirror in the F150. When the brakes are applied the light comes on. Although they did not specifically tell me this, I was driving at night a few days later, hit the brakes, and I could see the red light illuminate. When I picked up the truck and RV after installation the sun was shining on the windshield with a glare so I could not see the light come on when I depressed the brake pedal.
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:47 AM   #6
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On my M&G system, I have a red clearance light that is wired to an activation switch that I set on the windshield under the wiper. When using the brakes, it will light up for easy viewing in the rear view camera. No need to run wires all the way to the front of the coach.
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Old 07-11-2020, 11:05 AM   #7
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As others have said, rigging up a simple on/off dash LED to tell you if the brakes are working at all is easy. In my case I was trying to visually verify the proportional braking between my toad and coach. I was always curious to know if I was skidding tires or being pushed by Insufficient braking on the toad. Then again I’m a tinkerer that thinks a little outside the box sometimes.
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Old 07-11-2020, 03:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailn2nite View Post
I often wonder while sitting in my coach how do you know how well the auxiliary brake system is working in my toad. I drive a big heavy rig and can’t tell if the brake is working, half working or not working at all. Unit is an Air Force 1.
Unless you rig up something yourself that tells you how far the brake pedal is being pulled (or pressed) down, you cannot tell how well the system is working, which is what you asked.

Even the CoachLink wireless display is just on or off. And that thing is about $200 more expensive than it should be...

Dsallach did it about the only way that's possible, a progressive dial he can see. All other indicators discussed here are simply binary, the brakes are on or not. There is no indication of force.

That being said, you could have someone yank the breakaway cable and watch how far the pedal gets pulled and how fast. That should be the maximum braking effort.

You should have the LED Light, usually hung on the back of the toad's rearview mirror but that is just binary as well. If installed properly, that LED strip is wired to the toad's brake light system so when the LED strip lights, the toad's brake lights are powered up.

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Old 07-11-2020, 05:31 PM   #9
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I rigged up a Gopro type video camera to record movements of the brake pedal in my Jeep on a couple of occasions. I could watch the video later and see how far the pedal moved. I could also see the Jeep's steering wheel turning as I went around curves. Gave me a bit of confidence that the system was working well on a least those few occasions. Might be able to rig up a camera to provide a real time view of the toad brake pedal and steering wheel but I prefer watching the road instead so I've never pursued that idea.
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Old 07-11-2020, 10:48 PM   #10
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No need to run wires to the dash for a light, unless you want to be able to actually see it. If I'm suddenly braking, the last thing I want to do, is to search in the rear camera for a light, through the windshield of the towed, with the sun shining on it. On mine, in a sudden stop, I'm more concerned about stopping, but it's also nice to see out of the corner of my eye, that my truck brakes on coming on. You can't do that with a towed mounted light.
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Old 07-12-2020, 04:56 AM   #11
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Without some way to measure the force on the hitch I really don't see how any of this will tell you how much effort the system is putting into the braking.
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Old 07-12-2020, 06:15 AM   #12
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Isaac is correct, none of these will measure the actual stopping force applied by the toad brakes. A system to do that would be cost prohibitive. The $4 linear (slide style) potentiometer will however give me a true indication of how far the toad brake pedal is actually moving.
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Old 07-12-2020, 08:54 AM   #13
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A not so legal way to determine if the toad is getting the correct braking is to have someone sit in the toad while you drive the coach on a less traveled road where the brake testing won't endanger anyone. The rider should be able to tell if the toad is stopping itself. It's not very scientific, but might confirm how effective it is. If it was pushing the coach they would feel a slack in the towbar when additional pedal pressure was added. If no noticeable change, then the toad is stopping itself plus a little more. This could be a periodic check, as it wouldn't change unless an airline failed which is unlikely. An indicator light would tell if that were to happen.
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