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Old 09-02-2020, 05:27 PM   #1
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Brake Buddy Breakaway, No Alarm, Totally Toasted Toad Brakes

For reasons yet to be determined:

1. The breakaway cable came detached from the car; and,
2. The Brake Buddy's breakaway alarm did not sound.

At a stop, when I always check the toad and dolly, I was greeted by smoking rear brakes (we use a dolly at present). Figuring they were hot enough to have boiled the brake fluid I did not test the brakes at that point. I found the breakaway cable out and replaced its end in the breakaway switch. We added surveyor's tape to the breakaway cable at the car. It's much easier to see in the rear camera than the thin cable. I check the rear camera frequently and will notice if that tape is not visible.

Deciding that things would cool faster underway, off we went. Arriving at the campground, I found the toad's brakes were completely nonfunctional. I used the parking brake to move it off the dolly, and wound up changing the rear calipers with available tools, the scissor jack, and a log as a jackstand. These things got *hot*. The rear caliper seals had melted. The slide seals on the calipers had caught fire.

I will tell you that you simply cannot tell from the driver's seat that any of this is going on without some sort of alarm. A 35K+ lbs. coach with 400HP and 1200 ft-lbs or torque just doesn't notice the rear brake engagement on a CR-V. Nope. Not one bit. Not at all.

Belatedly, I tested the alarm and found it not to work. (I had tested the breakaway function, and the indicator lights, but the receiver and indicators are out of my line of sight when driving.) BB seemed surprised I'd bought a BB Classic as new at the end of October last year, but I returned the transmitter/receiver pair under warranty with the receipt so we'll see what happens. It was part of a CW closeout sale at a local-ish Gander Outdoors; the box looked like it had been through WWs III and IV but everything inside was perfect, still sealed and unused.

I'm thinking of ways to improve the retention of the cable while still allowing it to come out should the toad ever actually break away but (as yet) have not decided what to do. I'm thinking of adding a plastic retainer of some sort that will break away. Other ideas welcome.
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:31 PM   #2
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What dolly do you have? Most dollies that I have seen have their own brakes, you would not use a brake buddy, or similar.
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:06 PM   #3
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What dolly do you have? Most dollies that I have seen have their own brakes, you would not use a brake buddy, or similar.
Old, basic MasterTow. No dolly brakes. If it had them, I wouldn't have the BB.
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:17 PM   #4
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You should be able to buy a dolly, surge brake kit, and cure that problem.

You would also get more effective stopping with the dolly brakes compared to the rear brakes of your toad.
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:29 PM   #5
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You should be able to buy a dolly, surge brake kit, and cure that problem.

You would also get more effective stopping with the dolly brakes compared to the rear brakes of your toad.
The current plan is to convert to a tow bar next year.
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:30 PM   #6
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Interesting--I have a very old BB that I have had re-built one time so far....never really thought about how the dash remote would warn me if the break away was triggered. At most, my remote would light up--but no bells or whistles…But since it takes complete separation of the towed to trigger, suspect there would be other clues...Anyway, I have tried to pull the breakaway plug before as a test and it takes a lot of force to detach--have to wonder how it triggered on its own???
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:41 PM   #7
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One suggestion that would transfer to any type of towing system that would give you sort of a backup would be a tpms on the toad. Should pick up high heat
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:46 PM   #8
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...Good thought Ken--TPMS would give you an early warning!
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:50 PM   #9
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Interesting--I have a very old BB that I have had re-built one time so far....never really thought about how the dash remote would warn me if the break away was triggered. At most, my remote would light up--but no bells or whistles…But since it takes complete separation of the towed to trigger, suspect there would be other clues...Anyway, I have tried to pull the breakaway plug before as a test and it takes a lot of force to detach--have to wonder how it triggered on its own???
TBD. I was not actually the one to plug it in. I checked it but probably didn't make 100% sure it was fully seated. The audible alarm is supposed to be there even on our Classic, in theory. If it's not I might add one (hardwired, most likely, for simplicity) or if the manual is wrong buy a new transmitter/receiver pair with an audible alarm. They're $150 for the pair, I'm told, cheaper than the calipers were at the parts store nearest the campground. With a working alarm I'm certain I could have found a safe place to pull over well before the brakes were toast.

If you are towing flat, the car's entire braking system being activated might be noticeable. But I didn't notice a thing. The differential between the toad weight and the coach weight is about 1:10, and that part of the route was mostly somewhat downhill. Even the mileage was pretty normal over that segment of the trip. No way the CR-V's rear brakes were going to slow the coach. Maybe the engine brake had less work to do (smile).
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:05 PM   #10
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...good point about not knowing what might be happening with a towed--even with the back-up camera....have had two blowouts towing my Silverado pick-ups over the years--one in a construction zone and the other on the interstate...in both cases, someone in a passing vehicle had to tell me I had a problem....
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:08 PM   #11
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One suggestion that would transfer to any type of towing system that would give you sort of a backup would be a tpms on the toad. Should pick up high heat
Thanks for posting this!

Good idea, and my TPMS does have a high temperature alert and the capacity to add more sensors. I expect it took several minutes for the brakes to cook. I should call TireMinder and ask whether it was likely the system would have alarmed. Compared to calipers, the sensors don't cost that much.

Edit: TM systems alert at 167F. I'm pretty sure the rim was hotter than that. $80 for two sensors via Amazon on the way shortly.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:11 PM   #12
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Not sure what the hook up looks like but could you use a very light duty plastic tie. The small ones are fairly good at holding and I am sure would break if the toad were to separate, cheap and easy to put on and cut off. Post a picture of the connection you are trying to secure
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:11 PM   #13
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My suggestion is to convert your dolly to either surge or electric brakes
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:24 PM   #14
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The way this is handled in flat towing is to (with variations as needed) run a wire from the battery through the stoplight switch, then up through the front of the toad, through connectors, to the front of the MH to illuminate an led on the dash. If the brake pedal is depressed the telltale light glows brightly, and it's all hardwired, no transmitters etc. That would have saved you.

If your toad normally illuminates its brake lights in towing configuration you can just run the wire up front, while if it doesn't you'll need to install an add-on brake light switch for the telltale.
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