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Old 05-08-2017, 01:42 PM   #1
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Brake Buddy vs. SMI Duo brake system

Can anyone shed some light for me regarding brake systems for towed vehicles. I am going to tow a heavier vehicle that requires it. I am weighing my options with Brake Buddy vs. an installed system.

Thanks!
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Old 05-08-2017, 01:51 PM   #2
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I installed a SMI Duo in our TOAD a few years ago and love it. I never used anything else, so I can't say it's the best....just that if I had to do it again I would (although this time I'd go with the AirForce 1 since I now have a DP.
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Old 05-08-2017, 02:06 PM   #3
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Last year I installed a SMI Airforce One system in my DP and 2014 Ford F-150. This year I got another car that I will also be using as a toad and installed the SMI in it also. The system works flawlessly in both vehicles and I would definitely have no hesitation to use it in any future toad !
Happy travels !!
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Old 05-08-2017, 02:10 PM   #4
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Had Brake Buddy, eventually it died and now use Even Brake. Both did the job, even brake seems more sensitive .?..
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Old 05-08-2017, 02:17 PM   #5
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Brake Buddy vs. SMI Duo brake system

I can not compare SMI to Brake Buddy, but I believe BB is similar to the Roadmaster Evenbrake which I used for years.

The EB is removable which also means it has to be installed and positioned each time you want to use it. It is bulky and heavy, but the big advantage is you can move it to different vehicles. It has a receiver that sits in the coach to tell you if the toad is braking, HOWEVER that is not always correct, if it got a valid braking signal and told you it was braking, sometimes it would not get the release signal, so it would indicate braking when in fact the toad was NOT braking Seeing the braking light stay on when you are driving down the road for miles and miles is not reassuring to me. I know it is a communications issue, and having the receiver 40' ahead of the transmitter with lots of MH in between does not help radio signals, I would just like to be able to know when I brake the toad brakes, and more importantly when I release the brake I know the toad is not braking.


The SMI is permanently installed, It can be removed to be installed on another vehicle, but it does take time, I would not want to do that every other week. It has an indicator light that is meant to be mounted on the dash of your toad (and viewed in the MH rear view camera) that shows if the brakes are being applied in the toad. This sounds like a much more reliable way of doing things, however the issue here is the sun, sometimes you can not see the indicator light due to glare. I have had the SMI for about a year and prefer it, you just hop in the toad, throw one switch, put the toad in neutral and you are ready to go. One trick I use during hook up, I put the MH headlights and 4 way flashers on before I start hooking up the toad, that way when I connect the tow cable I can see the toad tail lights come on. After I am all hooked up I go to the SMI control box mounted in the passenger foot well and adjust the sensitivity lower until the SMI unit applies the brakes (on and off as the 4 ways flash). That way I KNOW the SMI system is operating properly. You have to remember to set the control box back to where it was, but with doing this hack, I KNOW my braking system is operating properly!

I bought a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee last year and had to decide if I was going to continue with the EB or go to an installed system. Obviously I decided on the installed unit, you might have a different decision, but it was the best one for me. I considered the M & G system but it is not available for the Jeep and I did not want to worry about the possibility it could void my warranty, so SMI was the way I went. I am very happy with the SMI Duo (for hydraulic brakes, the Air Force One is for air brakes), and would do it again.
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:48 PM   #6
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Dave-

Instead of adjusting the sensitivity to test the Duo, you could just pull the breakaway switch pin. That's what I do.

Also, you could run the brake activation light signal from the toad to the coach dash using the umbilical and "blue" electric brake controller wire. I do that, too.
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l1v3fr33ord1 View Post
Dave-

Instead of adjusting the sensitivity to test the Duo, you could just pull the breakaway switch pin. That's what I do.
Only thing that is not tested by pulling the breakaway switch is the wiring from in the umbilical, including the connections at each end that get exercised each time you connect the toad. Using the 4 ways you test everything. Not that this is the only or the right way to test, it is just the way I do it.

Quote:
Also, you could run the brake activation light signal from the toad to the coach dash using the umbilical and "blue" electric brake controller wire. I do that, too.

You are right, that might be the next step if I have issues seeing the indicator bulb. Just need to find a spare wire from the 7 pin at the rear of the MH to the dash.
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Old 05-08-2017, 09:15 PM   #8
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SMI Duo is clearly the easier, simpler, quicker to set up,
and better performer of the two. The air activation of
the SMI Duo is instant, the others have a motor that
takes seconds longer to fully apply the brakes. A second
or two is a huge difference in a crisis brake application.
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:12 AM   #9
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We have been using the same Brake Buddy for 16 years. It went back for a $40.00 repair years ago and has worked well since. It has worked well for a 3200# Jeep through our 6500# Sierra with a golf cart in the bed.
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:28 AM   #10
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Same as "Cousin Ed" -- have used the same BB for 14 years, 165K miles, and 3 different vehicles -- had it repaired once at minimum cost--still working fine. Helped a friend install an SMI brake several years ago--do biggie. Mixed bag for me-- I like the flexibility of using same BB unit in different vehicles, initially didn't like the idea of "compromising" the toad brake system in anyway by installing a system [????], but--don't like having to remove and store the BB every time we park somewhere. Not sure which way I will go if I ever have to replace the BB--may never have to.......
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Old 05-09-2017, 10:14 AM   #11
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Ditto on Brake Buddy got mine many moons ago, 17 plus, never failed easy to set the sensitivity takes about 15 seconds to set it up and it moves easily from one vehicle to another. Pulled a Dodge loaded at 10,000# plus with not issue just adjust the sensitivity. Would be nice to get one of the new design brake pedal attachment devices.
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Old 05-09-2017, 10:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macandphyl View Post
SMI Duo is clearly the easier, simpler, quicker to set up,
and better performer of the two. The air activation of
the SMI Duo is instant, the others have a motor that
takes seconds longer to fully apply the brakes. A second
or two is a huge difference in a crisis brake application.
I would disagree on activation time of my Brake Buddy. you better not have your hand in front of the activation rod when you punch the test button. It takes up to 5 activations before the compressor runs to replenish the air cylinder.
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:51 AM   #13
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Thank you all for the input. I'm certainly glad I joined iRV2.
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