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Old 08-14-2009, 07:53 PM   #1
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Which Supplemental Brake System do you prefer

I'm sure this has been asked before and has been debated before.

But what supplemental braking system do you prefer, and why?

For Example, Is a Brake Buddy type of system better than a US Gear type of system?
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:41 PM   #2
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I had a "brakebox" (Evenbrake) and I now have the SMI StayinPlay. The SMI wins hands down! I hook up the tow bar and lights, flip 1 switch, and I am ready to go.
Wayne & Roberta and Maggie the Miracle Dog 08 Winnebago Destination 39W Gas UFO Workhorse Chassis......It's really weird being the same age as old people.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:01 PM   #3
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Which system is "better" all depends on what you want/need in an auxilliary brake system...

A Brake Buddy type system (Roadmaster makes one that is similar --- "brake system in a box"...) is "better" if you want something you can easily move from one vehicle to another. But IMHO, a "US Gear type system" (if I understand what you mean by that) is better if you use the same toad all the time.

I have a Roadmaster Brakemaster system that cannot be moved from one toad to another in just a matter of minutes -- it has to be "installed" on the toad as well as on the MH. It works off the air brake system on my coach, and is a proportional type system. It applies the toad brakes when I press the MH brake more than just a little, and it applies the toad brakes in proportion to how hard I apply the MH brakes. It also comes with a monitor light on the dash of the MH that lets me know when the toad brakes are applied. And it does not press against the driver's seat when the toad brakes are applied as a Brake Buddy does.

As I said -- what system is "better" depends on your situation and desires/needs....
Paul (KE5LXU) ...was fulltimin', now parttimin'
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towing 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:38 PM   #4
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I have a Roadmaster Brakemaster like Paul. "Better" for me was:
- toad braking that only occured when I wanted it to. I was frankly worried about steep inclines and when our exhaust brake is on. Brakemaster doesn't either of those unless I have my foot on the MH brake pedal
- easy of setup - the extra steps in the Brakemaster (over no toad brake at all) are:
-----connect the air line from the MH to the front of the toad
----- connect the air piston to the toad's brake pedal and the bracket in front of the seat
--- hold the MH brake pedal down for a minute or so when starting out to charge the breakaway air cylinder on the toad.

We've towed for 5 years and almost 40K miles and never had any problems with the Brakemaster. To me, that is about as simple as it gets.

BTW, I installed the Brakemaster on our old toad and recently moved it to the new toad. Yep, it takes a few hours to install but it isn't rocket science
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Old 08-15-2009, 09:42 AM   #5
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It totally depends on what day of the week, what mood and who you ask the question. Ask 10 people, you can get 10 different opinions. It all boils down to how comfortable you want to be in the safety aspects to protect you and your family, your rig and others on the road. It also depends on the tow and your rig.

Best recommendation is to learn as much as you can about the diferent features of each type, the setup routine and the potential problems that can occur as you use the system. Do not look at it from the stand point of doing the minimum to comply with the laws. Do it for the peace of mind and safety for all.

I have towed my 5200lb Tahoe now for over 45,000 miles behind my diesel pusher for the last 8 years and have had no problem what so ever with the US Gear Unified Tow Brake system.

Before I towed anything I spent the first year driving the coach without a tow. We rented vehicles as needed when we arrived at our destination. I wanted to make sure I was first comfortable handling the 40' coach by itself. That gave me plenty of time to go to a number of RV Shows (Tampa especially) and investigate the different qualities of each type of braking system. Being a former ME, I tend to pick apart the designs, functionality and weaknesses.

I settled for the UTB system because I wanted the braking operation on my Tahoe to be actuated using its own power braking. By providing vaccum power to the vaccum boost system on the Tahoe, the Tahoe brakes are not a dead peddle application like that of many other aux brake systems. I also wanted emergency braking for a brake away, accelerometer control, separate breaking control and power application from the coach to operate and to keep the Tahoe's battery charged. I also did not want to be tapping into the coaches balanced air supply system to provide power to a tow. More connections, more chances for leaks, a chance of sudden air pressure loss and other maintenance issues.

It has been several years since I last investigated aux tow brake systems now on the market. There are a number of new systems and even some of the older ones have been redesigned. I do not promote any one design over another, except to say pick a design that provides a safe functionality that you are comfortable with. Regardless, any system is better than none at all. Do your homework.
Jim & Barbara
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Old 08-15-2009, 12:56 PM   #6
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Jim Hughes, you are so correct in your observation of who prefers what. I have studied the many different variables on the market. This Forum provides a great place to learn from those who have fisrt-hand experience with the various products.

I had a baaad experience with one type of supplemental braking. So, I'm just getting information to help me in making a decision.

Thanks for your post. I like techies who tear things apart.
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Old 08-16-2009, 08:52 AM   #7
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I also have a Roadmaster Brakemaster system. I did a few months of my own research talking to a lot of people and found for my application the Brakemaster was my best option. Quite happy with it and willing to do it again.
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:00 AM   #8
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I have used a BrakeBuddy system for the last 5 years and it works very well for me. Of course, my Toad only weighs 2300# and doesn't really need the best brake system in the world. If I towed a heavier or larger vehicle, I would most likely invest in one of the other systems such as the US Gear unit. As stated, the system really depends on what you tow and the level of braking you need.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Winter Texan View Post

For Example, Is a Brake Buddy type of system better than a US Gear type of system?
Good question and I will try to be fair.

I use a US-Gear system. the Genuine artile.

Brake Buddy: Advantages:
It is easy to transfer a BB type system from car to car when you trade in/up since there is basicaly nothing "installed" save for the break-a-way switch and I suspect there is a way to do that as a "Transportable" too.

Disadvantages: You have to put it in EVERY time you tow, and you have to store it when you are not towing. If you do not secure it it can, in theory, grow legs and walk away. Plus, all the systems need power to work, The only place for a BB to get power is from the towed's battery. There is only so much there.

I can just imagine myself saying "Oh, I"m only going 4 miles to the dealer for an oil change, I don't need to hook this thing up" and then 2 miles later... Wishing I had.


Advantages: If properly installed it is transparent to the people in the car, I mean, I have size 13 feet so I feel the bracket with my toe but tha't is about all, and I've adjusted to that. I have FULL CONTROL over the brakes from the driver's seat, I can apply the towed's brakes ((Usefuf if I hook up heading down hill)) adjust the strength of the towed's brakes or disable the towed's brakes all from the driver's seat in the motor home. The system will alarm if it looses communications with the car (IE: Break-away) or if the brakes apply due to reasons other than the control requesting brakes. Hook up takes abut 2-3 seconds (Plug in wire, hook up break-a-way) so that old "I don't need to" is history.
Oh in addition to purportional it is progressive (Many of the brake-in-a-box systems are progressive too)

Disadvantage: Harder to move car to car when I trade in/up. (IF that is I trade, I tend to drive 'em till they rust out..and a 1992 Lumina APV.. Not much can rust on that ride, all plastic vehcle)
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:05 PM   #10
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I also have a Roadmaster Brakemaster air system.
Reason is because that is what I had installed. It works great and very easy to hook up. Also very light weight.
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:53 PM   #11
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I have the SMI Air Force One. I am very happy with it. If you have air brakes, it is a great option. I used to have a Roadmaster Brake Pro (box type). It worked OK as well. The advantage to the box brake is that it moves to another vehicle easily. The biggest drawback we saw is that it takes up storage space when you are not using it. I think the most important thing is to have a brake, what ever type. Particularly on larger heavier toads.
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Old 08-21-2009, 10:11 AM   #12
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Old 08-22-2009, 07:06 PM   #13
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This is my first coach and toad. After doing a lot of reading here and on another forum I decided on the SMI. Being able to just plug in and flip a switch was importent to me. I have only towed about 2000 miles but have been very happy with my decision.
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Old 08-22-2009, 07:16 PM   #14
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Brake Buddy:

1. Had a 10 year old one, if you ship it back, it's $495.00 delivered to your door for new one (cheap).

2. Can adjust sensitivity and only brake (if you want) in emergency situations.

3. You can tell if it's operating from the Coach with included transmitter.

4. Easy to install 1 minute each time (no charge) no vechile modification to toad or Coach.

5. Works on mutiple vehicles.

The only downside, it's not passive, you do have to put it in place each time.
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