Towed Brakes: What's working? What's not?

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Ray D

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The engine in the towed is not running, of course. Are the "power" brakes working? Is the antilock system working?

Ray D
 

Tom

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No on both counts Ray.

Edit: Various auxiliary braking systems use different methods of applying the toad brakes. Here's a synopsis of several systems. Both the SMI and USG braking systems use an external vacuum pump to provide vacuum assist. Obviously, none of them use the car's vacuum pump because the engine is not running.

In the case of the M&G system, the brake is activated by compressed air depressing the plunger in the toad's master cylinder (there is no brake pedal movement).

The Brake Buddy and Blue Ox Apollo use a lever attached to the brake pedal.

All the above systems have their own pros and cons, some of which are discussed in the article.

I have no knowledge of any system that activates the ABS system on the toad, but it might be nice to have.
[edit]Link update[/edit]
 

Bob Buchanan

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Ray D said:
The engine in the towed is not running, of course. Are the "power" brakes working? Is the antilock system working?

Ray D

Yes, if you have US Gear's Unified braking system. When you apply the MH brakes, vacuum is supplied to the power brake booster in the toad even tho the engine in the toad is not running. In all other systems that I know of, the application in the toad is to a very heavy brake pedal with no power assist.  You can read more about it here
 

Marsha/CA

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Hi Bob,

I tell ya, I love my US gear braking system.  When we bought a new tow car this spring, we had the system taken out of the old one and put in the new car....it's not a cheap project, but better than I thought it would be.

Marsha~
 

Tom

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MarshaLassen/CA said:
I love my US gear braking system.

LOL Marsha, substitute almost any auxiliary braking system in the above and the respective owners will say they love their system. One exception was the BrakePro system (similar to Brake Buddy, yet different) that I installed when we first towed the Suburban. It's a long story, but the system/design had an intrinsic problem and I finally returned it for a refund, then installed the M&G system. The manufacturer subsequently quit making the BPro system and replaced it with something else.

As I mentioned in my earlier message, all of the auxiliary brake systems have pros and cons, some of which I mention in the article. Personally, I don't believe there's a single 'best' system, but there are different 'best' systems for different folks and their rigs.
 

Tom

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RV Roamer said:
More likely they made some design changes and then renamed the product...

Yes, they did both (doesn't that make it a "different product"?). Looking at their web site, it appears that the re-design has some significant differences (I'm not talking about aesthetics) which also change the installation instructions. But who knows the real extent of the changes. They also claim that the new product "is the world?s only portable, proportional towed car braking system", although the definition of "proportional braking" is quite different between manufacturers.

I haven't yet heard from anyone who has one of the new products.
 

Bob Buchanan

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MarshaLassen/CA said:
Hi Bob,

I tell ya, I love my US gear braking system.? When we bought a new tow car this spring, we had the system taken out of the old one and put in the new car....it's not a cheap project, but better than I thought it would be.

Marsha~

Glad to read that you "love" your US Gear system, Marsha. Mine has served me well also over the past 5 years or so. The original install was in Lancaster, CA -- and they messed up a bit. However, US Gear quickly arranged a no charge inspection and reinstall in NCal. In fact, the installer turned out to be part of the team that did the beta testing of the 1st units.
 

farmerjohnnyy

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Interesting and good advise in this thread.  I am going to be pulling a 'toad' Chrysler mini-van for the first time when I pick up my 38 ft diesel pusher in the next week or two. Never pulled a car behind my RV before. I am thinking about going with a dolly, ( I see most on the board favor a tow bar), but I am wondering if you really need one of these toad braking systems when using a dolly? Would the dolly brakes (electric or surge) satisfy state towed brake laws? Do some states require all axels to have brakes? My stock trailer only has electric brakes on one axle, so I dont 'think' it is a law. It also seems to me that having one of the braking systems described in this thread on a car, on a dolly, would not be too effictive since the toads front axle on the dolly would provide no braking assistance. Any thoughts from you guys with experience???
 

Bob Buchanan

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farmerjohnnyy said:
Any thoughts from you guys with experience???

Hello farmerjohnny:

When I first became a full time RVer, my first thought was to buy a tow dolly for my "Z" (my car at the time). However, after chatting with my brother (a part time RVer pulling with a tow bar) and talking with several trailer shops -- the word was, "never" pull your auto behind your RV with a dolly unless it is impossible to tow that vehicle with all wheels down. Having been a full time RVer for over 10 years now, that opinion has been verified over and over.

A tow dolly is a pain, pure and simple. Once you unhook wherever parked, what do you do with it? It must be pulled around somewhere and so forth. The tires and braking system must be maintained. A tow bar either stays with the toad or on the MH. On the other end, hooking up again when you leave a site is equally bad w/a TD. I hook my jeep and am away in only 5 minutes or so.

FWIW, if your coach is one made by Monaco Corp, I read here recently that their 2006 models come pre wired for the US Gear Unified braking system. And if the brand is a Monaco, the in cab controller is included.

No, the braking systems discussed on this thread do no apply to tow dolly set ups.
 

AlGriefer

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As an interesting aside, it seems that some new vehicles, the Hummer H3 being one, have active power brakes at all times, at least according to Roadmaster and Blue Ox.  You cannot use most aux braking systems with it because they apply too much pressure!  Supposedly Blue Ox and BrakeBuddy have models that can work by setting them to about 2 lbs force.

Roadmaster stated that they'd have models that would work "real soon now."

Al
 

farmerjohnnyy

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Hi Bob and thanks for the info. Perhaps I should take another look at the tow bar. Can you pull a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country FWD minivan on all four? What would be the easiest toad mount to install? Would a 38 foot coach with a 330 Cat pusher pull it OK? Thanks in advance.

Edit......I found the link to Remco and they say I can pull my T&C on all fours. :)
 

Bob Buchanan

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farmerjohnnyy said:
Hi Bob and thanks for the info. Perhaps I should take another look at the tow bar. Can you pull a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country FWD minivan on all four? What would be the easiest toad mount to install? Would a 38 foot coach with a 330 Cat pusher pull it OK? Thanks in advance.

Edit......I found the link to Remco and they say I can pull my T&C on all fours. :)

You're welcome, farmerjohnny. Any day that includes convincing a fellow RVer to think long and hard before going with a tow dolly is a good day. :) Was going to mention Remco, so was glad you found them.

Whether you can pull it weight wise is a function of two numbers. Your coach will have (in addition to a GVWR) a "combined" weight ratio. That is the weight of the coach fully loaded plus the weight of what you plan to pull. You should be able to easily find those numbers -- plus you will need to either weigh the toad or go by the numbers given. The second number you want is the rating of the hitch on the MH itself. That should be displayed right on the hitch.

As to what toad braking system, that will take some research on your part. There are a number of threads here concerned with that subject plus the library contains info. Most feel that theirs is the best one and that's why they bought it. So I would look for "why" they think theirs is the best and apply that to your needs.

Most here with pushers such as yours have gone with the M&G system. The fact that you already have air makes it a good alternative. I have a gas model MH so would have to have a compressor installed -- so I decided on a different system. Actually, I would have gone with the US Gear Unified braking system anyway because of features it has that most others do not have. For example, I like the controller in the cab and I like using the power assist in the toad.

Another factor is involved with moving a system from one rig or toad to another. That is a downside of the US Gear or M&G. The Brake Buddy is a system that is self contained and is set up in the toad each time you hook up. Nothing in the rig -- other than I think they now make a wireless info unit for the cab. So that is the trade off of that type of system. Easy to move from one vehicle to another, but it must be set up each time you move. The USGear or M&G will only involve plugging an umbilical in to connect.
 

John From Detroit

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I will add to this as follows

I use the US gear system Bob mentioned, so the power assist works no matter if I'm driving or towing.  Several other systems push real hard on the brake pedal So you still get the same braking power, however it does stress the pedal and hardware around it.

The M&G system (Air over hydraulic) does not stress the pedal, at all, it wokes direct on the master cylinder.

Anti lock requires the ignition be on so it will not work  If you are in that kind of weather you might want to "Dial down" your towed brakes a bit to compensate
 

farmerjohnnyy

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Any day that includes convincing a fellow RVer to think long and hard before going with a tow dolly is a good day.
Thanks again, Bob, I'm seriously thinkin about going the tow bar route. Sure is nice to have forum's like this so you can get an idea what is going on in the real world, and us 'new folks' don't have to make the same mistakes.? ;D
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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.I found the link to Remco and they say I can pull my T&C on all fours.

FarmerJohnny,
I believe you need to add a transmission lube pump (from Remco) to tow that T&C minivan. As far as I know, all the Chrysler Corp minivans need a lube pump to be towable "4 down".  The price for the pump will be shown in the application data on the T&C on the Remco Towing site, but I believe it is $599. Installation is extra and is obtaiined through a local Remco-authorized dealer (unless you want to DIY).
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Surge brakes used to be problematic. After awhile the mechanical stuff got rusty and/or our of adjustment and did not perform reliably. Maybe the current models are better, but I don't know. There are so many solutions available that don't have that risk, most people choose other makes. The price is attractive, though.

U-haul uses surge brakes on rental trailers so they don't have to deal with brake hook-ups to the car. But they also maintain the trailers regularly, whereas owners tend to just drive and forget.
 

Smoky

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Farmer John:

You are getting some very good advice in this thread.

Perhaps the most important is DO NOT USE A DOLLY.  I was going to get a dolly when I first went motorcoach in 2005.  This forum talked me out of it and I am glad they did.  Everywhere I have gone I have met RVers bitching about their dolly.  The fuss of hooking and unhooking, and then trying to figure out where to stash it while in the campground.  A real PITA.

The M&G is a great system and we tried to go that route.  But we found that with our Spartan chassis, that Spartan would not honor their warranty if the M&G were installed without their special $300 conversion.  This is a Spartan conversion, not supplied by M&G.  When I looked into it, I concluded it was an unnecessary complication and reduced some of the benefit of the very fine M&G system.

In the end I went with a very simple but very reliable system which is the most popular system on the road.  The Brake Buddy.  (Not the Brake Pro).  The Brake Buddy has a big advantage in that it is easily portable from toad to toad.  It is strong enough to apply pedal braking even when the engine is turned off.  It has an adjustable power range and also a radio transmitter that signals you up in the cockpit when braking is occuring.

Regarding Remco conversions for your toad, ask if you can get the axle lock.  This is a newer technology than the lube pump or the cabled connection.  We had the axle lock installed on our Taurus and it has been flawless over a two year period.  It takes two seconds to activate or deactivate.

 
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