Towing

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

hank61p

New member
Joined
Feb 28, 2006
Posts
3
New to RVing and would like some opinions and ideas on towing.? I have a new Sightseer and would like to tow a 94 subura behind.? ?I understand I need to tow with all 4 wheels down.

My questions are:? 1.? What tow bars are good?  2.  What braking system is best:  Brake Even, Brake Master, Others?  3.  Do I need to remove fuses, etc.?  4.  Any other thoughts, ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks
 

rhmahoney

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 9, 2005
Posts
1,405
I favor anything made out of STEEL. Mine is Roadmaster falcon II.
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Hi Hank,

Assuming that your car is towable with all 4 down (if you're not sure, you can check with Remco at http://www.remcotowing.com):

Roadmaster and Blue Ox make decent tow bars. Buy the model that's rated to tow your car.

Auxiliary braking system is a matter of personal preference. To see different options, click the Library button above, select Towing and towables and click Auxiliary (toad) braking systems. A number of us have the M&G air brake system because of its ease of use - just plug a short air hose in between the motorhome and the car. Many folks like the Brake Buddy because of its portability between different cars.

Fuses - I'll let someone else answer that.

Don't forget you need a lighting hookup also. Camping World sells a kit that makes this relatively easy.

 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,786
Location
Davison Michigan
Like the other poster, I too favor STEEL over aluminum for tow bars, Mine is a Blu-Ox instead of a Roadmaster,  I have looked at both and near as I can tell the only way to choose one over the other is based on which line your dealer carries... Mine carried Blu-Ox.  Blu-Ox does have a new model that is kind of interesting though

As for braking systems.. If your coach has air brakes, and your towed has the room M&G is the best, even if your coach does not have air, M&G is excelent (They provide an air compressor for that kind of instalation)

The major advantage of the M&G is that it is driver transparant for the towed, there is NOTHING to remove from the towed or store other than the air hose that connects to the coach and the safety line.  NOTHING at all inside the passenger compartment. Nothing.

Since my towed can not mount the slave cylinder for the M&G, I choose the Unified Gear brakeing system, this is an electrally operated brake that does mount, permently inside the passanger compartment,  However the bulk of the system is normally put under the driver's seat.  (In my case it is mounted elsewhere) but it is still behind a panel where it can not be seen unless you know it's there) there is a bracket on the brake pedal that does bother me a bit but I'm getting used to it.

Systems like Brake Buddy and a bunch of others that mount inside the car and PUSH the pedal 1: Won't work in my car due to a problem with my car I need to get fixed some day, but more importantly they have boxes you have to remember to install and remove every time you want to tow or drive.  TOO MUCH TROUBLE from my point of view.  I mean I hook up the safety (Break-away) cable, and the power/control lead and I'm good to stop

As noted earlier, the library has a lot of info
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Hello John:

>> As for braking systems.. If your coach has air brakes, and your towed has the room M&G is the best, even if your coach does not have air, M&G is excelent (They provide an air compressor for that kind of instalation).
====
Not sure I agree that M&G is the "best", even if the rig has air brakes. However, tons of members here swear by it, so that is a good recommendation. I too have the US Gear system and would probably go with it even if I did have air -- which I don't. But braking systems fall into the category of, "The best is one I use".? :)

Discussions here on braking systems remind me of the time years ago while teaching an Intro to Computers to a clerical managers class and asking the question, "What is the best Word Processor software in your opinion?". I thought fist fghts might braak out.? :eek:? I made it a point never to ask that question again. At the time I leaned toward WPerfect but decided not to mention that for fear of my life.

>> ... there is a bracket on the brake pedal that does bother me a bit but I'm getting used to it.
====
Am curious, why would the bracket bother you? I assume you mean the one that connects to "pull" the brake pedal vs. pushing it as with other systems. Once mounted, it should not be noticed by the driver of toad when not connected to the rig.

Systems like Brake Buddy and a bunch of others that mount inside the car and PUSH the pedal 1: Won't work in my car due to a problem with my car I need to get fixed some day, but more importantly they have boxes you have to remember to install and remove every time you want to tow or drive.? TOO MUCH TROUBLE from my point of view.? I mean I hook up the safety (Break-away) cable, and the power/control lead and I'm good to stop.
====
I agree. But again, those that use them, love them . . .
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
John,

I'm not sure there is a "best" option, but do believe there's a best choice for an individual's circumstances. Having tried two different brands of "boxes", we decided to try M&G and it's turned out to be the best option for us. Doesn't mean it would be the best option for someone else, which is why I consciously don't recommend one over another. It's also why I presented several different options in the library article, along with some pros and cons.

OTOH we had a very bad experience with one brand of "box" (not Brake Buddy and a different technology) and, as a result, I did not include that option in the article, although Brake Buddy (which I tried and worked OK) is front and center in the article.

IMO having auxiliary (toad) braking is a far more important decision than which technology or brand. I cringe when I talk to someone who says they don't have an auxiliary brake on their toad and alarm bells start ringing.
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
It's a personal choice, the convenience of just plugging in vs. the ability to move the brake system easily to another vehicle.  Also, for the air powered systems, if you don't have a preexisting connection in the air brake lines, you have to add one which may require some assistance from the chassis manufacturer.  This also adds to the expense.

I don't mind the extra few minutes to setup our Apollo system and like the advantage of being able to move it to another vehicle when the time comes.  I also prefer not having to modify either the motorhome or the towed to use it.

As Tom points out, it's more important to have some towed braking system, regardless of which one it is.
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
For the casual reader who may not be aware of auxiliary brake laws, here's a handy dandy compilation of the laws of various states and provinces.
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,786
Location
Davison Michigan
Bob B ask why the bracket (And yes it is the bracket that attches to the brake pedal) would bother me

Cause I wear 12-1/2 to 13 size shoes and the cable adjusting screw pokes up over the pedal and bothers my toes when I move my foot from accelerator to brake (I was never taught left foot braking as I learned to drive a stick first long before I learned to drive a car)  I have learned to pick my foot up just a tad more, an move it just a tad more and thus avoid the bracket, but for the first few weeks it was a real pain.


And as for the reason I think M&G is best... I explained that, When you get in the car there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING to see, no wires, no boxes, no bracket on the pedal arm, NOTHING, it's not there

It is, of course, under the hood, out of sight and out of mind and not one bit in the way of the vehicle operator

But when you switch from towed to independent and back there are only 2 1/2 things to forget

Those are, both hooking and unhoonking,  the air hose (Note: If you forget to unhok it, it will remind you when it either self-unhooks or brakes as you back away from the coach)  2: The break-away cable (Likwise, it will remind you if you forget to UNHOOK it) and 3 (the 1/2, only applies when you start towing) the "Stand on the brakes for a mnute to charge up the emergency stop air tank" part.  No hardware to move, No hardware to put in wrong, no anything inside the cabin of the car.  And that, in my opinion, is what makes it the best

The US Gear system, has minimum "inside" stuff (at least visible stuff) and again, nothing you can forget INSIDE, just the cables outside.  This makes it #2

The "Brake Buddy" type pedal pushers... All have a box you can forget, or put in wrong, or other wise mess up, which puts them down at the bottom of my list of stopping devices.... They do, however have ONE advantage.  With most of them, you get a new towed, moving the braking system from one to the other is no harder than moving from towed to independent and back.. You simply move the box
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
It's no harder to forget to install a Brake Buddy or Apollo than it is to forget to hook up an M&G or such brake.  It's nearly impossible to put them in wrong, they only fit one way.  Only one cable to connect, the break away, and unlike the M&G, the Apollo gives an indication in the motorhome when the towed brakes are applied.
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
>> Cause I wear 12-1/2 to 13 size shoes and the cable adjusting screw pokes up over the pedal and bothers my toes when I move my foot from accelerator to brake . . .
====
John, looks like USG didn't research customer shoe sizes. I just looked at the bracket that attaches the cable to the brake pedal arm on my Jeep. It's about 4 1/2 to 5" above the top of the brake pedal. My only advice is to not drive bare footed. ?:(

>> And as for the reason I think M&G is best, I explained that ...
====
If you re read my post, I didn't ask.  ???

>> When you get in the car there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING to see, no wires, no boxes, no bracket on the pedal arm, NOTHING, it's not there. It is, of course, under the hood, out of sight and out of mind and not one bit in the way of the vehicle operator.
====
There is nothing to see or insert in the toad with USG -- tho stuff "is" there. And agreed. It would take a chunk of shop labor hours to move it to another toad. I see it as a better system, so worth it in the event I ever go to another toad.

>> And that, in my opinion, is what makes it the best.
====
Thanks for adding, "in your opinion . . . " ?:) That's important on a braking system thread. In "my opinion", these 3 features alone make USG the best:

o Uses the power assist brakes on the toad (including breakaway).
o Applies both proportional "and" progressive braking.
o Has rig driver display and control.

Neither M&G -- nor anyone else has all three of these. M&G has none of them. If I am driving down the Grapevine on a 7% grade and my brakes fail, USG allows me to lock the toad brakes using the power assist on the toad. I like the idea of dragging my toad with brakes locked if that happens. W/M&G, the toad just pushes the rig faster down the grade.

It is important that "any" kind of braking is used -- but in a thread such as this, the person asking the question does want to know "why" someone chose one over the other and why they feel it best for them.
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,786
Location
Davison Michigan
Well,  Bob. It may be the installer who did not research my shoe size, it appears one could mount the bracket farther up the pedal arm, but alas, that was not done in my case.

In any case.  I'm happy with the choice.

And you did make a good point about the features of the US gear job

I do understand that "Porportional" means the harder I brake the coach, the harder it brakes the Lumina (Towed)

But I've yet to figure out what "Progressive" means in terms that make it an advantage
 

BernieD

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2005
Posts
5,873
Location
Goodyear, AZ
Bob Buchanan said:
o Uses the power assist brakes on the toad (including breakaway).
o Applies both proportional "and" progressive braking.
o Has rig driver display and control.

Neither M&G -- nor anyone else has all three of these. M&G has none of them. If I am driving down the Grapevine on a 7% grade and my brakes fail, USG allows me to lock the toad brakes using the power assist on the toad. I like the idea of dragging my toad with brakes locked if that happens. W/M&G, the toad just pushes the rig faster down the grade.

Bob

I cannot agree with your comment that M&G has "none" of them. Not sure what you mean by ""proportional "and" progressive" braking"" but the M&G applies the toad brakes as if you were stepping on the toad pedal with the same action as you depress the coach brake pedal, press harder and the brakes apply harder. If your coach brakes fail what happens next depends on the cause of failure. If you lose your air lines the coach emergency brakes come on automatically, stopping the coach. If you coach brakes overheat and lose grip, the air pressure of stepping on the coach brake applies equally to the toad brakes which continue to brake the toad, no less than the US Gear. You can lock up the toad brakes with the M&G. IMHO, the M&G meets the criteria for  2 of the 3 and I am too busy watching traffic to monitor the driver display and I can feel whether the toad brakes are functioning or not. Anyways, having a driver display tell me the toad brakes aren't working doesn't do me any good in a panic stop.

I don't necessarily recommend the M&G for coaches without factory air brakes (I usually suggest the US Gear) and you apparently aren't familiar enough with the M&G for coaches so equiped. I am not familiar with the US Gear setup and can't really do a valid comparison. But for my circumstances with air brakes, I felt that the M&G was the best supplemental brake package out there and have had it on both of my coaches.
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
>> I cannot agree with your comment that M&G has "none" of them.
====
That's OK, Bernie -- I enjoy our discussions.? :)

>> Not sure what you mean by ""proportional "and" progressive" braking"" but the M&G applies the toad brakes as if you were stepping on the toad pedal with the same action as you depress the coach brake pedal, press harder and the brakes apply harder.
====
You describe progressive braking. The harder you push the rig brakes, the harder the toad brakes are applied. I don't think the power assist is applied to the toad here. If not, and in a panic stop, you are applying a predetermined amount of air to very hard toad brakes. If I cram the brakes on my rig, I would prefer that the same amount of pressure be applied to the power assisted brakes on the toad. Have you ever coasted down a hill with the ignition off an no power assist -- it really takes a lot of pressure to stop the vehicle. I would question the amount of air supplied vs. needed to lock the brakes when I lock the rig brakes via the rig brake pedal.

Proportional refers to the difference in weight of the two vehicles and the corresponding braking needed. For example, when towing a trailer or 5th wheel a suggested proportion of applied brakes between truck and trailer would lock the trailer wheels if towed on a gravel driveway. That was how I tested the proper proportional braking between my truck and the trailer. If not in the exact proper proportion, the trailer (or in our case, the toad) is being braked either too much or too little -- during the course of progressive braking between the two.

The control in the cockpit is more than lights to determine if the brakes are working. It also contains the control to adjust the proportionality of the rig to toad brakes -- plus the lever to apply the toad brakes manually in the event of rig brake failure. I adjust the toad brakes much the same as I adjusted the gain on my trailer/s brakes -- on a gravel driveway.

This gives another nice feature that M&G does not have. If I want, I can turn off the toad brakes from the cockpit. I have three settings that are most useful to me. The 1st is no toad brakes. I set this when driving, for example, in an RV park. No need to used toad brake pads for that. My second setting is normal driving, and my third is my "going down a steep mountain" setting. In that case, I give the toad a little more gain.

>> If your coach brakes fail what happens next depends on the cause of failure. If you lose your air lines the coach emergency brakes come on automatically, stopping the coach. If you coach brakes overheat and lose grip, the air pressure of stepping on the coach brake applies equally to the toad brakes which continue to brake the toad, no less than the US Gear.
====
Nice advanced features of your coach -- and that is good. But we're discussing being able to apply the brakes to the toad when the coach can no long do that -- in your case, no air. Otherwise, regardless of the emergency braking the rig has, the toad is pushing it down hill.

>> You can lock up the toad brakes with the M&G.
====
From the cockpit? How do you do that? I had asked someone in a park once, and checked their website and saw nothing to that effect.

>> IMHO, the M&G meets the criteria for? 2 of the 3 .....
====
From my responses, it appears we disagree.? :(

>> ..... and I am too busy watching traffic to monitor the driver display and I can feel whether the toad brakes are functioning or not. Anyways, having a driver display tell me the toad brakes aren't working doesn't do me any good in a panic stop.
====
The fellows that 1st did my install a number of years ago told me that it is important to not "feel" when the toad brakes are applied -- and that's why the cockpit progression lites are so important. These were the beta test mechanics for the Unified Braking System. The brakes on the toad are just for the toad, and not to assist the rig. If you can feel them being applied, there is too much toad braking. When setting the gain control for my normal driving, that is one of my tests.

>> I don't necessarily recommend the M&G for coaches without factory air brakes (I usually suggest the US Gear) and you apparently aren't familiar enough with the M&G for coaches so equipped. I am not familiar with the US Gear setup and can't really do a valid comparison. But for my circumstances with air brakes, I felt that the M&G was the best supplemental brake package out there and have had it on both of my coaches.
====
I agree with what you say here, Bernie. I always learn something new when we chat. . .
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,786
Location
Davison Michigan
Bob Buchanan said:
You describe progressive braking. ...........................................

Proportional refers to the difference in weight of the two vehicles and the corresponding braking needed. .......................

Thanks Bob, I too never understood the difference.

BTW, There is a way to adjust the porportion of braking power applied to towed/towing with the M&G system but it is not user adjustable.... Has to be done at the design level,

There may be other ways too..(Including a user adjustable one) I don't know, I'd have to talk to my brother about that, He knows a whole lot more about air brakes than I do being as I'm a certified ELECTRONICS technician and he is a certified Truck mechenic and operator 
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
It appears that U.S. Gear has their own definitions of terms, which I find quite confusing. Proportional braking means something else to other manufacturers and progressive braking means something else to folks who teach professional drivers how to drive.

Proportional braking: Toad braking occurs at the same time, and at the same intensity, as you brake the coach.

Progressive braking (aka taper braking): A technique of braking that modulates how much pressure is applied to the brake pedal at different times during the braking cycle. One example is illustrated here.
 

BernieD

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2005
Posts
5,873
Location
Goodyear, AZ
Bob

The post/replies are getting too long to try and work with them individually, but I'll try and sum up.

First and foremost, when you are driving down the road and you come into a braking situation, you don't have time to start playing around with brake controls. You step on the brake pedal and keep both hands on the steering wheel.

I don't know if I can say most or many, but cars usually have a proportioning valve built into their braking system. When you step on the brakes in your car the front brakes have to work harder (weight shifts to the front under braking) and the proportioning valve adjusts the brake application between front and rear. Since the brake valve that M&G uses is specific to the engine and car it is used on, I would not be surprised if the ratio of application is built in to accomplish the appropriate proportioning. I would doubt that you can say that it is not.

You seem to confuse power assist with effective braking. If your engine isn't running, you have no power assisted brakes. However, the air pressure provided by the air line to the M&G is the equal to the equivalent of power braking. Seems to me to be advantage-M&G.

Having the adjustments you admire are not something I would want on my brake system. The brake pad wear that you would incur using your supplemental brakes when driving thru a campground over the life of the pads is insignificant. By having increased pressure on your toad brakes while descending a mountain could overheat them and make them useless. Advantage to US Gear-None.

The application of the emergency brake in case of air loss is not a "Nice advanced features of your coach". It is a feature mandated by federal law for all air braked chassis. I will be more than happy to explain to you how diesel air brakes work next winter in QZ. In any case, the situation arising that you are trying to construct; complete loss of air while descending a steep mountain, probably ranks below wear on brake pads in campgrounds.

If you can lock up the coach brakes by maximum application of the brake pedal, the M&G will lock up the car's brakes as well. But why would your want to lock up the brakes? You lose braking effectiveness when you do. That is why ABS brakes now come on all vehicles, so you don't lock up your brakes.

As far as feel, if the toad brakes are working, I can't feel the toad's braking. If the brakes aren't working, I can feel that as well. I don't understand your point. At the time when I can feel the brakes not working, or your dashboard warning lite comes on, there is nothing you can do about it anyways, until after you come to a stop (hopefully ;D).


 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Bernie,

I believe the U.S. Gear system includes a vacuum pump, so I assume that is the source of the vaccuum assist.
 
Top Bottom