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Toad Brakes Air vs Mechanical System


Stiltner

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Hello Everyone!

 

Looking for advice regarding a TOAD Braking System. I'm on the hunt for a compatible TOAD for flat 4 towing. My Coach has air brakes and I'm looking for the pros/cons regarding air versus mechanical braking systems.

 

Air System - SMI Air force one

 

Mechanical - Blue Ox or Roadmaster

 

Any insight will be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you,

 

Patrick

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I have an Invisibrake in my Jeep and I like it a lot. I like the fact it is always there and there is nothing to set up. It works very well and I would do it again.

 

However if I had air brakes available, I would go with the Air Force One. It provides direct proportional braking based on the amount of braking being applied to the coach, is hidden like the Invisibrake, but doesn't require a separate electric brake controller to activate the toad brakes.

 

I have air brakes on my tow vehicle, but I tow my Jeep behind my 5th wheel that does not have air brakes. I considered running airlines through my 5th wheel so I could go with the Air Force One, but decided it would be too much hassle, so I went with the Invisibrake instead.

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My Roadmaster Brakemaster system is air operated, and a proportional system. I has worked great for me for a bit over 100k miles! It is pretty easy/quick to hook up with the air line between vehicles and the cylinder between a bracket under the seat and the brake pedal. I first looked at M&G but it was more "invasive" of the toad's system and the installers I talked to said they would not install it on my Honda Odyssey due to too little room under the hood. When I changed toads three years ago, I did the install on the new toad myself.

Paul (KE5LXU), former fulltimer, now sometimer...

'03 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage 40E

'05 Honda Odyssey

Escapees, FMCA, WIT, SMART

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Patrick, I have towed using a trailer,,,,,,,,,,,a drive on dolly,,,,,,,, and towed 4 down, but prefer 4 down myself so I don't have to worry with, maintain, and park an extra vehicle. I even have a tow dolly where my golf cart sits up front crossways and the tow dolly equipped with electric brakes is in the rear. There are several web sites regarding 4 down compatible vehicles such as:

 

http://www.motorhome.com/download-dinghy-guides/ (Jeeps, Saturns, some GM like mine, and others)

 

I prefer NOT having to mess with any driveshaft un couplers or transmission fluid pumps etc., just hook on, put in Neutral (or whatever) and GO.

 

Since I don't have air brakes and tow a relatively lightweight toad 4 down, I opted for a Brake Buddy surge activated toad brake system which is adjustable for weight and sensitivity and works great. It may or may not be the best option out there, but it works well for me and to each their own, pay your money and take your chances.

 

Best wishes, travel safe, God Bless

 

John T

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I'm also wondering if I go with an air system are there more compatible TOAD selections.....I found that there is only a handful of cars that are flat 4 compatible using a mechanical system.

Now I have a question..... What do you mean but this? I have flat towed several different vehicles and any vehicle that can be flat towed you can use what you call a mechanical system. Not sure exactly what you mean by that but if you mean that applies the brake by pressing on the pedal, that system will work on virtually an vehicle, no matter how they are towed. All modern brake systems are required to be operable with the engine turned off, by federal law. We used the Brake Buddy in two different versions over a period of almost 20 years, towing with two different motorhomes an 4 different towed vehicles. It is true that there are not a lot of vehicles that can be flat towed without any modification, but those which can be so towed will work with pretty much any of the various auxiliary braking systems sold.

 

Part of the question is whether or not you wish to have a system that is progressive as most of those like the Blue Ox, or Brake Buddy are not. In addition they also get power from the towed vehicle battery so it is possible that you would need to provide it if the standard 12v plug is not powered with the key in the acc position.

 

I never felt the need for progressive braking since my motorhome had ample ability to stop both vehicles under normal stopping conditions and I kept my BB set to only apply the brake in hard stop condition and then to apply it to the maximum, going into the ABS system or just short of that. But, that type of brake does not apply any braking in most gentle stops, so if you want that, there are better choices. When I first purchased an auxiliary brake system, there were not a lot of choices in equipment as is the case today and the Brake Buddy was one of the very first on the market. I had the opportunity to buy mine from a magazine reviewer only slightly used and for 1/2 price, which was how I chose it and because I liked the way that it worked for me, I stayed with that make when I later updated to newer, better equipment. I'm not sure that would be my choice if shopping today, but they do work on any vehicle that any other type system will work on.

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure

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Thanks Kirk!

 

I wasn't quite sure how to word my though of a mechanical braking system. So I 'll say an air pressure brake system that is tapped in to my coach's air brake system and any other systems out on the market. My goal s to:

 

1. Have a better selection of vehicles to tow that do not require major modifications. Remco was helpful but I'm looking to buy new or new/used toad. Darn CTV transmissions prevent newer cars from being towed flat 4.

2. Hook up and go in a few minutes.

3. Safe operation, (connections, using, stopping, etc)

4. I don't care if it's air driven or otherwise, just a good system that's reliable.

 

I'm not a big fan of my dolly, but it does tow most any front wheel drive vehicle.

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Patrick, the 2017's are coming out now, so if you want a new or new/used 4 down towable Toad, I guess Motorhomes 2016 Dinghy Guide will get you in the ballpark. Click the URL link below to download a copy, I browsed it and there's a ton of useful info.

 

http://webcontent.goodsam.com/motorhomemagazine.com/2016DinghyGuide.pdf

 

If you "dont care if its air driven or otherwise" that sure opens up a lot more choices.

 

As far as safety and hook up and go, I don't have any experience with "air driven" only the Brake Buddy which is fast, easy and seems safe based on my experience, but mines NOT a proportional system if that's what you're lookin for???? Mine is powered via the 12 VDC cigarette lighter receptacle in the Toad and my 7 Pole RV Receptacle and Toad Plug sends charging voltage back to the toads battery to keep it topped off as needed. I also have the wireless remote indicator in the RV that shows when the Brake Buddy is activated, but I can also "feel" it which provides me even better information when it comes to adjusting for weight and/or sensitivity.

 

Does your Dolly have brakes??? I still don't like to park and maintain an extra vehicle but the brakes on mine work fine.

 

Sorry, no direct experience you're lookin for, do your homework and make an informed decision.

 

Best wishes

 

John T

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Thanks Kirk!

 

I wasn't quite sure how to word my though of a mechanical braking system. So I 'll say an air pressure brake system that is tapped in to my coach's air brake system and any other systems out on the market. My goal s to:

 

1. Have a better selection of vehicles to tow that do not require major modifications. Remco was helpful but I'm looking to buy new or new/used toad. Darn CTV transmissions prevent newer cars from being towed flat 4.

2. Hook up and go in a few minutes.

3. Safe operation, (connections, using, stopping, etc)

4. I don't care if it's air driven or otherwise, just a good system that's reliable.

 

I'm not a big fan of my dolly, but it does tow most any front wheel drive vehicle.

 

The Air Force One can be installed in any car (according to their literature). Once it is installed you never touch it again. This is the same as the Invisibrake system. It is there and hidden and just works. In other words, the only limiting factor on what vehicle you can tow is the vehicle itself and whether it is capable of being towed four down. You connect the towed via a tow bar with safety chains (following any procedures specific to the towed vehicle to make it ready for towing), hook up an airline and an electrical cord for lights and away you go.

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I stared out with a brake buddy and it ruined 2 sets of rotors.

 

I then went with the SMI AF1 on a 2010 CR-V traded it for a 2013 ford Fusion moved the AF1 to it. then I traded for a 2016 F150 and the same AF1 was installed on it.

 

Not a fan of the mechanical braking systems.

Ron
US Army retired
2010 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH
2016 Ford F150 XLT

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Been using an Apollo (like a Brake Buddy) for over 10 years with one event. The unit jammed itself when it slipped under the edge of the seat keeping the brakes applied. Fixed with a cutting board to keep the unit from slipping down.

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I've had the full mechanical system (ReadyBrute, essentially a surge brake) and it worked great for 6 years with my Honda CRV. But when I switched to a much heavier Chevy Traverse (+2,000 lbs) I wanted a true proportional system and I narrowed it down to AF1 and M&G braking. In the end, I selected M&G and had it installed at their factory in Paris, TX. Works great, I'm currently traveling in Colorado and the system works perfectly.

 

Main reasons for going to this system:

  • Once installed, nothing to move, adjust or change in the car.
  • Movable to a new car in the future (but it will cost some)
  • True proportional braking
  • Straightforward hookup
  • Breakaway system (required in many states)

For the car, I bought a Blue Ox Aventa tow bar and base plate. Sure seems sturdy but I am not pleased with the release mechanism. The car has to be pretty well straight and on a level surface for easy un-hooking.

 

So I'm 100% satisfied with the M&G braking system, 70% satisfied with the Blue Ox tow bar.

 

== John

2015 Entegra Aspire 44B diesel pusher with 2017 GMC Acadia Denali toad
Web site, albums, blog and more here

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I use the unified braking system which is proportional as well as having a breakaway switch. It is mechanical and works very well. I like the fact that it gives me feedback via led lights to let me know how well its working. The controller has a manual lever as well as a sensitivity adjustment. i am very satisfied with it.

<p>....JIM and LINDA......2001 American Eagle 40 '.towing a GMC Sierra 1500 4X4 with RZR in the rear. 1999 JEEP Cherokee that we tow as well.

IT IS A CONTENTED MAN WHO CAN APPRECIATE THE SCENERY ALONG A DETOUR.

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Roadmaster 9160, Been using for 9 years, in two different toads. Somewhere around 80,000 towed miles. No issues, easy hook-up, easily transferred to other vehicles if selling. As I recall I bought it used for less than $200 on Craigslist. Made my own seat attach bracket. Also added a separate brake light switch in the toad. The switch was scrounged up from a junk yard and it is mounted so that when the brake pedal is depressed an LED mounted on my coach dash lights up (requires a separate wire) and lets me know that the brake pedal is actually being depressed. This is used on my diesel pusher towing a 3200# car.

 

http://roadmasterinc.com/pdf/85-1809-15.pdf

http://roadmasterinc.com/pdf/85-1991-16.pdf

 

good luck

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Our ReadyBrute Elite/ReadyBrake combined tow bar/mechanical surge brake system has worked well for us for 40,000 plus miles. Hooking the brake system up consists of snapping a clip on a cable eye. The ReadyBrake system is simple, reliable, and cost effective.

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

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So according to CW, due to the air brakes, specifically the jake brake, a Brakemaster is recommended as it applies brakes proportionally and only operates when the brakes are applied in the coach. Otherwise every time the jake brake is engaged the TOAD brakes will also be applied, therefore dragging the TOAD and ruining the rotors and brakes. Based on everyone's input, I'll be evaluating the Air Force One system. The bid was 4,000.00 including extended warranty on the tow bar and brakemaster.

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So according to CW, due to the air brakes, specifically the jake brake, a Brakemaster is recommended as it applies brakes proportionally and only operates when the brakes are applied in the coach. Otherwise every time the jake brake is engaged the TOAD brakes will also be applied, therefore dragging the TOAD and ruining the rotors and brakes. Based on everyone's input, I'll be evaluating the Air Force One system. The bid was 4,000.00 including extended warranty on the tow bar and brakemaster.

Good choice IMO! Personally I have always used the M&G braking system. I looked at the AF 1 and Roadmaster systems this year, but they require mounting under driver seat, my new Silverado hasn't enough room under the driver seat for the "box".

 

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I looked at the AF 1 and Roadmaster systems this year, but they require mounting under driver seat, my new Silverado hasn't enough room under the driver seat for the "box".

Brake Master Roadmaster system has no "box", just a minimal bracket that goes under the two bolts that hold the front of the seat down.

Paul (KE5LXU), former fulltimer, now sometimer...

'03 Winnebago Ultimate Advantage 40E

'05 Honda Odyssey

Escapees, FMCA, WIT, SMART

http://www.pjrider.com

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So according to CW, due to the air brakes, specifically the jake brake, a Brakemaster is recommended as it applies brakes proportionally and only operates when the brakes are applied in the coach. Otherwise every time the jake brake is engaged the TOAD brakes will also be applied, therefore dragging the TOAD and ruining the rotors and brakes. Based on everyone's input, I'll be evaluating the Air Force One system. The bid was 4,000.00 including extended warranty on the tow bar and brakemaster.

 

The ReadyBrake unit has a preload spring that prevents that situation from occurring with normal deceleration. Exhaust braking on a diesel isn't a lot different than compression braking on a gasser, and the ReadyBrake unit is designed to handle it without putting excessive wear on the toad brakes.

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

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  • 4 weeks later...

i plan to tow a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 75th anniversary behind my 2013 40 ft QBH Phaeton. Plan to use the Roadmaster Falcon 2 tow bar (6000#) with the Invisibrake system. Read recently that the Invisibrake system applies the brake on toad when the exhaust brake is used in the RV. Does this cause unnecessary braking on the toad's system? Any other advice with regard to using this set-up is appreciated.

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Kevor...I would not want my toad brakes coming on everytime I go down a grade. There must be a way to switch that feature off I would hope.

<p>....JIM and LINDA......2001 American Eagle 40 '.towing a GMC Sierra 1500 4X4 with RZR in the rear. 1999 JEEP Cherokee that we tow as well.

IT IS A CONTENTED MAN WHO CAN APPRECIATE THE SCENERY ALONG A DETOUR.

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i plan to tow a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 75th anniversary behind my 2013 40 ft QBH Phaeton. Plan to use the Roadmaster Falcon 2 tow bar (6000#) with the Invisibrake system. Read recently that the Invisibrake system applies the brake on toad when the exhaust brake is used in the RV. Does this cause unnecessary braking on the toad's system? Any other advice with regard to using this set-up is appreciated.

I have an Invisibrake installed in my 2015 Jeep. I do not know who told you the Invisibrake is activated with the exhaust brake, but they are mistaken. The Invisibrake is activated by the brake signal from the tow vehicle. There is nothing connecting the Invisibrake to the exhaust brake and no way for it to activate unless you depress the brake pedal in the tow vehicle. A signal is then sent to an air actuated cylinder that applies pressure to the Jeep's (or any towed vehicle's) brake pedal, thus activating the towed vehicle's braking system.

2000 Kenworth T2000 w/ Cummins N14 and autoshift
2017 DRV Mobile Suite 40KSSB4 with factory mods, dealer mods and personal mods - now in the RV graveyard
2022 DRV Full House MX450 with customized floor plan
2018 Polaris RZR Turbo S (fits in the garage)
2016 Smart Car (fits in the garage or gets flat towed behind the DRV when the RZR is in the garage)
My First Solar Install Thread
My Second Solar Install Thread & Photos and Documents Related to the build
My MX450's solar, battery and inverter system - my biggest system yet!

chadheiser.com      West Coast HDT Rally Website

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