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Old 08-22-2014, 06:14 PM   #1
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Auxiliary Braking Sys for Toad

Hello all: I need some opinions to validate or invalidate what I was told today regarding aux braking in the toad.
I have never towed with the coach but Amin the process of buying a car capable of 4 down towing. At a trailer shop I was checking on a base plate installation price, lighting, and tow bar. When I asked the owner his opinion between Air Force One (or similar systems) versus Patriot, Ready Brake, etc., he stated that he wouldn't bother with an aux braking system since "a Freightliner rig that big has more than enough brakes". When I asked about breakaway protection he said that's what the safety cables are for. Obviously I do not believe this is the way I should go but, having no experience of my own, would like to hear what other Berkshire owners think. The car we are looking at is a Ford Flex, weighs 4800 lbs (I would think that weight justifies it's own brakes).
I did score a great deal on a lightly used Blue Ox Aventa tow bar for $400 with safety cables and electrical umbilical cable. No rust, everything works smoothly, even clean and shiny! Hope it was a good deal anyway.
As for aux braking I have read here many good endorsements for the Air Force One system, and some not so good ones on Invisibrake and Ready Brake. Never saw anything negative about the Patriot brake though. I have also been told of possible warranty violation by tapping into the coach air brake system, but the SMI website says their product is fully DOT, Freightliner and Spartan approved. I don't know who or what to believe!
The AF1 systems sounds like a big, expensive install, but I like the idea of true proportional braking. The Patriot claims it does proportional braking also via an accelerometer. Easier install I guess but have to carry that box around.

So, if I may, would anyone with knowledge and experience in these things please set me on the right path. I'm disabled and can't do the installs myself but I don't want to scrimp on safety or ease of use for a one-time install fee. Assuming a braking system is required, which type is better? I will not be changing between towed vehicles so portability is not necessarily a factor.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!



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Old 08-22-2014, 06:44 PM   #2
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In some states brakes systems are the law.

I use the Roadmaster Invisbrake. My father has the Air Force one. I believe the AF1 is a more complicated install than the Invisibrake.

We have had no issues with either.


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Old 08-22-2014, 06:52 PM   #3
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Double and triple check the Ford Flex. There has been some issues concerning the Fords. Ford says one thing and things unforeseen happen. The Flex is pretty heavy considering for a Toad. I don't want to try to change your mind but a Honda CRV 4wd is probably the most popular, that and the Jeep. Have you looked at the brake buddy setup that one is a very popular talk item. A brake system is pretty much a must, some states its law that you have assist. I'm studying this issue as we speak, I pull with a dolly w/ surge brakes right now. I'm leaning Jeep wrangler w/ Brake buddy since we like the mountains. My wifes car is a Lacrosse FWD and it does great on the dolly, going 4 down means a additional vehicle or selling my Expedition. Let us know how you are doing with it.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:57 PM   #4
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I currently tow without a braking system. I will eventually get one. I like the AF1. I have towed my Wrangler in some mountains and have no problem stopping or climbing hills.

EJM4 is correct, some states do require it. On the other hand I have never heard of or read that anyone ever got a ticket for not having one. I believe the problem would arise if you got into an accident and not having a breaking system was the cause. That's when the sh.t will hit the fan.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:59 PM   #5
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I have Berkeley 390BH-60 and I row a Ford Flex AWD with a Blue Ox Alladin and a Brake buddy.

First off ... you will love the Flex as it is a great car and easy to tow despite its weight.

The blue ox is a very good system you just need to make sure of a few things...
Check the weight limit based on the production year
I know in the case of the Aladdin it was raised from 5000lb to 7500lb. I Would suggest the latter.

2) If it a used unit make sure that the posts are not corroded and all joints mover freely.

Read the install directions very carefully when it comes to car position relative to the MH. In the age of the Alladin the vertical tolerance is only something like 4 inches when air.bags are inflated. The car cannot be higher than the hitch and can only be 4 inches below. This was not an issue with my other two MRS but with the Berkeley it meant purchasing a riser hitch of 8 or 10 inches. These hitches are very expensive.

3) we always tow the car empty with minimal fuel in order to reduce weight.

4) It is worth while purchasing a small jumper box /Changer just in case. Nothing worse that detaching car only to find battery dead.

5) we use the brake buddy. It worked great with our old Saturn but not great with flex. Due to floor and seat design of flex it is very hard to get a good fit.

As far as is it required. Laws change from state to state.

Good luck
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:13 PM   #6
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I toad a 14 wrangler automatic, blue ox base (bx1126) and blue ox tow bar, 12 volt constant charge from coach (brake buddy 39332), hopkins 47053 cable (PM me if you want wiring diagram), hopkins 48430 six pin on base, brake and turn lights wiring inside and down the right frame rail (tube wrapped), turn / brake light bar in jeep trailer hitch, and finally a patriot brake plugged into the center console 12v (always hot) and the drag set at 5. E-trailer has been good to me, and I have been profitable to them...

Put toad transfer case in neutral, tran in park, pull the key....off we go....
We have a class C.

Fuel up toad before we leave..

Whew, took as long to write this as it does to do it..
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:22 PM   #7
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I agree with lefaivre. I pull a heavy Silverado with a Blue Ox bar and a brake buddy. I've had a brake buddy for 5 years and 2 motorhomes. Great for portability, but frustrating installing after awhile. I'm s seriously considering installing an invisibrake from roadmaster.

Rule of thumb for states with brake laws, anything over 3000lbs needs brakes.
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Old 08-22-2014, 07:52 PM   #8
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Brake buddy problems?

Don't run a brake buddy, but what do you dislike about it? Once I understood the patriot claw I was good to go. Push set up watch it cycle and go to ready.
I thought the only diff btw the two was patriot was all electric (and back up internal batt) and brake buddy was air / electric.
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:05 PM   #9
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I tow a Silverado as well and have the invisibrake installed. I love the setup!! Nothing to it other than plugging in your brake cord and one for your dash light. They installed the box under my rear seat so it's out of the way.
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:10 PM   #10
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Toad brake discussions are similar to discussing politics and religion. Many will say if you drive cautiously, you'll never need one. That may be true - but there are resources available that show what States require supplemental brakes and at what weight. It's worth the time just to see what States you'll travel through want to see.

I've had the RVI2 Brake System for over a year now and am most impressed. It installs in less than 2 minutes - without hassle. There is a RF link that displays the brake system status on a display you plug into a cigarette plug up in the drivers area. We also opted for the tire pressure sensors so we can see if the toad develops a flat or slow leak. Again, just my two cents but I really think the system is top notch and customer service/support has been amazing.

As far as the toad, we have a Mini Cooper - very light, but even so, in a hard stop, you can tell the brake is doing its job. Sounds like you got a great deal on your towing brackets and base plate - so you're off to a great start!

Lastly, to make sure we were never surprised with a dead battery, I ran a power wire from the motorhome 7 pin trailer connector (specifically the power lead) to the battery on the Mini. There are fused kits for this purpose. It just ensures you're not draining the battery while tooling down the road.

Anyway - good luck and safe travels!
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:43 PM   #11
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I'm towing a 08 Explorer. I elected to use the Blue Ox Alpha tow bar, the Patriot brake system and a Towmate wireless lighting system. I've spent over three weeks pulling it all over the Northeast without a problem. It's a breeze to setup and have had zero issues running the toad's battery down. I am very happy with my setup.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoglou View Post
Don't run a brake buddy, but what do you dislike about it? Once I understood the patriot claw I was good to go. Push set up watch it cycle and go to ready.
I thought the only diff btw the two was patriot was all electric (and back up internal batt) and brake buddy was air / electric.
The Brake Buddy is a good set up and has worked well for us. After awhile it gets old removing the box, putting it away and moving the floor mat. I now have a dedicated spot on the LH side storage bay for it. Also, you have to be careful when using it in cold weather, as the seals won't hold air. We leave it in the house as long as we can before leaving and keep it inside the coach when stopping for the night. I have the same concern about the Invisibrake. It's rated down to -2 F. It's not uncommon for us to have a night or two in -5 F or lower.

Now that I have a toad that I will have for awhile, I looking at upgrading.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:17 PM   #13
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I've got a blue ox aventa lx, brake buddy vantage with proportional braking and a charging system to the battery. Also, some cars must have a fuse pulled to limit battery discharge or you can run a switch to turn off power to that fuse when towing. I've been happy with the Brake Buddy and blue ox. A word of caution (from experience): many auto manufacturers state that you should run/idle the car after every so many miles to keep the transmission lubed. When you do this, make sure to purge the system before you start your trip again or your brakes will lock up the first time you brake the coach. Also, I would never consider using a toad without an auxillary braking system....but to each their own.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:19 PM   #14
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Thanks to all for these great replies and information! I have more research to do but just watched the Brake Buddy video - looks pretty good. They claim their unit actuated quicker than the Patriot but I haven't seen that voiced by Patriot owners.

Lefaivre: thanks for the Flex backup! We think it checks all the boxes and will be great for us. Luxurious ride, nice entry height, and versatile. If all goes well we will pick it up next week. Tow bar works like new with only cosmetic scratches from installation and light use a few times. After the base plate is on I have to determine the height difference for an adapter.

Thanks again for all the replies!!! It is so nice to have this community to talk to!


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Old 08-22-2014, 11:29 PM   #15
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Brake Buddy worked.like a charm.when we used it on our Saturn with its flat floor and hard seat fronts. With the Flex ... things have been less than stellar. The Flex has soft seat fronts meaning that when the brake buddy powers up it is pushing against a soft surface thereby delaying braking. An other problem is the fact that the foot well is not flat. This causes the unit to rock and move making setup very difficult. I have managed to work through this by first placing a wooden bracket into the foot well. One part of the bracket levels the floor and the other part braces against the front of the seat.

The system works but it does take some work


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Old 08-23-2014, 07:32 AM   #16
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Blue Ox Patriot couldn't be easier. Takes about two minutes to install and run setup.

Check this for laws:
http://www.brakebuddy.com/Towing-Laws
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:35 AM   #17
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I tow my '13 Ford Explorer behind my Berk 390 BH 360 using the Blue Ox tow bar (10,000 pound rated model) along with the Patriot system. We just finished a 6500 mile trip and towing went quite well. Very easy hook up and disconnect. Only took a few minutes for each. Had a few problems with the Patriot as I need to send it in for a new battery and software up date. Throughout the west and all the mountains we never knew the Explorer was behind us even up and down the steepest of grades. We also had to add a charging wire system from the coach to the Explorer as the car has a large parasitic electric draw when in neutral and accessory active. We have keyless ignition on the Explorer. I think the Explorer is a few hundred pounds more than the Flex so you should have no trouble towing it.

Good choice in a toad and you should have many miles of enjoyment




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Old 08-23-2014, 12:27 PM   #18
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Towed Brakes

X2 on the RVi2 Brake. I have used it and the previous one without problem. It is easy to set up and seems to work well. Most states and all of Canada require a supplemental brake system if your towed rig exceeds 3000 pounds. It doesn't matter what the towing capacity of the motor home is.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:28 PM   #19
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X2 on the RVi2 Brake. I have used it and the previous one without problem. It is easy to set up and seems to work well. Most states and all of Canada require a supplemental brake system if your towed rig exceeds 3000 pounds. It doesn't matter what the towing capacity of the motor home is.
Yep, my Fiesta weighs just 2600 and change. I've towed over 10K miles with NO toad brake and NO problems.

Been over some mountain passes that might scare the pants off a "flat lander"; like Red Mountain pass between Silverton and Ouray, CO. Ya oughta see the switch backs on that badboy.

Been down (THEN up... It's a pass that is upside down!!) through Salt River Canyon between Show Low and Globe, AZ several times with no problems whatsoever. Once again, hairpin county and switch back city, for a total of about 7 miles; and a total drop of over 1000 feet.

Never even know the toad is back there unless I look at the camera. Far more than enough braking power from the Berk's brakes.

Boowho??
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:03 PM   #20
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The only input I would add as most everything has been covered is stopping power. Yes the Berk has good brakes and under normal conditions it is enough. The issue u have is when close to GCVW is it enough? If you need to stop in an emergency situation is it enough. Not for me. I only tow a two door Wrangler at about 3500#. That puts me at 34000 gross and a bit over weight. The brake system is not a luxury in my opinion. I don't want to slam on the brakes and not have every chance of stopping safely.


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