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Author Topic: Towed Car Braking System  (Read 7057 times)
qayqayt
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« on: April 19, 2011, 10:12:47 AM »

I'm researching all the best options for towing our car "4 wheels down" and the issue of having a braking system for the towed vehicle has come up.  Our car is towable, but weighs 3400 lbs curb weight.  I could see the advantage if your motorhome was relatively light, the extra braking would greatly assist and would be a major safety addition.  But behind a bus?

Any comments?

Bryan
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Bryan
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bevans6
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2011, 10:18:00 AM »

behind a bus, the point of a toad braking system is far less the need for supplementary brakes to aid the bus,, but rather the need for emergency brakes if the car breaks away from the bus.  Per the various lists of brakes required vs state/province, often not actually required by law but check the states you are driving in.  Your feeling about safety and responsibility will guide your choice.  I tow with a dolly and the dolly has electric brakes for the break-away emergency feature, I don't actually hook the brakes up for normal running.

Brian
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1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
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Geoff
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2011, 10:30:19 AM »

I have towed four down for many a year and many thousands of miles and never felt like I needed additional braking for the toad.  If it gets loose (you have to screw up to achieve this), you have safety cable(s) to keep the car hooked up to the bus.  The most common problems towing four down is forgetting to release the steering wheel, and getting a flat on the toad without knowing it.  I have a rear camera and if the car isn't towing right I can spot it.
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Geoff
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2011, 10:32:55 AM »

i've got an SMI Air Force One air brake system for our 8000lb van (loaded).  it comes with an idiot light to show you the brakes are working, all the hoses and controls you need, and a break-away cable that should set the brakes and stop the towed vehicle in case of a failed tow bar or hitch.  

i think they are around $700 plus install, but it's been a few years.  Most RV shows, you can find them there, or call them in Indiana.  

We got a brake system more for moral reasons that our needs.  We pulled the van for a couple years without a braking system with no issue, but the break away need to protect the other guy got to me.

Mine works fine although i've not tested the break-away.  They were friendly, helpful, and they adjusted mine for free since we tow 4 wheels down with the engine running which means it needs less power to press the brake pedal.

i think the brake-buddy is the most sold car brake system, but i have no experience with it.  we didn't go that route because i don't believe it was adjustable for our engine running system, and it takes up space when not in use.  space is a premium with us.  i think prices may have been similar to the smi brake we got.

good luck.
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Tom
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2011, 11:00:35 AM »

A few years back i had a Unified Tow Brake from U.S. Gear put on our jeep. Not cheap, but the very first time we took off with it, we had an oncoming car pass a semi-truck and trailer and i had to hit the brakes hard to keep from taking them out. I could feel the jeep helping slow us down and once our heart rate settled down i told my wife that the brake system had just paid for itself. I don't think we would have made it without it,....it was that close.
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2011, 11:52:47 AM »

 Bryan, right now we use the Blue Ox brake system. But if I had it to do over I'd just get the Ready Brake. It's cheaper and works as well...Cable
    http://www.readybrake.com/brake-systems.html
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Sofar Sogood
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Gary W
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2011, 12:22:23 PM »

hi Bryan

I have the M&G Braking System on my Jeep, it work great.  Just hook up the air line and you are ready to go.Here is there web site. I will see you at the Rally at Chase if you are going.  http://www.m-gengineering.com/

 Gary
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Timkar
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2011, 12:50:06 PM »

FYI...I remember the rash of ticketing a few years ago

Two years ago there was a big controversy over towing heavy dinghies into Canada, especially British Columbia. They started ticketing any dinghy that weighed more than 3000 lbs. if it did not have a supplemental braking system. After much hoopla and lots of pressure from the Tourist Board, that limit was changed as stated below: At this time, the other provinces in Canada are not ticketing heavy dinghies, even though their regulations show the 3000 lbs. limit. This is not different than many of the States in the US where published regulations specify limits as low as 1000 lbs. I have written extensively about the safety of towing vehicles behind motorhomes and firmly recommend a supplemental brake on all dinghies. If you cannot afford a few hundred dollars for the right equipment, that will make your travel and mine safer, maybe you should consider another lifestyle.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TOWING REGULATIONS

All Trailers and towing dollies must have brakes on all wheels when the GVW of the dinghy/trailer/load exceeds 1300 kg or 3000 lbs. All trailers with brakes much have a breakaway device hooked to the trailer brake system. Surge brakes may be used up to a towed gvw of 6,173 lb. From 6173 lb. and up, the towed vehicle brakes must be able to be applied by the driver of the tow vehicle. Only one trailer may be towed at a time, and a car dolly with a car is regarded as one trailer.

Motorhomes may tow motor vehicles via a tow bar without brakes hooked up on the towed vehicle when the towed vehicle’s laden weight is (a) less than 4409 lb. and (b) less than 40% of the GVWR of the motorhome towing it. Motor vehicles with a laden weight of over 4409 lbs. and which are towed by a motorhome must have brakes and a breakaway device hooked up. All vehicles towed with a ball, must have approved safety chains or cables.
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Cawston, British Columbia
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2011, 12:59:53 PM »

  While supplemental brakes are certainly a fine idea, as long as your combined weight (Bus + Toad) doesnt exceed the GVW of the Bus itself, you should be fine. The Bus was designed to stop in excess of its designed GVW. That said, extra braking is always nice to have on hand.

  I would jump on a brake system in a heartbeat if they didnt cost over $1000. But I have yet to see one. With the Bus, it would be nice to use the air brake system. Perhaps an air brake actuator could be used to apply the pedal inside the Toad?
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chuckd
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2011, 01:35:45 PM »

Art the ready brake system is $400.  I have seen braking distances with and without toad brakes, the distance are significantly shorter with toad brakes, even though it may be under the gross weight of the vehicle.

Chuckd
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Mike in GA
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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2011, 01:49:37 PM »

I feel strongly that any towed vehicle should have a supplemental braking system, both to aid in emergency stops and in case of break-away. I have used a Brake Buddy for 10 years and it is quite adequate, in fact it saved my bacon on two occasions when someone stopped short in front of us.
   Several members of the Southeast Bus Nuts have taken advantage of their bus's air brakes, and have used either M&G or Brakemaster applications, to great satisfaction. The M&G system uses bus air to power an enhanced master cylinder on the toad. The Roadmaster uses bus air to power a pneumatic ram that depresses the brake pedal. When budget allows, Roadmaster is next for me.
   Thought I read somewhere that the US is thinking of making such systems a requirement, at least on towed vehicles over a certain weight?
Mike in GA
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Past President, Southeast Bus Nuts. Busin' for more than 12 years in a 1985 MC 96a3 with DD 8v92 and a 5 speed Allison c/r.
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2011, 02:49:18 PM »

Art the ready brake system is $400.  I have seen braking distances with and without toad brakes, the distance are significantly shorter with toad brakes, even though it may be under the gross weight of the vehicle.
Chuckd

  No doubt requiring everyone build lighter conversions would shorten stopping distances too? Just sayin.
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fe2_o3
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2011, 04:05:51 PM »

    I firmly believe if we have a collision there will be a lawyer that will try to make us responsible if we haven't done everything possible to shorten our stopping distance. I mentioned this to a State Trouper, and he said the local laws require a braking device over a certain weight. But he also said he's not a baby sitter, so most often he won't go looking, he'll just ticket them after the collision. Then the lawyers can sort it out...Cable
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Sofar Sogood
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Brian Diehl
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2011, 06:08:10 PM »

my 2 cents:

Anyone who has used a toad brake and still claims they can't tell the difference doesn't have it adjusted properly.  I can tell the difference between having my toad brake system hooked up or not in how the bus behaves.  4500lbs is still 4500lbs no mater what and increased stopping distances are the result of additional weight.  These huge beasts already take a long distance to stop in an emergency.  The extra margin of safety by having the toad braking system is well worth the cost.  If you can afford to buy the bus and buy fuel you can afford the braking system.  It just needs to be a priority.  Me personally, I built my own.  It works great and I know it is back there doing its job every time I step on the brakes.
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Lin
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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2011, 07:23:18 PM »

Check for towing requirements online.  I think that most states have laws about toad brakes and breakaway systems.  We bought our Jeep thinking that the curb weight of 2900# put us below the 3000# threshold specified by many states for legally requiring aux brakes and breakaway.  However, it turned out that the 3000# number refers to GVWR.  There are very few toads rated below that.  If you are traveling around the country without an aux brake system and breakaway set up, you are illegal a good deal of the time.  If you are in an accident that causes injury, there is even the possibility of a criminal negligence charge.

We watched Craigslist for a good deal on a Brake Buddy and got one for under $150. delivered.  I am not personally worried about the ability of the bus brakes to do the job, so I set the BB at the minimum setting so it should only come on if I really have to slam it.
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