Brake Pro by Roadmaster (Now called "Even Brake")

    By Mike Stoller, Written 2004

 
 

 

One small note since original story written, after two years of using this with different towed vehicles. I found a 20 amp circuit is a must. If the system has less than that it will function erratic and even constantly cycle the plunger and brake pedal. Roadmaster has also updated the manual for early models to reflect this which can be downloaded in PDF from their website. http://www.roadmasterinc.com/ 07/01/2006

I purchased the Brake Pro Proportional braking system because of the increased concern over the legality of flat towing without some kind of braking system. In fact, at the CA4WDC convention in Reno there was talk that in Nevada it was now a $1,500 fine to tow anything over 1500lbs. without a braking system.

I have found when towing my Jeep with my motor home it really seem to handle the extra load ok. I do know the manufacturer voids the chassis warranty if towing more then 1200lbs with no braking system, not to mention my Valley hitch is only rated at 3500lbs. which is about what my Jeep weighs. Flat towing behind my 1500 Chevy was a white knuckle experience every time. Stiff suspension and no weight over the rear tires made braking in turns almost like having Dale Earnhart Jr. on your butt. In fact, almost jack knifing in the mountains on some ice was the final straw and was when I decided I needed something.

A trailer was not an option at this time because of storage issues. I also wanted something that would transfer from tow vehicle to tow vehicle as well as work in different towed vehicles (someday I might get a new Jeep)Many tow vehicle braking systems require installation into the brake hydraulic system of the towed vehicle, and a brake controller in the tow vehicle. These systems start at $2,000 and go up.

I decided to go with a portable self-contained unit. There are two I really researched.  The Brake Buddy, the first self-contained unit made, and the Brake Pro, recently released by Roadmaster that is a company that has been in the RV tow vehicle brake market for a long time. Although they are very similar, the Brake Pro comes standard with a couple of features that are options on the Brake Buddy. I picked the Brake Pro because these standard features and the sale price at Camping World. The Brake Pro cost $1,169.10 plus tax and shipping. The Brake Buddy is not available through Camping World but costs over $1,200 at Village RV plus the non-standard features would put it at close to $1,400.

There is no real installation as far as the unit is marketed but I found I had to do some installation to make my unit work it best.

The clamp that the unit comes with that latches to the brake pedal came off after it actuated the pedal two or three times. I credit this to the tight space the unit has between itsself and the brake pedal. This is mainly because of the drop down floorboard design which requires have the unit close to the pedal to be on a flat surface. When it would release the pedal and return to the rest position, the latch release would get tripped.  The next time the pedal was depressed it just came off. This was unacceptable. The actuator rod is threaded and very adaptable so I made a permanent bracket under my brake pedal pad to attach the rod with a pin. This really made a much better connection that I would never have to worry about coming off.

     

Brake lights:  My Jeep is wired to use the regular brake and turn lamps that came with the vehicle when I tow it. I had installed diodes so the circuit from my RV  work the lights instead of the Jeep . If you have the Jeep turn signal switch in the neutral position it puts both turn lamps into one circuit for the brake circuit. This cancels out the turn signals, so the diodes fix that. Now I have the Jeep's brake being activated by my new Brake Pro, thus sending power to the brake lamps and once again canceling out the turn signals on my RV and Jeep.   Ugh!! Camping World was gracious enough to know this would be an issue and sent me a Roadmaster relay kit to install. This was a relay with a four wire circuit which had to be tied into key power, Brake Pro power, ground and break the circuit near the brake lamp switch. This seemed like a lot of wiring to do something simple and more wiring and a relay means just more that can go wrong. I decided there was a much simpler way. Since your brake lamp circuit is always powered up even when the key is off, all I did was change the power feed to the brake lamp circuit to key power.  This resolved the problem because I would never flat tow with the key on in my Jeep and I did not figure on driving my Jeep ever with the key off.

 

The system took me a couple of hours to set up. The two standard features are a must have: the wireless remote device in your RV that tells you when your tow vehicle brakes are being activated and the brake away switch which activates your tow vehicle brakes if it becomes unhooked from your RV.

I dialed the system in with the sensitivity and brake pedal force adjustments in just a couple miles and with just a couple of stops. I panic stopped my pick-up with Jeep in tow.  The ABS activated on my truck and the Jeep never chirped a tire.  I did notice my 50 mph panic stop was at least 75 feet shorter than what it would have been without the system. I would recommend this system to anyone who did not have or want a trailer with built-in brakes.

Break-away device.

Brake activation transmitter.

One last note:  Don't be concerned about power brakes. This thing has plenty of power to activate the brakes even without vacuum to your brake booster. They strongly recommend you hook up the power last so you don't accidentally activate the unit on your hands. I've felt how strong this thing is, pinching a hand or finger could mean a trip to the hospital.