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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brake activation transmitter.
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.