There are many good toad brake systems on the market for vehicles that are being flat towed. All rely on a signal to trigger the unit to apply the brakes. Generally, the most common is the inertia switch, which applies the brakes based on deceleration. These work well on vehicles towed by gas-powered rigs and are adjustable for sensitivity. Another popular choice is the electrically tripped actuator. This uses the motorhome’s brake light signal to engage the brakes. So, whenever the operator of the RV applies the service brakes, causing the unit’s brake lights to activate, the towed vehicle’s brakes apply. These types work well on some diesel powered motorhomes, but primarily better on gas powered rigs.
Diesel Toad Brake System Dilemmas
Now, both of the aforementioned systems will operate on a diesel pusher, but there are shortfalls. Most diesel pushers are equipped with air-operated brakes and some form of auxiliary braking system, such as an exhaust brake, Jake Brake or transmission retarder. When these engine brakes are applied, they cause a heavy deceleration. This, in turn, causes some slowing inertia, which can trigger unnecessary braking applications on the towed vehicle. To save excessive brake lining wear and tear, the inertia brake system may require being set at a very high point. The result of this often leads to a zero braking effort in normal stopping events and only activates in near-emergency brake action.
Looking at the electrically activated system, it is clear that rapid deceleration will have no effect on causing any braking. However, many diesel pushers are configured to activate the unit’s brake lights whenever the auxiliary brakes are enabled. This would cause the brakes of the towed vehicle to be applied anytime the Jake was used. Severe damage may occur if this were to happen on a long descending grade. The only answer here is to have the motorhome’s auxiliary brake light application disconnected.
Top Toad Brake System
So which toad braking system takes the lead for diesel pushers? It really has to be the Air Force One air activated setup. It applies the brakes proportionally with the same metered flow and pressure being applied to the coach’s service brakes, regardless of inertia or RV brake light status. The Air Force One features a patented fail-safe system that ensures that even an air line failure would not compromise the RV’s braking system. Additionally, an onboard under the hood module stores an independent air supply that will apply the brakes in the event of a vehicle breakaway.
The Air Force One requires no setup and is basically invisible. Merely plug in a mini air line to the quick-disconnects and you are ready to go. This product may not be the lowest cost toad braking solution. But, without question, it is the best!
Peter Mercer—With A View of a Great Product