As many of RV Net’s readers may know, one of my greatest concerns with regard to RVing is safety. In fact, our company slogan is “Safer and Happier Driving,” because our products and services are designed around that very premise. Often, I talk about products we offer that can help, but just as frequently I discuss products that I’ve discovered that help address a specific problem. In this post, I’m going to talk about both in a subject that should pique the interest of every RVer: Better braking.
When you need extra help to slow a diesel truck or motorhome, an exhaust brake is a great help, and we have installed many PacBrake PRXB exhaust brakes over the years. Not only does it help slow the vehicle, but reduces wear and tear on the brakes, and actually will pay for itself over time. But what are your supplemental braking choices if you’ve got a gas coach or truck? Granted, a gasoline engine has some engine braking by virtue of the fact that it creates vacuum in the cylinders when the throttle blade is closed—but when you’re hauling a heavy load and going down hill, that’s not much of a comfort. As a result, some RVers will ride the brakes all the way down the hill, making the brake rotors red hot, and sometimes damaging them in the process.
With this in mind, we were interested in learning about a product called the D-Brake (dbrake.com). The D-Brake is a driveline brake system that consists of a liquid cooled disc brake mounted in the driveline at the rear of the transmission. It uses an internal pump and the engine’s coolant to cool the brake disc, and therefore can be used for extended periods without ever heating up or fading. The system mounts off to one side of the driveline, so typically there are no driveshaft modifications required. Another neat feature is the electronic interface that allows the driver to set the desired braking pressure, and a Braking Cruise Control helps maintain speed for downhill grades. I’ve inserted a picture of the product installed on a Ford E-350. Check out their website for more details.
I’ve talked about the problem of cracked rotors on Workhorse W20-W22 chassis, and created quite a bit of controversy in the process. I’m not about to speculate the cause of the problem or why it occurs, but if your rotors are cracked an you have them replaced under warranty, you’ll get the same rotors, and may have the same problems again. We’ve introduced a new rotor that is a bolt-in replacement for stock, but it is made from a a high-carbon alloy with copper and molybdenum for high-temperature strength and durability. It also uses 48 cooling vents instead of the factory’s 40. If the factory pads are in good shape, they can be re-used, or we offer an optional carbon metallic pad for even greater braking performance if desired.
Lastly, I want to talk about dinghy braking. A lot of folks still don’t supplemental brakes in their towed vehicle, which is not only dangerous, but illegal in some areas. You may think that your coach’s brakes are adequate enough to stop the coach and the dinghy, and they may be, but rest assured your braking distance will increase significantly. There are a lot of different choices available, so there’s no excuse not to get one. My advice would be to use a good quality proportional-style brake that applies the same amount of braking force to the dinghy as is being applied to the coach. This way, you get nice, even braking with no jerking motion. SMI makes some good dinghy braking products that we sell and install at Henderson’s Line-Up.
Braking, whether it’s your service brakes or supplemental braking, is key to a safe and happy journey.