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Jeep Wrangler Towing Advice for Motorhome "Newbie"

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Last October (2015) my wife and I "graduated" from an 32 foot travel trailer to a "like new condition" 2007 Damon Astoria (model 3774), 39 foot overall length, motorhome that only had 4,800 miles of use!!  We enjoyed the travel trailer the last seven years but simply had outgrown it as kids got married and grandchildren arrived. We hope to greatly enjoy the motorhome for LSU football and other family weekend outings until we reach retirement age of 65 some eight years from now. 

Since the motorhome purchase we've sought input on the type of tow vehicle to purchase and towing systems from family, friends, our new FMCA community, Motorhomes magazine, etc.  The result of our "research" was to purchase a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Edition that had only 10,000 miles of use.   With a curb weight of ~4,100 pounds, the Wrangler is well within the 5,000 pound tow rating of the motorhome.    During our "research" we learned that Blue Ox and Roadmaster seem to be the most popular brands of towing equipment.  We were surprised that about 1/3 of motorhome owners we met did not have supplemental brake systems for their towed vehicles.

To have "one stop shop" service for tow system purchase and installation, the Camping World RV Center in west Houston near our home is the most convenient.  To keep the purchase, installation and most important on-going use process as simple as possible, Camping World recommend the following tow system for my motorhome:  1) Sterling All Terrain Aluminum tow bar (8,000 pound tow rating), EZ5 mounting bracket for the Wrangler, Invisible Brake supplemental brake system for the Wrangler and the "installation" kit.   The tow bar and mounting bracket look quite similar to the Blue Ox system so I have no concerns about the Roadmaster tow bar/mounting bracket.  

 My biggest "unknown" is the Invisible Brake supplement brake system.  Conceptually, I think of the Invisible Brake system functioning somewhat similar to the electronic brake control system I had in my Silverado for the travel trailer i.e. press on the motorhome brake, the Invisible Brake controller "senses" the electronic signal to the motorhome brake lights and then applies braking to the towed vehicle.

I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback and advice about the Roadmaster tow bar, mounting plate and especially the Invisibile Brake supplemental brake system.

Thanks for helping this "motorhome newbie" climb the learning curve and for being patient while reading this short thesis !

Mike in Katy, TX

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Mike,

Congratulations on your coach. Sound like a winner. Jeep Wrangler is a great vehicle to tow. As far as a supplemental brake system, I am one of those advocates for having one on your vehicle. Texas requires one on towing anything over 1,200 lbs. Should you be involved in an accident, even though it was not your fault you could be denied coverage because you should not be on the road in a non complying vehicle. I know it is a stickler but it can happen.

I used the Blue OX towing base plates and tow bar and am completely satisfied with it. Road master is also one of the better one also. As for supplemental braking systems, I am the biggest advocate going for the M & G Engineering unit. To me it is the best and simplest unit made. Once installed all you have to do is plug in the air line and clip on the brake away cable (just a clip). Oh yes you will also need to hook up the tow vehicle.

 Check them out on www.mgengineering.com. They are in Athens Texas on Hwy 19 between Athens and Canton.

I am sending you a PM on our chapter.  

 

Herman

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Herman --

Thanks for the prompt and informative response!  The discussion on this forum about the Brakemaster 9060 supplemental brake system is why I'm hesitant about any brake system that makes a new connection into a motorhome's air system hence why the Roadmaster Invisibrake system looks quite attractive.  During my "research" I got a wide variety of comments about the inertia type portable brake systems like Brake Buddy (and Roadmaster's and Blue Ox's equivalent products).  Being a petroleum refinery operations manager I've learned too many times that the more numerous the connections into a piping/tubing system (such as a motorhome air system) the higher the risk of leaks and resultant bad outcomes.

I'm hoping some other FMCA members will provide guidance / experiences for my proposed towing and supplemental brake system as I'm a true believer in learning from others!   Hopefully one day I can graduate from "newbie" to someone who can share my experiences, both good and bad, with other motorhome ethusiasts.

Mike in Katy

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Like Herman, I'm a real advocate for the M&G braking system; I especially appreciate its a truly proportional system. The more pressure applied to the motorhome brake the more braking is applied on my Jeep brakes.  M&G, in Athens, can install the baseplate on your Jeep at the time they install the brake. Also, you can arrive the night before and park next to their building where they have 50amp service available. I believe the Invisibrake gets its signal from the motorhome brake lights, what happens when you're descending a long grade using your exhaust brake? Since the exhaust brake eliminates the brake lights, does that mean it would activate the toad brakes?

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12 minutes ago, Elkhartjim said:

Like Herman, I'm a real advocate for the M&G braking system; I especially appreciate its a truly proportional system. The more pressure applied to the motorhome brake the more braking is applied on my Jeep brakes.  M&G, in Athens, can install the baseplate on your Jeep at the time they install the brake. Also, you can arrive the night before and park next to their building where they have 50amp service available. I believe the Invisibrake gets its signal from the motorhome brake lights, what happens when you're descending a long grade using your exhaust brake? Since the exhaust brake eliminates the brake lights, does that mean it would activate the toad brakes?

When I installed an ISB 275 complete with new harness I had the option if I wanted the brake lights to come on when the exhaust brake came on or not. This is the first time I've had an exhaust brake so I wasn't familiar how it worked.  I presume that is an option at some point in time so I would imagine there a motorhomes that the brake lights come with the exhaust brake.  In a sense when the exhaust brake is engaged that is some part of slowing down so therefore the brake lights should be on same as a light brake pedal.

How is the brake applied if the vehicle becomes disconnected with the M&G?

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DD,

The M & G Brake has a small air tank in the system. It is connected to the M & G brake cylinder, which is mounted between the Power brake booster and the master cylinder, it contains enough PSI to lock down the brakes incase of a complete disconnect. That is the disconnect cable I mentioned in my first answer. The cable is connected to a small solenoid that is connected to the battery. It draws no power unless activated by a complete disconnection.

If you go on to www.mgengineering.com website you can read and see how simple the system is.

Herman

 

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I also have the M&G system on my Jeep Wrangler. I completed the install myself and photos are on the link below. After using a Blue OX Patriot box, and seeing a few other set ups I wouldn't ever switch to any other system. We are so happy with it I told the DW, next toad if M&G doesn't make a kit for it we don't buy it! Plus it was several hundred dollars cheaper....no electronics....less to go wrong.

Very simple system with no computers, the quality of the parts was like something from NASA, connecting to the coach was simple, just screw on fittings no cutting, drilling etc. The breakaway system is a solenoid that gets energized when the plug is pulled from the front bumper, there is a small air tank under the hood of the jeep that fills up the first brake application after you connect the air hose from the coach. Two wires to the bumper mounted switch, one wire with a fuse to the battery on the jeep, one ground wire from the solenoid to ground.

 

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3 hours ago, hermanmullins said:

DD,

The M & G Brake has a small air tank in the system. It is connected to the M & G brake cylinder, which is mounted between the Power brake booster and the master cylinder, it contains enough PSI to lock down the brakes incase of a complete disconnect. That is the disconnect cable I mentioned in my first answer. The cable is connected to a small solenoid that is connected to the battery. It draws no power unless activated by a complete disconnection.

If you go on to www.mgengineering.com website you can read and see how simple the system is.

Herman

 

Thanks for the info Herman.

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On May 24, 2016 at 4:58 PM, hermanmullins said:

Mike,

Congratulations on your coach. Sound like a winner. Jeep Wrangler is a great vehicle to tow. As far as a supplemental brake system, I am one of those advocates for having one on your vehicle. Texas requires one on towing anything over 1,200 lbs. Should you be involved in an accident, even though it was not your fault you could be denied coverage because you should not be on the road in a non complying vehicle. I know it is a stickler but it can happen.

I used the Blue OX towing base plates and tow bar and am completely satisfied with it. Road master is also one of the better one also. As for supplemental braking systems, I am the biggest advocate going for the M & G Engineering unit. To me it is the best and simplest unit made. Once installed all you have to do is plug in the air line and clip on the brake away cable (just a clip). Oh yes you will also need to hook up the tow vehicle.

 Check them out on www.mgengineering.com. They are in Athens Texas on Hwy 19 between Athens and Canton.

I am sending you a PM on our chapter.  

 

Herman

The link is incorrect, should be , http://m-gengineering.com

 

Thanks for for the info.

Michael

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I also have the M&G brake system.  Had it installed at the Perry, GA. rally this past March.  I had invisa brake since it came out, this is so much better and cheaper!  Other exception is that I don't use a base plate, just hook my Road Master Sterling 6000 direct to my steel bumper, when I'm unhooked my D rings go into the same bracket!

 

Good Luck and happy 4th.

Carl

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fagnaml

I tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee.  I choose the Blue OX tow bar because the bace place was already on the Jeep when I purchased it.  I have over ten thousand miles on it and I am very pleased with the set up.  I really like the fact that the tow bar is permanently attached to the motorhome. It just swings to the side and leaves the Jeep with only two small "horns" sticking out the front.  They can be removed with two clips, but I never do. I have the safety cables, light wire, break cable, and break away wire strapped to the arms of the tow bar so they swing aside with the tow bar.  I tried the blue ox cover, but it is a little small for all that stuff.  In looking around, I found that the cover for a folding lawn chair is just the right size.  My hook up/disconnect procedure is 5 minutes or less.

Yes there are people that tow vehicles without brakes on the Jeep.  I reserve my actual option of their behavior, but I will NEVER do so it as I do not feel safe without the brakes.  I use the SMI engineering Air Force 1 https://smibrake.com/towed-vehicle-braking-systems/air-force-one.php braking system.  After setup there is only a single air hose and the breakaway wire to connect and disconnect each time.  The brake is applied by a small cylinder mounted on the brake petal.  I looked at the M & G unit, but it requires shifting the master cylinder forward by about 6 inches to install the actuator.  On my Jeep that would require massive modifications under the hood as I have the Hemi engine and the engine compartment is jam packed.

I had trouble finding anyone in my area to install the SMI unit so I did it myself with excellent support from the company.  My motorhome has antilock airbrakes and the piping looked nothing like the installation video.  I sent a photo to the company and the next morning I received an e-mail containing my picture with arrows showing where to connect the lines.  I am reasonably good with tools but it only took me about 4 hours to complete the installation of the entire system.  (Note; They said I was fast, but I took time to be careful.)  The hardest part was finding the right wire to activate the LED I can see in the rear view camera that tells me when the brakes are applied.

For me the connect disconnect time is critical.  I see people take 30 minutes to get going each time.  I could never to that.  My hookup is a follows: 

Wife drives jeep into position.  While she is getting the car I remove the tow bar cover and put it away.  When she arrives I will have the tow bar arms on the ground and in position, but collapsed.  When she arrives, I install the two hitch pins of the tow bar and signal her I am done.  She backs up and the tow bar locks in place securing the vehicle.  While I connect the safety cables, brake line, light wire, and breakaway wire, she puts the Jeep in neutral and turns off the ignition and locks the door. (Note:  The steering wheel lock is broken so I can lock the ignition and remove the key while towing.)  I enter the motorhome while she double-checks my connection and goes to the back of the Jeep.  I apply the brakes and check to see the activation light in the monitor.  This also charges the breakaway system. She gives me thumbs up on the brake lights on the Jeep.  I turn on the left signal then the right signal and finally the running lights.  She gets in and we are off.  

It took a while to work out the system, but it never took more than 10 minutes to get going.  After 10,000 miles or so it has gotten faster.  It is almost as fast as getting a car out of a locked garage at home. 

 

Enjoy your new motorhome.  There is a lot of world to see out here.

 

 

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