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Old 06-01-2005, 01:12 PM   #1
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1985 34.5' Airstream 345
Jarrettown , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 61
Thumbs up Toad Saturn braking questions

Well, we've added a '96 Saturn wagon to our fleet, to serve as toad on the cross-country. Now on to the nitty-gritty of how to attach it . . . any recommendations of one type of brake buddy (BB, VIP, SOB?) over another? Tow bar easily available from a connection with Pep Boys - advisable?

We took a shakedown cruise this past weekend from Pennsylvania to Virginia to pick up the Saturn. The 345 ran well but decided it wanted a new starter while we were on the side of the road in Front Royal. Husband and son took the Saturn parts-shopping and spent several hours underneath the AS until it was successfully installed. (You should have seen the looks on their faces when she started right up!) We do notice a lot of bounce in the rear end of the AS over relatively minor road bumps. A body lying in the rear bed elevates muchly. Will this be helped by the Saturn behind, or will we just yank the Saturn's nose around too much? Might this be a shock absorber or air bag issue, or is it just the large overhang?

We have just over three weeks before vacation starts and we hope to be out of the gate, headed for California. One part can't wait, one part what are we thinking . . .

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Old 06-01-2005, 02:27 PM   #2
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
Join Date: Jan 2003
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345 Experience

I have a VIP on the Saturn - my main reasoning for this particular brake controller is that you can "feather" the Saturn brakes with the manual override. The VIP also gives indications when the brakes are on, when they are off, and when they have been "on" longer than the controller thinks they should be. I would go with the VIP again.

Trust me, you will know when the brakes on the Saturn are NOT working - there is a huge difference in braking ability with the VIP operational and not operational.

I have not found the lack of "power" (vaccuum boost) to the Saturn to be an issue at all. The electric ram to the brake pedal is quick and powerful. Be sure that you have an adequate sized wire for charging the Saturn battery from the 345's charge system.

On the "bed bounce" - I'm afraid you will have to live with it. I installed Centramatics on all 6 wheel locations early last year in an effort to make the bed "Sleepable" while underway - there was no difference before or after. Having said that, the 345 rides really well "between the wheels", and I have opted to keep the Centramatics installed.

On the road, the Saturn should make no difference to the ride at all. Only the weight of the tow bar is on the rear end. You WILL notice a difference in acceleration and braking with the Saturn on the rear.

As far as the tow bar goes, I have the type that folds up and stows on the front end of the Saturn...for me, it works really well - I think I would prefer storage on the front end of the toad, but have not actually used a "MoHo" mounted (stored) type of hitch.

Please, before you take off on a major trip, try out any new systems you may have added with a "shake-down" cruise, and ask yourself as you pull out at the start of any drive "Am I really prepared to drive right now and do I feel safe for this leg of the trip".


"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 06-01-2005, 04:41 PM   #3
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1966 26' Overlander
Woodstock , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 8,510
I also have a Saturn toad, an SL2, oh yes and we own an SC2 as well. Quirky but solid little cars. I use the Roadmaster Stowmaster tow set up. Mine came from Camping World when they had a big sale, and was a great deal.
The tow attachments on the car are prety well invisible when not in use, and easily attached when needed. The tow bar can fold up as Dennis said- and sits on the front of the car while we are driving it when at our destination. In normal use of course I disconnect the whole thing and it easily stows.
I personally don't use a braking addition, and have had no issues with that, but I would suggest you do what feels right to you. These cars are light, but you should go on the side of safety.
On the bouncy ride syndrome, I can't really say what the 345 is like in that department, but properly inflated airbags on my 280 really cut down on the bounciness. Unfortunately mine are on the low inflation side right now, and won't inflate much...I am investigating a blocked line or leak...
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Old 06-01-2005, 07:08 PM   #4
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1969 31' Sovereign
Broken Arrow , Oklahoma
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You need more than just the tow bar, you have to have the "base plates" on the toad and that is what ALANSD was refering to as removable as well as the tow bar.
Base plate, Roadmaster tow bar and Brake controller will set you back up to $2,000 depending on the systems,devices you select but I highly recommend the Stowmaster tow set up (base plates& bar).
I use a Brake Pro and have had good results but I have heard a lot of bad press on the earlier version of the Brake Pro.
You must have a break away switch in almost every state and a brake controller is required towing over 3000lbs and as low as 2000lbs in some states.

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Old 06-02-2005, 07:12 AM   #5
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Originally Posted by pbnjsellers
We do notice a lot of bounce in the rear end of the AS over relatively minor road bumps. A body lying in the rear bed elevates muchly. Will this be helped by the Saturn behind, or will we just yank the Saturn's nose around too much? Might this be a shock absorber or air bag issue, or is it just the large overhang?
It is just a long overhang problem, the longer the overhang, the more noticeable the bounce is. Take a 1x4 and smack it on something up in the air, toward the end, you will not see much bounce, but if you smack it towards the end you are holding, the other end will bounce and wobble horribly.
It shouldn't bother your Saturn, as the towbar will move up-and-down so you are not trying to use the car as a pogo stick.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 06-02-2005, 07:49 AM   #6
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1994 30' Excella
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Milwaukee , Wisconsin
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I am afraid the overhang may be the cause of the bounce. I have no bounce with properly inflated air bags in my 280. But it only sleeps two and one half people.

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