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Old 03-12-2010, 08:13 AM   #1
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MaxBrake/BrakeSmart and other Brake Controller Questions

I am trying to decide which brake controller to buy for my Caravel. From reading the forums I have come to the conclusion that the Tekonsha Prodigy (and likely its siblings, the Primus IQ and the P3) are the most popular choices. However my Ford Crown Victoria does not have the tow package and thus the controller would have to be hard wired. I understand this is about a two hour job. The dealer I spoke with indicated that the job on a Crown Vic is a difficult one because the brake switch is hard to reach. The Tekonsha installation instructions assume the vehicle's wiring harness has the plug for a brake controller and as such no actual wiring instructions are provided.

I also read about the MaxBrake and the Brakesmart units. Installation is essentially installing a 'T' fitting at the master cylinder and some relatively simple wiring that I could do myself. If I factor in the 2 hours labour charges and the cost of the Prodigy against the cost of the MaxBrake unit and install it myself they come out about the same dollar-wise.

My questions are:

1. Does anyone have any comments on the MaxBrake or BrakeSmart units?

2. I tried to access the BrakeSmart web site and their toll-free numbers and....................nada. Are they only a memory now?

3. What happened to the Jordan controller? Are they gone too?

TIA,

MisterMike
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:39 AM   #2
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When I installed my Prodigy several years ago I bought the cable to plug into my trucks connector as you stated. It also came with a generic cable and instructions to install it if your TV did not have a connecting plug.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:05 AM   #3
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MaxBrake is the heir apparent. Jordan was bought out and the product discontinued, not sure what happened to BrakeSmart but they appear to be gone too.

I have the MaxBrake controller and recommend it. It will perform better than any inertial controller, no matter how sophisticated.

Wiring is the same for all brake controllers. They all have to have battery, ground, the blue wire to the trailer connector, and a wire to the brake switch. The MaxBrake, as you noted, additionally needs the sensor installed at the master cylinder.
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Old 03-19-2010, 01:23 AM   #4
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Brakesmart

I have a Brakesmart unit installed on an E350 Ford Van pulling a 2006 31 Classic. It works great for me. What I like is it turns on the trailer brakes in proportion to the pressure in the master cylinder and does not depend on your tow vehicle braking efficiency. Pendulum or accelerometer activated brake controllers only turn on the trailer brakes if the tow vehicle is slowing down. If you have brake fade -eg. mountain roads - you have degraded trailer brake assist. Not with Brakesmart.

Try looking for Brakesmart in the Dr Performance website.
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:27 AM   #5
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Is Brakesmart the only pressure-activated brake controller in the after market? The controller in my 2008 GMC diesel is pressure activated and I love it. I need to replace the controller in my 1997 Ford diesel and want one that uses master cylinder pressure.

Or with a couple of op-amps I guess I could make my own...

Zep
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
Is Brakesmart the only pressure-activated brake controller in the after market? The controller in my 2008 GMC diesel is pressure activated and I love it. I need to replace the controller in my 1997 Ford diesel and want one that uses master cylinder pressure.

Or with a couple of op-amps I guess I could make my own...

Zep
Check this one.

MaxBrake™ - Hydraulic over Electric Variable Brake Controller

The BrakeSmart has more features, but I can not foresee using the extra features with a travel trailer.

Regards,
Ken
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:41 PM   #7
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Brakesmart

I received a note today from Dr. Performance the company that was manufacturing Brakesmart controllers. They are no longer being produced. However the company is still in business and can supply technical and some parts support.
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Old 03-20-2010, 03:36 PM   #8
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MaxBrake Ordered

I just ordered the MaxBrake. The source was:

http://www.southwestwheel.com/store/...ontroller.aspx

However I found it is also available from them through Amazon. In my case buying through Amazon.com gives me a 3% rather than 1% rebate on my CC. Every little bit counts. It includes 2nd Day Fedex. It was the same price ($349.95) from every source I found.

Regards,
Ken
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post

Or with a couple of op-amps I guess I could make my own...
No doubt you could.

The MaxBrake saves you the scrounging for parts and the fussing around getting the gain, the damping, the current limiting, etc. right. You also have to calibrate for residual pressure and/or gate the whole thing with the lead from the brake switch. Also, I believe the MaxBrake is PWM to limit the amount of heatsinking required for the thyristor. Then there's the need for a manual override, ideally a sliding pot with a spring return.

The MaxBrake lashup is all run by a microcontroller (I'm guessing Microchip PIC but I haven't torn it apart to see) and there's a backlit lcd display that tells you useful stuff like whether the last test pulse to the trailer brakes went through (it does them every minute or so though this can be disabled for hydraulic actuators that won't tolerate them), and the gain setting, and current pressure and output levels.

They used consumer grade cat 5 with an RJ-45 connector for the sensor. I would expect, Zep, that you would select more appropriate materials in this area for your project.
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:26 PM   #10
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I've got one coming too.
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:48 PM   #11
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However my Ford Crown Victoria does not have the tow package and thus the controller would have to be hard wired. I understand this is about a two hour job. The dealer I spoke with indicated that the job on a Crown Vic is a difficult one because the brake switch is hard to reach. The Tekonsha installation instructions assume the vehicle's wiring harness has the plug for a brake controller and as such no actual wiring instructions are provided.

BRAKE WIRING DIAGRAM
http://www.championtrailers.com/Elec...l%20wiring.pdf

WIRING PLUG
etrailer.com | Trailer Wiring Diagrams

Trailer lighting (Modulite)
http://www.dieseltruckresource.com/d....html?t=242893

Trailer Anti-Theft and Wiring Correction

Trailer wiring basics for towing

Generic Brake Wiring Diagram
http://www.championtrailers.com/Elec...l%20wiring.pdf
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Old 04-21-2010, 02:00 PM   #12
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I brought my new 'stream home yesterday and was using the Maxbrake. It's a fantastic product. The braking performance was much better than the inertial controllers I've used in the past, extremely smooth and predictable, even with a trailer that outweighs the tow vehicle.
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Old 07-10-2010, 10:35 AM   #13
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A Few Brakesmart Controllers Remaining!

In my search for a new master cylinder Tee for my Brakesmart controller, I stumbled upon these folks Transwest Truck Trailer RV

They have all of the remaining stock of Brakesmart controllers, so I am told. There is a phone number at the bottom of the page. I called the Colorado store.

They might be produced again in the future, but if you want one, this could be your last chance.
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