Supplementary Brake System Fix

Supplementary Brake System Fix

When we bought our motorhome, we also bought the rigging to tow our Jeep four down.   The Jeep, or more generically, toad (as in towed vehicle) needed a supplemental braking system so that when the motorhome was braking, the Jeep would brake too.

Our tow rigging provider, South Texas RV Service Center,  recommended we use a Patriot braking system.  The Patriot has been reliable for us for over 5 years now but we hadn’t been able to shorten the time it takes to get the brake system correctly configured when we are preparing to tow the Jeep.

No matter what we tried, it still look us a minimum of 30 minutes (and sometimes significantly longer) to configure the brake.

How It Works

The Patriot, like other similar supplemental braking systems (Brake Buddy) is a box containing a mechanical foot that braces itself on the front seat and then pushes on the brake pedal when braking is needed.  The primary advantage of this design is that the device can easily be moved between toad (towed) vehicles.


Patriot Supplemental Braking System
Patriot Supplemental Braking System

Steps to configuring Patriot for travel:

  1. adjust driver’s seat as far back as possible
  2. place in vehicle between drivers seat and brake pedal
  3. adjust legs up or down as necessary
  4. attach mechanical foot (claw) to brake pedal
  5. adjust driver’s seat forward to press against the supplementary brake
  6. connect brake-away switch
  7. connect to power
  8. turn power on
  9. wait for power on self test (POST) to complete (“then press setup” message displayed)
  10. press setup button

Once the setup button is pressed, the system extends and retracts the arm up to three times in a row.  If all works correctly,  you get the “Ready” message and the green On/Off light is lit.   You are good to go.

If things don’t work correctly, you get the “Reposition Brake” message and the red error light is lit.  The brake will not operate in this condition.

The Old Way of Doing Things

Setup Failure Animated GIF
Setup Failure Animated GIF

In the above animated GIF, the supplemental brake is positioned between the driver’s seat and the brake pedal.   Excessive brake movement causes the setup phase to fail as the brake becomes misaligned every time the brake is activated.

Several problems, some of which are highlighted in this sequence:

  • the brake’s feet get caught on the rubber mat causing the unit to skip and bounce as the arm extends and retracts
  • the driver’s seat doesn’t provide consistent support side to side to force exerted by the brake causing the brake to move toward the driver’s door
  • the entire brake moves as the arm extends and retracts increasing the chances that the brake will become misaligned

We believed the solution would require minimizing supplemental brake movement as the brake arm extended and retracted.

New Way of Doing Things

First step was to get the floor mat out of the way.

Floor Mat Removal
Floor Mat Removal

There is a plastic hook used to anchor floor mats so they don’t float around and interfere with the pedals.  We needed to create a smooth surface for the Patriot brake’s feet.  The floor mat anchor hook interfered with these feet.

Smooth Surface for Supplemental Brake Feet
Smooth Surface for Supplemental Brake Feet

We cut 3/8 inch plywood to fit onto the floor.  One notch for a bump in the floor and another notch for the floor mat anchor.   A board between the Patriot’s adjustable  push pad and the driver’s seat ensures that the backstop for the Patriot is firm and consistent.

20180209-2018-02-09 11.03.37
Raised Patriot Feet

Another thing we did was raise up the feet.   That gave us another touch point where the Patriot can touch the bottom of the dash.  When the Patriot is too close to the pedal, the Jeep’s brakes are active and drag while you drive.  You can tell if the brakes are active by looking at the taillight.   If it is lit after the Patriot’s arm retracts, then you have a problem.

Raising the feet, keep the Patriot from being too close to the Jeep’s brake pedal which keeps the brakes from dragging.

After Setup - Brake Light Off
After Setup – Brake Light Off

Putting all of this together and rerunning the setup on the Patriot works so much better than before.  In the eight times that we’ve been through the setup process since we figured all of this out, only once did I need to run the setup twice.

Huge Improvement!

The following animated GIF shows the new setup process.

New Improved Patriot Brake Setup Process
New Improved Patriot Brake Setup Process


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