Roadtrip Day 1

Ok — we’ve been ditzing around long enough.  Time to get on down the road.  We’ve got another 750 miles to Milwaukee,  a weeks’ worth of appointments in Milwaukee, and then about 300 from there to Highland Ridge for our summer gig.

apr19It’s been fun being at North Abutment Campground. With the families and little kids, all the golf carts (don’t know what it is about this place but for a CORPS campground there are ALWAYS a to of golf carts here!), all the friendly people, and all the migrating birds it’s a little bit of joy every time we return.  We exercised and ate well and had a good time, but we really need to get on the stick and get North.

A reasonably early start from the campground with time out in Hernando to put on some diesel got us through Memphis during off-traffic hours. We often fuel in West Memphis AR with frequently lower prices but right now there’s so much construction that getting to our normal stop is brutal.  So we settled for a Murphy Oil next to a Walmart there in Hernando.  Murphy Oil does often carry diesel and I’m not about to pass up $1.72 /gal. for fuel when I know it’s going to be over $2.00 in Wisconsin.

I’m not a fan of Memphis, nor of I-55 between Memphis and the Missouri state line.  There’s a section there, just before you hit Missouri there the road is absolutely horrble. You beat yourself to pieces; slowing down helps a little, but not much.  I always feel better after I’m past that.

Our excitement for the day happened when I went to hook up our Brake Buddy.  Now, let me remind you that we have used this Brake Buddy for 4+ years with only 1 hiccup.  Last year this time the primary pump went out, we shipped it back to the manufacturer and 2 weeks later we had it back rebuilt.  So, not much room for complaints.  😊

12VDC plugWhat  happened was I put the Brake Buddy in place, wrapped the little thingamabob around the brake pedal, adjusted the seat, and plugged it in….

and nothing happened.

What I found after a couple minutes of plugging and unplugging (that I hadn’t noticed)  is that the knurled cap on the end of the cigarette lighter adapter had unscrewed and gotten lost sometimes after last I took it out of the car (putting it in the back of the CR-V — and carrying it across 20 feet of gravel).   Hmmm.

The solution should be easy enough. Put a plunger mechanism back on.  Well, it turns out the part is bakelite or plastic and the threads were gone. I could not just cannibalize another adapter because everything I could find in the auto parts store and one RV dealership were male plugs rated at 8 amps or less.  After talking with the folks at Brake Buddy I learned that the outlet needs to be rated at 15 amps because the Brake Buddy Classic pulls 15 amps when the compressor motor starts.  So, just buying another adapter, and splicing that onto the old cord wasn’t in the book. I ended up asking Brake Buddy to mail me a new cord.  I’ll take precautionary measures and drive for two days without auxiliary braking.  It’s not my preference but just the fact that my normal cruise speed of 55-58 mph means that Interstate traffic is normally pulling away from me rather than me catching up to them needing to hit my brakes.   It’s not a good solution.  And it’s a very limited time solution.  I have two days drive ahead of us. Then we’ll be in place for 9 nights — long enough for the parts to arrive from Kansas.

Auxiliary Braking

All of which brings up a good topic:  Auxiliary Braking requirements.auxiliary braking requirements

This map summarizes the maximum size car/trailer you can tow behind your RV without having an auxiliary braking system in place.  As you can see, most of the country sets the limit at 3,000 lbs.  Our CR-V weighs between 3200 and 3400 lbs.

If your car/trailer weights that much or more you need some kind of braking system to insure that your car/trailer will not cause your towed vehicle to go out of control in an emergency situation.   Please not that there ARE states that set the limit lower — as low as 1000 lbs, and Canada too has it’s regulatory diversity.

I’m not going into which system is best.  There are as many opinions as there are RV’ers.  I will say one thing however.  There are a lot of RV’ers who make their puchase decision based solely upon COST and that is, frankly, a really stupid thing to do.  I’m sorry if I offend anyone by saying that but the issue here is SAFETY, not cost.  And the safety we are really talking about is not just YOUR safety but also the safety of other motorists on the road. It’s not often that a car comes disconnected from it’s tow vehicle — but the potential liability of your car coming disconnected and hitting another vehicle, or your braking system failing and your RV  going out of control because of the added weight is literally life-changing.  You could kill or injure yourself, or others and the potential for lawuits in our litiginous world is just mind-boggling.  Please — make sure you have a good braking system.

By the way…  I am now carrying a spare cigarette lighter adapter. 😀😀

auxiliary braking requirements

For your information, here are details provided by the Brake Buddy people:

States with special requirements


Kentucky law does not specifically require brakes on any passenger car trailers, regardless of weight. However, vehicles singular or in combination must be able to stop within distance specified by statute.


Combination of vehicles must be able to stop within legal limits.

Wyoming, Utah & Kansas

Requires any vehicle combination to stop in 40 feet at 20 mph.


Every motor vehicle when operated on a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate to control the movement, and to stop and hold such vehicle and any trailer attached thereto, including 2 separate means of applying the brakes.

New Hampshire

Requires any vehicle combination to stop in 30 feet at 20 mph.


Every trailer having an unladed weight of more than 10,000 lbs shall be equipped with air or electric brakes.


Independent braking system not required except on trailers coupled by a 5th wheel and kingpin.

New Jersey

Every trailer and semitrailer must have brakes that can be automatically applied upon break-away from the towed vehicle, and means shall be provided to stop and hold the vehicle for adequate period of time.

North Carolina

Every semitrailer, trailer, or separate vehicle attached by a drawbar or coupling to a towing vehicle of at least 4,000 lbs, and every house trailer weighing at least 1,000 lbs, shall be equipped with brake controlled or operated by the driver of the towing vehicle.

North Dakota

Every trailer operated at a speed in excess of 25 mph must have safety chains or brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and to hold such vehicle and designed so that they can be applied by the driver of the towing vehicle from its cab, and must be designed and connected so that in case of an accidental breakaway the brakes are automatically applied.


United States Towing Laws

0 lbs

* Kansas

* North Dakota


1,000 lbs

New York

North Carolina

1,500 lbs

* California

* Idaho

* Nevada

* Tennessee

New Hampshire

2,000 lbs

* Mississippi

* Ohio

3,000 lbs

* Alabama

* Arizona

* Arkansas

* Colorado

* Connecticut

* Dist. of Columbia

* Florida


* Hawaii

* Illinois

* Indiana

* Iowa

* Louisiana


* Maryland

* Michigan

* Minnesota

* Montana

* Nebraska

* New Jersey

New Mexico

* Oklahoma

* Pennsylvania

* South Carolina

* South Dakota

* Vermont

* Virginia

* Washington

* West Virginia


4,000 lbs


* Rhode Island

North Carolina

4,500 lbs

* Texas

5,000 lbs

* Alaska

10,000 lbs


<tr> <td valign=”top”>Others</td> <td colspan=”6″>Kentucky<br />Does not specifically require brakes on any passenger car regardless of weight. However, vehicles, single or in combination, must be able to stop within distance specified by statue<br/>Massachusetts<br />Independent braking system not required, unless towing vehicle cannot stop combination within legal limits.<br />Oregon &amp; Missouri <br />Combination of vehicles must be able to stop within legal limits.<br />Wyoming<br/>Requires any vehicle combination to stop in 40 feet from 20 mph. </td> </tr>

Canadian Towing Laws

910 kg (2,007 lbs)

* Alberta

2,000 kg (4,409 lbs)

* British Columbia

Independent trailer braking system required where licensed weight of a trailer (excluding tow dollies) exceeds 1,400 kg or over 50% of licensed weight of towing vehicle; not required with motorhome towing with towbar a motor vehicle weighing less than 2,000 kg that is also less than 40% of motorhome GVWR.

910 kg (2,007 lbs)


1,500 kg (3,308 lbs)

* New Brunswick

* Newfoundland

Required if vehicles cannot be brought to a stop within a distance of 10 meters at 30 km/h from the point at which brakes are applied.

0 kg (0 lbs)

* Northwest Territories

1,800 kg (4,000 lbs)

* Nova Scotia

1,360 kg (3,000 lbs)


1,500 kg (3,308 lbs)

Prince Edward Island

1,300 kg (2,867 lbs)

* Quebec

1,360 kg (3,000 lbs)


910 kg (2,007 lbs)

* Yukon

* Breakaway required above stated vehicle weight.

This information was collected from the Digest of Motor Laws 2006 and from a variety of third-party sources. While reasonable efforts were made to verify the information, Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation, its employees and agents do not warrant the accuracy of the information and disclaim all liability for any claims and damages of any nature that may arise from errors omissions. If you have any questions regarding state or local laws, please consult with the appropriate agency. (Updated Apr. 2007)


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