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Old 02 January 2007, 09:42   #1
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Is there a good trailer light system?

I need to rewire my about 4 year old trailer. I have been replaceing lights as they fail but the failure rate is high and I would like to get to a point where the lights work twice in a row without needing some attention.

The trailer came with the "bell jar" lights that are open in the bottom. These are cheap and actually lasted quite a while but started needing attention the second season. As components failed I replaced them with sealed LED lights but these have not worked well. Usually the housing floods.

Is there a brand of permanent, sealed lights that is better made? It would be great to find a set that comes with a truly waterproof wiring harness as well. I live on the west coast of the US so a US or Canadian supplier would be preffered.

I am tempted to go back to the bell jar style lights, wiring them in a protected but easy to reach route and just change out the whole system every couple of years. These LED lights are expensive and have not lasted any longer than the original lights.
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Old 02 January 2007, 10:09   #2
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You should look at www.truck-lite.com they do make nice LED lights and they should last a lot longer than ordinary lights, the only thing you need to be aware of is to seal the connectors.

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Old 02 January 2007, 12:39   #3
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4str;

I had pretty much the same experience as you on my old trailer. The Wesco square sealed lights were crap, so replaced them with small LED modules. Those lasted about 2 or 3 months. Replaced, those flooded and failed. Replaced again, one flooded and continued working, the other did not flood and failed. Replaced again, and sold the trailer (*That'll* teach it.)

Interestingly, a post-mortem on the flooded lights revealed that there is nothing in those units that should be affected by water ingress. There is a plastic case, some wiring, a rubber gasket thingie that seals the wire exit hole, and a hockey puck of potting material with the LED lenses protruding. I assume the failures are due to electronics failing in a normal manner (read: unprovoked), rather than water damage.

When I got my new boat, it came with bell jar incandescants. First thing I did was to remove the bulbs, and give everything inside a squirt of waxy type corrosion preventative. The bulb bases got a coating of dielectric grease. Everything worked fine, and aside from a one brake filament burning out, one running light wire corroding (stripped and reconnected; it was a screw terminal to the bulb base lead) and one bulb shattering (my fault for not unplugging when launching), they have been pretty trouble-free.

When I first got the new trailer, I went out and bought a complete set of LED lights (different manufacturer and model than before, as the new trailer is over 80", while the old one was under); opened all the packacging, and sealed around all seams and openings with silicone caulk. I then kept these on-hand for when the incandescant set failed.

Problem is, the old set has never failed beyond a simple repair. Given that the wiring is done up as the consumer kits are supplied (the little clamshell clip connectors, rather than soldering and sealed shrink tubing, or sealed butt connectors), and teh unsealed incandescant fixtures, I thought that failure would be a rather quick thing. So far, they've been going for a year and a half with nothing major (which, I'm pretty sure, is longer than any set of sealed LED lights I've had.)

So, I no longer am such a firm believer in LED trailer lights. I like the lower current requirements, but they all seem to be pretty poorly built. Not very robust. I'll probably still throw the new LED set on when it comes time, but I think I may look for another set of these incandescant fixtures for the next time (just have to figure out who makes them... Might be Sierras, but I'm not sure.)

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Old 02 January 2007, 18:45   #4
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Best Trailer Light System?

Move to the Virgin Islands. No lights or tags required.

You see fishermen long after dark bouncing down the road with the mate riding the boat for the purpose of hitting you with a flashlight beam if you overtake too rapidly.
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Old 02 January 2007, 19:20   #5
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Move to the Virgin Islands. No lights or tags required.
Or, hoist launch (nearly) every time as I do. I strongly prefer to keep the lights, axle, hubs, bearings. etc out of the seawater whenever possible. Of course, I'm most often using my RIB to support sailboat races, so I'm almost always launching where there's a 1+ Ton crane available.
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Old 03 January 2007, 09:34   #6
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I have seen trailers where the lights were mounted on pvc pipes which were raised above the trailer bed on both sides, these don't ever get wet so no problems. You do have to deal with the odd looking extensions and the risk off them being broken off accidently.
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Old 03 January 2007, 11:55   #7
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I've seen that too - light boards that you attach to the top of the tubes when on the trailer.

Problem is, I was looking something up the other day, and there is apparently a max-height (in the US) that the primary brake and running lights can be positioned at (and, no, I don't recall what the spec was; just that I was surprised that it was as low as it was.) By the letter of the law, a light board on top of the tubes would be too high. I realize that it would most likely not cause any problems, but still...

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Old 05 January 2007, 12:22   #8
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Light board

I thought about a light board, but if I understand the rules, over 80" wide trailers need aditional clearance lights on the sides and back of the trailer. That would be hard to do with a light board. And there is the issue of the height of the lights too.

As a kid the family had a little 13' boston whaler and we used a set of lights mounted on a 2 X 4 that we lashed to the stern. They never got wet so we never had a problem with lights on that trailer. I could also launch that boat without getting the axel in the water. Life was simpler then.

Thanks for the tips!

Steve
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Old 06 January 2007, 13:49   #9
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what about the British Military Lights,,(you see them on the back of Landrovers etc) they are definately waterproof as they were regulary immersed and expected to work, they used to be a threaded glass outer, now they are slightly different, but look better,, im sure you can pick them up for a few quid for the whole unit!!
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Old 06 January 2007, 21:10   #10
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Well, the problem here is that all road-going vehicle lighting has to be approved by the US Dept of Transportation. If it didn't, I'd have built my own.

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