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Old 16 April 2013, 12:49   #1
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Last week, I noticed that the left brake light and turn signal was out. Though, when the headlights were on, the left tail light was on as it should be.

Pulled the light to see this:
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14 month old trailer, bought brand new? Yes... Quality work indeed.

Cut the connections today and connected the pigtails to my car battery with some leads. Both tail light and turn /brake light worked fine.
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Spent some time making quality connections and sealing everything back up. Heat shrink connectors and adhesive heat shrink on top (proud of my work here!).
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Well, tried it out hooked up to the car and nothing. Same thing. Brake light and turn signal don't work but lights come on with headlights.

What is confusing me is that all wiring runs down the left side of the trailer. So, the right light gets all signals through the same wire as the left and the wires are running through the same butt connectors!

$20 for a new LED? Anything I can check first? I'm not looking forward to running all new trailer wire if that's what's needed.
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Old 16 April 2013, 12:59   #2
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You don't show the connectors to your car, but on mine I've had:

1. Dirty/corroded pins
2. Cable pulled out of pins
3. Broken cores in board cable.

A multimeter is your friend here
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Old 16 April 2013, 13:36   #3
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Sorry, should have added that I connected the multi meter to the bare wires after I cut the light off and I was getting 12v with the brake light and the turn signal. Also, remember, the right LED shares 2 of the 3 connections with the left (tail light/ground). But... That's not explaining how (a) I got 12v out of the yellow wire while the turn signal and the brakes were on while (b) the LED tested good while connected to my car battery with a set of pigtails. (sorry, thinking out loud there!)
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Old 16 April 2013, 15:19   #4
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It is not your LED which you confirmed by testing it on another battery.

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So, the right light gets all signals through the same wire as the left and the wires are running through the same butt connectors
The grounds for the left and right wire will be the same from the connector at the vehicle, but can be split from there back. Not a ground though as the parking lights wouldn't work either.

The left and right side turn brake lights are independent of each other from the plug at the vehicle to the back of the trailer. Start at the front by checking that the vehicle output is working. If it is there is probably a bunch of the same crappy connections right at the trailer tongue that have failed. Either way I would start looking for my cheesy wiring work by the trailer tongue and repair them.

Multimeters are great but sometimes a simple test light puts a load on the circuit and can show that the circuit doesn't have enough amperage. Think bad connection, but enough to allow voltage to pass without a load.

Curious what make of trailer? My Pacific trailer came with crappy lights and crappy wiring, but it is from 1993.

Oh and a fast way of checking your lights every time before towing is to turn on the hazard lights (This will check brake and turn signals at the time.) and if you will be towing at night or have DRL's turn on the parking lights.
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Old 16 April 2013, 15:38   #5
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Pacific, brand new in late January 2012.

I'm going read back through your response when I'm back in front of my computer. I'm sure that I'll have questions. Thanks!
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Old 16 April 2013, 19:44   #6
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It is not your LED which you confirmed by testing it on another battery.
Makes sense.

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Originally Posted by Peter_C View Post
Not a ground issue though as the parking lights wouldn't work either.
Ok, makes sense.

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The left and right side turn brake lights are independent of each other from the plug at the vehicle to the back of the trailer. Start at the front by checking that the vehicle output is working. If it is there is probably a bunch of the same crappy connections right at the trailer tongue that have failed. Either way I would start looking for my cheesy wiring work by the trailer tongue and repair them.
Ok, didn't think to check the tongue because I was getting voltage off of the yellow wire back at the LED connection when the brakes were depressed or the turn indicator was on. I'll have to try that on Friday when I'm back home

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Multimeters are great but sometimes a simple test light puts a load on the circuit and can show that the circuit doesn't have enough amperage. Think bad connection, but enough to allow voltage to pass without a load.
I guess that I need to hit radio shack then?

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Oh and a fast way of checking your lights every time before towing is to turn on the hazard lights (This will check brake and turn signals at the time.) and if you will be towing at night or have DRL's turn on the parking lights.
Good to know in the future.

If you were going to attack this, and want to have everything on hand, do I go by West Marine and get 25 ft of new 16 gauge yellow wire? Anything else?
(West Marine isn't close to home but I will drive by one on Thursday afternoon - and mail order won't get here in time!)
(I need this fixed by Sunday AM to tow to LA!)
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Old 17 April 2013, 00:23   #7
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Fancy graphic.

Wire color isn't important, but you can get all kinds of trailer parts at any Auto Zone, O'rielly, Checkers, etc., with late night hours. In other words no don't get any wire as it is probably just a bad connection somewhere. Just use a test light and test the vehicle's electrical system and if it is good start looking for a section near the tongue of the trailer with crappy wiring connections. Chances are that is where the problem is since you already resolved the rear one. Start the wiggle test. Using either the hazard lights or fixing the brake pedal on, then wiggle away and see if the drivers side light flickers. The wire connections should be around 24" or so from the connector at the trailer tongue. If you haven't already the passenger side probably needs the same treatment.

If you don't own a test light, I would say they have their place in your tool box. More like a Harbor Freight tool, then Radio Shack. Of course any auto parts store should have one for 3 times the money of HF. A test light can be used in conjunction with a multi meter, by putting a small load on the circuit, then testing voltage. I have used pretty heavy loads to make a circuit fail.

There is always a 20% off Harbor Freight coupon here. Log it on your smart phone if you have one and they will accept it, although I try to always print one.
http://www.harborfreight.com/digitalsavings.html

Right or wrong, I have just been soldering, then covering the bare wire with 5200 or silicon, then putting regular heat shrink over the sealant. It forms a waterproof connection. Been doing that for decades, with no issues.
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Old 17 April 2013, 11:49   #8
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Running lights are a separate circuit from your brake/turn light. (Running lights are on your brown wire; turn signals are yellow or green depending on side of trailer.)

Do you have the ground wire from your trailer connector going to the trailer frame? And your ground wire from the lighting fixtures going to the frame? If so, get rid of them. Run a piece of wire down each side for the return voltage. It's OK to leave the frame connection in place, but run a new conductor to be sure you get the ground signal to the fixtures. The trailer connections always seem to go bad (not a surprise, since you're depending on two copper to [galvanised steel or aluminum] lugs for your ground, not to mention all the bolted trailer frame connections.)

Other than that, if you're getting the brake/turn signal on the wires at the fixture, it should light. If you don't get the signal at the fixture, it's your wiring. If you get the signal and the lights don't work, it's your fixture. If possible, test with the lights still connected, which will show you actual operating conditions.

If you need to seal stuff up that the adhesive lined heatshrink won't seal, shave off a piece of a hot glue stick and stick it in with the wire before shrinking. Fills it right up. Works with non-adhesive lined as well.

NCP; if you need it done quick, I wouldn't worry about using marine grade wiring; get it up and running, and redo the whole thing later with all the "proper" stuff. It takes maybe an hour or two to wire up the entire trailer; kludge it up for your trip and plan to strip it out and do it up bulletproof when you can.

jky
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Old 17 April 2013, 12:08   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_C View Post
If you don't own a test light, I would say they have their place in your tool box. More like a Harbor Freight tool, then Radio Shack.
I'll stop by and see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_C View Post
Right or wrong, I have just been soldering, then covering the bare wire with 5200 or silicon, then putting regular heat shrink over the sealant. It forms a waterproof connection. Been doing that for decades, with no issues.
Harbor Freight has adhesive lined heat shrink for 1/20 the cost of WM:
42 Piece Marine Heat Shrink Tubing
I can see the glue oozing out when I use it.

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Do you have the ground wire from your trailer connector going to the trailer frame?
No, I have a ground wire. It is white. See diagram above. (I'm visual, I had to make it to file it away)

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Other than that, if you're getting the brake/turn signal on the wires at the fixture, it should light. If you don't get the signal at the fixture, it's your wiring. If you get the signal and the lights don't work, it's your fixture. If possible, test with the lights still connected, which will show you actual operating conditions.
That's why I was confused. Testing with multimeter on the wires at the taillight show ~12v when the brakes or the turn indicator is on. Testing the brakelight on my car battery with leads/alligator clips show it works 100%. So, as peter says, maybe the amperage isn't there?

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If you need to seal stuff up that the adhesive lined heatshrink won't seal, shave off a piece of a hot glue stick and stick it in with the wire before shrinking. Fills it right up.
I've been adding some hot glue shaving as you have suggested before, especially when there are two wires coming out of one piece of heat shrink. You should be able to see it coming out then ends in my pics, above.

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NCP; if you need it done quick, I wouldn't worry about using marine grade wiring; get it up and running, and redo the whole thing later with all the "proper" stuff. It takes maybe an hour or two to wire up the entire trailer; kludge it up for your trip and plan to strip it out and do it up bulletproof when you can.
Will do. Anyone found trailer wire cheaper:
Genuinedealz > trailer cable, trailer wire, boat trailer wiring
That's the stuff I was looking at.

Thanks you two.
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Old 17 April 2013, 13:24   #10
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Harbor Freight has adhesive lined heat shrink for 1/20 the cost of WM:
42 Piece Marine Heat Shrink Tubing
I can see the glue oozing out when I use it.
Remember we are talking Harbor Freight here so the quality is 1/4 of the stuff from West Marine. It is just the West Marine stuff is 1/5 more money than it is worth

I buy all of my electronic supplies from a couple of different electronic stores. The quality is good, and the prices are high, but far less than West Marine.

Should be no need to replace the trailer wiring, unless it is corroded and turning that dark color. The wire is of decent quality it is the connections that suck.

Catalina eh? I wanna go...diving there again. Where are you staying? Some of my friends have a nice C-Dory and they sleep on their boat and dive around the island switching harbors.
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