High-mount brake light? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-21-2006, 02:56 PM   #1
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Hi folks,

Not sure if this has been discussed (searching didn't find it for me), but has anyone considered or gone ahead and put a high-mounted brake light on their trailer?

For that matter do new trailers come with one?

It would make sense to me, if it's good on a car why not on a trailer?

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 12-21-2006, 03:10 PM   #2
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Dave:
I haven't done this yet, but it is near the top of my priority list. Linear arrays of LED lights for this purpose are available new, or used ones could likely be found for a pittance at a wrecking yard.
Since my trailer has those combination brake/turn signal bulbs it wouldn't work to just hook it up to a brake light, so I plant to tap into the high-mounted light on the Odyssey and connect it to through that spare pin on the 7-pin trailer connector. I won't have the option of having a backup light that way without having another connector or finding ,say, a 9-pin if something like that is available, but that's OK for with me.
I worry that the original brake lights are too weak and to low to do the job under certain conditions, so this mod I plan to do.
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Old 12-21-2006, 04:19 PM   #3
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It seems to me it would be easier to find something like this, instead of trying to connect into the high brake light on the Tow Vehicle.

And once again, I'd want to check with trailer light laws before doing this.
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Old 12-21-2006, 04:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Not sure if this has been discussed (searching didn't find it for me), but has anyone considered or gone ahead and put a high-mounted brake light on their trailer?
Dave
Hi Dave,

Several people have done this mod. This is the best explanation I’ve seen, enjoy.
http://www.casitaforum.com/brake-light/brakelight.html

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Old 12-21-2006, 05:05 PM   #5
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Dave:
I haven't done this yet, but it is near the top of my priority list. Linear arrays of LED lights for this purpose are available new, or used ones could likely be found for a pittance at a wrecking yard.
Since my trailer has those combination brake/turn signal bulbs it wouldn't work to just hook it up to a brake light, so I plant to tap into the high-mounted light on the Odyssey and connect it to through that spare pin on the 7-pin trailer connector. I won't have the option of having a backup light that way without having another connector or finding ,say, a 9-pin if something like that is available, but that's OK for with me.
I worry that the original brake lights are too weak and to low to do the job under certain conditions, so this mod I plan to do.
Per:
I have a Mazda pickup which has an amber turn signal lense and a red brake light lense which means I have a dedicated brake light wire right near the hitch. I suspect you will also, so you should be able to tap into that wire rather than go all the way up to the overhead light. Because my trailer has the combination brake/signal lights I use a device that converts from 5 wire to 4 wire just prior to the Bargman receptacle beside the hitch on the tow vehicle. I hadn't thought of adding the brake light but have considered adding backup lights so I don't take a chance of running over the wife and her flashlight when she is guiding me into a campsite in the dark.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:29 PM   #6
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I would find the stop (brake only) light signal without getting anywhere near the actual Centre High-Mounted Stop Light (CHMSL) of the van, but since the Sienna has separate turn signals anyway (like Bill's Mazda) that's easy, since the stop (brake-only) circuit goes right to both tail light areas.

The bigger issue is isolation. I would not want to just connect to the tow vehicle's light circuit: just like my existing trailer light wiring, I would want to go through an isolator. Isolators which handle separate stop and turn signals are readily available, but the nicely installed Toyota OEM converter which I have puts out combined signals, as well as isolating the trailer load from the Sienna's light circuits. That's a significant reason why I have not done this already - although the extra wire is already in my Boler (from the factory), the wiring on the van side will take more effort.

Per, there apparently is a 9-pin (Dexter shows it on their Trailer Wiring page), but I've never seen one in use, and I would prefer to stay with a more common and standardized connector.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:39 PM   #7
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That Casita installation looks pretty slick.

Quote:
It seems to me it would be easier to find something like this, instead of trying to connect into the high brake light on the Tow Vehicle.
That one from JC Whitney looks like it replaces the bulb in the truck's existing high-mounted brake light, and is intended for people with a canopy (a.k.a. topper, a.k.a. cap) who need to connect the one on the canopy, which is used instead of the existing light.

A similar approach, more workable for a trailer, is the jury-rigged light bulbs sold at U-Haul stores (the Tap-A-Lite and Turn-A-Tap), which is installed in a brake light socket and still work as bulbs, but also have wires sticking out. I find it hard to believe that this works with a properly sealed modern light housing, but it does exist to make it possible to hook up rental trailers to cars which are not properly equipped for the task.

There are also "logic modules" (as referred to in the Casita post) which attempt to deduce the stop signal from left and right combined stop/turn signals, but I think that they are doomed to work poorly.

Checking the laws never hurts, but I would be very surprised if a red brake light (of a reasonable brightness) anywhere on the back of any vehicle were not legal.
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Old 12-21-2006, 09:36 PM   #8
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Before changing the axle and tire size, I had a third brake light installed on my Scamp by a friend. He mounted it so it sat right on top of the spare…about eye level for those following the trailer. He made a bracket out of scrap aluminum, punched a couple of holes and it slipped onto the bolts before the spare was put back on. He ran the wires behind the spare, along the bumper, then along the bumper brackets before hooking it up to the brake wiring on the trailer. This almost totally hid all the wiring!

I’m not much of an artist, but this is a side view of what it looked like. I have to say it worked well...no one ran into me!


Name:   ThirdBrakeLight.jpg
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Bought the third brake light at a place specializing in hot rod stuff, like this one:
Julianos
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Old 12-21-2006, 10:01 PM   #9
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JC Whitney has a third brake light unit that has all of the circuitry built in so that the light works just like a car. I don't know how to do the link thing so you will have to look it up. I am going to mount one on my Love Bug soon.
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Old 12-21-2006, 10:06 PM   #10
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Here ya go Bob: J C Whitney Third Brake Light

The FiberglassRV Tutorial for using hyperlinks is here:
Shortcuts for Hyperlinks, When referencing information or sites
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Old 12-22-2006, 06:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
There are also "logic modules" (as referred to in the Casita post) which attempt to deduce the stop signal from left and right combined stop/turn signals, but I think that they are doomed to work poorly.
Brian, I had a Saturn with the yellow turn/flasher and red brake rear lights -- When UHaul installed a trailer hitch on it for me they used a "logic" module (just a couple of LEDs on a block with wires) and it worked quite well to connect the car to my trailers with a Flat-Four connector -- The diodes merely stop current from the car brakes from backfeeding the car's turn signal thru the trailer brake light filament and vice versa. I have seen the LED blocks at WalMart and auto parts stores.

However, I sure do like my 98 Ranger's arrangement (part of tow package) where the trailer lights are powered by relays to keep the truck and trailer lighting systems separate.
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Old 12-23-2006, 01:01 PM   #12
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Yes, it's easy to go from separated stop and turn signals to a combined system (4-way connector); that's what the Toyota converter/isolator in my Sienna does, so that's how I tow my Boler. It can be done with solenoid relays or solid-state relays - and perhaps it can be done with just diodes without isolation - since the output for each of the two tail lights is uniquely determined by the combination of the three (stop+left+right) inputs.

The "logic" needed to go the other way, turning only two combined stop/turn signals into three distinct signals (stop, left, right) inherently depends on timing, and is thus doomed to failure under some changing conditions. For instance, if only the left side combined signal is on, does that mean that the left turn signal is in the "on" part of its cycle, and the stop signal should be off, or does it mean that the stop signal should be on and the left turn signal is in the "off" part of its cycle? Watch long enough and you can work it out... unless the brake pedal is either pressed or released while you're working on it.

Perhaps it doesn't matter so much if the high-mounted brake light is occasionally wrong... if so, then the "logic box" would be fine. Determining the brake signal is easier than trying to separate out the turn signals.
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Old 12-24-2006, 08:28 AM   #13
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There are also "logic modules" (as referred to in the Casita post) which attempt to deduce the stop signal from left and right combined stop/turn signals, but I think that they are doomed to work poorly.
Actually, the Silicon Controlled Rectifiers in third brake light controls work very well and they eliminate the need to fish yards of wire under carpet and cabinets to connect directly to the tow vehicle. Similar circuits have been used in trailer light controls for years and are the same as those that make the “hold” button on a telephones work.
The circuit uses two SCRs cross-connected with each other and to both brake lights of the trailer. The lights are connected in such a way as to keep both lights on once they are triggered. If only one SCR is triggered by a turn signal, the third brake light remains off. Only if both brake lights are on together will the third brake light turn on. Once it does, it remains on regardless of turn signals as long as the brake is applied. The all in one lights that stick to the rear window are the simplest to install and require only a short wire to each of the brake lights and one to ground. The possibilities are endless. I plan to install one over the hole on top of my Casita where that useless TV antenna was mounted.
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Old 12-24-2006, 11:21 AM   #14
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So the logic is
  • transition Stop light to on when Left AND Right signals are present,
  • hold Stop on as long as either Left OR Right stays on, and
  • turn Stop off when neither Left NOR Right is still on.
Thanks Craig, that makes sense. I guess I was remembering the first attempts at these modules (which did not work well), and had not considered the potential for latching the stop signal on conditional to both of the lights going off. There are cases in which this logic will be wrong, but I can only think of a trivial of of holding the stop light on for an extra half-cycle of the turn signal - certainly no big deal.
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