Marker lights on - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-20-2012, 11:56 PM   #1
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Marker lights on

A friend contacted me when she arrived home last evening her Bigfoot 19 marker lights were on. The trailer is not hooked up to shore power or tow vehicle. Any ideas?
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:30 AM   #2
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I suspect that there is a short circuit between the 12V line and the tail light line. I've known that some people accomplish the same thing (for decoration) by placing a jumper wire between pin 3 and pin 4 on the 7-pin trailer connecter.

The problem could be a short within the connector or anywhere along the wiring run in the trailer.
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:13 AM   #3
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Another thing that has happened to me, along the line of what Ron is saying, is that somehow the cable on the trailer to the plug got pinched, and shorted out the one brake/turn light wires. Something else to do a quick check on.
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:22 PM   #4
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In my experience, nearly ALL such weird electric anomalies on RV's are caused by bad/insufficient ground.

Case in point:

Something very similar to the O.P.'s problem here happened to me last year while drycamping alone out in the California boonies. The first night I was unhooked from the car and went to use the interior lights, they didn't come on- but the running lights did!! I wouldn't even have noticed except for the strange red glow outside....well visible since I had NO lights on the inside.

I started in all the wrong places, so it took me days to track the cause down. The culprit (only stumbled on by process of elimination) turned out to be insufficient ground at the taillights. I won't go into the l-o-o-o-n-g technical explanation of how that led to a "connection" between the interior light switch and the running lights and why the problem didn't occur when the trailer was hooked to the tow vehicle...

Point is, as soon as I installed a good heavy groundwire between the taillights and the trailer ground, the problem was solved.

And it only took me five (dark) days to figure it out!
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:41 PM   #5
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.......... The culprit (only stumbled on by process of elimination) turned out to be insufficient ground at the taillights................
Point is, as soon as I installed a good heavy groundwire between the taillights and the trailer ground, the problem was solved..................
Thanks for sharing this. I know that I've said this before repeatedly, but using the frame as a ground vs running a separate ground wire seems to be a constant source of problems.
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:53 PM   #6
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Thanks for sharing this. I know that I've said this before repeatedly, but using the frame as a ground vs running a separate ground wire seems to be a constant source of problems.
Just to clarify:

The as-built ground connection on my 1978 Trillium is on the trailer frame, under the wheel well by the converter.

In the case of my taillights, they'd been installed directly on the aluminum box that I carry on my trailer bumper, and at the time my ever-helpful husband believed that the box itself was sufficient ground for the lights.

It isn't, as he found out when I got home from that trip...
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:01 PM   #7
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............
It isn't, as he found out when I got home from that trip...
It starts out OK, but time and corrosion always seem to degrade the ground connections.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:07 PM   #8
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The only thing in common with the (interior and camper battery) and the running lights is the ground. There has to be a path between the positive and negative to have the running lights light up. How can this happen with the tow vehicle disconnected? There has to be a short between the Positive source of the battery and the Positive wire to the light.

Or, You just found a free source of power.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:10 PM   #9
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It starts out OK, but time and corrosion always seem to degrade the ground connections.
If you're stressing the importance of maintaining/cleaning those connections, I certainly couldn't agree more! My own original ground is a case in point- the first time I cleaned it, it crumbled. Had to retap and go to a bigger screw etc...

Check those groundpoints, folks!
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:29 PM   #10
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The only thing in common with the (interior and camper battery) and the running lights is the ground. There has to be a path between the positive and negative to have the running lights light up. How can this happen with the tow vehicle disconnected? There has to be a short between the Positive source of the battery and the Positive wire to the light.

Or, You just found a free source of power.
Yup. While I certainly can understand how a bad ground can turn things off, I can't think of a way a bad ground could turn things on, at least not without some creative wiring having taken place. I would disconnect the battery and put an ohmmeter on the seven pin connector between the battery pin and the light pin and wiggle the wire. Raz
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
The only thing in common with the (interior and camper battery) and the running lights is the ground. There has to be a path between the positive and negative to have the running lights light up. How can this happen with the tow vehicle disconnected? There has to be a short between the Positive source of the battery and the Positive wire to the light.

Or, You just found a free source of power.

Confounding, isn't it? There's no doubt that the taillight ground was the problem- but why would that light up the running lights and interfere with the interior light???
I was so perplexed by that question that I posed a what-the-heck happened question elsewhere...and I got an answer, too, especially once I figured out that it's important to reveal that on my trailer, only the running lights are LCD's.

And I'd bet that any one of you guys with real electrical knowledge can explain why that matters-and what happened- much better than I can!



P.S.
It's understood, of course, that the trailer has its own on-board battery, right?
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:51 PM   #12
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If you're stressing the importance of maintaining/cleaning those connections, I certainly couldn't agree more! My own original ground is a case in point- the first time I cleaned it, it crumbled. Had to retap and go to a bigger screw etc...

Check those groundpoints, folks!
No, actually my viewpoint is that the 12 volt lighting system should have a separate, copper negative wire running from each electrical device, eventually connecting all the way to the plug at the tongue. Using the steel in the frame for a conductor is a false economy, as it is so fraught with corrosion issues and copper wire is so cheap.

Some people tilt at windmills, this is my mission.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:54 PM   #13
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No, actually my viewpoint is that the 12 volt lighting system should have a separate, copper negative wire running from each electrical device, eventually connecting all the way to the plug at the tongue. Using the steel in the frame for a conductor is a false economy, as it is so fraught with corrosion issues and copper wire is so cheap.

Some people tilt at windmills, this is my mission.


Am I then to carry a six foot steel post to be driven into the ground whenever I wish to disconnect and use the tow vehicle???
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:06 PM   #14
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Am I then to carry a six foot steel post to be driven into the ground whenever I wish to disconnect and use the tow vehicle???
There are two "types" of ground, chassis ground and earth ground. Earth ground becomes important in power and radio applications. Chassis ground is when you use the metal chassis as a wire. In a fiberglass trailer there's little value in using the chassis as a wire. A separate return wire is a much better solution. Raz
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