One tail light is too bright! - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-12-2006, 08:42 PM   #15
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I had a somewhat similar problem with a car's headlights. In both a high-low headlight and the usual two-filament stop/turn/tail bulb, there are two filaments inside the bulb, each having their own connection plus sharing one more connection. Interesting circuits can be made of this.

In my Boler tail lights (and presumably in Kevin's Burro), the shared connection is the "ground" (white wire) - that's the wall of the socket (or shell of the bulb base). The two contacts on the bottom are for the two filaments. In my car, the common connection was broken, and when one filament was supposed to be on, power flowed through the filament which was supposed to be on, then "the other way" through the one which was supposed to be off, across to the light on the other side of the vehicle, through the other one which was supposed to be off, then back to "ground" there.

This drawing shows two bulbs, their corresponding contacts connected together, a bad ground on the left bulb, and two paths for power when only one is supposed to be on: one path (shown in green) lights up the intended filament of the right bulb, the other (shown in red) goes through all the other filaments, lighting them up dimly (because they are in series). This is what happened with my headlights, and shows a possible way to have light in a bulb with no ground connection. Maybe nothing to do with Kevin's tail lights, but maybe a possibility to consider.

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Edit note: I realized that the wiring above was for my headlights (as I mentioned) but the bulbs looked like tail lights (which have only one common circuit, not two), so I clarified the drawing.
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:39 PM   #16
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When I removed my left Boler tail light for cleaning and re-sealing, I messed up the ground and the lights behaved erratically. I didn't trace down the power flow as I did with the car headlight situation, but it can be similar.

Here are a few versions of my previous drawing, but for tail lights (wired with combined brake/turn signals, separate left and right), in a few conditions. In each case, green lines are intended power flow, and red power going where it shouldn't. As I said, some weird effects can result from a bad ground...

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I hope this is helpful, or just amusing; any way, drawing it is one way to think systematically through the situation.
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Bulbs2_tail_brakeOnly.jpg   Bulbs2_tail_turn.jpg  

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Old 06-13-2006, 08:08 PM   #17
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good work Brian, I was thinking along those lines myself, have been a victim of bad ground before.
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Old 06-13-2006, 08:57 PM   #18
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In more years as an electrician than I care to admit, I would check the simple things first.

Grounding won't usually give a light brighter than normal. Dimmer, flickering non- existant but rarely brighter.

The first thing Iwould check is if the lamp is in the right direction. Brake / Tail light lamps have pins at different heights which are not readilly apparent. The lamp can easilly be inserted 180 degrees out and then rotated with just a more effort. The effect would give that tail light bright all the time and the brake light barely enough to see through the other light.

Sorry if someone already replied on this, but I have seen a lot of cars going down the road wirh one tail light brighter than the other.
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Old 06-13-2006, 09:28 PM   #19
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Sorry if someone already replied on this, but I have seen a lot of cars going down the road wirh one tail light brighter than the other.
Those may have been rear facing fog lights - common on European cars. They work very well when people use them as they are intended, but are rather annoying when they are not - kind of like forward facing fog lights.
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