Upgrading Taillights - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-17-2014, 12:26 PM   #1
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Upgrading Taillights

Going to be taking the Scamp to a local RV shop to have the propane system and furnace checked in preparation for a trip next month. While I am there I am planning to discuss upgrading the taillights.

The issue is that we occasionally carry bicycles on the back and they partially obscure the taillights, which aren't very bright anyway. I've read a number of threads on the subject recently, and have decided this is a high priority upgrade for us. I will likely have it done by someone else, but I want to understand the details so I can discuss intelligently and communicate clearly. The shop has a good reputation, but they don't see many molded FG trailers.

Here's what I have gathered so far from reading past threads. Please correct me if I have misunderstood anything.
  • I am planning to replace the existing lights with LEDs and add a second pair above the belly band.
  • I will need to make separate provision for the license plate light because the LED units do not integrate it.
  • The wiring for the lower lights should be connected from the inside, not the outside, and removing the seats is the most efficient way to do it.

Here are the questions I have:
  1. What is a good source for the lights? Anything to watch out for when choosing?
  2. Are there laws that govern the placement of the upper lights?
  3. How should the wires be run for the upper lights? I have rat fur with foil bubble insulation underneath (photo shows how the seams are arranged near the rear window). Do I have to peel it back? Do I need to cut a channel in the foil?
    Click image for larger version

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  4. How are the upper lights attached so that the hardware is hidden on the inside?
  5. How should the lights and wires be sealed?
  6. What are my options for the license plate light?

Thanks!
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:36 PM   #2
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I solved the no license plate lights when I upgraded my taillights by using LED bolt lights. I re used the original Scamp licence plate holder with the new lights.
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I solved the no license plate lights when I upgraded my taillights by using LED bolt lights. I re used the original Scamp licence plate holder with the new lights.
Thanks, Carol. How are they wired? From the taillights? From the pics, it looks like each bolt has a separate pair of wires coming in.
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Old 10-17-2014, 01:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Thanks, Carol. How are they wired? From the taillights? From the pics, it looks like each bolt has a separate pair of wires coming in.
Yes each light does. I tied them in to the trailers running lights wiring so they come on anytime the running lights are on. Here is a close up of mine. You can just see the wires on the outside before they enter the trailer (which is were I tapped in using shrink Wrap covers on the wire)
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Old 10-17-2014, 01:18 PM   #5
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BTW I meant to confirm that the connections for the lights are all inside and removing the rear seats is indeed the most effective/fastest way of doing any changes to the taillights. They are actually very easy to remove and put back in place. I also highly recommend putting shrink wrap over all the rear connections.... leaky rear window is not an uncommon happening so protecting connections from moisture is a good thing. The shrink wrap also helps with any possible disconnect due to vibration..... found a few loose connections at the back of my Scamp with the factory installed connections, the first time I looked back there at the wiring which explained a few intermittent light issues I had been having,
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Old 10-17-2014, 02:06 PM   #6
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I am building my own bike rack that comes up off the bumper and one of the things I am incorporating is higher LED tail lights. My vague plan is to weld two tabs on top of the rack that lift the lights up above any bikes but below the rear window of the Scamp. I bought two small 2” round LED tail lights from Amazon recently for the task. I don't know what they are really for but happened upon a picture recently on the web of the rear of a motorcycle that showed two very similar lights. I have not yet figured out how to wire them, I will investigate sourcing the wiring, I do not really want to remove seats. I would almost rather tap-in up front where the vehicle harness enters the trailer and run all the way back somehow.
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Old 10-17-2014, 02:10 PM   #7
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I installed an extra set of tail / stop lights on my bike rack. Ran the wiring under the trailer and connected it in at the plug in front. Used a 4 prong flat connector in the rear for when I remove the rack.
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Old 10-17-2014, 04:02 PM   #8
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I would plan on removing the seats and attacking the lights properly. If Scamp is still wiring like they did on my 1986 Scamp 13 I would re solder the connections and shrink wrap all joints. Who ever wired mine back then should be shot. As for your upper lights bring your wires up through the seam tape in the rat fur. Scamp used hot-melt glue on mine. it wasn't too hard to get through there and re glue the tape down. Just be gentle with it.
Harbor freight carries a small kit box of adhesive lined shrink tubing for your wire connections it works very well and is cheep.
42 Piece Marine Heat Shrink Tubing
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Old 10-17-2014, 04:48 PM   #9
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As for your upper lights bring your wires up through the seam tape in the rat fur. Scamp used hot-melt glue on mine. it wasn't too hard to get through there and re glue the tape down. Just be gentle with it.
Steve, I think I get what you mean. Once I loosen the seam along the outside corners, the wire will go between the panels. Did you apply a little heat to loosen the seam tape? Do I need to gouge out any kind of channel in the insulation to give the wire some space? And once I get high enough, I think I'm going to need to bring it inboard a little toward the window, maybe 4-6". Would you slit the rat fur, work a tunnel through the insulation, or… ?

Thanks to all who have posted. I'm pretty sure I want the extra taillights on the body of the trailer so I have the advantage of the extra visibility even when I'm not carrying bikes, but I did consider putting lights on the bike rack.
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Old 10-17-2014, 04:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
...found a few loose connections at the back of my Scamp with the factory installed connections, the first time I looked back there at the wiring which explained a few intermittent light issues I had been having,
Good idea. I have a side marker light that works intermittently, too. Fortunately, it's one of the back ones, so I can investigate while I have the seats out.
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Old 10-17-2014, 06:03 PM   #11
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When I ran power up to my overhead cabinet I opened up the rat fur tape. The tape is just a strip of cloth with the sides folded under and hot-melt glued to the fabric below. I took a razor blade and carefully cut some of the glue to separate the tape from the wall covering. This gets you down to the reflextic material. once you mount your lights you can cut slits in the exposed insulation. I tried to fish wires in the reflextic and the Scamp body staying away from the inner face between the the insulation and the rat fur so a wire bulge won't show. I used 3M super 90 spray adhesive to stick back anything I dislodged. If you use this stuff get some paper and mask off anything you don't want glued when you spray so you don't make an unsightly mess. Wrapping paper works well. You can also go back to what Scamp did on mine and use hot-melt on the seam tape. Just little dabs every 2 inches or so. If you slit the insulation make sure you tape the slit up before you cover it over. Clear packing tape works well for this.
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Old 10-17-2014, 09:36 PM   #12
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Thanks for the elaboration, Steve.
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Old 10-18-2014, 12:02 AM   #13
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LED lights require a very small gauge wire.
It is a simple matter to run the wiring for them as follows...
Cut a stiff piece of wire (maybe #9) about 30" in length.
sharpen one end and fold over the other to form a small tight "eye".
Attach the new taillight wire to the Eye of this new needle.
Puncture the ratfur and reflextix with the needle and trace it down from the new light location to the existing taillights to connect them.
You can string the wire out through the hole made through the hull to make the connection or you can simply tuck the connectors in behind the ratfur.

BTW... when ordering a new Scamp...For a nominal fee you can request an extra pair of taillights which are mounted above the bellyband.
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:12 AM   #14
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Thanks, Floyd.

Regarding attachment of the upper light units... should I just rivet all the way through insulation and rat fur, with an exposed acorn nut inside, should I make a slit & hide the rivet under the rat fur (with or without a nut?), or should I use stainless hardware?

Also, what kind of sealer should I use around the hole where the wires come out? How do I seal the light unit itself?
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