Troubleshooting lights (my favorite: NOT.) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-10-2012, 08:58 PM   #1
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Troubleshooting lights (my favorite: NOT.)

This is what I have:

both turn signals work, right is weak. (Weak signal or weak bulb?)
no tail lights
both hazard lights work
waiting to try brake lights in the dark but usually if hazards work, brakes work?

I have old splices I'm going to check and re-tape but I'm not sure what to do about the weak signal on the right.

Okay, I have read brown is tail lights so I'll make sure I get a good connection there. Just not sure what to do about the weak light. Try a new bulb? Assuming I can find one?

Bobbie
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:06 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
This is what I have:

both turn signals work, right is weak. (Weak signal or weak bulb?)
no tail lights
both hazard lights work
waiting to try brake lights in the dark but usually if hazards work, brakes work?

I have old splices I'm going to check and re-tape but I'm not sure what to do about the weak signal on the right.

Bobbie
Hazard lights, turn signals, and brake light are all the same wires and light bulb filaments.
Running lights, trail lights are the same wire (circuit).
Turn on the lights of tow and check the side "running" lights and the tail lights. If they'll all not on then that should help lead to the problem.

The weak turn signal light could be as simple as a dirty bulb. However, I would suggest you start by replacing the weak bulb, the tail light filament could have burned out leaving a film on the inside of the bulb.
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:17 PM   #3
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Tow lights work fine. Tail lights are not a problem I've had before (and at the moment not a major concern as it won't be dark when I'm driving.) But I just had the car wired and new hitch installed so it could be they goofed on tail lights. I guess I need a tester of some kind to see if that's the case? More likely its a wire.

I should replace the lights on the trailer one of these days as the covers are pretty much fogged (again, one is better than the other.)
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:39 PM   #4
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Symptoms like this are usually a poor ground. Check your ground connections at the lights, at the connector to the vehicle and on the vehicle wiring at the plug.

Take a close look at the "dim" light to see if both filiments are glowing, if they are it is a sure sign it is a bad ground. The power feeds back through the second filiment and finds a ground through the light circuit at another bulb.
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:22 PM   #5
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Only one filament lights up. Just not very bright.

I'll get a new bulb tomorrow and check the wiring where it is spliced. At least if I have turn signals and brake lights I'm safe as long as I'm not driving at night. But any ideas whether I can find replacement lights that fit the same screw pattern? These have four screws, about 5 inches apart, holding a square cover over the fixture, which is mounted on the back of the trailer (basically a metal plate with the bulbs.)

Oh, and there is only one bulb in each but two bulb sockets, but I think that may be because they used to have separate bulbs and now they have the two filament kind?
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ian G. View Post
Symptoms like this are usually a poor ground. Check your ground connections at the lights, at the connector to the vehicle and on the vehicle wiring at the plug.

Take a close look at the "dim" light to see if both filiments are glowing, if they are it is a sure sign it is a bad ground. The power feeds back through the second filiment and finds a ground through the light circuit at another bulb.

If it was a ground (meaning negative lead) no lights would work.
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Old 07-11-2012, 06:43 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
Only one filament lights up. Just not very bright.

I'll get a new bulb tomorrow and check the wiring where it is spliced. At least if I have turn signals and brake lights I'm safe as long as I'm not driving at night. But any ideas whether I can find replacement lights that fit the same screw pattern? These have four screws, about 5 inches apart, holding a square cover over the fixture, which is mounted on the back of the trailer (basically a metal plate with the bulbs.)

Oh, and there is only one bulb in each but two bulb sockets, but I think that may be because they used to have separate bulbs and now they have the two filament kind?
you should not have to replace the light housing, just the bulb. The bulb should be an 1157 which has 2 filaments. They install with a simple push and twist using small studs on the sides of the metal base, the studs are offset where one is lower or closer to the bottom so the alignment of the bulb is correct in the socket. Maybe check to make sure the bulb is installed correctly, with force you can put the bulbs in 180 deg out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
If it was a ground (meaning negative lead) no lights would work.
If the tail lights were a single filament bulb (an 1156 bulb) you are correct that the light would not work but on a double filament (1157 bulb) the power path will feed back through the second filament and backfeed the light on the opposite side. Because of the increased resistance of going through 2 filaments the light will very dim.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:16 AM   #8
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The bulb should be an 1157 which has 2 filaments. ...
the studs are offset where one is lower or closer to the bottom so the alignment of the bulb is correct in the socket.
... with force you can put the bulbs in 180 deg out.

If the tail lights were a single filament bulb (an 1156 bulb) you are correct that the light would not work but on a double filament (1157 bulb) the power path will feed back through the second filament and backfeed the light on the opposite side. Because of the increased resistance of going through 2 filaments the light will very dim.
That's a lot of force required, unless the socket is distorted. Easy way to tell is if you can see the "studs" in the slots on both sides of the socket.

Any chance the wiring or socket assembly is causing the 2 filament concept of dimness?
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:22 AM   #9
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any ideas whether I can find replacement lights that fit the same screw pattern? These have four screws, about 5 inches apart, holding a square cover over the fixture, which is mounted on the back of the trailer (basically a metal plate with the bulbs.)

Oh, and there is only one bulb in each but two bulb sockets, but I think that may be because they used to have separate bulbs and now they have the two filament kind?
A picture would help for both.

I had a tail light once where the second socket was never wired up to anything. I think it was easier for the manufacturer to only make one design of the hardware and wire it differently for different models. I used the second socket to hold a spare where it could be easily found.
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:33 AM   #10
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..... unless the socket is distorted....
My thought exactly, since the trailer is 42 years old the socket could be bent, worn or in general poor condition.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:34 AM   #11
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Here are the pictures. The one with no bulbs is the problem one. It's possible the ground wire wasn't screwed in but I haven't rechecked that yet. The one with one bulb works. It's cover is shown (less fogged than the bad one but also apparently with a melted spot in the cover? Covers are about 5 inches between screws, the one shown also includes the license plate holder.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:39 AM   #12
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I know the socket looks rusted but it worked far more smoothly than anything I had on the boat trailer ever did so I don't think that's the issue. And as I said, the second filament didn't glow at all so I don't think it was grounding through that.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:40 AM   #13
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Darn, got same photo twice. I don't know why but I'll go back to the ipad app and try again.

Okay, this is VERY weird. Ipad app shows the red cover instead of the duplicate photo showing up here. I'll try uploading it again.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:41 AM   #14
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See if this works.
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