Parking and brake lights are so dim they can barelyu be seen - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-03-2021, 04:49 PM   #1
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Name: Sylvio
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Quebec
Posts: 218
Parking and brake lights are so dim they can barelyu be seen

Hey guys! Long time no see! I sold my Boler last year, for a good cause, and I regret it... Now, I see some for sale that are not as nice as mine for 12000$CAD! Yikes!

I bought a small 1973 PMC. I haven't found any other group of people as helpful and sympathetic as you guys so I'm back to my first love hoping you accept to give me a hand.

All of my outside lights are dim, so dim one can barely see them. I read everywhere that it's a ground issue. I reconnected the main ground wire to the frame, no change.

The 4-pin from the front comes and hooks up to some kind of relay board (the top two of five are not connected to anything, looks like it was 7-pin before). As if the main wire wasn't long enough, there's a connection just before that relay board. I send two pictures.

Ideas anyone? My next step is changing the main 4-pin wire and connect it straight to those bottom 3 connections. Unless someone suggests otherwise.

I think I'd rewire the whole trailer if the inside of the parking lights was accessible. I miss my Boler!

Thanks a bunch.
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Old 06-03-2021, 06:15 PM   #2
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Name: geoff
Trailer: bigfoot
Saskatchewan
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I found the lights on my Bigfoot to be very too. I took the covers off and found the bulbs and lenses were filthy, and many of the connections were loose. A good cleaning, tightening and some dialectic grease in the wire and bulb connections improved them significantly.

Good luck!
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Old 06-04-2021, 05:20 AM   #3
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do you have a volt/ohm meter? I need to see where the white wires are going in that pic ..
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Old 06-04-2021, 08:20 AM   #4
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From the looks of the wiring in the pictures, my suggestion would be to remove those "tape knots," redo and make good clean wiring connections, replace that corroded fuse block, (it's not a "relay board,") and make sure you have good clean heat shrink sealed crimp or solder wire connections, and generally clean up and get rid of all the excess "rat's nest" of unnecessary wiring throughout the trailer.

Why are two of the fuses in your picture wrapped in aluminum foil? Why have a fuse at all if you are going to bypass the circuit protection fuse with wrapping it in tin foil? That's like putting a penny under those old Edison base fuses in old wiring panels and burning your house down when the wiring burns up because the penny will still be there.

Every wire connection in any circuit will cause additional resistance, especially corroded connections. Resistance equates to voltage drop, which in turn creates many low voltage problems, (like dim lights for example, but not limited to just the lighting.)
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Old 06-04-2021, 08:25 AM   #5
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Name: Sylvio
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Quebec
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Decided to rip everything out and rewire. Thanks guys!
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Old 06-04-2021, 08:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Uncle Cereal View Post
Decided to rip everything out and rewire. Thanks guys!
Smart decision, and you'll sleep better at night knowing you won't be burning up in your trailer from a burned wire.
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Old 06-04-2021, 09:45 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Uncle Cereal View Post
Decided to rip everything out and rewire. Thanks guys!
thats what i would do also.. and upgrade to LED's
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Old 06-04-2021, 10:06 AM   #8
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Name: William
Trailer: 13' Perris Pacer
California
Posts: 43
I had a problem with dim turn/brake lights with my brand new Perris Valley Pacer. Quickly discovered the factory wired the turn/brake circuits to the tail light (dim) portion of the 1157 bulbs. All the circuits to the (bright) turn/brake portion of the 1157 bulbs were grounded. Brilliant!
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Old 06-04-2021, 10:20 AM   #9
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Look at this. Magnetic towing light set. All wiring connects to your tow benicle. Worth having when you have a problem when traveling. Emergency set.
https://www.harborfreight.com/12v-ma...kit-64282.html
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Old 06-04-2021, 08:30 PM   #10
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Name: Sylvio
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Quebec
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A few more issues and questions:

A. I could upgrade to LED, but I removed one light unit and it looks brand new. LED lights are not cheap around nere. If I get them online, I need to postpone the work. Hmmm. I can get the work done for about 30$ of wire this weekend or change to LED for about 100-120$... next week.

B. Also, there's only ONE wire in the "marker light" unit. Is that normal? I would have thought there'd be two.

C. I'm not sure I'll express this well, but I'll give it a shot: Let's say that I'm talking about the brown wire (parking lights). I was told that I could...
a) send it from one light to another or
b) pass the wire around and send the wire from each light unit to the one that's passed around with a T joint.

Do you have a preference?

D. Would you use a T crimp connector? If so, with a drop of soldering or not?

E. Has anyone heard of liquid electrical tape? Would you use that in a trailer since it's hard to seal a T-joint with shrink tube?

Thanks guys, I appreciate it!

(Now that I'm about to post, I'm having a flash-back that multi-question posts rarely end up bearing fruit since most people focus on one question. I'll give it a shot anyway... I fully trust you!
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Old 06-04-2021, 08:32 PM   #11
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Name: Sylvio
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Quebec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Look at this. Magnetic towing light set. All wiring connects to your tow benicle. Worth having when you have a problem when traveling. Emergency set.
https://www.harborfreight.com/12v-ma...kit-64282.html
Having a utility trailer and a boat trailer besides the camper trailer, that could definitely be something to carry around in tow vehicule, for me or for someone else. I did think about that, yes, but thanks for the reminder!
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Old 06-06-2021, 05:06 PM   #12
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Trail Cruiser
Alberta
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Seen the "dim lights" thing many times. Usually turns out to be a poor ground. If it was the live that failed, you likely wouldn't get any light. Often comes down to (multiple) corroded connections and/or someone else's handiwork. Replacement is the best option.
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Old 06-08-2021, 02:35 PM   #13
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even the marker lights need two wires minimum, if you could post a picture that would be better.
All light fixtures on a trailer need a ground wire, a powered wire- (markers or Brake), and in the case of most single cover lenses a second hot to cover the marker function

Joe
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Old 06-09-2021, 11:14 AM   #14
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Name: Jim
Trailer: 1998 14" Burro WB
Illinois
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I don't know what a PMC but if it has a metal skin, some of the older lights only had 1 wire.

I worked for Holiday Rambler dealer in the mid '70s day and the lights grounded though a mounting screw to the aluminum skin. We always had trouble with dim and non working lights. Water and corrosion would get in there and cause a bad connection. You can tell if one of the mounting screws has a metal ring around the mounting post.

If this is the case you are far better off replacing the lights. All modern lights have two wires.
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:40 PM   #15
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Name: Mr Robin
Trailer: Casita
Florida
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A very common fix is to spray your trailer connectors (male and female) with WD-40. Connect and disconnect the connectors about 20 times. Plug them back together and check the brightness again.

A weak or broken ground circuit can be hidden by weak grounding through the hitch. That frequently causes all lights and signals to be dim or intermittent.

Pic #2 is not a relay board. It is a fuse block. Fuse blocks are not needed because tow vehicles are already fused. The pictured fuse block has fuses wrapped in foil. That is a bad thing because they are uninsulated conductors. I would replace the fuse block with butt splices or barrel connectors.
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Old 06-16-2021, 08:00 PM   #16
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Name: Sylvio
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Quebec
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I did it!

Big job, but everything worked the first time! All new wires. Every connexion has been welded. When possible, I used heat shrink tubes to protect the soldering. Shouldn't have to mess with that anymore. All LED lights. Thanks for the advice and hints!

I'll likely put up a different post, but here are a few questions, if you're still willing to share:

I'm planing on putting a sealer around each light.

1) ...therefore, butyl tape is not necessary behind the lights, correct? I mean: no water will get behind if there's a silicone-like sealer around each light, correct?

2) I'm not sure if I want to paint the camper eventually. If so, not this year. I'm tinkering with the idea of using "Zip and Peel" sealer. It's good inside and outside. And it would come off easily. On my Boler, I had put something that lasts 50 years... :-) Maybe there's something better than Zip and Peel that would end up coming off fairly easily in the case I choose to paint the camper. Any thoughts?

Thanks!
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Old 07-23-2021, 11:40 PM   #17
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Boler
CA-AB
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Grounding

For anyone else with this issue the first thing to check is the ground.

With the trailer not on the hitch but with the electrical connected to the tow vehicle use a continuity checker and check the continuity from a clean bare spot on the trailer frame to a clean bare spot on the tow vehicle frame.

If no beep then that's where you start investigating.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:51 AM   #18
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Name: You can't call me Al
Trailer: Scamp
Massachusetts
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Originally Posted by BolerMike View Post
For anyone else with this issue the first thing to check is the ground.

With the trailer not on the hitch but with the electrical connected to the tow vehicle use a continuity checker and check the continuity from a clean bare spot on the trailer frame to a clean bare spot on the tow vehicle frame.

If no beep then that's where you start investigating.
For an old Scamp*, this does not apply since the trailer lights all have two wires and do not depend on the trailer frame ground for current flow.

* Mine is a 1977, so I can only comment on that year.
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Old 07-25-2021, 10:28 AM   #19
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Trailer: 1978 Earlton Ontario boler
Ontario
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Originally Posted by Uncle Cereal View Post
Decided to rip everything out and rewire. Thanks guys!
Old wires and connections can have more resistance than new product can be brown in wire due to oxide, we had this problem on some wires and some connection problems as well. They have been cleaned up or replaced. All but 3 of the clearance lights have been replaced. Connectors and many wires have been replaced as well.

Have a dedicated ground wire through the whole trailer system due to fiberglass design works well.

Think you will be happy when done.
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Old 08-08-2021, 06:13 AM   #20
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Boler
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Originally Posted by AlanKilian View Post
For an old Scamp*, this does not apply since the trailer lights all have two wires and do not depend on the trailer frame ground for current flow.

* Mine is a 1977, so I can only comment on that year.
Hi Alan, I get what you're saying.

I meant it as a way to check the wired ground. Since the trailer electrical should be bonded to it's frame and the tow vehicle's electrical will be bonded to it's frame then when they're not hitched but are connected via the pigtail if there is continuity from frame to frame that proves that the ground in the trailer connector is working. If not it gives you a starting point to figure out why not.

The main culprit is corrosion and this is particularly true of the trailer and tow vehicle's connectors but corrosion on any connector or even inside a stranded copper wire itself will limit current flow.

Connectors can be cleaned with files/emory paper/contact cleaner etc. but if a trailer is left to sit for any length of time such as over winter steps should be taken to prevent corrosion.
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