wonky wiring - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-12-2007, 08:46 PM   #1
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The combination of our truck and Boler is not working!
The clearance lights and the signal lights will work if the truck lights headlights are off but no tail lights or brake lights. With truck headlights on then no signal lights and no brake lights - I presume some wiring on the way back to the tail lights is defective or wired wrong. Any ideas?
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
The combination of our truck and Boler is not working!
The clearance lights and the signal lights will work if the truck lights headlights are off but no tail lights or brake lights. With truck headlights on then no signal lights and no brake lights - I presume some wiring on the way back to the tail lights is defective or wired wrong. Any ideas?
Hmmm one question---w/truck headlights on, do you have tailites? Almost sounds like a grounding problem and the frustrating thing called "feedback".
First place to start is to make sure the trailer has a good ground back to your truck. Larry
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:49 PM   #3
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Whoops- --I forgot to ask you. Is this a new "combination" or have you been towing this trailer w/ this pickup before and then the lights went ?.... Larry
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:17 PM   #4
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Bad Ground, check it out
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Old 06-13-2007, 05:04 PM   #5
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More peices of the puzzle re wiring...This is a new trailer to us, so hasn't been tried before. However the last time we towed a utility trailer, the running lights weren't working, but everything else was. So, we asked Ford to check the truck plug-in yesterday. Now:
With headlights off,and truck L turn signal on, both front clearance lights blink dimly, and L trailer turn signal blinks dimly. Same with R truck signal.
With headlights off, and brakes applied, both front clearance lights are on,
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Old 06-13-2007, 06:08 PM   #6
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More peices of the puzzle re wiring...This is a new trailer to us, so hasn't been tried before. However the last time we towed a utility trailer, the running lights weren't working, but everything else was. So, we asked Ford to check the truck plug-in yesterday. Now:
With headlights off,and truck L turn signal on, both front clearance lights blink dimly, and L trailer turn signal blinks dimly. Same with R truck signal.
With headlights off, and brakes applied, both front clearance lights are on,
As Con said, "bad grounds". This produces what is known as Feedback. (electricity looking for a way to produce a complete circuit since the ground circuit is faulty) Start by ensuring that there is a good ground on both tail lites. Larry
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Old 06-13-2007, 06:29 PM   #7
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Like everyone else says....sure sounds like a ground.
Simple test: scrape some paint off the trailer frame by the hitch and scrape some paint off under the tow vehicle frame and hold or clamp a wire to both places and see if the lights improve........theres other tests but this is a simple quick test.
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Old 06-14-2007, 12:10 PM   #8
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I agree that a bad "ground" (or negative side of the circuit) path is a likely culprit, but I didn't think Bolers used a frame ground for lighting - mine doesn't (it has two wires to each lamp), and the Boler wiring diagrams which I have seen do not indicate this. Connecting the vehicle frames may not produce a "ground" connection for the trailer lamps.
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Old 06-15-2007, 03:38 AM   #9
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I agree that a bad "ground" (or negative side of the circuit) path is a likely culprit, but I didn't think Bolers used a frame ground for lighting - mine doesn't (it has two wires to each lamp), and the Boler wiring diagrams which I have seen do not indicate this. Connecting the vehicle frames may not produce a "ground" connection for the trailer lamps.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is correct. After rewireing my Boler last year I had trouble with intermitant lights and with the help of a friend we narrowed it all down to "BAD GROUNDING".
Everytime I would step into trailer to check some wire out he on the outside would say'
"lights just came on"
I would step out and, Lights would go out..
I had greesed the ball and hitch of the trailer and this was the point that the ground was getting from the tug to the trailer.
I tightend the hitch locking mechanism a bit and that took care of the problem.
I plan to get a heavy battery cabel grounding strap bolted to the frame of the truck and I have a 5/8 Bolt welded to frame, with a wing nut, so that this grounding strap can be easily attached to.
All the grounds in my Boler do make thier way to a main grounding wire in trailer and down to the frame of the trailer now.
Gerry the canoebuilder
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:23 AM   #10
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I found out about that grounding problem years ago when a friend had trouble with his turn signal/brake lights working like that. I soon tracked it down to a bad ground. In his case and with a few other trailers I encountered later, the only ground connection was thru the trailer ball to the hitch coupler. Some people assumed that was enough for a ground.
Since that time the first thing I check for is a good ground to the frame near the tow plug. I then make sure there is a ground ground to the trailer frame.
In the case of the Boler I added a ground wire to the frame when I re-wired it and carried the ground thru the plug to the Boler frame so basically I have two good grounds.
Never had a problem!
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Old 06-15-2007, 06:22 AM   #11
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You should not have to add any extra grounding wires to the existing set-up. The wiring harnesses all have a ground wire. Make sure it has a good connections on the truck and the trailer. As was already stated, some trailers do not ground to the frame, they have a ground wire all the way to the lights or appliances.
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Old 06-15-2007, 09:31 AM   #12
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You should not have to add any extra grounding wires to the existing set-up. The wiring harnesses all have a ground wire. Make sure it has a good connections on the truck and the trailer. As was already stated, some trailers do not ground to the frame, they have a ground wire all the way to the lights or appliances.

Is this why the original marker lights I'm trying to replace have two wires (white and black) and the ones I was just about to buy have one wire (just black). If so, how does one rectify this and install the one wire lights?
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Old 06-15-2007, 11:20 AM   #13
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Is this why the original marker lights I'm trying to replace have two wires (white and black) and the ones I was just about to buy have one wire (just black). If so, how does one rectify this and install the one wire lights?

Most lights are made for installing on metal bodies. The light is grounded through the body that it is attached to so you do not need the ground wire.
Fiberglass is non conductive so each and every light on the trailer needs it's own ground wire.
Use a sheet metal screw and attach the white, ground wire, to the metal reflector of the light you are installing.

John
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:00 PM   #14
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... or buy lights with both wires.

The cheap clearance lamps on my Boler (Reflect-O-Lite #270 stock, Bargman #99 interchangeable replacements) have terminals for both wires, and do not use a "ground" connection on the lamp housing.

All the commercial truck style lamps which I have seen use an apparently common type of connector which includes all of the required connections, again not depending on any housing connection. These lamps are routinely mounted in the body or bracket using rubber grommets, which means housing grounds wouldn't work anyway. The lamps commonly come with a "pigtail" of wires with the right connector on them, or you can buy it separately.

I recently bought a tail lamp (for another vehicle, but it would work on a trailer) of this commercial truck type, which is (or is just like) a Grote #52502-5. It is an example of a lamp with this common connector on the back.

When I removed and reinstalled a stop/turn/tail lamp on my Boler, I found that the original Reflect-O-Lite #150 lamp depended on the metal base for the common/ground connection, and a really hack method was used to connect the required wire. I would prefer that equipment designed for the purpose were used instead.

I guess I have become accustomed to working on cars, rather than trailers. Every automotive lamp which I have seen has a connector with a wire for each function, and does not depend on the housing for a ground connection. Of course the negative side does commonly connect the body metal, but via a wire to a terminal, not directly at the lamp housing (which is usually plastic, anyway).
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Old 06-15-2007, 08:22 PM   #15
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We're getting closer! Put a new ball and hitch on the truck, and actually hooked it up to the trailer, not just plugged in the trailer lights, and all clearance lights work. And the running/brake lights work if we hold a wire to something else other than where it is wired in currently.Right now, the brake light is grounded with the black wire from the brake light screwed into the backing circle of the light area, which is painted and not much thicker than a pie plate! So, are you saying that this black wire coming out of the brake light should be connected to the white wire system inside the trailer, and on to the white wire that is then screwed onto the tongue.
Also, when checking all the wiring, I see another potential problem. Behind the outlet on the front of the cupbard, there is a white wire and the black wire hanging free in space. But the outlet still works. Was there something else there in the past likely!
Thanks for all the help. Soon we'll have running lights, and be able to leave the driveway!
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Old 06-15-2007, 09:48 PM   #16
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...Also, when checking all the wiring, I see another potential problem. Behind the outlet on the front of the cupbard, there is a white wire and the black wire hanging free in space. But the outlet still works. Was there something else there in the past likely!
Are we talking about a 120VAC outlet, like in a house? The scary thing here is that while there are no absolutely predictable colour codes, the common practice for house wiring is a black wire for the "live" side, and white for the "neutral" side (neither is ground, and there's no positive or negative with AC power...), so I wonder if these are disconnected live 120VAC wires! With any luck, they are carrying 12VDC (and still need to be capped off), but they might even have no power on them. I would use a meter (set to the high voltage AC setting to start), and see if there's power there.
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Old 06-15-2007, 09:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
...And the running/brake lights work if we hold a wire to something else other than where it is wired in currently.Right now, the brake light is grounded with the black wire from the brake light screwed into the backing circle of the light area, which is painted and not much thicker than a pie plate! So, are you saying that this black wire coming out of the brake light should be connected to the white wire system inside the trailer, and on to the white wire that is then screwed onto the tongue...
It's really hard to say what wire goes where without knowing more about the light fixture. A stop/turn/tail lamp has two bulbs, or more commonly a bulb with two filaments. To run it, there needs to be at least three connections:
  1. the stop/turn power (runs the brighter filament) - one of end terminals on a two-filament bulb
  2. the tail power (runs the dimmer filament) - the other end terminal on a two-filament bulb
  3. a return connection, usually shared by stop/turn and tail filaments, also called ground - the shell of the base of a two-filament bulb
The wire for each function could be any colour... so what's the choice here? If the connections within the lamp are visible, that's what I follow to know what's what.

The backing plate sounds like it is not connected to the return/ground circuit, so connecting a tail light wire to it doesn't do any good... but I'm guessing here.
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Old 06-16-2007, 05:31 AM   #18
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Hi: I have been following "Wonky Wiring" with interest... I have just finished a total re lamping of our '77 Boler!!! Every exterior lamp is now LED's. I thought I had hooked them up properly as all functions work the way they are supposed too!!! I added a new ground terminal as the frame was so rusty I couldn't remove the screw and re did the Boleresque bare wire loops around the backside of the mounting screws and/or sandwiched between washers on a pop rivet I rebuilt the Porch light with a 13 diode amber clearance lamp fitted inside it and added a new toggle switch on the closet wall inside the trailer. I fitted 10 diode stop/turn/tail lamps inside the original "Top Hat" lenses for a retro look and replaced all clearance lights with 13 diode red/amber units...WOW they are BRIGHT!!! Here in lies the problem!!! The Left rear stop/turn/tail lamp "GLOWS" in the dark all by itself...when the Trailer is hooked to the Tug it goes out and all function properly... If I disconect the white neutral(ground) wire the glow disapears but the lamp doesn't function either The "GHOSTLY" power must be "Crossing over" from the Coach Battery I had installed when we bought the Trailer but where I cleaned out the 7 pin plug and made sure no wires are touching...but still the eerie one eyed glow continues...only visable in the dark!!! and around midnite I am stumped
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 06-17-2007, 04:49 AM   #19
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Name: Gerry
Trailer: 1979 Boler 1300 / 1991 Casita Freedom Deluxe
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Quote:
Hi: I have been following "Wonky Wiring" with interest... I have just finished a total re lamping of our '77 Boler!!! Every exterior lamp is now LED's. I thought I had hooked them up properly as all functions work the way they are supposed too!!! I added a new ground terminal as the frame was so rusty I couldn't remove the screw and re did the Boleresque bare wire loops around the backside of the mounting screws and/or sandwiched between washers on a pop rivet I rebuilt the Porch light with a 13 diode amber clearance lamp fitted inside it and added a new toggle switch on the closet wall inside the trailer. I fitted 10 diode stop/turn/tail lamps inside the original "Top Hat" lenses for a retro look and replaced all clearance lights with 13 diode red/amber units...WOW they are BRIGHT!!! Here in lies the problem!!! The Left rear stop/turn/tail lamp "GLOWS" in the dark all by itself...when the Trailer is hooked to the Tug it goes out and all function properly... If I disconect the white neutral(ground) wire the glow disapears but the lamp doesn't function either The "GHOSTLY" power must be "Crossing over" from the Coach Battery I had installed when we bought the Trailer but where I cleaned out the 7 pin plug and made sure no wires are touching...but still the eerie one eyed glow continues...only visable in the dark!!! and around midnite I am stumped
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie

Alf, Does it glow in the day too? Check with multi meter.
If this is the only light glowing I would start by looking back from this light to battery. Your coach battery must go dead after a fashion if it is keeping a light burning.
Don't park on a city street the police may think your open for business with the RED light on
Gerry the canoebuilder
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