Running Lights Not Working on an 82 Scamp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-09-2015, 01:33 PM   #1
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Name: AC
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Running Lights Not Working on an 82 Scamp

Well. I'm nearing the point where I take her in for some help although I don't want to give up and think I'm pretty close to figuring it out.

Here is my scenario. All of running/brake/blinker lights were working. Then they all went out at the same time. I got a circuit tester and was able to determine that there is power getting to the fixtures. I didn't think it was the bulbs but tried that out. No luck. I then figured I'd try to take a wire from the ground connection off the battery and trailer harness to the fixture directly. Once I touched the ground wire to the ground on the fixture it turned on. Each fixture has it's own ground running to the chassis of the trailer. I even took the ground wire and connected it to where the fixture ground wire meets the chassis. It turned on there as well. I must be doing something wrong here but it seems like the chassis isn't grounded but that doesn't make sense. I'm getting desperate at this point!

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:24 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by DenverScamp View Post
I must be doing something wrong here but it seems like the chassis isn't grounded but that doesn't make sense. I'm getting desperate at this point!
This likely is the problem - have you checked the connections of these wires (if the screws are rusted, they are likely NOT making good contact) or the contact point (to the frame) of the trailer harness ground?
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:32 PM   #3
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Thanks, Sarah. After a little more trial and error I'm even more confused although I have a work around. Those connections seem fine and the fact that all of them went out at the same time have me thinking they didn't all corrode at the same time. Anyway, I took the ground from the trailer connection off the car and connected it directly to the trailer. At that point, the lights all worked??!!?! Is it possible the trailer isn't grounded somehow? Seems real odd.
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Old 07-09-2015, 02:47 PM   #4
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Colleen, yes it's possible you've lost your trailer ground. Any wire to body ground can become suspect over time through corrosion that you cannot visually detect without actually removing the screw or clip or whatever holds the ground wire in place. Even if it looks ok, a little sanding with some emery cloth can sometimes do the trick. My brother in law was a mechanical and electrical wizard. His straightforward logic and methodical approach especially in camper wiring situations allowed him to solve virtually any problem. Though he passed away, way too soon, he left me with this simple advice " those grounds will mess you up"'. I go back to this every time I'm baffled and work through it with emery cloth and circuit tester in hand. Good luck
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Old 07-09-2015, 04:46 PM   #5
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The connections from the lighting fixtures to the trailer are all good because when I hook another ground (from the trailer connector) to the trailer then all the lights work. That is what I don't understand.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:51 PM   #6
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The connections from the lighting fixtures to the trailer are all good because when I hook another ground (from the trailer connector) to the trailer then all the lights work. That is what I don't understand.
"Trailer connector", are you talking of the 7 pin at the hitch? If so it sounds like you've lost the ground in it. Open it up and check there.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:56 PM   #7
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The 4 pin is what I mean by trailer connector. I know that ground is good. As an experiment, I attached that directly to the trailer and it created a ground for the fixtures. I've reconnected all of the wires and am using an additional wire connected to the ground connections, tied it to the trailer, and now all of the lights work. The grounds from each fixture must be connected to trailer frame correctly. The trailer just doesn't seem to have a proper ground until I connect the ground from the 4 pin directly to it. It just seems odd and I'd rather do it right and know the right answer instead of stumbling across a work around.
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Old 07-09-2015, 06:04 PM   #8
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The trailer just doesn't seem to have a proper ground until I connect the ground from the 4 pin directly to it. It just seems odd and I'd rather do it right and know the right answer instead of stumbling across a work around.
It's not odd, but it wouldn't be grounded without that.. you should have a solid connection to your frame coming from the trailer harness. Without this in place, it really doesn't matter what is going on with the rest of the grounds for the lights, if the frame itself is not grounded to the trailer wiring. That is what I was saying in my first reply
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Old 07-09-2015, 06:09 PM   #9
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Ha. Sorry I missed that. I was under the impression that trailer frame is naturally grounded by it's connection to the ground.....that it didn't need to be grounded......just as the car is grounded by a connection to the frame.
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:57 PM   #10
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The rubber tires which are in contact with the ground are ,I believe, more of an insulator than a ground. The four pin coming off the trailer always needs a solid connection to the frame. That's the first place to look if all the lights go out at once.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:33 AM   #11
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Ground is not always Grounded

Frame grounds are famous (notorious) for unreliability.
Our 2000 Scamp 16 ft has a hard wired ground to all lamps and fixtures.
The 7 pin connector has one pin for the ground connection to the car.
Your 4 pin connector works only for tail, stop and turn signals, with the side marker lamps also connected to the tail light circuit.
If you have a battery on the trailer, it would need a 5th pin with a hot lead from your car battery (and a fuse under the hood)
If you have electric brakes, a sixth pin is needed, and backup lights a seventh.
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Old 07-10-2015, 01:11 PM   #12
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Did the problem occur with the trailer hitch disconnected - the hitch will complete the ground cicuit i.e frame to frame ?
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:02 PM   #13
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Is your vehicle trailer ground tied to the frame? What I mean is, where the ground wire comes off the 4 pin adapter, is it tied to the frame of the trailer or does it just mate up with the trailer wiring harness? Make sure the ground of the harness is also connected to the frame.
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:08 PM   #14
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Take a look at this wiring diagram.

http://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:47 PM   #15
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Did the problem occur with the trailer hitch disconnected - the hitch will complete the ground cicuit i.e frame to frame ?
The hitch ball is NOT a reliable ground. You need a hard wired ground between the trailer and tow vehicle.
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Old 07-10-2015, 03:15 PM   #16
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My point was - perhaps the ground was being acheived through the hitch when it was working and ceased to work when unhitched.
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Old 07-10-2015, 04:42 PM   #17
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In addition to what everyone else is saying (check the ground wire), be sure to check your tow vehicle fuses. The tail/running lamps on my trailer connector are fused separately from the tail lights on my tow vehicle.

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 07-10-2015, 06:41 PM   #18
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AC,

Do you have two white wires connected to the negative battery terminal?

You probably do as yours is an '82 and mine is an '83. Tract the wires back. One should be grounded to the frame right next to the side of the battery box. That wire could be either white or black depending on who did the grounding.

The other negative (white) wire will pass through the camper shell and connect with all the other negative wires for the camper under the front bench just as they enter the shell. You will need to remove the bottom cushion and the wooden hatch on the top of the left side. You will also need a flashlight to see what's what and it's very cramped in there.

If the wiring is still original, the large white wire will be connected to the other smaller negative wires for the interior wiring with just a large yellow twist wire cap. Take it off and make sure all the negative wires are securely twisted together. That is the most likely the cause of the grounding problem.

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Old 07-31-2015, 06:24 PM   #19
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Did you check the fuse in the engine bay. This happened to me and I just had to replace a 20amp fuse that was wired into the harness.
Hope this helps


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Old 07-31-2015, 10:46 PM   #20
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GROUND.

I think that's the usual solution (to start with on electrical and all molded towables ) Everything else is "also ran."
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