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Old 10-04-2013, 01:12 PM   #1
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1961 16' Bambi
Malden , Missouri
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Running lights

I'm still a relative newbie, so feel free to let the ideas flow:

My running lights are blowing the fuse on my TV. During the brief moment that they do illuminate, the curbside amber is bright, the streetside amber is dim, and neither of the side rear reds light up, not does the license plate light.

I THINK the problem is that there is only one wire running to the rear streetside red (I'm thinking a PO somehow lost it in the wall.). Testing that hypothesis, I ran a temporary wire along the outside from the dim amber to the streetside no-light rear red and got it to glow very dimly--nothing else in the back though.

I'm stumped as to how to get my no-lights and dim one to work properly. I've also inspected the umbilical at the tV as well as the location in the front wall where the umbilical ties in to the various wires and those connections are tight.

It'll be another week or two before I can try anything, so you have plenty of time to comment--with ideas! ;-)

Thanks for any help you an give.

Aulden
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:34 PM   #2
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OK, back to basics for you. Like all electrical things, the lights get power from the battery and return power back to the battery. Power goes to the lights via a wire and returns to the battery via the body of the trailer (in this case the skin. I notice in your photo that the power connection is bare-it MUST be taped to prevent contact with any metal parts of the trailer or it will short and blow the fuse. You have two tasks: first find the short by removing each light from the shell until find where power is going directly to the skin without going through a bulb first; second, you need to make sure the bond of each fixture to the skin is electrically good so that power coming into the bulb through the wire can return through the skin. any place that electricity can go directly from the battery to the skin without going through some electrical appliance will cause a short. That is why we have fuses.
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input, Excella CM. I wish the problem was that unwrapped wire--it was off because I was checking to make sure the wires were connected, but it was covered when I opened it.

What do you think about the 1 wire to that light? I'm don't want to go fishing for a wire that's not there. Is it normal to only have one when all else have two?
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:06 PM   #4
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Yes, There is only one wire on a running light. The ground is achieved by the screw that secures the fixture to the skin. The entire frame and skin of the trailer is grounded to the negative side of the battery.
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:53 PM   #5
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Gregsch,
Well, that info saves me some "fishing" for a wire that's not there in the wall!

Finding the short is gonna be something not fun.

Thanks for the input. Any other ideas/thoughts are welcome.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:13 PM   #6
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First I would open up each and every light and check to make sure that the POS+ wire is still securely connected to the light and then make sure that the screw that provides the NEG- to the fixture is tightly secured into the aluminum skin of the trailer. I had to actually get #10 screws because my #8 were too loose to the skin and my lights kept losing the GROUND and cutting out. Good luck!
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:14 PM   #7
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Remove the bulbs from ALL of the lights. I would use a battery charger instead of repeatedly blowing fuses in the TV.
Replace the bulbs one at a time. This may help narrow down the search. While in each light fixture, check to make sure the wire coming thru the skin is not touching the skin.
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Old 10-18-2013, 06:28 AM   #8
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I like these ideas and I'm hoping they work! Where/how do I connect the battery charger? (I've gone through quite a few fuses and the cost adds up!)
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:13 AM   #9
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Connect the black lead of the battery charger to a clean spot on the frame of the trailer.
Then check each of the circuits on the UCord by sticking a small screw driver in the plug with the red lead of the charger clamped on to the screw driver shaft.
There are 5 circuits plus the common/ground.
Right turn and brake.
Left turn and brake.
Charge line
Electric Brakes
Tail and Marker lights
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Old 11-01-2013, 04:46 PM   #10
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Ok. Here's the latest. For some reason, there's a separate won't to the tail lights that wasn't connected where the umbilical connects inside the trailer. I got it connected and, voila--tail lights!

However, I can't find the short with the side running lights.

By the way, thanks for the earlier input. I used a battery charger instead of burning lots of fuses, and I've quadruple checked the connectors at the actual lights.

My latest idea:
Since the amber lights work when connected to charger, I'm planning to disconnect the wires that run from them to the back red lights, since the short must be somewhere there. Then, I'm planning to run a new wire to each of the back reds...tying in to the tail lights.

Will this work!?

All comments welcome!
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Old 11-01-2013, 05:37 PM   #11
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Hello...yes that will work, with the understanding that you have access to the interior walls. But, if you have access, then I would replace the whole system. Take care of it now, you will be glad you did.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:26 PM   #12
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I only have partial access--I'm HOPING I can feed a stiff wire the 4' from light to light. I'm taking a stab in the dark, as I've never seen what it looks like under the interior skin of the Bambi. (Just hoping that it's doable) Anyone with those photos would be nice to see. :-)
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:42 AM   #13
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While you are at this, you may want to swap out the incandescent bulbs for LED's. One thing you will discover is that because of the heat generated by the incandescent bulbs, quite often the contact between the bulb and socket gets loosened and the lights will only work sporadically. By changing to LED's, the lights will always work, they will e much brighter and use a lot less power. I believe that Dan Brown of LEDs 4, Recreational Vehicles has replacement lights for the '61 Bambi.
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Old 11-04-2013, 08:42 AM   #14
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I had the same problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by ragin-cajun View Post
I only have partial access--I'm HOPING I can feed a stiff wire the 4' from light to light. I'm taking a stab in the dark, as I've never seen what it looks like under the interior skin of the Bambi. (Just hoping that it's doable) Anyone with those photos would be nice to see. :-)
A couple of years ago, we had running light issues, and found that the wires feeding the front running lights on our '66 Safari were completely fried from overload. The wire gauge used was too small to feed five incandescent bulbs.

I was able to fish new (larger) wire from light to light. Sometimes it was with a stiff wire or a fish tape between lights, but often I was able to use the old wire to pull the new one into place.

I had to enlarge the holes behind each running light to about the size of a nickel to get the wire nut connectors through. I made sure to keep the hole within the area covered by the light. A Dremel tool worked well to enlarge the holes. Seal it up good afterwards.

I posted some pics of the fried wires back then, but have nothing from the interior--I was working from the outside like you are.

Bottom line, new wiring, new LED lights, everything has worked just fine since I did the re-wiring.

It can be done. Good luck!
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