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Old 01-29-2013, 11:51 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 30
'66 Globetrotter Running Lights

Hey everyone.

I'm trying to narrow down the areas where an issue that I'm having might be, so that I can at least get a plan of how to start tackling an issue.

I paid a few months ago with a local dealer to get a new 7 way put in, which they did. They also told me that that the tail lights had somehow been reversed (Not something that I had previously noticed) and that they "fixed" that problem.

We also know that the marker lights aren't working, but that's likely separate issue.

The signals themselves are working fine, but the running lights aren't. We didn't notice this until recently because we hadn't been doing a whole lot of night towing. Obviously this is a big issue for us, as most of our towing this year is going to be through Texas Hill Country backroads at night.

How would I start to figure out where the issue might be? Would it be at the 7 way, the fuse panel, or a wiring mistake in the back?

I've been thinking that the way these are wired appears to be specific, and the dealer, thinking they were installed incorrectly, might have reinstalled them incorrectly.

These are the specific lights.

Trail-Lite No.99 Backing Plate

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:46 PM   #2
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,592
On a 47 year old trailer it is hard to tell what the problem is with your running lights. It could be anywhere from the TV connector to the 7 wire connector to the wiring itself.

Here is how I would attack it: I would take one of the new tail lights off and identify which wire is the one going to the tail lights (the smaller, dimmer filament). Then I would hook the + of a 12 volt source (battery or older battery charger which delivers 12 volts all the time, not one of the new smart electronic ones) to that wire, still connected to the original trailer wiring. Hook the negative line to the chasis metal somewhere. That tail light should light (assuming it is grounded).

The 12 volts should backfeed the other lights, that is the other tail light and the marker lights. If it does light up the other lights (or most of them, sometimes bulbs on the marker lights get corroded and don't all light) then you know the wiring to the lights is OK. I am going to assume that some or most of the lights work with this test. If none do, try the other tail light the same way.

Assuming you get the lights, or most of them lighted, take a meter and go to the 7 wire connector. Attach one lead to the metal tongue, and use the other lead as a probe to see if you can find 12 volts at one pin of the 7 wire connector. (oh, disconnect the trailer battery and unplug it from 120 volts so the converter is off to do this test, as one other wire could have 12 volts on it, the charge wire).

If you have +12 volts on one of the 7 way plug wires with the running lights on, you have determined that the trailer wiring is at least working.

If not, then I would look at the 7 wire plug connections first, clean the contacts and so on. Maybe replace the 7 wire plug, they get old and tired in a few years. If you still have no power at the plug, you will need to trace back to where the large 7 wire cable goes into the trailer and connects to the wiring put in there. On your vintage trailer, there may be a small inspection plate in the bellypan near the tongue frame in the front that gives you access to these connections. Repeat your connection inspection there.

When you get the +12 volts at one of the pins of the 7 wire connector, you know the trailer is ok. Then it is time to attack the tow vehicle in the same way. Is there +12 volt power on one of the pins of the tow vehicle, power that goes on and off with the tail lights.

You can attack this problem from either end, working back from the tow vehicle running light power to the trailer or forward from the trailer to the tow vehicle. It is hard to predict which will give you faster and better results.

Another thought, if you had someone work on the 7 wire connector recently, they should have "fixed" the running lights while they were at the other issues. How come they didn't? In re reading your original statement, you said you had a "new 7 way put in". Old Airstreams used a different color coding than is standard today. Possibly the shop which did the work has connected the wires wrong in the 7 way connector. Some shops are not too swift or don't really care. Is that a possibility?

There are so many things that could cause the problem that it is just best to start at one place and work to the other end with a 12 volt power supply and a test light or meter. It is not rocket science, but just plug and chug legwork and understanding of simple electrical circuits.

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Old 01-29-2013, 03:04 PM   #3
2 Rivet Member
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 30
Thanks for your quick reply. I'll go through the steps you described as soon as I get the time to do so, which should hopefully be either tomorrow or the next day.

I've made previous comments on this forum about the shop that put in the 7 way and they are the local Airstream dealer. I've been frustrated with the service/pricing in the past.

If I remember correctly this is what happened:

I asked for a new 7 way because the old one was wrecked. I also asked for a check/estimate on getting the marker lights to work. The price was so high on the marker lights that I declined. They "fixed" the tail lights which they said had been reversed, when they did the install of the 7 way. They didn't mention this being an issue until I went to pick up the trailer.

I figured I'd have working tail lights when I left, but go figure.
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