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Old 01-10-2013, 08:26 AM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
1973 27' Overlander
1977 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2005
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LED marker/party lights

While I had things torn apart reinventing the scare light, I decided it would be easy changing out the front markers for new LED models. Did I say easy? When is the last time a 1-hr Airstream project took less than a full day? Anyway...

You can remove the eybrow cabinet very easily. In this '73 Safari it had only seven easily accessible screws and out it came. The radio wires were just long enough to leave it hooked up and resting face down on the back of the goucho.

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The first marker light (at the corner) went fine, but the three center ones were riveted to the shell and had a ground wire, also riveted to the shell. I had never seen this in earlier or later models, so this particular marker seems to have been a one-time hit in '73. The bad part is the rivets were 5/16", so the holes were too big for the screws one normally uses to install these bullseye markers. Luckily, I have some flush aircraft pop rivets left over from my BD-5 days, so I used them from the outside to install a backing plate inside behind each marker light location. Once the plates were in, I did a normal install of the new LED markers. (photo is a view from the inside of the rivet holes that had to be skinned over.)

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What about the party lights? Well, the original 5 front markers use 3.5 amps. Double that for the rear and add a little for the tail lights--I don't think you'd want to turn them on if you weren't on shore power. However, noticed when I had the eyebrow cabinet out that the front marker power wire descended down from the ceiling cable area. Whoot! This means I could power them separately and, using a diode, also allow them to operate normally from the tow vehicle running lights. (Use a 5 amp diode if you keep your incandescent marker lights.)

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The LED markers* use 65 milliamps each, or about 325 milliamps total for the front five. I personally think the markers are too bright at full current, a setting I call "stun." On my other Safari I put a small series resistor in the circuit to tone them down a little. For party lights, I think you want to tone them down a lot. You can use a 100-200 ohm resistor to cut the current down to the vicinity of 30 milliamps total and they are still plenty bright as beacons to your Airstream. At this current, you could leave them on for a week and hardly notice the battery drain (5 amp hours, or 6% of your battery).

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Look to the end of this thread (reinventing the scare light) to see an "easy" way to fish wires from the eyebrow to the door.

* Source: Superbrightleds. Problem, the back of the marker light is flat (no recess), so there is no room for the usual small wire nut that allows you to make the connection from the outside of the shell. This means you pretty much have to remove the eyebrow cabinet if you don't modify the plastic case of the LED marker.

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