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Old 03-30-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
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Total Running light frustration

I had the trailer place fix my running and right blinker light last time. He informed me that the pins were corroded on the truck. He cleaned them and got everything working. Well we are getting ready to pull it Friday and I went out last weekend and hooked everything up to find out my running lights and right tail light is not working again.

I noticed I had a running light fuse blown so I replaced it. Still is not working. I took the truck to a mechanic to have several things worked on and had him check out my connection on the back and it was not working correctly. He fixed it and he used a light meter to show me how everything was working. I took the truck home and the lights are still not working. I took the plug in adapter on the connection wire apart at both ends and checked everything to make sure I did not have any corrosion or a loose wire and hooked everything back up. Still not working. I took the cover for the adapter in the trailer off and checked all the wiring and everything was fine. Still not working. I am working from 6:30 a.m. until 5:00 P.M. at night so I do not have time to work on it or take it in.

I am just venting. We are supposed to hit the road Friday moring at the crack of dawn.

Brian
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
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I've seen the plug on the trailer side give trouble like you are experiencing before. The connections get worn, loose their tention, and don't make good electrical connection. Looking at the trailer connector, if you see a single piece of metal for each connection, those are the ones that give trouble. The later model connectors have two pieces of metal per connection. If you have that earlier type, try inserting a small screwdriver between the piece of metal and the housing of the connector to slightly bend the metal piece in toward the center, and try it again.
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:20 PM   #3
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Been there and I feel your pain.

In general, trailer lighting connectors and wiring aren't built to a usefully high standard and fail often and for no reason. If it's any consolation, the boat trailer guys have it worse.

I offer herewith Jammer's version of the Shining Path to Trailer Light Happiness:

1) Find and remove any and all insulation-displacement connectors (you know, those blue scotchlock things) on both the trailer and the tow vehicle. Replace them with soldered connections sealed with the high-buck heat shrink that has a layer of hot melt glue inside the tube to encapsulate the connection and protect it from water and salt spray. This is the most important step

2) Find and remove any and all butt connections and terminals that do not show clear evidence of being crimped with a proper ratchet crimp tool. Either replace them with properly crimped terminals or solder them.

3) Be sure that any wiring exposed to road debris or passing through or across a metal component is protected by wire loom, conduit, or a grommet. Better still, use loom over all the wires everywhere.

4) Avoid relying on grounds to the steel frame of either the TV or the TT, use a wired return instead. If unavoidable, crimp (using the ratchet tool) or solder the wire to a ring terminal of the proper size and fasten it to the frame after sanding or grinding the frame until bright and shiny. Use a stainless steel star washer between the ring terminal and the frame unless you can find some ring terminals that have the star washer built in (they're hard to find)

5) Aggressively replace any connectors and bulbholders that show any sign of corrosion or damage whatsoever, unless they're rare or expensive or impossible to get at.

6) Use anticorrosive electrical grease on bulbs and connections. The stuff the home centers sell for aluminum wire works great and is readily available.

7) Consider that the 6-pin and 7-pin connectors work better than the 7-blade RV connectors because they have a better design and larger contact area. The 4-way/5-way flat ones are the worst.

8) I think it's usually worth wiring a relay and circuit breaker for the trailer running lights rather than just wiring them to the tail light circuit. With 16 marker lights and two tail lights that circuit draws considerable current, and there are ample opportunities for them to short out leaving you to wonder what happened.

9) The relay and circuit breaker approach works with turn signals too and although usually unnecessary it is one way to solve the problem of fuses blowing when you go over a bump once in 5 hours of driving.

Probably not much help if you're on the road Friday, I guess.
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:56 PM   #4
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Electrics are a mystery and a frustration. You cannot see electicity flowing or easily visually check if a connection is good or bad. RV dealers have fancy gadgets that plug into your trailer or tow vehicle and report what is working or not working. There is an easy way to check circuits with a multimeter, cheaply found at radioshack or a 12volt continuity tester that can be picked up cheaper yet everywhere from wal-mart, auto parts stores or hardware stores. They look like a screwdriver with a sharp point and a wire coming out of the other end. What you do with them is touch the pointy end to one terminal and clip the wire to another terminal. I'm not trying to be a smart A** here only trying to illustrate an easy test for your lights. The Bargeman connector for your trailer has 7 pins. Different colored wires are connected to each of those pins. Each color denotes a function of that wire. Stop and Right turn signal Brown. Stop and Left turn signal Red. Black - Battery. White - Ground. Blue - brakes. Green - Running lights. I cannot figure out how to insert a picture of the bargeman connector here but if you look at the end like a clock face with the key way at 12 the battery should be at 1 o'clock and the ground at 7 o'clock. What I have done in the past is stick a small shaft screwdriver into the battery terminal and clip a test lead or continuity tester to the shaft of the screwdriver and then stick the pointy end of the tester into the other holes. If you poke it into the ground the tester will light up. If you poke it into the running lights they should also light up and etc. By doing this you will quickly find out if running lights are burned out or shorted out or if nothing works the fuse is bad. If you clip a test lead (a short piece of wire with an alligator clip at each end) to a screwdriver or nail stuck into the battery terminal and the other end connected to the running lights terminal you can walk around the trailer and look at and test each and every light at your leisure.
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Old 03-30-2010, 10:03 PM   #5
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Hi Brian,
I assume that all your wiring is correct and grounds good. If that is the case then the problem might be your pigtail. What you've told us leads me to believe that might be your problem. Is your pigtail the original one or is it new? My old pigtail had signs of corrosion and some circuits failed to work at times, so I replaced it. I bought a new pigtail at Out of Doors Mart last Summer. Haven't had a problem since.
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:36 AM   #6
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One useful debugging tool is two 3" lengths of scrap 3/8" copper tube... these can be slid over the pins in the Airstream trailer connector, and your handy battery charger connected to the protruding tubes. The battery charger will limit the current in case of a short, and you can quickly figure out what is what. Do get the polarity right, of course...

I was able to diagnose and fix our trailer's lighting issues in an afternoon w/ this approach.

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Old 03-31-2010, 01:08 AM   #7
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Brian:

I had a similar problem and found that the wire to the female plug on th TV had corroded to the point where one wire broke off. Once I found that, I lost lights (I don't recall which function) and It turned out to be a fuse on the TV, but not under the dash, but under the hood.

Good luck!
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Old 03-31-2010, 02:27 AM   #8
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There is a lot of good advice for checking connections and grounds but I think something was missed. You said the running lights and right tail light were out. The tail lights and running lights are on the same wire from the TV. If the left tail light works the connection from the TV is good to the left rear of the trailer and the problem lies somewhere in the trailer. I'm not sure where the feed for the running lights takes off from the wire to the left tail light but I would look for that junction. That point may also be were the feed for the right tail light is connected. From your origional question I assume that the brake and turn signals function properly.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 03-31-2010, 04:37 AM   #9
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Thanks guys, I will try to work on it again tonight.

Brian
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:27 AM   #10
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Another diagnosing tool is the method for lighting your "Canadian Christmas Lights". You take a short wire and plug the ends into the 11 o'clock and one o'clock positions on your seven-way trailer plug.

This will use your trailer battery to light all your lights. If they work, then your problem is on your truck side.

Pat
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Old 04-01-2010, 01:27 AM   #11
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I was looking at how to pull the old plug off the trailer to replace it. I see there are two screws holding it on. When I looked from the inside the trailer I could see there are two lock nuts holding it. I am assuming those two lock nuts are on the screws on the front of the trailer. I tried to turn the screws with a screw driver but they would not budge.

I am leaving this weekend to go camping and decided I am going to change the plug on the front of trailer when I am camping. I have temporary lights on the bumper to keep the trailer legal. When I bought the trailer their was a new plug with pins on it that the previous owner never installed, but I was thinking of getting the newer version which is like what I have on my truck.

Does anybody have any experience with changing the plugs out on the front of the trailer. Is it pretty strait forward or is there anything I need to worry about?

Brian
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:30 AM   #12
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Hi Brian,
That sounds like a stess-free plan.

Are you going to replace both the trailer side plug-in unit and the pigtail? I would replace both. Swapping out the trailer side plug-in assembly is pretty straight forward. Just remember to write down the which wires goes where or take a few pics.
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:23 AM   #13
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zep thread

Hi Brian,

Zeppelinium put out an excellent thread on changing the plug on the front of the trailer. I used it as a reference when I changed the plug on ours.

It is pretty straightforward, but I am not sure I would tackle it when camping. If you have the front gaucho, it would be a chore to have to work around the framing for the gaucho and storage bins. I did mine when I had the front end furniture of ours pretty well out of the trailer. I was doing a number of different projects.

It may depend upon the brand of new plug that you have to work with, but I encountered a few challenges.

On the original plug, the screw terminals were on the back, and the terminals on the new plug were on the side and smaller. I had to change out all the ring terminals on the wires to spade type terminals.

The screw holes to mount the plug on the front did not quite match up with the holes for the original plug. It was close, but I needed to use a drill.

There are lots of good pictures on Zep's thread, I recommend you check it out. Good luck.

Laird
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:34 AM   #14
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I tried everything so I took it to an RV shop in Southern Illinois. There was a 12 volt hot wire touching the aluminum metal of the coach. He took the wire taped it and the running lights worked.

I had a very thick baby blue wire that was unattached and I have a black wired that is not hooked up. Everything works great. I read the blue wire is for charging the trailer battery and myself and the trailer tech could not figure out what the thin black wire was for. We did not hook up the blue wire because I was not sure since I put an intell converter on the old fuse panel it would work. Electricity is not my thing so I do not want to blow anything in the back.





Brian
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