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Author Topic:   Disconnecting trailer lights for launch
FISHNFF posted 04-20-2002 12:57 AM ET (US)   Profile for FISHNFF   Send Email to FISHNFF  
I heard that disconnecting your trailer lights from the tow vehicle before dunking it will greatly extend the life of the trailer. Is there any truth to this? A guy on another site claimed doing so extended the life of his trailer 3 fold. If activating the lights while the trailer frame is in the water, causing some electrical current leaking or grounding, leading to accelerated trailer wear, would a zinc mounted on the trailer help?


EddieS posted 04-20-2002 01:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for EddieS  Send Email to EddieS     
Probably depends on how many hours he leaves his trailer in the water with the lights connected to the truck. For loading and launching your boat you run less of a risk of shorting your lights out if you disconnect them before submerging, but for the amount of time the trailer is in the water there couldnt possibly be any effect on the trailer. Maybe he his new trailer is galvanized vs a painted trailer in the past.


jimh posted 04-20-2002 08:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is a sound reason for disconnecting the lighting circuit on the trailer from the car before immersing the trailer in water. Unfortunately, it is not the reason you cited.

Disconnecting the lighting circuit before putting the trailer in the water is done to prevent the bulbs from popping if they should come in contact with the water.

As for electrolysis, I don't see a risk. When you rig the trailer lights you already have bonded the lighting circuit to the trailer frame (a requirement in many states), so current is flowing in the trailer frame whenever the lights are on.

The trailer does not seem to be at any greater risk of stray electrical currents with or without the wiring connected. It just connects to the car battery, and the car electrical circuit is pretty well insulated from ground by the rubber tires.

If you immerse your trailer, or any metal, into water where stray currents are trying to dissolve metals in the water, those currents don't know anything special about your trailer frame just because you have a few milliamperes of DC current flowing on it.

If you were to connect your trailer frame with a large diameter wire to the 115 V Neutral conductor of the local power lines and immerse it water, you might attract some additional current.

djahncke posted 04-20-2002 09:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for djahncke  Send Email to djahncke     
it's not the electricity and water that pops the bulbs. It is the thermal shock of hot (as in heat) glass bulb coming in contact with cold water. The glass cannot take the thermal stress and breaks.
Dick posted 04-20-2002 11:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
The problem of bulb popping is eliminated with most of the newer lights which are waterproof or the bulb is in a waterproof capsule.
I have the Wesbar 3026/3076 lights on my trailer and have been launching for 2 1/2 years have never disconnected the power and have never blown a bulb.
rsgwynn1 posted 04-20-2002 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for rsgwynn1  Send Email to rsgwynn1     
I've always tried to rig guide poles on my trailers with pvc. That way you can raise the lights as high as you want and avoid having to dunk them.
dfmcintyre posted 04-20-2002 04:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
I've always unplugged. Learned response from earlier lights that were not waterproof.

_However_, I also found that the "waterproof" ones in my new trailer can also develop a leak.

FWIW - Just saw today a nifty way to store your connector, while the trailer is not being towed. Take a spare vehicle end connector, attach it to the trailer and spray some white grease into it. Insert the trailer end. Nifty....why didn't I think of that DECADES ago?


Tom W Clark posted 04-21-2002 02:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Yes, many people religiously disconnect their trailer lights before immersion in the drink to prevent the water from shorting the trailer lighting circuit. The notion is that if the bulb and socket come into contact with water there will be a short circuit and the fuse for the trailer lighting circuit will blow. This would also happen if there are any other places whether the water can come into contact with the wiring at a non-waterproof splice or frayed section of wire on the trailer.

The light bulb itself would only pop if it were hot already and made contact with the water suddenly. I have never ever seen this happen however, though there are plenty of "waterproof" lights out there that leak.

Now having said all that, my comment is this is all an "old wives tale". Theory and reality are frequently different. I have trailered and launched boats for 24 years and have launched with the lights disconnected and connected. I have launched with trailers that had leaky lights, frayed wiring, lousy connections, you name it. I have given trailer lighting circuits every opportunity to short out and blow the fuse and it has NEVER happened to me. I no longer bother to disconnect the pigtail when launching or retrieving.

There is nothing wrong with doing so, however. Go to any launch ramp and watch as many boaters do exactly this. But they are not doing so to prevent galvanic corrosion of their trailers. Thatís laughable.

FISHNFF, the guy who fed you that line must park his trailer in salt water and leave the lights on 24/7!

lhg posted 04-21-2002 03:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
In 1986, I bought a pair of "Dry Launch" brand round style trailer lights. My 1989 Continental trailer for my Outrage 25 also came factory equipped with these. These are TOTALLY waterproof, like an inverted bottle traps air, and I have not disconnected my lights since, nor replaced the whole assemblies! The best lights you will over own, at $30/pair. The bulbs only burn out from old age!

If you are still uplugging lights for launching, join the modern world of the 1980's and get Dry Launch round trailer lights.

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