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  The Reluctant Lamp, Or, Ten Ways To Clean An Electrical Contact

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Author Topic:   The Reluctant Lamp, Or, Ten Ways To Clean An Electrical Contact
crim posted 01-07-2007 01:35 PM ET (US)   Profile for crim   Send Email to crim  
I own a 16-foot Boston Whaler boat. After taking it out of 6 months of storage, the front light will not come on. The back light works. I metered the front wires after replacing the bulb and it shows power, but the light will not work. Tried several bulbs. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
jimh posted 01-07-2007 07:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you have power applied to the bulb, and the bulb is good, the bulb will illuminate. If you have a good bulb, and it does not illuminate, you must not be getting power to it. Check the lamp socket. The electrical contacts in the socket are probably corroded.
c level posted 01-07-2007 09:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for c level  Send Email to c level     
I had the same problem with my boat on the stern light, metered the wires and got power. Ran a continuity test on the bulb and it was fine too. I ended up putting a tiny bit of dielectric grease on the contact points after cleaning them up and then worked on the switch. It works now (knock on wood), so I'm not sure if it was the power was sporatic due to the switch or the bulb.
crabby posted 01-08-2007 05:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for crabby  Send Email to crabby     
If you are simply metering the bulb socket to see if you are getting 12 volts that may not be a good indicator. The bulb will be trying to draw current thru the wires and although a couple of strands of wire may be sufficient for a meter to show 12 volts it may not be good enough to allow enough current for the lamp to light. There could be corrosion or a bad connection or a partial break in the wiring that you may be able to detect if you check the resistance of the circuit.

Double check the fuse (at least reseat it) and any other connections in the circuit (take them apart, clean them up, and reconnect).

Buckda posted 01-08-2007 06:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Good advice, but the best advice, and first step, would be to clean the contacts with emery cloth and then use dielectric grease on the bulb contacts and try again.

You just reminded me to check mine again for fall/winter maintenance.


DaveS posted 01-12-2007 11:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for DaveS  Send Email to DaveS     
I just solved this problem this summer. My bow light just wouldn't work. I made a tester--love Radio Shack and LED's--and tested the contacts. While there was power sometimes, I realized that there were points that didn't allow electricty to flow. I got a small wire wheel, put in my cordless drill and just went to work. Cleaned the [corroded] area and contacts without a problem and now it's working fine. Good luck!


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