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Author Topic:   Trailer Lighting
IWAHAY posted 02-11-2007 12:48 PM ET (US)   Profile for IWAHAY   Send Email to IWAHAY  
I just rewired my boat trailer, following the color codes and grounding suggestions. When I plug into my expedition's factory plug the running lights work, but go off when I push the brake. No brake lights come on the trailer. When I tried the turn signals, both lights on the trailer flash with either the right or left signal activated. I have used the same vehicle with other trailers with no problem. What am I doing wrong? Could this be a ground problem? Any help will be appreciated.
jimh posted 02-11-2007 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Test the trailer wiring with a separate battery before connecting to the vehicle. This will isolate the problem to either the trailer or the vehicle.
bms1939 posted 02-11-2007 06:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for bms1939  Send Email to bms1939     
Your trailer is grounded, through the tongue of the trailer, by the tow vehicle. Make sure your trailer is connected to the vehicle, sometimes you have to pull the trailer up the road to get a good ground connection due to rust on the ball or hitch. If that doesnt work double check your wiring and grounds. Did you have the same trouble with the lights before? Was this the reason for the re-wire?
Chuck Tribolet posted 02-11-2007 11:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The trailer shouldn't be grounded through the ball, except
as a backup. Every trailer plug I've ever seen has a
ground connection.

This does smell like a bad ground somewhere, and I'd guess
someplace common to all the lights.

If it's a galvanized trailer, and some of the grounding is
through the frame, old galvanizing is a GREAT insulator. You
need something that will bite through it to clean metal.

I agree with JimH about testing with a separate battery (or
a charger).

jimh posted 02-12-2007 09:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Trailer lighting electrical connections between trailer and vehicle have a ground circuit. The mechanical connection between trailer and vehicle at the hitch is not to be used as an electrical circuit.
bms1939 posted 02-12-2007 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for bms1939  Send Email to bms1939     
When I hook my trailer up after winter storage the lights are dim and the brake lights sometimes activate the parking lights, after a short distance they return to normal. I know its not the tow vehicle because I use a different truck almost every time I tow the boat(benefits of being a diesel truck dealer). I always took this as the ball had to wear the rust off the inside of the coupler before the lights would work properly, for some reason this seems to be the case with my trailer.
Chuck Tribolet posted 02-13-2007 01:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
bms -- that's probably because you have a bad ground wire on
the trailer somewhere, and the ball is providing a back up
path.


Chuck

jimh posted 02-13-2007 11:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This reminds me of an old story--a legend--in the telephone business:

A telephone subscriber had a dog that was clairvoyant--it could predict telephone calls. The dog would bark and run around, then the telephone would ring. The woman called the telephone company to inform them, and a repair technician was sent out.

The real problem was a bad ground connection on the telephone circuit. The subscriber was a party-line customer. Ring voltage for her line was sent down one conductor working against ground. The woman's dog was tied up with a metal chain and collar that was secured to the grounding stake for the telephone circuit. The ground stake was loose, and not making good connection.

When the ring voltage appeared, the dog would get a shock. He'd begin to bark, then he'd run over and pee on the ground stake. The dog pee would make a better ground connection, and finally the rigger on the phone would sound. The woman would hear the ring, and answer the call.

Chuck Tribolet posted 02-14-2007 07:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Are you saying we should pee on the hitch ball before we
hook up? ;-)


Chuck

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