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Author Topic:   Trailer Wiring Kits
1985supersport15 posted 05-01-2009 11:34 PM ET (US)   Profile for 1985supersport15   Send Email to 1985supersport15  
I bought and installed a submersible trailer wiring kit for my under-80-inch-wide trailer. The kit was bought at [West Marine] and worked for one season. The next season [I] discovered the grounding bolts on the [lamp housing] to be very corroded. When [I] opened the lens the connections and bulb housing were also very corroded. [I] have looked at several marine outfitters and they do not seem to make truly waterproof lights with stainless hardware. They all said that they [don't] make very good lights because most people [won't] pay for them. They also said most people who trailer frequently in saltwater have to replace the lights each year. That is ridiculous.

[I] am hoping someone can shed some light on a quality kit. [I] have heard LED lights are better for brightness, extended life and sealed lighting elements. Recommend a brand or retailer that sells well made wiring kits for saltwater applications.

The related discussion below references a three conductor wire. I am not familiar with this kind of setup. Please advise. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

[Unattributed quote follows which is likely taken from a prior article on this topic,]

"Do yourself another huge favor, get 3 conductor wire and run it to each rear light independently. That way you can use one of the conductors to run the GROUND back to the vehicle connector rather than relying on the trailer frame to make a decent connection.

"Each rear light typically requires two wires (Brake and Turn). They typically rely on a bolt coming out of the light to provide a ground to the trailer which gets picked back up again near the trailer coupler. Most problems are related to this lousy ground connection.

"I propose to run three conductor wire to the back so you can provide a copper grounding path from the flat four connector at the hitch to the light at the rear. This eliminates using the trailer frame as the ground conductor. In my case, using this methodology has more than doubled the probability that my lights will operate correctly when I go to use the trailer."

Liteamorn posted 05-02-2009 07:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Liteamorn  Send Email to Liteamorn     
LCD! They are pricey but they last a long time and don't have bulb sockets to corrode.
jimh posted 05-02-2009 08:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I do not recall ever seeing a trailer which has been wired with dedicated and separate ground return leads for each lamp assembly. Using a separate and dedicated wire for the ground will not affect the main problem you seem to have, which is entry of sea water into the lamp assemblies.

When replacing the lamps on a trailer, particularly the rear lamps on a trailer that contain combined running lights and brake lights, you often have to take into consideration the mechanical considerations of the mounting. Depending on the design of the trailer, replacement of the original lamps into the original holes in the original location may be limited to a small selection of choices of lamps.

jimh posted 05-02-2009 07:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
One solution to water entering the rear lamps on a trailer is to move the rear lamps to an elevated mounting position so they never are immersed. If you have tall trailer guides you can mount the trailer lights near the top of the guides.
ChiTown Cetacean posted 05-10-2009 08:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for ChiTown Cetacean  Send Email to ChiTown Cetacean     
[Tell me the] source for the three-wire trailer wire harness. I have been looking for some time without success. I will be rewiring and changing the lights on my trailer and will most certainly be running ground wires rather than hoping the trailer frame provides a good ground.



Chuck Tribolet posted 05-11-2009 12:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
LED, not LCD.

I replaced the lights on my trailer about three years ago
with West Marine LED units. I had one get wet inside
after about a year and a half, but it failed gently -- most
of the LEDs kept working.

And I rewired mine with dedicated ground wires. Everything
comes together up inside the winch stand. It's been really
realiable so far. It's all Ancor marine grade wire, all
soldered with Ancor glue-lined heat-shrink tubing. The
only joing that isn't a butt joint is the one up in the
winch stand.


PeteB88 posted 05-12-2009 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
How do you wire dedicated ground?
PeteB88 posted 05-12-2009 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Perhaps I should have read the the first post - is the procedure in quotations?
Liteamorn posted 05-12-2009 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Liteamorn  Send Email to Liteamorn     
LED, not LCD.

LED's are even better than LCD's :) oops sorry about that and thanks for correcting my error Chuck.

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-12-2009 05:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Each lamp has a 16 ga ground wire that leads back to the
winch stand, where they are all wired together.


swist posted 05-15-2009 09:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
This is one of the few areas in boating where no matter how much you are willing to spend, it is difficult if not impossible to find a decent prefab trailer wiring kit - as stated, most are junk and require significant additional work and components by the installer to really become bulletproof, particularly in saltwater.

L H G posted 05-17-2009 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
After 40 years of trailer boating my Whalers around, the only trailer light manufacturer's products worth owning are DRY LAUNCH. They work, and work, and work, and work, and I use them exclusively on all of my trailers. Besides the big round tail lights, they make the side marker lights and light bars. You can buy them direct from the manufacturer, Sierra Products in CA, and price is reasonable. Don't waste your money on LED's, or the junk at West Marine.

On the tail lights, all connections are made up in the light, which remains totally dry. If you buy them, they mount with slide in 1/4" x 1" carriage bolts. Purchase SS versions of these fasteners.

For ANY trailer wiring connections that have to be made, use the orange size plastic wire nuts, and then fill with Boat Life sealant. They will NEVER fail if you do it right.

Very often on a light bar, you do need to run a grounding wire to a nearby bolt.

L H G posted 05-17-2009 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
Here's a photo of the Dry Launch tail lights: current=Scan0042.jpg

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