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Author Topic:   Karavan Trailer Problems
mojipa posted 04-24-2004 09:40 PM ET (US)   Profile for mojipa   Send Email to mojipa  
I just got my brand new Montauk and love it. The 4 stroke motor and ride are awesome. There are 2 things though that have soured my experience just a little. First is the fact that an area of the center console molding is already peeling off.
Second problem is the Karavan trailer. It is blowing 15 amp fuses like crazy on my Jeep Wagoneer. Turn signal only. I took it to Uhaul and they said the trailer has a bad ground so hopefully the dealer will get this and the molding fixed.
Anyone have an experience like this with Karavan trailers?

Dick posted 04-24-2004 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
On the trailer the stop light and turn signals run through the same wire. If you are blowing fuses only on the turn signals and not on the stop lights I would suspect a problem in the wiring at the vehicle.

How is the trailer plug wired into the vehicle harness, factory or DIY?

With all of the modern day electronics some vehicles require special adapters for trailer lights. It's been some years since I have done any trailer wiring but I seem to remember that Chrysler/Jeep was one of them.

Wouldn't be a bad idea to check with your Jeep dealer on the set up as well.


Dick posted 04-24-2004 11:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I hate to double post but I left something out.

The turn signal/stop light serinio is correct but only if you have active stop lights on both sides of the trailer. If all trailer lights function properly and the only problem is the turn signals I can't see how it can be a trailer problem.

mojipa posted 04-25-2004 12:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for mojipa  Send Email to mojipa     
Dick, thanks for the reply.
Uhaul checked out the connection (7pin) on my Jeep with a trailer of theirs and there wasn't a problem.
My boat trailer works great but it is when I unplug it from my vehicle that suddenly the fuse blows on my Jeep.
Maybe I should take it to a Jeep dealer because it was a DIY job that a friend of mine helped me with.
Hopefully I can get to the bottom of the problem.
jimh posted 04-25-2004 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you have a vehicle with "Euro" turn signals, you may have a problem. "Euro" turn signals are the separate (usually yellow lens) lamps that only function as turn signals, not brake signals. To connect a vehicle with this type of lighting to a trailer with conventional combination brake-and-turn lamps will require a convertor.
AQUANUT posted 04-25-2004 09:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
I am having the same problem with my junk-a-van trailer...I know why b/w stopped using the ez loader.....because karavan is is most JUNK

I have towed mine with a ford F250 and a new jeep in the last its time to tow it to work and find out what is blew fuses in both riggs.

If ya really wana be the ez loader used on the 2003 mt to the karavan used on the 2004....
inspect the area of the trailer will notice that there is additional frame rail over the axel in the ez loader...not the karavan....thus there becomes a radical positive arch when towing over rough terrain over time......definition on rough terrain...I live in mountains...curving roads...but asphault. anyway will advise what I found with electrical..I suspect "short to area of swing away tongue"

BOSTON WHALER MT170....great boat...great motor...marginal trailer

Moe posted 04-25-2004 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
I had a similar problem last year with my 150's EZLoader.

For many hours after dunking the lights, it will blow the F250's fuse for the trailer connector tail light power. The trailer connector left and right turn signal/brake lines are not fused in the truck, so they continue to work, and I was able to make it home in the dark with the flashers going after running out of spare fuses.

I've ohmmed it out the following day, wiggling and tugging on the wires and can't find a short anywhere.

I suspect it's the cheap Wesbar lights, so I'm replacing the entire trailer wiring with an LED setup from Overton before this season.


kingfish posted 04-25-2004 12:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
LEDs are great - you'll never go back.
Jerry Townsend posted 04-25-2004 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
mojipa - if your lights work fine - and the fuse blows when you unplug the connector - sounds like a loose connection within the connector or bad connector. That is, a loose ground will not cause the problem. Blowing a fuse requires a connection between the hot wire and ground. Somewhere (and probably in the connector) a hot wire/connection is contacting a ground - either the ground connector itself or the connector housing which is grounded. --- Jerry/Idaho
BMR posted 04-25-2004 07:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for BMR    
How much more are the LED lights? They sound like a good idea, but I would bet they cost more.
mojipa posted 05-02-2004 09:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for mojipa  Send Email to mojipa     
I talked to my dad who is an electrician about the trailer and he suggested a 30 amp fuse instead of a 15 for the instrument panel in my Jeep. IT WORKED! Turns out it was an easy fix. He said DC (direct current) can cause problems in situations where overload can occur.
diamondjj posted 05-02-2004 10:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for diamondjj    
Is your wiring where you replaced the fuse rated for 30
amps ?
AQUANUT posted 05-03-2004 10:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
Well here I sit with egg on my face,
my problem was with the tow vehicle.

I am towing the montauk 170 with an Jeep Liberty Renegade

it seems that all the lighting is idividually wired...each light has its own fuse...the circuit that the trailer running lights taps into is regulated with a 15 amp fuse thus the load is too much for it...and it blows..
I too, went to a 20 and it seems to be working..

funny how we as humans can find 1 thing wrong, that we dislike, and then when other things fail we blame it on the 1st failure....hahahah...don't like the bend in my frame rails...trailer light fail...must be the trailer...right?

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-04-2004 10:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
I agree with diamondjj: is your wiring capable of handling
20 amps? Probably not.

Something's wrong if the fuse is blowing, esp if it's blowing
when you pull the plug out. The trailer lights only pull
an amp or two each.


Jerry Townsend posted 05-04-2004 12:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
As Chuck and diamondjj mention - increasing the fuse to 30 amp is not the solution. Using a slow blow fuse is not the solution. There is an electrical shorting problem - as I mentioned earlier - and possibly in the connector.

The electrical shorting problem is still there - what-ever you do - don't unplug your connector while at a service station. ----- Jerry/Idaho

mojipa posted 05-04-2004 07:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for mojipa  Send Email to mojipa     
How do I test the connector to see if its the cause?
Jerry Townsend posted 05-04-2004 11:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
mojipa - Finding a intermittent problem can - well, be a problem. Basically, you have a momentary contact between the circuit in-which the blown fuse is in - and the ground - which causes a good fuse to blow.

The process is not complicated at all - you are simply trying to find where the momentary connection is made between the problem circuit and the ground. Because your lights work fine and the fuse blows when you remove the connector, I suspect the problem is in the connector itself.

Wiring the ground to the trailer should be via one contact in the connector. Some people will attempt to use the hitch as the ground connection - but this is not advised and does not give a good ground.

I would first remove the connector cover/housing and inspect all of the contacts and wiring connections - and particularily the connections on the problem circuit. Check and make sure that nothing (a few strands of wire, a screw that is close to the connector housing, on the problem circuit can contact the ground. Should you find something that appears to provide that momentary contact between the problem circuit and the ground - fix it as possible.

Now, if you don't see where the problem is - the rest requires a multimeter - an electrical maintenance meter which can indicate a connection. Since your dad is an electrician, he should have one - and know how to use it. But connect one lead from the multimeter to the ground and the other lead to the problem circuit - toward the battery from the connector. Then wiggle, twist, turn, the connector until the meter indicates a connection - and then find out - and repair - what is causing that connection.

---- Jerry/Idaho

bigjohn1 posted 05-05-2004 05:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Here's an easier solution - I mean an easier way to accomplish your already great idea on this. Rather than a using a multimeter (which will definitely work) simply purchase a cheap auto circuit tester. The ice pick looking things with a light bulb in the handle and one alligator clip. Simply probe the various wires and the light in the handle glows once you hit current. I have several multimeters and they are great but the aforementioned circuit tester does the same thing but much easier (you only need one hand to use it). I think they run about 5-10 bucks at any auto parts store.

Once my new 2004 170 gets to my dealer, I am seriously considering asking my dealer to turn the trailer over to me for assembly - not sure if they will do this though. My reasoning is that I plan on coating all the nuts and bolts with Lithium grease prior to assembly...I have used many greases in salt water but have found lithium to be the best at resisting corrosion. I will also most likely junk the lighting system that comes with the trailer in favor of an LED like Moe refers to. I will mount mine up on guide posts to totally avoid most of the hassles which come with salt water immersion.

For what its worth to this thread, I have only used Toyota trucks to haul the smaller boats I have owned and not once have I ever had an "issue" with blown fuses.
Big John

jimh posted 05-05-2004 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Aquanut--Do you really mean that each bulb in the tail light lamps is fused individually on that vehicle? You'd need about six fuses for that:

--right tail light
--right brake light
--right turn light
--left tail light
--left brake light
--left turn light

There are adapters available which can be used to power the trailer lights from a separate 12-volt source (and fuse) run from the battery. The vechile tail light voltages are just used as signals to control the trailer lights through the adapter, so there is no additional load on the vehicle tail light wiring (and thus no blown fuses).

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-05-2004 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
I don't think that circuit tester is going to help. They
are for looking for voltage, in this case we are looking
for short. And I wouldn't go poking any holes in the
insulation on a salt water trailer.

And I suspect BigJohn's new trailer will arrive at the dealer
assembled. Aren't the current boat/motor/trailer packages
shipped from the factory on the trailer? And I'd just replace
bolts with lubricated stainless.


Jerry Townsend posted 05-05-2004 12:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Chuck - I am out of my baileywick here - but corrosion will exist between some dissimilar metals. I am not sure if stainless nuts on galvanized plated steel causes a problem - perhaps you have information or experience indicating that this is not a problem. ---- Jerry/Idaho
Chuck Tribolet posted 05-05-2004 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Stainless nuts AND bolts.

Lots less corrosion than with plated steel nuts and bolts,
which had all turned very rust covered. I've been gradually
replacing the hardware with SS.


AQUANUT posted 05-06-2004 07:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
this is the model Jeep I have Jim

notice the amount of lights it has,,,each individual light has its own fuse...each marker,turn,back,driving,overhead,all are individually fused..can ya believe it....there are over 50 fuses in the interior fuse box...6 spares in addition. not counting the underhood fuse box for engine control systems

merely replacing the blown 15 amp{left rear tail-lamp} with a 20 amp makes the problem go fix

Jimm posted 05-06-2004 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jimm    
Aquanut, you just can't replace a fuse with one of higher votage. The wiring in recent vehicles for the rear lights is 18 maybe 20 guage. That is why if you don't factory order the trailer package and add your own , you have to use one of those little boxes in the rear of the vehicle. What you're doing is blowing a fuse at maybe 17/18 amps. By replacing the fuse with a 20 the fuse isn't blowing but the wiring is taking a 18 amp "shot" and it may not like it (melt down). Ya gotta find the swinging short.
davej14 posted 05-06-2004 09:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Jimm is right, you are taking a risk by increasing the fuse rating beyond the factory specified maximum. Detroit isn't building Whalers and they don't have much safety margin these days. Fuses work because they heat up and melt before the wireing and you would not want it the other way.

If you don't want to experiment on your own you may want to consider taking the "problem" to u-haul and having the module installed by them. I used them for hitch and electronics installation on my two vehicles and they are pretty reasonable (in my opinion). They were certainly much less than the dealer would have been.

AQUANUT posted 05-06-2004 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
Dear friends,
does AWG 14 mean anything.....14 gauge is suffiecent for the additional load. incidently....due to the fact that the jeep uses amber tail has a convertor I installed when I installed my bolt on class three hitch.
I am not sure what vehicle you are refering to with 18 or 20 gauge wire for harness wire...but it isn't a Jeep. maybe some of that japanese stuff...but a good deal of the jeep liberty is made with german
true things are changing all the time.....for example...the 2005 jeep liberty is available with a diesel..German designed by daimler as in in great about a short wheel base diesel to pull your boat....
20 years ago...who'd a thought that an outboard would be supercharged.....or electronic fuel injected.
anyway back to topic...although I appreciate your sincere concerns....this ain't my first rodeo
Chuck Tribolet posted 05-07-2004 01:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Dunno that 14 ga is good for over 15 amps. In 110V wiring,
they go to 12 ga for 20 amp circuits. And I've got some
tables for 12 V DC that say the same thing.

And I'm surprised at 14 ga wiring in a modern car. They've
been put on a diet to meet emmisions and CAFE, and one place
to save weight is wiring.

Does your trailer have a lot of running lights? That one
tail light circuit is feeding all of the running lights and
both tail lights on the trailer. But it still doesn't seem
like it would get up to 15 amps. Tail light type bulbs are
1/2 to 1.5 amps in the catalog I'm looking at. The running
lights are less.


AQUANUT posted 05-07-2004 10:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
did you factor in line loss?
Barney posted 05-07-2004 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
Aqua, Just a thought. Everytime I've had a problem like this it's been a bad ground connection. That converter has a ground hookup I think. Sometimes it's hard to get and keep a good ground connection. The ground is seeking ground through a hot wire. Man I've got stories on this.

As a side item those converters do go bad and create havoc with the electrical system. JimB

davej14 posted 05-07-2004 11:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     

You clearly know what you are doing. My last $.02 are this. Whatever is the cause of your blowing fuses it is putting you at risk. Line losses add resistance and therefore would normally be expected to reduce current. I wouldn't expect the short length of wire in a trailer to be significant. One of your symptoms is that the fuse blows normally upon disconnect and not connect. If you are really pulling over 15A in normal operation that is quite a lot. When you make the connection the fuse is cold and has a higher capability to absorb the surges that occur as you slide the connector together. Upon disconnect it would be warm and therefore have a diminished surge capability. This is unlikely, but possible. I would really take a good look at that connector. The last thought I have is that fuses are designed to portect against overloads and not shorts with resistance that could limit current and yet still get hot enough to do damage local to the defect.

I hate debugging these intermittent type problems, they are the toughest. The best course of action may be to rewire the trailer and if you still blow fuses at least you have it isolated to the vehicle. Good luck!!

Jimm posted 05-07-2004 09:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jimm    
I guess my Jeep Grand Cherokee is an odd ball with the 18 guage wiring to the tail lights. Then again maybe it's not a Jeep and I've been confused all these years. Older age can be a confusing thing!
"You can lead a horse to water but it's tough to make him drink".
Steve M posted 05-08-2004 12:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Steve M  Send Email to Steve M     
As an Electrical Engineer, you will forgive me for taking the opportunity in this forum to share some insight into the current carrying capability of wiring. When I started wiring boats when I was 12 years old I was clueless as to how to select wire. It always seemed frustrating that the spool of wire, while usually being well marked for voltage, did not state how much current it was rated for. So I brought one of these reference manuals from the local electronics shop that had the current carrying capacity of various gauges of bare copper wire, and used that as my guide. Now, many years wiser, I realize that selecting wire is not that simple, nor is it some kind of Zen science like fathoming the sound of one hand clapping. There are two principle issues that will impact the "current" rating of a wire: heat and impedance. Let's start with the simple one, resistive impedance. This is driven purely by the amount of ohms/foot of the bare conductors by themselves. A wire that has more strands of conductor, or where each strand is larger in diameter, or where it is made of a better conductive material (e.g. aluminum versus copper) will have less resistance per foot (a good thing). Consequently, if you can tolerate a certain voltage drop in the wire, say 10%@12V = 1.2V, then all you need to know is how many feet of wire you will be using, and this will determine how much current it will tolerate before the voltage at the destination will have degradated too much. Say in this example the wire has a resistance of 0.6 ohms/foot. Suppose I am only going a foot from the voltage source to the destination (this is really two feet counting the wire path for the return). The total wire resistance for the two feet of wire would be 1.2 ohms, and this circuit could only carry up to 1A before the voltage at the destination to drop below 10.8V (12-1.2*1=10.8, and yes I know a good battery does not read as low as 12V, we are speaking in general terms.) and be out of spec.

Now the other concern, heat dissipation is somewhat more abstract. First, lets establish that the heat that needs to be gotten rid of is the power dissipated in the resistance in the conductors. This is generally referred to as "i-squared-R" losses. In the example above this is (1A)*(1A)*1.2 Ohms = 1.2 Watts. It is somewhat intuitive that the heat will be radiating fairly uniformly along the entire length of the wire, unless the wire has a "bad spot" where the resistance is higher than average. Such as a kink or a place where some of the strands have been severed. The ability of the wire to "shed" the heat caused by the "i-squared-r" loss is impacted by several things. For example, is the wire being run in a bundle of other wires, or is it by itself. What kind of electrical insulation does the wire have surrounding the conductors? What is the ambient temperature? How hot can the wire be allowed to get before the insulation melts? If the wire is bare, how hot can it get before the conductors melt? Note two things: we are not really concerned about length, if everything is uniform. It is application dependant.

I now know why the wire vendors are pretty vague about current capacity, and why many people, including myself often struggle with what wire is best for what application. I still use some reference materials to take my best guess, but I am more sophisticated now. Here is one I dug up tonight that is relevant for primary wiring in cars and boats:

bigjohn1 posted 05-11-2004 07:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
I stand're right about the circuit tester not cutting the mustard for finding shorts. Also, you make a great point about making holes in the wire insulation on a trailer that will be dunked in salt water. Thanks for keeping me honest.

Since my 170 will be for 100% salt water use, I sit here and wonder and plan after reading the various posts on what I need to do to ready my new Karavan when the boat comes in at the dealer. I guess its changing all plated nuts/bolts with ss (whichever ones aren't ss to begin with) and changing to an LED light setup. If I "read" the LED thing correctly, I assume I will less likely to have fuse blowing problems with LEDs assuming I have a good ground and tight connections. Although its most likely overkill, I will still most likely mount the LED tail lights up on guide posts to keep them dry.

There is no fresh water for rinsing trailers at our island boat ramps so once I launch, that trailer will sit in the parking lot all day with that salt being "baked" on by the tropical sun. I have a small lawn mower engine-powered water blaster that I plan to use to thoroughly clean the trailer (not the boat) once I'm home. I plan to turn the nozzle power down a bit so as not to accidentally force water into the wheel bearings....and of course, I will have to be careful I think not to accidentally point that wand at the boat and damge gel coat - OUCH!!
Big John

Jerry Townsend posted 05-11-2004 12:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
For those not familiar with the word "impedance" in Steve's notes - in a DC circuit, impedance is the same as resistance. --- Jerry/Idaho
jimh posted 05-11-2004 08:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Steve M--Thanks for the good information and hyperlink.
AQUANUT posted 05-11-2004 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
okay steve
from one BSE&E to you subscribe to the theory that electicity "flows from negative to positive or positive to neagative?

true electricity flows both directions thru a conductor even in dc...with electron flow in one direction thru the center of the conductor and in the opposite direction on the outter, or surface area, of the same conductor;

so what effect would drinking a cup off coffee have on this circuit?

thanks for the info..your proffessors would be least you paid

davej14 posted 05-11-2004 11:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Actually, current is simply the "flow" of electrons within a conductor. This occurs primarily on the surface of a conductor and there is no opposite "flow" of anything within the center of the conductor. If there were some "cosmic" opposite charge within the wire the two would simply cancel each other out and nothing would "flow". Fortunately for us, this is not the case.
AQUANUT posted 05-12-2004 01:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for AQUANUT  Send Email to AQUANUT     
basic electricity 101....


if X is the source{ac/dc, your choice}

and Y is the load {light,motor, whatever your choice}

-------- represents a solid core conductor connecting X and Y; if an electron moves from left to right, what is taking its place,,,,answer is another electron from the center of the conductor


<-------<-------<------ <-- solid piece of wire

this is the flow of electrons thru a solid conductor..with alternating current or dirrect current this reversal of flow happens at the source and at the load.

davej14 posted 05-12-2004 07:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     

That is a great explanation except for the fact that you are wrong. I think that this subject has been beaten to death, but in the interest of accuracy, I'll try one more time to explain.

Most people think that current flows uniformly throughout a conductor. This is not the case. The definition of a conductor is a material where electrons can move relatively unrestricted. Similar charges (ie the negatively charged electrons that make up what we call an electrical current) repel each other and therefore they "like" to be on the surface of a conductor. In high power and high frequency applications this is called "skin effect" and it has a major impact on efficiency. In your diagram you must complete the electrical path back to the source or nothing will happen. In the case of a boat, the "source" is a battery. Energy is stored chemically within the battery and when a conductor is placed accross the terminals this "stored potential" causes electrons to flow. Note that electrons come from and return to the battery where a chemical reaction takes place until the battery is discharged.

You probably won't accept this but that's ok, I won't bore the audience with more detail since we are WAY off subject. If the weather was better in the northeast I could be giving my Dauntless 14 her trial run instead of debating electrical current flow :-)

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