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Author Topic:   Trailer Lights for Saltwater
bigjohn1 posted 12-05-2005 09:35 PM ET (US)   Profile for bigjohn1   Send Email to bigjohn1  
I boat 100% in saltwater and my boat and trailer sit in my carport one block from the ocean. As such, the lights get punished by dunking in saltwater and then punished again from the very salty air when the trailer sits at home throughout the week. I just finished my first "trial run" of LED trailer lights and after they failed in 13 months, come to the conclusion that in my envorionment, they last no longer than regular old "cheapy" lights with bulbs.

As a tempoary measure, I am using the removable lights that bungie onto your boat cleats and you remove them at the marina before dunking the trailer. Those are a good for now but I really seek a better option for permanently mounting lights on the trailer. I have seen the "pipe lights" which mount up on pvc guide posts and like them but would rather have lights permanently mounted down low on my trailer. I don't need guide posts for retrieving my boat and the pvc posts themselves are targets for thieves at my marina while the trailer sits in the parking lot while we're out.

Has anyone truly found a durable LED trailer light that are completely sealed and can take the harsh saltwater environment?

TampaTom posted 12-05-2005 10:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for TampaTom  Send Email to TampaTom     
I was wondering if the led lights might be the magic bullet. I live on Tampa Bay and just use my trailer when I take the boats off the canal to work on them. I usually get about a year on lights and 2-3 years on axel springs (yes I wash it and coat with grease.) I'm sure if I raised the lights up on PVC guide poles so that they don't touch water, I'd get at least 2-3 years out of them. Obviously avoided wires splices as much as possible.
where2 posted 12-05-2005 10:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
What was the failure mode for the LED light, and how was the wiring holding up? I had one LED light fill 1/2 full of water on a trailer that never dunks the lights in the water. The light manufacturer replaced both of those lights for free after one year. Other than the water issue, my wiring issues are non-existent since I've been using 3 conductor wire from the tongue to the lights (instead of relying on a frame ground). I'm also using double heat shrink over my splices, and making the majority of the splices at the tongue which never goes in the water.
bsmotril posted 12-05-2005 11:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
I have a very similar environment on the Texas coast. I've had 100% reliability over 8 years with the Wesbar sealed incandescant units. They use a conventional bulb inside a plastic bubble that goes under the lens. BillS
bigjohn1 posted 12-06-2005 07:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
where2: The wiring was fine but the lights themselves began developing water inside after 3-4 months. I actually don't think it was saltwater intrusion but rather, condensation from the water-tight sealing. For whatever reason, over time, the lights got dimmer and dimmer till they quite. These were the Road King brand Chinese-made LED's sold by West Marine. I very well may have been able to get them replaced but never bothered.

Bill: That's interesting that you're getting 8 years from those Wesbar lights. It sounds like they are truly water-tight. Perhaps I'll give them a try.....I assume the standard incandescant light practice of unplugging them before dunking the trailer is in oder? I never did that with my LED units as I was led to believe (from the advertising) that they didn't need it since they were completely sealed from the elements and drew much less current. Maybe I screwed up?

kingfish posted 12-06-2005 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
You were fine with your use of the LEDs and leaving them plugged in; as you stated, the problem was apparently somewhere else. I have a number of LEDs on my trailer some of which are above and some of which are below the water line when I launch (fresh water). I've had them for 3 or 4 years and always leave them plugged in. I have had one or two failures, but mine were in the form of some diodes failing while others remained working. My failed units were Pirhanas and were replaced free. If your LEDs are the 6" oval type (probably other types too), they can be replaced at almost any truck stop or truck/trailer supply shop for about 15 bucks. The increased brightness, both day and night, and the crispness of the "blink" with LEDs is so much more appealing toe that I'll never go back to incandescents.


Chuck Tribolet posted 12-06-2005 11:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Bigjohn: What kind of trailer and what kind of lights?
Trailer over 80" wide or not?
Can you point us at the West catalog number for the lights
that failed?


bsmotril posted 12-06-2005 11:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for bsmotril  Send Email to bsmotril     
I never unplug my lights. If you saw the construction of the Wesbar, you'd see it makes no difference. The bulb is inside a sealed module whish is inside the lens housing. The lens housing is also water tight and gasket sealed. BillS
bigjohn1 posted 12-06-2005 05:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1 10001/134453/10001/763/425/17

These are the ones I bought from West. I will not buy them again. Actually, if you read the one lone review on this product, my experience was the same in that lights gradually began burning out a little at a time.

My trailer is an EZ Loader model model "4-EZB 17-20 2800"

where2 posted 12-07-2005 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Looking at the photo on WM website, those look very similar to the original LED lights I had which failed due to accumulated condensation (Road Warrior was the manufacturer IIRC). The Manufacturer replaced them for free, and the new lights were of a new design. They recognized they had a design flaw and had me ship the light with water in it to them for quality analysis.

If you contact the manufacturer, you can likely get a replacement set at no charge. I have not had problems with the redesigned set which have been mounted for a year now.

LHG posted 12-07-2005 03:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
I know I've said this about 20 times and sound like the proverbial broken record, but if you want totally trouble free trailer lights, in salt water use, install the round DRY LAUNCH brand units. They work, and work and work, and NEVER have to be unplugged when launching. The ones that came on my 1989 Continental trailer, are still functioning perfectly, 16 years later. And with over 100,000 miles of trailering on it, have never been re-ended by anyone either.

Until the DRY LAUNCH company comes out with an LED unit, I'm staying right where I am.

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-07-2005 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Since you have an EzLoader, check out West p/ns 6862080 (under
80") and 6862106 (over 80"). They are made to fit EzLoader.
I recently adapted a set to my ShoreLand'r trailer. They are
pretty robustly made and so far have stayed bone dry inside.
They work better than the lights I had before even when the
prior lights were at their best.


David Livingstone posted 12-07-2005 07:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Livingstone  Send Email to David Livingstone     
Bigjohn1, I also use Dry Launch trailer lights categoryID=207 . A simple solution.


where2 posted 12-07-2005 10:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Then there's the hardware that comes with Dry Launch. Do yourself a favor and buy some Stainless Steel hardware to install them. The Trailer for my Rage has Dry Launch lights and the rust that formed on the little steel carriage bolts that held the lights to the trailer cracked the "bubble" that traps air around the bulb, rendering the lights less than trouble free. The trailer is less than 10 years old...

Other than the steel hardware, the concept is good...

If John gets his LED lights replaced for free and sells them in the "Marketplace" segment of the website, he could almost break even, if not come out ahead...

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-07-2005 10:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
DryLaunch is what I just replaced with the West LEDs. I got
tired of fixing them every three months and replacing them
every other year. The bell jar is nice in theory, but
I got a lot of corrosion in there.


Backlash posted 12-09-2005 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Backlash  Send Email to Backlash     
What kingfish said...

Quality LED lights like Pirhana or Optronics will not normally fail and are, IMO, 1000% superior to incandescents. Why do you think all the major trucking companies are using them? categoryID=282

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-09-2005 10:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
I've had a couple of Peterson Piranha LED running lights get
water inside and fail. The trucking companies aren't dunking
their lights in saltwater 140 times a year.


bassin posted 12-11-2005 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for bassin  Send Email to bassin     
How about these:
bassin posted 12-11-2005 08:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for bassin  Send Email to bassin
Backlash posted 12-11-2005 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Backlash  Send Email to Backlash     
"The trucking companies aren't dunking their lights in saltwater 140 times a year"...true, but they are routinely being blasted by rain, sleet, ice, salt, and chemical de-icers.

I agree that they early LED lights were problematic, as mentioned many times here on this forum, and the quality manufacturers have replaced these defective units.

The fact that the major trucking companies have had problems with incandescent lights (that are not being submerged) is reason enough to consider them for a boat trailer.

bassin posted 12-11-2005 10:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for bassin  Send Email to bassin     
Pipe-Lights mount in-line on the pvc pipes high and out of the water. You will be able to purchase them at West Marine, Boaters World and Cabela's in 2006. For some reason I cant seem to get the link up here. Please take a look at them and if you have any questions please ask. I dont want to be blasted as a spammer please. I am just trying to spread the word about this product. Thank You

kingfish posted 12-11-2005 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     


jimp posted 12-11-2005 12:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
I'm another in favor of the round Dry Launch. They've failed twice since 1997 - both times due to being hit by a lawn mower in the front yard.


bassin posted 12-11-2005 12:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for bassin  Send Email to bassin     
Kingfish how are they working out for you.


kingfish posted 12-11-2005 01:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

(I'm embarassed to say I haven't gotten to the project of installing the pipe lights yet - the moldings and grommets are sitting on my desk along with my primer solenoid and cracked cover. I'm getting behind in my projects already and winter has hardly begun!)


bigjohn1 posted 12-11-2005 09:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Bassin, in the context of this particular thread - pipe lights are a no-go. I stated in my original posting that guide posts and the like have a habit of getting ripped off in my neck of the woods at the marina. I'd love to use pipe lights actually but don't consider them viable for my particular situation - thanks.
thediscusthrower posted 12-12-2005 02:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for thediscusthrower  Send Email to thediscusthrower     
Save yourself some money and go to Advance Auto Parts instead of the marine store. For the same LED setup, I paid $40 less and increased the warranty from 5 years to lifetime. As soon as it says "MARINE" it automatically costs more.


bassin posted 12-12-2005 09:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for bassin  Send Email to bassin     
Big John,

What are you running into ? the dock, or trees. Maybe its the particular ramp. I have never broke or ripped mine off.

bigjohn1 posted 12-13-2005 08:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
HA! Its neither the docks nor the tress...we have our share of hooligans who regularly rip off stuff from trailers and vehicles left at the marina parking lot.

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