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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Trailer light genius needed
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Thread: Trailer light genius needed Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-19-2013 10:28 PM
Neosec
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Excellent! It is so very often the ground on trailers.
07-19-2013 12:19 PM
rhr1956
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Cool...those damn ground connections are usually the culprit.
07-19-2013 12:07 PM
TBApollo
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Got it!
First, thanks everyone for the insight, especially you geehaw because your post sounded so sure, I decided to try the jumpers before headed out for more tools.

Well, connecting trailer to car frame did nothing so I decided to try one last thing. I connected the jumper cables my ground screw head on the trailer and ran it back to the main part of the trailer--BANG. Got all lights.

I think now that I have what is referred to as a tilt trailer. The tongue has a pin at the mid point which when released would allow the boat to tilt up while the rest of the trailer remains on the ground. I figure that not only does the tongue section have limited contact to the largest part of the trailer, mine surely has plenty of rust in there.

Headed for a long enough wire to reach the back--and barring any other unforeseen mishap, the Apollo will be taking her maiden voyage this weekend!
07-19-2013 09:54 AM
Neosec
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Quote:
I don't know a lot about trailers so this could be normal but mine is adjustable/extendable and there appears to be quite a bit of rust in there. I'm wondering if my ground is insufficient because the the contact point between the main part of the trailer and that extendable tongue arm has built up rust???
Yes, That is highly suspicious. I think your closing in on the problem. Keep us informed.
07-19-2013 08:53 AM
TBApollo
Re: Trailer light genius needed

rhr1956
I ordered a T-one wiring harness from etrailer.com that they said was specific for my pontiac vibe. Followed their video as they performed the setup on "my" vehicle. I went through it all again yesterday and there is absolutely no way to plug in any wires incorrectly as turn signal plugs are different sizes. Even though I didn't think it was necessary, I removed the in-car ground and sanded the car paint to bare metal and re-set the ground.

dabnis
Wasn't exactly sure what to do with the voltmeter once I get one this morning, that clarifies a lot. You seem to be saying that it is possible that the factory wire colors could be wrong???

"On some vehicles that use separate turn and brake light filaments, you may have to get an adapter to combine them into your trailer 3 wire plus ground plug."

I don't really understand this but it sounds like it may be the issue however, my trailer light plug has one green, one yellow, one white, and two brown wires that plug into the same, except the car side plug has one brown. I assume that the trailer side plug combines the two brown as there are just four plugs to match the car-side plug.

I hope I don't need an adapter though because I don't know what to look for and then, won't know how to hook it up!

captain_kelly, geehaw,
I am pretty much 100% sure that the wiring is all correct which is why I have painstakingly worked and re-worked the ground--with no results. I am going to try the jumper cable ground before going for new tools.

One thing though. If it is an insufficient ground, I'm not sure how I would add a heavier wire. Would I do that by cutting it off the car-side plug and attaching a heavier wire there and running it to the trailer?

A couple other thoughts on grounding.

The light kit I bought came with a very tiny O-ring thingy where the ground screw attached, would a heavier one help?

I don't know a lot about trailers so this could be normal but mine is adjustable/extendable and there appears to be quite a bit of rust in there. I'm wondering if my ground is insufficient because the the contact point between the main part of the trailer and that extendable tongue arm has built up rust???

Again, thanks for your help everyone
07-19-2013 01:58 AM
geehaw
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Your problem is very indicative of a bad ground. If you have jumper cables use them to make a ground and see if your problem goes away. If they are long enough to go from the ground on the vehicle to the trailer that is best. Just look for some good bare metal on both trailer and vehicle. Use both leads for a better chance of good ground. Greg
07-18-2013 11:47 PM
captain_kelly
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBApollo View Post

I removed the ground, replaced the screw and sanded the contact point to bare metal and sanded the place that contacts the trailer ball.

I had similar problems with my trailer. It turned out to be an insufficient ground.

(I don't understand your sentence above regarding the trailer ball. Are you using the trailer ball as part of your ground circuit?)

Neosec's diagram is correct and will work IF you have a good ground connection between the vehicle and the trailer. If you don't have a good ground wire connected to your vehicle that mates with the white wire in the trailer harness that is securely bolted/screwed to the trailer frame, try installing one. Or try using a set of jumper cables to connect the tow vehicle frame to the boat trailer as a test to see if a better ground will get this working.

On my trailer I had a ground wire connected correctly, but it turned out that it was too small of a wire to do the job. Once I added a second, larger ground wire, all my weird trailer light issues went away.
07-18-2013 08:08 PM
dabnis
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Suggest you measure voltage at each contact on the vehicle plug. Start with the "tail", lights on, find 12 volts and record the color. Then turn on the the right turn light and find the contact, record color, same for left turn.

Open up the trailer wires and match accordingly to the plug. "Tail lights first until only the trailer "Tail" lights are on. Then, right & left turn lights. On some vehicles that use separate turn and brake light filaments, you may have to get an adapter to combine them into your trailer 3 wire plus ground plug.

Paul T
07-18-2013 06:32 PM
rhr1956
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBApollo View Post
It WAS fun, just owning a boat (finally) and working on it. The fun is gone, ready to sail!

I bought a four flat wire set specifically for my vehicle and bought brand new lights and wiring for the trailer. Nothing happens if I turn the car lights on BUT if I turn off the car lights, the trailer break lights work. Either/both turn signals causes both trailer lights to flash simultaneously (like hazard lights) -- the car lights do what they are supposed to in each situation (running lights, turn signals, breaks, etc).

I removed the ground, replaced the screw and sanded the contact point to bare metal and sanded the place that contacts the trailer ball. Checked, double, and triple checked correct wiring...Nothing. Obviously the lights are getting power, any ideas?
Any help would be appreciated!
You bought a four wire flat specifically for your vehicle? Are you saying your vehicle is factory equipped with a recepticle and all you do is plug in the trailer? Can you elaborate on this? What kind of vehicle?
07-18-2013 06:02 PM
TBApollo
Re: Trailer light genius needed

Wow that tester is dirt cheap. I'm going to pick up both the tester and a voltmeter tomorrow first thing.
Unless the factory mixed up wire colors, everything is hooked up right. I suppose the new tools will clarify that.

I re-drilled the trailer side ground today because I found that whoever set it up before me had set it on an uneven seam-- thought for sure I had it--but nooo!

Not sure what to do if/when I find a problem with voltmeter other than trace wires for damage but as I said, all wiring and lights are brand spanking new.

Will post what I find...thanks for all the help!
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