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Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 14, 2018 06:20PM
I place trailer wiring in the same category as riding lawn mowers: simple yet unreliable. A recipe for madness.

I'd put a fresh connector on this trailer a couple years ago. Got a fancy Hopkins Endurance™ Professional Grade 48440. The 48440 features a gasket at the front (effective), a grommet out back (effective), and a mounting bracket to promote a downward resting position so that rain doesn't fall into the connector holes.

I should have kept my receipt for the 3 yr warranty ... that thing has an Achille's Heel. The plastic side pieces that screw together allow water or at least moisture inside. The included dielectric grease I'd used didn't matter. All the internal connections had rust. No gaskets there.

***************
My task was to lengthen the wires ... one truck's connector is an additional 1.5ft farther away compared to the others. I used the opportunity to replace some butt connectors with heat shrink butt connections, and everything was now swankier than before. I reused the Endurance™ Professional Grade 48440's rear grommet and mounting bracket with a new 38448, tried and true!

***************
Time to test. The trailer got new "Blazer" brand (they're ubiquitous) lights a couple years ago. These use a 1157 bulb on each side with a 168 bulb on each side for marker. Left side, OK.

Right side ... nothing when parking lights/marker lights on, but the turn signal lit both the 168 and one of the 1157 elements weakly. A short, because that makes no sense. No power showing at that light's brown (marker) wire). <<-- but later, kinda

Check truck connections. A-OK. Check aft of the new trailer connector, weird: With turn signal on, there's also power showing at the marker wire. Somewhere between new trailer connector and light, they're touching.

Check new trailer connector. A-OK. At this point, I have to get under the trailer but I can't imagine how or why the brown (marker) and green (turn signal) wires (for the right-side tail light) would be touching each other there. I held off and checked on more thing.

I'll give you a hint: they were not shorted below the trailer. Where were these two coming into contact with each other, if not at the truck, and not anywhere forward of the tail light housing?

Answer: ___________________

(Yes, inside the tail light housing, but how?) No corrosion, no shorted wires ... bulbs are fine ...



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2018 06:24PM by deckeda.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 14, 2018 06:43PM
OK fine I'll spare you the suspense. The sockets for the 1157s can ROTATE in this Blazer trailer light. And that causes the two 12+ connections (for marker and for turn signal) to cross, thereby shorting out those wires. Stupid.

For, I dunno, decades, way back when car makers used 1157s for tail light bulbs, they employed bulb sockets that did not rotate, and typically had individual wires connected to each node corresponding to the relevant bulb element. You know, for reliability. Because getting marker lights, stop lights and turn lights has kinda been a solved problem for a loooong time.

***************

I'd held off getting LEDs for this trailer because my step father in law has a habit of reversing into things he can't see, and I've already replaced one tail light as a result. But like I said this ... this is madness.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: August 14, 2018 07:37PM
I would want to use mil-spec hermetic bayonet Mount connectors. Good for 24 hours of immersion in 50 feet of salt water.....
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 14, 2018 07:45PM
Seriously. Why does this stuff remain so primitive? I get that the company needs to watch the bottom line, but c'mon!

Speaking of connectors. I need one for the PTO wires on my riding mower. Two 12-16ga wires, thats it. I'd settle for a simple Molex connection at this point.

The previous owner deleted it, hard-wiring the PTO wires together. Which is OK by me, unless and until I need to break that connection in order to replace the freaking drive belt, like now.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: DP
Date: August 14, 2018 08:37PM
simple yet unreliable

What? I'd say anything but simple-as you show that by determining the socket can rotate!

I put a trailer hitch on my Wrangler but have yet to install the 7-Way. Looks like Greek to me...





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My name is DP, and I approve this message.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: iamrfixit
Date: August 14, 2018 09:13PM
Kick those old school lights to the curb. Pull the entire light off and install some sealed LED's. I put LED's on all my trailers probably 6+ years ago and haven't had a light problem since.

You can get many different surface mount types of LED, different shapes and styles and probably even match what you have now. On my trailers I went the extra mile and welded on new recessed, steel light boxes, they use a sealed oval light that simply pushes into a rubber grommet. Almost identical to these on Amazon These are a lot more durable and less exposed than the old plastic housing lights were. On top of that they are super bright and draw a fraction of the power. For marker lights I went with surface mounted Optronic thin line. These have a base that I fastened to the trailer with a couple pop rivets and then the sealed LED snaps into it. I solder and heat shrink any connections and add some electrical grease to the plugs on the back of the sealed fixture. It doesn't cost a lot to upgrade and if I'm gonna do it I want it right. It's SO much nicer to be able to just hook up and go.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: Racer X
Date: August 14, 2018 09:53PM
First I thought was sealed LEDs too. Look at any modern recently built commercial vehicle, and all but the headlights are LED. Many of those may be too.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 15, 2018 07:35AM
I went with a set of Optronics single-LED for one of the horse trailers a year or so ago. I like them better than the more expensive mult-diode (multiple LED) kind. What fits this flatbed is the “square” kind of surface mount, and etrailer.com carries those.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 15, 2018 07:45AM
Quote
DP
simple yet unreliable

What? I'd say anything but simple-as you show that by determining the socket can rotate!

I put a trailer hitch on my Wrangler but have yet to install the 7-Way. Looks like Greek to me...

The biggest hurdle to overcome is knowing the perspective of the various illustrations you’ll see online (or in product instructions) for connector. Is it looking at the plug end, or looking at the connections end? You’d be surprised, and of course it’s easy to wire up a plug end symetrically backwards.

My favorite o-crap moment came when I learned there are TWO “standards” for how to wire up a 6-pin connector, and also more than one way to wire up a 7-pin “correctly” (which is to say, incompatibly).

Like I said, it’s nutty. Good luck.

The dumbest aspect to all of it is that inside each connector, the wires are crammed into a tiny space, hopefully you don’t short them out, each secured by tiny screws that rust.

As you might guess, there is zero industry regulation, and anyone can do whatever they want ... which has never involved coming together to make better mousetraps.
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Re: Trailer wiring snafu, and "miracle" cure
Posted by: bobinmurphy
Date: August 16, 2018 01:23PM
Quote
DP
simple yet unreliable

What? I'd say anything but simple-as you show that by determining the socket can rotate!

I put a trailer hitch on my Wrangler but have yet to install the 7-Way. Looks like Greek to me...

Hmmm, the only reason you'd "need" a 7-way is if you have a trailer with electric brakes. But given the towing capacity of the Wrangler you shouldn't be towing any trailer that needs electric brakes. A much simpler 4-way is all you really need and that's what FCA installs at the factory on the Wrangler. BTW, without the factory installed towing package you won't have the vehicle computer upgrades for towing which include some things for skid control. Had the dealer try and talk me into letting them install a tow hitch on a Wrangler they wanted to sell me rather than ordering the one I wanted. I declined their offer - all I'd need is to be in some accident while towing my motorcycle trailer and have the insurance company deny the claim because I didn't have everything I should have had on the Wrangler for towing.
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