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Old 06-16-2013, 09:18 AM   #1
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trailer lights

I was wondering how you wired your bus for trailer lights? did where did you splice into your tail\ brake lights?

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Old 06-16-2013, 10:47 AM   #2
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Re: trailer lights

In my case-its yes--and no. Do you have seperate brake + tail lites? (I did) If thats the case, you need an adapter. The best is by Hopkins. Actually, the 1st one I got didn't work correctly-one brake light would stay on when everything was shut off. I called Hopkins tech support. Being my bus started as partial chassis + the body was added, different companies wire things different. Told him of my problem-he told me I had the wrong model. I bought the cheap ($30?) one-I should have got the $60? one. So what did they do? Sent me one free of charge!
If you have a single brake+ tail light, then yes-simply get some trailer harness wiring from the parts store-you just may have to get a different flasher.
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:00 AM   #3
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Re: trailer lights

Rear light harness, same as always. Hopkins was the brand but couldn't tell you what model. I thought our lights were/are a bit dim. I want to add in one of those powered booster types that require additional 12vdc to boost the power.

We have one on the Jeep. We needed it for when we were pulling the popup due to the long wiring run. Made the lights nice and bright. Downside to them is if the booster poops out, the lights do not work at all. In the 15 years we have owned the Jeep, we have bought three of the boosters. Once as original install, two are replacement.

To flat tow the Jeep, we wired in a 4wire trailer plug, built a long wiring harness that plugs in at the bus, up over the roof of the Jeep, then down to a Hitch haul that has a trailer light kit wired to it where the harness plugs into the light kit. The light kit can also plug into the Jeep's trailer light plug for those times when the load on the Hitch haul might obscure the tail lights on the Jeep.

We are not willing to risk a direct wire in on the Jeep's lights. It complains about everything. Besides, the harness set up allows us to change out the towed fairly easily and quickly. The combo of wiring harness and hitch haul/lights allows us to emergency tow another vehicle as well as long as other vehicle has a receiver to accept the hitch haul. Very handy.

That's just what we did. Suits us and our needs.
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:44 AM   #4
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Re: trailer lights

I originally wired one of the cheap 4 lamp to 2 lamp adapters, plus a trailer brake and a medium-sized battery wire to the back. The battery wire charges the trailer's brake run-away switch battery when the key is on. I put a screw-terminal strip on the vehicle side, and a flat 4 on the adapter output, so the adapter stays inside, and if it goes bad, a quick trip to Wally World and replacing it is almost plug and play.

I later took the output of the cheap adapter, and instead of wiring it to the trailer outlet, I used it to drive a pair of small automotive relays, like you would use for an after-market alarm or fog light kit. The two right/left relays feed the trailer connector with +12 volts straight from the battery charge wire when the stop or turn should be on. No expensive booster to burn out.

I just have to remember to turn on the key to power the relays when I do a walk-around to see if all the lights are working, or if I ever stop by the side of the road with the 4-way flashers on. On the "to-do" list is to run another (larger) switched battery charge hot wire, so I can use the present +12 volt wire for the trailer light relays, powered all the time.
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:24 AM   #5
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Re: trailer lights

Redbear, so you must have tapped into the power wires on the brake light, and each turn signal (press brake, light gos on wire turns relay on) I like that , where did you put the relays? And how did you dig the wires out of the tail lights?
thank you using the relays is a fantastic ideal
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Old 06-22-2013, 01:41 AM   #6
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Re: trailer lights

Ok, you got me, I don't have a bus yet, but to answer your original question, tapping into the lights would give the same results. Just don't use those splices where you lay the wires side by side in a plastic body, squeeze a metal "W" through the two insulated wires, and then snap the plastic latch over to hold it. Though (at least years ago) that is what U-Haul would have done for an install, the long-term success of these connectors have a checkered history.

I would solder and heat shrink if possible, or cut each existing wire and use a butt splice. You know, those metal tubes that you squash with crimpers or pliers, either bare or insulated. Twist the new wire and one end of the original cut wire into one end, put the other end of the cut piece into the other end and crimp. Insulate the splice if it's not the insulated style.


My story was in response to some of the thread creep. I was actually wiring a 4-cylinder Honda SUV to tow a pop-up camper with electric brakes 7 years ago. There was a rectangular factory trailer light connector under the floor trim in the cargo area. This connector had all the lighting wiring for a 4-lamp set up, but no battery charge or trailer brake activation wire present. I had special ordered the Honda hitch receiver, which clamps through the frame, as opposed to the after-market hitches that bolted through the sheet metal floor. For another $60-80. i could order a Genuine Honda 4-light to 2-light converter that would plug right in to the pre-wired connector. It may have even had a 4-flat connector dangling on the end of a cable built right in that just needed to be passed through a rubber grommet. I needed better than that.

I had a wire on hand, three conductors of varying sizes in a shared jacket, that I ran from the back to the front. I cut off the Honda connector, and crimped and soldered spade lugs to each of the wires. I mounted a terminal strip behind the trim, and attached the wires to it. I also connected my three new wires to the terminal strip. Battery charge ran to the engine compartment, the other two for stop lamp sense and trailer brake activation ran to the dash for the brake controller. I bought a combo seven round and four flat outlet, and there was a tab on the hitch where I could mount it permanently next to the receiver. I went to Wally World and got an under $20 4-lamp to 2-lamp converter that came out with a flat 4 connector. I crimped and soldered spade lugs on the vehicle-side wires, and connected them to the Honda feeds on the terminal strip. I ignored connecting the tail & marker light wire to the converter, as the outlet would be wired directly to the Honda feed. I then got a flat 4 trailer-side connector to bring the converter output to my wiring. A relay under the hood connected the battery charge wire through a fuse to the main power box when the key is in "run," and added a fused wire for the brake controller as well.

I now had both a 7 round outlet with lights, battery and brakes; or flat 4 outlet with lights-only neatly available next to the receiver. Not only did I save money, but I had pictured the converter burning out someday. If I had gone the Genuine Honda route, I could go find a Honda dealer and wait while they special-ordered another converter. With my system, I can walk in to a Wally World any where and grab another reasonably priced unit off the shelf, plug the 4-flat into the output, hook up the terminal strip feeds to the input wires, and be back on the road.

OK, now the relay story. I was returning from an 8-hour trip without the trailer. I was going 45 MPH in a 45 zone between traffic lights on a major State highway, when I heard this screeching sound. I looked in my rear-view mirror to see a cloud of blue smoke. Some youngster in a small Honda sedan had been playing "Fast and Furious" until he came up behind me in my lane. I have no idea how fast he had been going, but the blue smoke was him leaving half his tires on the blacktop to make 100-foot plus skid marks before he hit me and pushed me forward (and I was still going 45!) When he went under my bumper in a nose-down panic stop attitude, my frame-mounted hitch receiver did major remodel work on his hood and grille. It did push some of my sheet metal in enough to pinch some of the trailer wiring and blow some fuses. My repairs were about $21 for a new bumper reflector and fuse, and a few minutes hammering out the sheet metal hidden behind the plastic bumper.

The converter seemed to still work, but I wasn't convinced and replaced it, saving the old one as a spare. That's when I put the relays in with the converter and terminal strip, to take the load off of any solid-state drivers in the converter, and off of any Honda wiring shared with the vehicle's stop and turn lamps. I figured I could use the old converter in a pinch to drive the relays, where it might not drive the taillights due to some of the wiring previously being shorted to ground. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:52 PM   #7
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Re: trailer lights

just curious is this just for lights or have any of you put in a brake control unit?
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:12 PM   #8
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Re: trailer lights

A brake control unit needs to be wired into the brake light switch at the pedal... If not the trailer brakes will lock up every time you use a turn signal or hazards... I watched a buddy spend a few hours trying to figure it out, while me and another buddy drank beers and laughed... Pretty entertaining...
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:21 PM   #9
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Re: trailer lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtygoat
A brake control unit needs to be wired into the brake light switch at the pedal... If not the trailer brakes will lock up every time you use a turn signal or hazards...
Somewhat true for a 2 lamp system - but not true if the turn signal lamps are separate from the brake lights, and you hook the controller sense wire on the brake light side of the converter box . . . . But if you have a properly adjusted brake controller, the presence of the stop lamps alone should not cause the trailer brakes to "lock up." The brake light sense enables the brake application, but shouldn't force it.

Unless perhaps it is one of the super-cheep brake controllers that bases its brake application on the length of time the stop lamps are on, and not on how hard you are braking. Or a jury-rigged installation with no controller, with the blue wire connected direct to the stop lamps for 100% braking every time the light goes on . . . . .
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