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Forum topic by laterthanuthink posted 07-06-2020 10:18 AM 498 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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laterthanuthink

58 posts in 934 days


07-06-2020 10:18 AM

Greetings fellow sawdust makers.

Most of us need to use a trailer from time to time to haul a load of lumber. Or a boat. Or anything. I’ve replaced the lights on a few old trailers and it always drives me crazy. The light kits rely on a good electrical ground through the trailer frame and never once have I had this. I’ve sanded down to bare metal and attached the white ground wire stubs to no avail. Each light fixture gets 2 hot wires, yellow and brown on one side and green and brown on the other side. Then a ground wire to the trailer frame to provide a return path for the electricity. However this has NEVER worked for me.

I’ve ended up running a ground wire of my own to each fixture. Is this what my LJ brethern do also, or is there a proper, reliable way to improve the electrical grounding properties of old trailers?

Thanks for your thoughts.


8 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2511 posts in 968 days


#1 posted 07-06-2020 12:24 PM

I belong to a few boating forums and this is a continuing issue.
especially with the tilting tongue boat trailers.
the ONLY solution is to run the white wire in the harness (loom)
along side all the other wires to each light fixture. end of of problem.
(yes, you have to go to the Box Store and buy a 25 or 50’ roll of white wire).

and speaking of old trailers: I am getting my old 16’ tandem axle utility trailer
ready to put up for sale. new tires, new P/T deck, and new LED lights.
I will be enclosing the wires in PVC pipe from the front to the back with a
separate white wire to each fixture, just like you described.
also on my laundry list is restoring a 1959 Gator boat trailer with a tilting tongue.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

156 posts in 635 days


#2 posted 07-06-2020 01:00 PM

I bought my boat in 1994, the first thing I did was replace the trailer bearings. The second thing I did was replace the lights and wiring. I soldered all connections and splices and used heat shrink on the connections. To this day I never had a problem with the lights (other than replacing a 4 way connector), and that is rare for a boat trailer. For your ground wire solder a ring terminal to it and bolt it down. Ring terminals crimp onto the wire, but solder it anyway.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View avsmusic1's profile

avsmusic1

652 posts in 1490 days


#3 posted 07-06-2020 06:44 PM

Not sure if you can do this after creating one, but you may want to tweak the thread title here. I came assuming this was regarding hauling/transporting of lumber. I’m no use to you on specific electrical issues though.

You may catch more folks with the specific knowledge you’re after if you change the title. I wish you luck either way though – this certainly sounds frustrating

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6315 posts in 3298 days


#4 posted 07-06-2020 06:54 PM

The few times (3, I think) I’ve rewired a trailer I always ran a ground and connected it through the harness.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

3864 posts in 2027 days


#5 posted 07-06-2020 07:56 PM

Love that trailer electrical wiring. It seems it never works when you need it. I have a 16’ tandem that I replaced all the lighting with a “light kit”. Worked fine until the dog ate the wiring. Next round was to run all the wires through BX conduit (with ground!). It seems that any wiring will get compromised by something ripping out the stuff. Next was to enclose the lights inside steel shells for the same reasons.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2511 posts in 968 days


#6 posted 07-06-2020 09:50 PM

thanks Splinter !!
actually, I never thought about the flexible metal conduit.
I just moved to a new area where my trailers are parked very close to
a wooded vacant lot with the usual chewing varmints galore.
it may be a toss-up between the PVC and BX conduit.
there is a LOT of construction and renovation going on in my area
and I often see gobs of the BX flex conduit hanging out of the dumpsters.
it may be worth a stop next time I see a demo dumpster !!

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

5934 posts in 1379 days


#7 posted 07-07-2020 12:12 AM

I didn’t see where are you parked at in the text, but if it isn’t inside, well maybe even if it is, the wiring of any lines hanging, and dangling under a vehicle, car, trailer, mower. tractor, are a favorite food of rodents. Not sure about nutrition, but they will strip the wires of enough insulation that it’s hard not to short out. Capn, mentioned inside a PVC pipe, that could help.

As far as the ground itself I usually drill a small starter hole, and tap a metal screw in, and attach to that for ground. I’m either lucky, or it works. Boat trailers are when you really torture test them, the in and out of water is the quick route to finding issues.

-- Think safe, be safe

View laterthanuthink's profile

laterthanuthink

58 posts in 934 days


#8 posted 07-07-2020 11:33 AM



the ONLY solution is to run the white wire in the harness (loom)
along side all the other wires to each light fixture. end of of problem.
(yes, you have to go to the Box Store and buy a 25 or 50 roll of white wire
- John Smith

Thanks John I’m glad to know it’s not just me. I sure wish I had a nice spool of white wire when I did mine. I had to scrounge to find some ground wire just to get the job done. It was not pretty but it worked. I’ll know better next time.

Those LED lights sure are nice aren’t they? Worth the price (about double). I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the incandescent. This little trick I found helpful. An old school 9 volt transistor radio battery with 2 alligator clips makes a great tester, it will light those LED fixtures up and allow me to check my work as the job proceeds.

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