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Old 05-12-2013, 05:31 PM   #1
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Need another head on this electrical problem

The problem: All running lights work except the right rear, the license plate light and the clearance lights at the rear.
What I've found: The green wire that supplies power to the running lights and license plate has power as far back as where a bunch of wires from under the trailer go up into the floor. I also see it coming out of the floor for a few inches and then it goes into the bottom of the back wall. Testing at a few of the sockets that are not working shows no power. I did jump the green wire to the lic. plate bulb and it worked, so it looks like the white ground wire is working.
I'm thinking that a connection inside the back wall failed but I can't find any access area to see where that might be. I've had that back wall apart when I had to replace wood that was water damaged and I think there were connections wire nutted together. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but maybe one came apart? If so, I guess I could run new wires, but that seems like a big job to connect them and them hide them.
Any thoughts?
Thanks,
Rich
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vcrt View Post
The problem: All running lights work except the right rear, the license plate light and the clearance lights at the rear.

Rich
Rich,

Do any of the rear running lights work? Any??

How many separate bulbs is this?

1. The right rear red tail light (passenger side)

2. The license plate I thought was on the left of the camper. (driver side)

3. Clearance lights at the rear. Do you mean the 5 red ones at the top of the camper Or the right side clearance lights 1 amber light?

I was going to say you lost the ground, but it seems you may have ruled that out or at least on the license plate light.

Having power all the way to the back wall under the camper and then not coming out at the light fixture, I'm assuming you used a known working ground that was verified when you did that power check, sort of points to the group hot wire connection being split. Which may be a hand full.

You can try this that may help. If you have an ohm meter, take the bulbs out of some of the sockets that are not working. Check the hot lead in each socket to the next fixture. Start at one and keep working around. If there is continuity between the non working fixtures on all of them, then the main power was unhooked or corroded some how but the good news is they are all still connected. Or you will find some that are and some that are not still hooked up.

Armed with the info on which are still gang connected you may start the get well plan or at least a temporary wire on the outside. If you can figure out which light fixture is the 1st one to get the power that wire may need to be cut loose as the end of it as it is hanging free in the wall ready to ground out against the camper siding. Some how need to get power from under the camper up to that 1st light you cut loose and the rest will then hopefully work. If you do this, you may have to cut loose the wire under the camper heading up into the wall as it too may ground out.

If there is a bunch of them tied to that power wire all in one spot, this will be even more complex.

EMD_Driver may remember or have a pic of how his wrecked 2004 T299 was wired up in the wall when he was tearing it apart. This "might" have been the Sunline practice. They either jumped from fixture to fixture with the common hot wire OR ran all the hot wires to one or 2 bundle gang nuts and that one connection kills 3 or 4 at once if lost.

This one may be a tough one.

Please report back as this one is a learning one.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:00 PM   #3
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Thanks John, I knew you'd have some ideas.
All the amber (front top and sides) lights work. The left side rear marker light (red) works, but that's all. The R/S marker, 5 lights across the top, the license plate light (yes, driver's side) and the tail lights (one filament of the two filament bulbs) do not work.
Electricity is my weakest area, so I need all the help I can get here.
I may have taken pictures of this repair when I had the roof open like I did when I did the repair in the front. Hey, maybe they did the wire routing the same way in the rear as in the front? I'm going to search through my photos.
I may need a little more direction on using the ohm meter as I have a multi-meter, but basic continuity tests are more what I'm used to.
Thanks,
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:22 AM   #4
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I found the photos I was looking for!

[/URL][/IMG]

This shows the entire upper back end. I can't tell if the wire coming up from the L/S is green or black, but since the wires from under the trailer enter the back wall at this side, I don't see why the green wire wouldn't be coming up from this side. It then seems like it would feed the L/S rear marker light first, (or maybe the license plate light) then come up to the f top lights and then down to the R/S rear marker light.

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Old 05-13-2013, 05:43 AM   #5
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After looking at several different photos, it seems to me that the green power wire and the white ground wire do come up from the R/S and proceed to the upper 5 lights and end at the last of the 5 lights on the L/S. I see no connectors for this run anywhere which is good. The problem may be in one of the lights, either the R/S marker or the license light. I'll check it later this evening.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vcrt View Post
The left side rear marker light (red) works, but that's all. The R/S marker, 5 lights across the top, the license plate light (yes, driver's side) and the tail lights (one filament of the two filament bulbs) do not work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcrt View Post

I may need a little more direction on using the ohm meter as I have a multi-meter, but basic continuity tests are more what I'm used to.
Thanks,
Rich
Rich,

WOW, OK you just about lost the entire back end of the camper... except that one left side red marker light.

Odds are high from that 1 left red rear maker light the hot wire unhooked. That may be the place to start.

Do not know if you did this yet or not, very gently take off the side marker light that does work. Very gently pull out the wire on the marker light. See if the hot wires are still connected at the pig tails, at least 1 has to be as it works. The question now is, how many wires are on that hot lead? 3 or 2? 1 being the light itself, 2 being it is only a 1 light feed, and 3 means there is another hot feed wire that will jumps to the next light. If it is a 2 wire junction and it wire nut is tight, then they may be joining them in the wall somewhere.

If there another wire (3rd one) odds are high it might jump to the closest next light fixture, it "might" be the left turn signal as I would think that is the next closest light. Do not know your older camper if it is any different than mine as on mine the license plate light is a clear plastic port on the bottom of the big red left turn/stop signal and has no separate bulb for the plate.

If there is a hot wire leaving the left rear red clearance light that is still intact, then may need to do this to the next light.

Odds are high the power path is broke between the left rear red side marker and the rest of them. OR you lost ground to the rest of them. Confirm you have not lost ground. Does the turn signal or brake lights work? If they still work then the ground is still good.

http://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx

If the stop or turn lights do not work you may be on hunt for loss of ground hunt.

A test may be, when you have the left directional light apart, if you apply 12 volts to the tail light part of the dual filament and the entire back wall lights up with tail lights, well you found the 1st one unhooked. I was having you do this with the ohm meter, but the hot test can work too. Just heads up, it might be good to put a fuse in that hot jumper line, lower amps than what is in the truck. Push on crimp connectors make a quick auto blade fuse holder. Some where this is the possibility of an open hot wire in the wall. It may be just loose in a wire nut or hanging free. The hanging free is the concern it will ground out.


The basics of a continuity check on your meter is, put the meter to read ohms. Make sure the test leads are plugged into the correct ports for an ohm test. The black wire some times may need to move a jumper plug pending the type of meter. Then cross the test leads for a test. We always test the meter 1st to make sure it is working. The ohm meter is reading resistance. 9999999 ohms means infinite resistance or an open circuit. Some meters also use the symbol OL for over load or open circuit. A zero, (0) or very low numbers (1 to approx 15 ohms) means no resistance or good continuity. If you do not get good continuity from a test lead test, then the meter is not working. NOTE: Make sure all voltage on the camper, 12 VDC or 120 VAC is dead before testing. You will blow the meter fuse if not.

Here I am testing earth ground to the side of the camper. The meter is reading 11.9 ohms or close to no resistance.


Here it is reading 383.9 ohms. This is the normal resistance of some transformer etc in the line.


Here it is reading OL or overload means wide open circuit


A normal light bulb has some resistance going through the filament. You can test it for what you are doing. Just touch the leads to the side and hot pin on the bulb out in the open and read the number. When doing continuity tests with an ohm meter you have to figure out what is normal and what is not. Coming up with the resistance of a light bulb in you checks may be, you are testing accidentally across the bulb. Stop and think, what does 20 ohm mean? In this case it is not much resistance and close to full continuity. 300 ohms can mean a load of some kind, 2500 ohms (or 2.5K) can be a corroded connection, 500K can be a really corroded connection.

Hope this helps and good luck
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:04 AM   #7
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Rich, I was typing as you where typing. I'll look again later and post if I see anything more
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:38 AM   #8
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Hi John, thanks for all this help! I'm at work now and won't be able to check anything until I get back home where the camper is. First, I'm going to that L/S marker light as you said. I'll re-read your post once I see what that looks like.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:21 AM   #9
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Rich,

Got a minute at lunch to look. This pic of yours and your other one


It "looks" like the green and white wires come up and down on the left and right side of the camper. Odds are high they came out of the 2 red rear tail lights. They then jump across the top from red light to red light on the 5 top red ones, wire nut at each light then head down the wall again, odds are high to the tail light.

If the whole back wall is dead on red tail lights and high up marker lights, then, yes maybe start at the left red side marker to the left rear tail light and hope to find a loose wire you still grab a whole of.

Good hunting...

A learning from this, any wire nut burried in the wall should be taped so it cannot come off. Not like we can do much about it now, but any repair of mine will be....

John

PS BTW, the repair your did on the front and rear of that camper is amazing. Good job.
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:15 AM   #10
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John, I had to look very closely and I don't think the L/S vertical wire in the photo is green. That's the one that goes through a hole in the stud to the left of the window opening. I think it's black b/c it seems to be the one running to the interior lights. It looks to me like the only wires that are wire nutted are those interior lights. The wire nut connections would then be accessible by removing the interior light fixture. The exterior wires (green and white wires) look like they have no wire nuts inside the walls, but run right to the bulb socket.
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:53 PM   #11
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Well John, just as mysteriously as the problem cropped up, it's gone away.
When I got home, I plugged the trailer into the bumper receptacle on my truck, turned on the lights and found everything working. My concern now is that it will go out again and I won't know what's causing it. One thing I noticed, one of the top 5 lights went out after awhile and I removed the lens to check the socket. The angle on the bulb contacts looked like they could have been more toward each other, so I made that adjustment (flimsy things that they are) and while I was working on it, I noticed that another light flashed off and on. They didn't all go out, just the bulb after the one to the left of the one I was working on. Of course, I couldn't get it to flash off by moving the socket I was working on, so I still don't know why it did that. Anyway, the wire connections look good, but the holes in the aluminum siding are enlarged and I'm not sure how much grounding affect they provide. I do see that one mounting screw goes through metal that is a part of the contacts.
Thanks,
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:46 PM   #12
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OK, I think I solved it. I checked the license plate light and found that when I disconnected the hot wire, all the lights that had been out from the beginning went out. The license bulb, the top 5 lights, the R/S tail light and the R/S marker light. That means that the license light is the first in line for all of those lights. I looked at the wire nut and found rust inside, so I cleaned all the green and white wires, installed new wire nuts and filled around the wires with silicone. When the silicone dries, I'll make a good sealed connection of the bezel to the trailer.
Hopefully, I can put this issue to rest!
Thanks for all your help John!
Rich
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:34 PM   #13
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Rich..

I might have missed it, but do your wires come up from the bottom of the street side of the camper and go across and down the door side? If memory serves, the T-299Sr had wires that came up the street side and fed all the running lights across the top, as well as the street side brake/tail light. There were also wires that went across the bottom of the rear wall and fed the door side brake/tail light assembly.

If you are still having problems, please let me know. I would be glad to come try and help you out.


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Old 05-13-2013, 08:48 PM   #14
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Rich,

Good deal on finding the license plate are corrosion. Amen.

Another thing I have come to have a lot of now dealing with a quantity more of 12 volt stuff and outdoors, dielectric grease. Permatex 22058 Dielectric Tune-Up Grease, 3 oz. Tube : Amazon.com : Automotive

You can get it at most any auto parts store. I get it now in the big tubes as the little one cost a boat load more. Any outdoor light bulb socket, even in the tail lights of my utility trailers, the 7 wire plug etc. Just plain getting good contact and not loosing it is key. The hot water heater connections seem to rank up there as close to the worst for corrosion.

Thanks

John
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