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Old 04-28-2013, 12:54 AM   #1
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Extra Tail Light Installation

For some time I have worried that visibility of my tail lights might be obscured by the various things I have attached to the Aluminess bumper. After seeing many other forum members add additional lights to the rear bumper, I finally got around to adding my own. This was a pretty simple procedure.

As you can see, the brake lights are difficult to see (note that my top brake light is also not functioning):



I found this light bar on Amazon. It appealed to me because it was LED, the right size for where I wanted to place it and was 3-function (running light, stop light and turn signal):



First, I exposed the wires in the trailer wiring harness. I was able to find a wiring diagram online and found that the brown wire was the parking lights, the green wire was the right turn and stop and the yellow wire was the left turn and stop:



I used quick splice connectors to attach some 18 gauge wire as leads so I could do a test wiring first. I am glad I did. Initially, I connected both light's left turn wire to the trailer harness's left turn wire and both light's right turn wire the harness's right turn wire. This worked for the parking lights and the brake lights, but when the right turn signal was on, the right half of both lights would flash and vice versa for the left. I was about to pack it up and look for different lights when it occurred to me to connect both the right and left wires of each side's light to the appropriate turn signal wire of the harness so that both halves of each light would light at the same time. Probably obvious to most, but since this is not really my field of expertise, I was glad to have figured it out.

Once I was happy, I measured, marked and drilled holes in the bumper:



Then I attached the lights. I chose to mount the lights on the bottom edge so that they would not be obstructed by the cargo box:



I secured the wires and made the connections:



Then I wrapped each connection in electrical tape, bundled it up in flex tube and secured the trailer harness wires back to the frame:



Next I addressed the top brake light. I thought the first thing to check was the bulbs. After getting the light open, I found that I could not remove the bulbs. Either they are not meant to be removed, or something happened to fuse the bulbs to the holder. I know I occasionally ride my brakes, but I can't imagine doing so would cause this:



After visiting three different auto supply stores, it seemed that my best option was to adapt an LED marker light to fit my needs:



After some creative carving, I was left with this:



I did a test wiring and it worked. Here it is all connected and mounted:



The light is not as bright as I would like, so I will be replacing this with something better later on. This was my last chance to do any work before we leave on a week-long trip next weekend.

The results! This shows the running/parking lights on:



This shows the brake lights on:



Left turn signal:



Right turn signal:



I am pretty pleased. Completing this has created another problem, though. I have run out of van improvement projects.

Now that I think of it, some removable mud flaps might be nice.....

Steve in L.A.
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:32 AM   #2
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Re: Extra Tail Light Installation

Nice intallation but since you placed it very low on the bumper, are you not affraid to brake it when driving offroad?
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:51 AM   #3
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Re: Extra Tail Light Installation

I suppose it's possible. The light is mounted slightly above the bottom edge of the bumper and any impact is more likely to happen at the trailer hitch first. The majority of my off-roading is limited to 1-2 level difficulty trails anyway. If I worried about breaking things, I would never drive off-road (see this post). It's amazing how far a little bit of damage goes towards your 4x4 cred.

Steve in L.A.
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:49 PM   #4
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Re: Extra Tail Light Installation

Looks great! I still need to add some LED bars to mine too, except I think I'll high-mount them on my roof rack, in case I even get stuck hauling a small trailer with bad lights (which seems to be the case more often than not).

I would recommend some waterproofing of those butt connectors. Eventually they'll build up corrosion, and if you are like me, you'll blame the lights, swap them out, and discover you still have a problem. I really like self-fusing silicone tape. After 24 hours it cures into a solid, flexible covering. Alternatively, you could squirt some RTV into the ends of the connects. Electrical tape is not waterproof. It almost makes corrosion worse because it does a good job trapping water. Its really only good as a wrapping to hold everything together.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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Re: Extra Tail Light Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInLA
any impact is more likely to happen at the trailer hitch first.
Because trails are nice and square, and boulders are always in the center!
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:55 AM   #6
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Re: Extra Tail Light Installation

Steve, you inspired me to repair my poptop tail light. I went with this LED from Amazon and cut it down in a similar fashion to yours. Thanks for the inspiration!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004O1 ... UTF8&psc=1

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