Boat Trailer Lights

Siv

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May 8, 2008
2,241
823
Normandy Park Wa
Name
Dave
Boat
19' SeaSport
Went shrimping Wednesday and when we got back buddy says your right brake light is out but all other lights were fine. Today I hook up to have a look and now I nothing - no running, no signals , no brakes, either side. Trailer was connected to truck for the look today because I know some trailers need to be connected for ground. Connector is 7 pin round and all looks fine, clean connections on both trailer and truck side. Truck lights are fine. Wires that I can see all look OK, no scuffed insulation or cuts. Trailer is a 3 year old Tuff. I am no mechanic, basic stuff is my limit.

WTF..always something with a boat. Thoughts, advice?

Thanks
 
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hawksfan75

Wear your god damned mask!
Sep 7, 2011
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Kent, WA USA
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Eric
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Whichever I am invited onto
Bad crimps, bad ground connection (tail lights ground to trailer through a stud usually), loose connections in the plug, etc…
 
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Mike_I

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May 19, 2006
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Irvine
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Mike_I
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Cabo 216 First Love
Make sure you have a good ground, white wire, on the trailer side. If you have a voltmeter turn lights and flashers on then check the other pins for voltage on the vehicle side. I'm guessing it's a bad ground since nothing is working and the ground is the only common thing among all of the lights. That's assuming as in most vehicles each lead on the vehicle side is fused separetly and the chances are slim that all of the fuses blew.
 
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Captain Decent

The Bert makes ‘em Squirt
Nov 2, 2017
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Covington, wa
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The Bert Makes ’em Squirt
You need an actual ground. Not the hitch. Since most trailer lights ground to the frame I run jumper wires between the frame members to join them and run a ground wire to the plug. If your trailer is only 3 years old I'm sure it grounds through the plug so look there first. Since you lost all lights it almost certainly is the ground.
 
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wdlfbio

Once you go Cat, you never go back
Sep 15, 2008
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Olympia, WA
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laurence
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2021 Allied WildCat 30
Bad ground on that light.
 
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kenzmad

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Jan 18, 2011
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kent,wa
www.jamiesseptic.com
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jamie
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nwj 218 lightning
Thanks Guys... this seems like it . I’ll pull off the lights tomorrow and check the grounds.
Start with the main ground wire on the trailer. Common ground to all lights. Highly unlikely that every light has a bad ground. Ground trailer to truck first.
 
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fishing fanatic

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May 12, 2008
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Alger, WA
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jason
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28’ almar sounder //16' lavro
You bought a tuff trailer. Tough luck as they are wired like my 3 year old did it. Good luck. It’s most likely the ground but you must figure out the way it was/ is grounded to even begin diagnosis
 
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tbev

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Dec 21, 2017
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128
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SoCal
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tom
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Skipjack 24
Not that this is going to help but, smart guys unplug their trailer lights before dunking the trailer in the water. Just FYI.
 
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Captain Decent

The Bert makes ‘em Squirt
Nov 2, 2017
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Ryan
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Not that this is going to help but, smart guys unplug their trailer lights before dunking the trailer in the water. Just FYI.
Why? that's completely unnecessary with today's LEDs and not even very necessary even with the old incandescent lights.

Can you explain why it will help?
 
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fishing fanatic

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May 12, 2008
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Alger, WA
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jason
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28’ almar sounder //16' lavro
@Captain Decent youre completely correct. The theory is that you remove the electrical current so you reduce corrosion but if wired correctly with the correct lights etc it’s a mute point
 
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Captain Decent

The Bert makes ‘em Squirt
Nov 2, 2017
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@Captain Decent youre completely correct. The theory is that you remove the electrical current so you reduce corrosion but if wired correctly with the correct lights etc it’s a mute point
People have always told me it was so the light bulb doesn't break. But that only applies to the very old school unsealed incandescent lights. But I still hear people talk about that old practice.
 
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OILAGER

Hecho en Estados Unidos
Apr 27, 2006
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M Class Planet / Riverside
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Wayne
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Grady White 228 Seafarer "GOTTA GET'M"
Whenever I start having trailer light issues I'll grab a 12V battery from something else I own and check the trailer lights with it instead of trying to work with the trailer connected to the vehicle. It only takes a couple of minutes to figure out if the issue is at the trailer or the vehicle.
 
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kwik_wurk

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Apr 10, 2012
336
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Indianola & Browns Point
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kwik_wurk
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Montauk, Sailfish 2360, and Johnson18
Likely ground as others have mentioned. But a clarification question, does your trailer have E over H brakes, because your orignal post said “no brakes”? If so, that means the ground issue is much closer to the trailer plug and EoH wiring. (It seems you implied no brake lights?)

For their quality, wished Tuff had run a dedicated ground wire to all the lights. (Or I had at least remembered to specify that in the build.) Grounding to frames is easy to build, but makes horrible reliability in the long term. — Replaced two complete trailers with ground wire all around and that has lasted 5+ yrs without a hiccup. (And I left on an extra 2’ of wire to do replacement connectors when time comes.) My 2 yr old Tuff is on the to do list and it has had rear light grounding gremlins already.

And sometimes boat lights will magically start working after a dunk...we’ll that’s a sure sign of grounding because all the water helped all the frame ground connections...
 
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Siv

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May 8, 2008
2,241
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Normandy Park Wa
Name
Dave
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19' SeaSport
Likely ground as others have mentioned. But a clarification question, does your trailer have E over H brakes, because your orignal post said “no brakes”? If so, that means the ground issue is much closer to the trailer plug and EoH wiring. (It seems you implied no brake lights?)

For their quality, wished Tuff had run a dedicated ground wire to all the lights. (Or I had at least remembered to specify that in the build.) Grounding to frames is easy to build, but makes horrible reliability in the long term. — Replaced two complete trailers with ground wire all around and that has lasted 5+ yrs without a hiccup. (And I left on an extra 2’ of wire to do replacement connectors when time comes.) My 2 yr old Tuff is on the to do list and it has had rear light grounding gremlins already.

And sometimes boat lights will magically start working after a dunk...we’ll that’s a sure sign of grounding because all the water helped all the frame ground connections...
No E over H, by no brakes I meant no brake lights. Pretty sure it is the ground to the right side light my buddy reported to be failing. If it dries up I'll take a stab at taking it apart today. Too wet at my place right now.
 
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fishnazzi

Mostly just LURKING anymore...........
Feb 24, 2008
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Troy
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Which one.............
I’m a little shocked that all the no ground comments..... no one told you the easy way to check. Take a set of jumper cables attach one side to truck frame. The other end to trailer. If the lights work..... you have a ground problem on one or the other.
 
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Siv

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May 8, 2008
2,241
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Normandy Park Wa
Name
Dave
Boat
19' SeaSport
Pulled off the right side light and the ground connection was corroded. Cleaned it all off down to bare metal and reinstalled. Nothing. Pulled off the left side fixture find that the ground wire had been pinched between the back of the LED and the trailer at factory install wearing off the insulation and compromising the wire. It had maybe 5% capacity if that. Took the new unit Tuff sent me, installed it on the left side and ........lights all around! I'll quit on boat stuff today while I am ahead.

Tight Lines
 
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fishnazzi

Mostly just LURKING anymore...........
Feb 24, 2008
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Which one.............
A win is a win!!
 
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South Sounder

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Jun 12, 2011
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Why? that's completely unnecessary with today's LEDs and not even very necessary even with the old incandescent lights.

Can you explain why it will help?
I was always thought that on longer tows or longer backing the older style lightbulbs would heat up and almost were never sealed so when the initial shock of cold salt water meets a thin warm glass bulb they were most likely to stop working from temperature fluctuation.
However you are correct with today’s led it’s a unnecessary step
 
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RGS

Almost A Member
Mar 16, 2012
128
44
Poulsbo, Wa
Name
Rob
Boat
16' HiLaker & 24' Fiberform
I always add a longer white wire for each side and run the ground all the way to the tongue and have just one common ground point on the trailer.
 
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