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Old 04-27-2012, 07:53 PM
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utility trailer wiring issues

So... I'm trying to get my trailer lights working. It's a basic 4 wire harness. At the vehicle white (ground) to running (brown) indicates "OL" on my multimeter set to DC. Overload? What the heck? But whatever.

I didn't bother testing the blinkers (green and yellow), but they don't function on the trailer, so I didn't test those with the multimeter.

I tested between the trailer plug ground and the trailer frame, and I get 0 ohms.

I cleaned the ground at the tongue (a small black wire goes and I believe meets the white wire), at the taillights, and replaced the taillights with new units (the old ones were broken and pretty crusty inside).

Voltage seems to indicate 0 at the lights, with the + lead at the ground (mounting studs) and the - lead at the trailer ground that I cleaned up (granted it could be cleaned up better).

Any ideas? Should I just say 'screw it' and get a harness kit?
Matt

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Old 04-27-2012, 09:22 PM
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OL reading on the Fluke brand meter simply means open circuit or no measurable resistance.
Chassis grounds are a constant problem.
To have a dependable system simply run a wire from each light to a central ground point which is the white wire from the connector in this case, and not depend on the chassis ground connections.
When testing make sure the vehicle connections are correct by testing for voltage at the vehicle connector using the (white) ground and (green) wires for tail lights/plate/running.
Then the (white) and (yellow) for left turn/stop.
Then the (white) and (brown) for right turn/stop.

vicrod
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:42 PM
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White to brown(running) gets you OL may mean that you need to set the voltmeter to a different setting. You may have it on a 5volt full scale deflection and its digital so reads OL. To much juice for that setting.
Thw white taht changes to black after the plug and is grounded to the trailer frame?

Check that the ground is good ground. Take it off and clean to bare metal and be sure the terminal at the end of the wire is nice and shiney metal where it contantcs the trailer
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicrod
OL reading on the Fluke brand meter simply means open circuit or no measurable resistance.
Chassis grounds are a constant problem.
To have a dependable system simply run a wire from each light to a central ground point which is the white wire from the connector in this case, and not depend on the chassis ground connections.
When testing make sure the vehicle connections are correct by testing for voltage at the vehicle connector using the (white) ground and (green) wires for tail lights/plate/running.
Then the (white) and (yellow) for left turn/stop.
Then the (white) and (brown) for right turn/stop.

vicrod
Agreed. I have seen a lot of trailers that people have wired that try to use the trailer ball as a ground point for the trailer. You need all dedicated wires from the vehicle to the trailer including a ground wire.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cape Cod Bob
White to brown(running) gets you OL may mean that you need to set the voltmeter to a different setting. You may have it on a 5volt full scale deflection and its digital so reads OL. To much juice for that setting.
Thw white taht changes to black after the plug and is grounded to the trailer frame?

Check that the ground is good ground. Take it off and clean to bare metal and be sure the terminal at the end of the wire is nice and shiney metal where it contantcs the trailer

1. I'll look into the voltmeter settings and such. Mine is a digital craftsman unit with a clamp on ammeter.

2. There's a black wire attached to the trailer frame just behind the hitch part. Going from where it's screwed to the trailer tongue to the white/ground connector on the wiring harness produces 0 ohms, so it's safe to assume they're connected. There's about a foot of this harness that's in electrical tape...

3. I could probably clean up the grounds a bit, or even better, run a dedicated ground wire.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChevelleSS_LS6
1. I'll look into the voltmeter settings and such. Mine is a digital craftsman unit with a clamp on ammeter.

2. There's a black wire attached to the trailer frame just behind the hitch part. Going from where it's screwed to the trailer tongue to the white/ground connector on the wiring harness produces 0 ohms, so it's safe to assume they're connected. There's about a foot of this harness that's in electrical tape...

3. I could probably clean up the grounds a bit, or even better, run a dedicated ground wire.
A dedicated ground would be the best. Also, all splices or connections should be a solder joint with a weather tight adhesive lined heat shrink tubing over the connections to seal them from the weather. Run the grounds to each light individually and stay away from a frame grounded connection (just another problem area after a while).
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:10 AM
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Been running more trailers than I can remember with the factory chassis ground, for years and haven't had any amountable level of trouble...... sure the tail light housing have corroded/rusted etc ..... but geeze. if you want to run seperate wires etc...... go ahead but IMO it's really not ness and the tail lights are still going to rust etc... and the sockets are still going to corrode.
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:14 AM
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trailer wiring

WE have 4 flatbed trailers on the farm . 14 to 46 ft long and 4 pickup bed trailers. Lights are always a problem because of the salted roads in the winter, corrosion soon causes problems. I have started using the sealed trailer lights mounted in the rubber grommets . The cost is 2 to 3 times the parts store chepo's. they come with the connecting pigtail and have a good coating of the anti corrosion lube. run the wires in conduit, and solder and shrink tube all the connections , and keep the 7 wire plug in connectors to the trucks coated with the electrical contact goo, I bought 4 of the harbor freight magnetic trailer lights when they have the $ 9.99 sale and plug them into the 4 pin connector. the belt and suspenders method. And use plenty of heavy duty tie down straps. , safety chains. etc
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:35 AM
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I got the lights working nice and bright...

not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but I just got new light housings, and still no light. I had juice at the vehicle connection, 0 ohms at the white wire of the trailer to the tongue (being that the lights grounded to the frame, the ground wire terminated at the trailer tongue).

However, it's a tilt bed. It occured to me that the 'hinge' may be rusty and not allow current flow. I tied in a length of wire from the one light, to the other, and finally ran that alongside the wiring harness and grounded at the same screw the wiring harness ground wire goes to.

Thanks guys!
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:34 PM
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Good to hear you got it figured out
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