Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camper Brake / Turn / Clearance Lights...the thoughts concerning laws and the install

Installed some basic red lens combination lights on the camper rear.  The 12VDC lights that I bought were purchased from Agri-Supply and made primarily for metal fleeced trailer walls.  Thus, had to install a grounding wire to the fixture prior to mounting in my walls to complete the circuit.  Had already ran my wires from the truck's brake/turn/run into the rear wall region.

You can see that portion of the electrical rough-in here.

Prior to mounting the camper I drilled a 1" hole in this tailgate channel stop to accept a 7-pin female 12VDC receptacle.  Spliced into the wires feeding this left rear brake light to pick up the circuit.  Also, robbed two of the pins inside the receptacle to serve as a feed and a switchleg from a switch up in the cab that would operate a brighter backup light on the back wall of the camper.  

I mounted a agricultural harvester light with a trapezoidal pattern that would allow me to see the light in both side view mirrors.  Mounted it a little high to distribute the pattern well and it works pretty good.  Not sure if a flood would have worked better but it does provide ample light when backing up in dark spaces.  Also have it switched inside the camper as well, in case I were to ever hear a rustle at night near the door. 

 I understand that the Federal Transportation Laws mandate that brake/turn/running lights on tractor trailers, dump trucks, anything with a fixed bed or box of the sort has to have these lights arranged so as to signify the width and height of said box.  That having been said, slide-in truck campers are somewhat of a special animal.  From what I understand of the written laws, they are considered 'truck cargo' and thus do not meet that criteria.  Furthermore, noticing that most of the manufactured units have their brake lights mounted much lower than mine and some do not even have any at all, I thought I would be kosher in the arrangement chosen.

It seemed that some of the manufactured units had upper brake light strips in combination with another pair of lights but most did not.  My original plans were to have a 2.5 foot strip centered at the top in conjunction with the these 6" round lights.  I had even purchased the strip but after the door was installed and the "much needed" rain gutter....something had to give.  --> it was the light. 

I considered height of install in respect to the 'seated approaching motorist' and wanted them in the plane of sight.  These lights are about the same height above ground as the cab brake lights found on all modern pickups and I mounted them just above the vertical plane of my truck lights.

The closer proximity of the light arrangements are far enough apart to be seen as separate at 200-300' but close enough to grab one's attention.

  The install didn't turn out half bad.  I'm pleased with the overall setup, although I do wish I could have had somewhere to mount the upper brake light strip.

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