installing tail lights above rear window - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 02-02-2016, 05:28 PM   #1
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installing tail lights above rear window

I need to install a tail light bar across the top of my 17B rear window for when I carry bikes. I'm not able to travel to the Escape factory to have it installed. I'm wondering if I can tap into the tail light wires on each side in the back and run wires up underneath the corner insulation through the top cabinet? I've been searching for posts describing how to do this, but haven't found anything (one post no longer available). Surely, I wouldn't have to run wires all the way to the front of the trailer? I appreciate any information, thanks!
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Old 02-02-2016, 05:47 PM   #2
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I did the same with my 19. I spliced into the existing lights, removed the corner covers, ran the wires up to the upper cabinets where I wired in the new lights mounted above the rear window.

I bought the lights from Escape to match the existing.

I never took and photos along the way, but here is the final resultant.

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Old 02-02-2016, 05:52 PM   #3
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Installing the long tail lights is an option on the 19'. They're vertical to the windows... one on each side. With the issues we're hearing about with the long tail lights leaking across the top, I think it's a better choice to be along side the window. YMMV
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Old 02-02-2016, 06:00 PM   #4
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Interested in doing this as well. What is required for install? I'm assuming I would have to drill a port into the rear over head cabinets? Are there also mounting screws?

I also got a tadi bros camera and wireless transmitter off eBay for $50. I'm thinking I can tie in the wires for the camera into the same port.
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Old 02-02-2016, 06:32 PM   #5
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The most agonizing part of adding the upper taillights was removing the vinyl inside the rear upper cabinet to run the wiring. I glued it back down with flammable contact adhesive (the water based didn't work on the plastic insulation). I ran the wires to the lower lights on each side by removing the corner padding.

One additional point - I located mine so the screws were going into existing wood (maybe there for the rear view camera Escape installed). DO NOT completely tighten the screws. They will bend the lights to the curve of the trailer & after a year or so the lights will crack, fill with water, and go out (please don't ask me how I know!).

The second time I tightened them until they were flat & used extra Proflex caulk to fill the space at the top. I caulked the hole where the wires went through the trailer, but left the bottom open for drainage. No problems so far (this time).
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Old 02-02-2016, 06:41 PM   #6
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Jon, I never put the wires behind the insulation, just ran them neatly along the back of the cabinet, and made the connection inside the cabinet. It seemed to work good.

I also never noticed any curvature to the shell when I mounted mine. I used butyl caulk with a gob of Prolex on the cable and screw entries, as well as the top and sides only of the lights. No problems were had. I also used machine screws, though rivets would be an option too, for attaching, as there was no wood nearby that I found.
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:23 PM   #7
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I'd love to do this on my 19. The factory won't do a retrofit - I asked. I could do everything but the splicing into the existing lights -- no idea how to do that. I'm poking around locally for a mobile RV guy who'll do that part. If I can find one, then maybe this spring I'll give this a shot.

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Old 02-02-2016, 09:49 PM   #8
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did the corner padding come off and go back on without too much difficulty?
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverplace View Post
did the corner padding come off and go back on without too much difficulty?
It was quite easy.
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Old 02-02-2016, 10:08 PM   #10
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This link discusses how I added a tail light bar across the top of my 17B rear window. I wanted to include a back up light so I ran wires from the rear of the trailer to the wire junction box under a front seat. Rear Full Function LED Light Bar
I thought about running wires from the upper rear cabinet to the lower rear cabinets to tap into the wires at the rear of the trailer but decided against it as I wanted to add back up lights and I didn't want to drill holes in any exterior portion of the cabinetry.
Putting in switches so I can turn on the exterior lights from inside the trailer was more maybe more work then it was worth and it doesn't work well when the water pump is on.
I do like having back up lights. It is more to show intent than helping back up.
Running wires from the rear to the front of the trailer was pretty easy once I figured out a way to get wires from the upper cabinets to the lower cabinet via the bathroom wall. As discussed in the thread, I drilled a hole in the upper cabinet and one in the lower cabinet and fished the wire between the wood bathroom wall and fiberglass bathroom liner using a string with a washer and a magnet.
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Old 02-02-2016, 10:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Wray View Post
I'd love to do this on my 19. The factory won't do a retrofit - I asked.

Bruce

Curious. They retrofitted upper brake lights onto my 17b for me just a couple of months ago. I presume they tied into the existing taillights. They ran the new wiring inside upper cabinet in wire loom. Very clean install, like everything they do.
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Old 02-03-2016, 09:07 AM   #12
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I installed the LED lights on the sides of the rear windows by routing the wires from the factory wires located under the bed on the Escape 19, up the corners and behind the liner. I used a small aluminum shield when drilling from outside to prevent the drill getting into the headliner. I found removing the plywood under the mattress made access much easier.


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Old 02-03-2016, 06:51 PM   #13
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I'm curious, the 3middle lights, are they brake, turn and tail light individually? What is the advantage to having so many? Doesn't this increase risk of leaks? I was thinking of just a strip above the window.
Thanks for all the input everyone!
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverplace View Post
I'm curious, the 3middle lights, are they brake, turn and tail light individually? What is the advantage to having so many? Doesn't this increase risk of leaks? I was thinking of just a strip above the window.
Thanks for all the input everyone!
They are clearance lights.
properly installed, there is no issue with leaks.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverplace View Post
I'm curious, the 3middle lights, are they brake, turn and tail light individually?

My understanding is that they denote vehicles wider than 8 feet, and on such vehicles they are required by law. Ever notice how semi's always have them?
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riverplace View Post
I'm curious, the 3middle lights, are they brake, turn and tail light individually? What is the advantage to having so many? Doesn't this increase risk of leaks? I was thinking of just a strip above the window.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
They are clearance lights.
properly installed, there is no issue with leaks.
Close, but not quite. The clearance lights are the ones at the corners of the front and rear, intended to indicated the width of the trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
My understanding is that they denote vehicles wider than 8 feet, and on such vehicles they are required by law.
Correct, except for the width allowed. The law is CMVSS/FMVSS 108.

These are the wide vehicle identification lights. They must be three lights in a group, centred on the vehicle, and usually mounted (although not necessarily) at the top. They are required if the vehicle is 2 metres (80", 6'8") wide or more, which is why they are on the 19 Foot and larger Escapes, but not the 17 Foot and smaller models (which are just under the limit). No Escape is eight feed wide... yet. Motor vehicles need them on the front as well, but trailers only need them on the rear.

Cars, almost all SUVs, and most pickup trucks are not wide enough to need them. Pickups with dual rear wheels, Hummer H1 and H2 SUVs, and the Ford Raptor pickup are too wide so they have these lights.

There are lamps available which are a set of three lights, spaced sufficiently far apart, in one unit so it needs only one wiring connection and mounting of one housing.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:56 AM   #17
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So, I could install 2 lamps (3lights each) above the window and that would be sufficient on my 17B...LED can be spliced into existing tail lights?
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:57 AM   #18
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Trailer light regulations.

Here is an excellent link that explains the NHTSA regulations:
Trailer Poster Table for Website

There are also regulations covering each type of light. You cannot use just any red/yellow lamp. Each light must be a certain color, intensity and output a specified pattern of light. Make sure you purchase lights that are clearly marked for the purpose intended.
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