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Old 01-03-2021, 11:39 AM   #1
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Question mounting extra brake lights on 1.5” struts, NO drilling.

Hi all. Posting this here in "Cyber Campfire" as it is off topic, relative to Escapes, for sure. ..... we sold the beloved 21' Escape, and now have an awesome truck camper.

But tons of wise people here.... (and some friends) so asking here..... be gentle.

So I have a weird little project on the go.

For complex reasons I won’t bore you with …….

(don’t ask why I want to do this)
;-)

... I want to mount these 3” high x 8” wide light plastic trailer brake lights on these 1.5” truck camper tie down horizontal metal struts... down below the rear corners of the truck camper.
but I do NOT want to drill into the struts, nor bolt into them, for obvious reasons. :-)

I don’t own tin snips or a full shop (otherwise I could fairly easily make some custom metal brackets for the job ... that would quickly rust and be ugly)

I want to do this securely so they don’t rattle and fall off, and I’d like to keep the lights as sealed as they are, if possible.

The trailer tail light kit is less than $30 and I don’t want to have to spend a bunch of $ or time on the mounting.

One option would be to remove the front lens (on each)
Then drill small holes thru the back of the plastic box

Maybe about 2” apart... top to bottom that is. Maybe 6 holes total per box. (So 3 zip ties)

Use strong Zip Ties to secure the box to the struts (see pic)

and then use a good outdoor caulk to re -seal up the holes from the outside - to keep road crud out of the back side of the boxes.

I thought about using bolts / pipe strap / wood / etc but all that gets more ugly and time consuming I think.

These lights will simply plug into the flat trailer lights outlet on the back of the pickup, so isolated from the main trucks brake lights.

Any other simple and clever way to mount these extra brake lights? Ideally something that does not rust or rattle.

The kit comes with a license plate holder that will not work in my situation, by the way.
Thanks!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004L073H8
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:44 AM   #2
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here is a pic

https://imgur.com/a/0iru39g


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Old 01-03-2021, 12:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Losangeles View Post
Hi all. Posting this here in "Cyber Campfire" as it is off topic, relative to Escapes, for sure. ..... we sold the beloved 21' Escape, and now have an awesome truck camper.

But tons of wise people here.... (and some friends) so asking here..... be gentle.

So I have a weird little project on the go.

For complex reasons I won’t bore you with …….

(don’t ask why I want to do this)
;-)

... I want to mount these 3” high x 8” wide light plastic trailer brake lights on these 1.5” truck camper tie down horizontal metal struts... down below the rear corners of the truck camper.
but I do NOT want to drill into the struts, nor bolt into them, for obvious reasons. :-)

I don’t own tin snips or a full shop (otherwise I could fairly easily make some custom metal brackets for the job ... that would quickly rust and be ugly)

I want to do this securely so they don’t rattle and fall off, and I’d like to keep the lights as sealed as they are, if possible.

The trailer tail light kit is less than $30 and I don’t want to have to spend a bunch of $ or time on the mounting.

One option would be to remove the front lens (on each)
Then drill small holes thru the back of the plastic box

Maybe about 2” apart... top to bottom that is. Maybe 6 holes total per box. (So 3 zip ties)

Use strong Zip Ties to secure the box to the struts (see pic)

and then use a good outdoor caulk to re -seal up the holes from the outside - to keep road crud out of the back side of the boxes.

I thought about using bolts / pipe strap / wood / etc but all that gets more ugly and time consuming I think.

These lights will simply plug into the flat trailer lights outlet on the back of the pickup, so isolated from the main trucks brake lights.

Any other simple and clever way to mount these extra brake lights? Ideally something that does not rust or rattle.

The kit comes with a license plate holder that will not work in my situation, by the way.
Thanks!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004L073H8
I wouldn't drill holes in the lights - they're waterproof but they won't be after that.

Here's an idea. I have attached boat trailer lights using 3M 5200 as an adhesive. Clean the back of the light and where you are going to attach it with solvent, I use denatured alcohol, and apply the 3M 5200 to the attachment spot. I used a clamp to hold the light in place until the 5200 set. Once set, I tried to pull the light back off - and quit when it seemed that I was about to break it.
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:42 PM   #4
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Why not spend less and buy these magnetic mount units. They are plug and play and will be easy removable when the camper is not in place. There are other combinations of bulbs and styles if you don’t like this look. The pic is from Amazon US but I am sure Harbour Freight will have some as well.
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https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f8...ape-12918.html
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Old 01-03-2021, 04:51 PM   #5
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or stick your lights on with 3M VHB tape... first clean both surfaces with alcohol, let dry then stick the VHB on, and they will be bonded for life.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
...
I use denatured alcohol, and apply the 3M 5200 to the attachment spot. I used a clamp to hold the light in place until the 5200 set. Once set, I tried to pull the light back off - and quit when it seemed that I was about to break it.
From the 3M5200 technical data sheet (their emphasis).

Alcohol should not be used in preparation for bonding as it will stop the curing process, causing the adhesive to fail.

But I wouldn't worry too much. 5200 is so strong that if it weakens by half you might be able to pry the light loose with a crowbar and a couple of friends.
--
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
From the 3M5200 technical data sheet (their emphasis).

Alcohol should not be used in preparation for bonding as it will stop the curing process, causing the adhesive to fail.

But I wouldn't worry too much. 5200 is so strong that if it weakens by half you might be able to pry the light loose with a crowbar and a couple of friends.
--
Alan
Thanks! I didn't know that. But you're right about the other part too - I would have had to use a crowbar to get the thing back off. I did this over 15 years ago and the lights are still on there. The 3M 5200 is holding up better than the plastic on the lights.

I did figure out how to get them off when I had to replace a light - hacksaw blade cutting along the back of the light. Cuts right through the 5200 - just had to careful not to cut the trailer frame.
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Old 01-03-2021, 07:24 PM   #8
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To mount something (air line fittings for air springs) on the horizontal rectangular tubing of my hitch receiver, I used aluminum angle extrusion, trimming one side of the angle off at the ends to leave flat tabs against the tubing, and mounting the fitting to the vertical face of the aluminum in the middle. I used hose clamps to go around the tubing and clamp the extrusion against the tubing, but large cable ties would work, too.

For these lamps, I would probably use adhesive (tape or otherwise) as already suggested. An option is to bond a mounting plate on, then screw the lights to it as they are intended to be mounted, to allow the lights to be removed or replaced without cutting off and replacing adhesive.
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Old 01-03-2021, 11:36 PM   #9
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update - thanks everyone for all the good ideas. Much appreciated. :-)

So I think i like the idea of 3M VHB tape - 2 strips of 3/4” - to simply VHB tape the auxiliary brake lights to the *top* of the 1.5” strut… and the base of the brake lights are flat…. so this should work out well.

It is cold (freezing and below) where I currently am…. so I’ll have to wait a bit to install… a quick internet search indicates that VHB tape won’t adhere properly around freezing…..

I guess I could use a hair drier to first warm up the metal… but I’d be afraid that it would cool off too fast, and not bond as well as if it was warmer…..

Here is the 3/4” 3M VHB tape I’d likely buy…… sold from actual Amazon, so less likely to be a cheap fake (that 3rd party sellers sometimes sell on Amazon)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007Y7E1CU
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Old 01-13-2021, 09:53 PM   #10
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Update:

My question is - if I bolt into a pre-existing hole in the truck frame, (recent F-350) with a new, stainless steel bolt…. would the frames coating (anodized?) stop it from being a good ground?

see pic of my attempt at grounding (below)

I was advised to avoid drilling new holes into the truck frame… just use pre-existing holes.

so i got the trailer light kit (Blazer C6421 Trailer Light Kit) and I spoke with Blazer previously…..

and they said: I HAVE to ground the white ground wire to the truck frame.

I asked “could I just wire the white ground wire to the 4 pin flat trailer lights plug?” and they said it likely will *not* work…. and i’d need at least a 12 gauge wire … but it is better to ground to the frame.

So I wired everything up today (very simple with the kit) and plugged in… and tested the lights and they did not work at all. Never lit up. Yes the truck lights work fine, and i know that the 4 pin flat plug *is* working fine. (I tested it with something else)

I suspect the anodizing on the frame is the issue. Yes? No?

and if i have to drill a hole…. i was advised to drill into the hitch assembly, *not* the truck frame.

thanks for any guidance.

J

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Old 01-13-2021, 11:38 PM   #11
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Your F150-250-350+ has numerous chassis / body grounding points already installed from the factory. If you don't want to spend $22 for a 72-hour subscription to the Motorcraft workshop manual (which includes dedicated pictorial diagrams of all ground locations on the chassis and body) you can just crawl under and look for an existing bolt into the frame / body component with one or more wires with ring-terminals captured under that bolt. They're scattered about the vehicle and frame, easily spotted with a bit of close observation. Any place you find a wire bolted to the body or frame that IS a ground location, and unless your vehicle has been molested you'll know that is an OE ground location.

You can remove the bolt (almost always a 'distressed-thread, self-locking' type, which means they require a good bit of torque to remove and replace), add your properly sized and crimped ring-terminal to the top of the stack of existing ring terminals, and replace the bolt tight. It'll give you the best ground possible, no removal of any coating required (no increased risk of corrosion), and will not interfere with any other ground already at that location.

Use a proper ring-terminal, do not wrap a bare wire around the bolt.

Don't add loc-tite, a lock washer, or anything other than your single ring-terminal to the bolt or stack; do not substitute a different bolt - put it all back just as found and make sure it is tight. IF you manage to booger the bolt (highly unlikely with the correct fit socket) and need to replace it, take it to a Ford dealer and get an exact match replacement with proper locking threads.

Just for your consideration.

PS - do not drill any holes in your frame - that was excellent advice you received.
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Old 01-14-2021, 12:31 AM   #12
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The frame coating is not anodizing: that's for aluminum and the F-350 frame is steel. But yes, that paint should prevent an electrical connection, and to connect to the frame properly you need to use the ground points as Centex explained.
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