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Old 04-18-2024, 11:14 AM   #1
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Replacing Taillights

One of my taillights filled with water on a recent trip. I discovered a hairline crack in the lens and sealed it. Alas, it was too late – some of the LEDs would no longer illuminate due to the water intrusion.


A call to ETI, and I received a replacement taillight. Unfortunately, it did not match the remaining good (Bargmann) taillight. I had to get another taillight from ETI, so now had a matched set.



The first thing you will discover, if you do this same task, is that these new lights are not the same size as the old ones. The two mounting holes are closer together. (More on this later.)
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:16 AM   #2
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First step is to get the old lens off. I CAREFULLY ran a razor knife around the lens, taking care not to go into the fiberglass. Using multiple plastic putty knives, the lens was pried off.

The old caulk needed to be removed. I found that using a plastic razor blade in a ‘sawing’ action removed most of the old caulk.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:17 AM   #3
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I can’t recommend more highly 3M’s adhesive remover. (I had some leftover from a plastic rock guard replacement project on my prior Airstream.) This stuff really made the difference, and it did not harm the gel coat.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:17 AM   #4
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Remember earlier how I mentioned the holes are not spaced the same? You cannot use one of the existing holes and just drill one new hole – the old hole will be exposed beyond the end of the lens. So, you carefully place the lens centered between the existing holes. You will find that these new holes are VERY close to the existing ones. Don’t worry. If you carefully drill your new holes with graduating-sized drill bits, you will get new holes that don’t break over into the old holes. The last bit I used was 9/64.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:18 AM   #5
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It’s time to use caution again. When you put the screws in, you won’t want to break open the new hole into the old, so use some liquid dish soap on the screws and slowly work the screws in. (You are not attaching the taillight yet.)
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:19 AM   #6
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Feed the wires inside. I placed a little piece of electrical tape on the ends to prevent them from hanging up on the insulation.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:20 AM   #7
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Go inside and make TEMPORARY connections with wire nuts. You’ll want to be sure the lights illuminate properly before crimping on the butt splices. (On my lights, red went to red, white to white, and the black went to the brown.) Once you verify proper operation, you can make your crimps.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:22 AM   #8
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Put caulk in the existing holes. Affix the new lenses to the trailer, but don’t torque them down too much. The old taillights had metal grommets to prevent breaking the plastic lens. The new ones are ONLY plastic.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:23 AM   #9
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Caulk your lenses and check one more time for proper operation.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:23 AM   #10
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Some of the tools used.
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Old 04-18-2024, 11:46 AM   #11
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Very thorough instructions - good job!
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Old 04-18-2024, 01:15 PM   #12
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That was an awesome tutorial with the pictures and all very good
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Old 04-18-2024, 01:29 PM   #13
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If someone did not want to drill new holes, they can search out new ones with the existing hole locations and not use the ETI ones….I found some on eBay and Amazon last year and stocked up in case they went obsolete like the bargman ones did.
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Old 04-18-2024, 01:42 PM   #14
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Thank you for posting your taillight project, with all the pictures! Very nice!
Just curious, what kind or brand of caulk did you use?
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Old 04-18-2024, 01:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suregrip391 View Post
If someone did not want to drill new holes, they can search out new ones with the existing hole locations and not use the ETI ones….I found some on eBay and Amazon last year and stocked up in case they went obsolete like the bargman ones did.
Could you share the brand and model numbers for what you found, please.


TIA.
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Old 04-18-2024, 01:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Could you share the brand and model numbers for what you found, please.


TIA.
Donna,
These are the ones I bought. They are narrower but they do share the same spacing on the mounting. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225529882792
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Old 04-18-2024, 02:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Suregrip391 View Post
Donna,
These are the ones I bought. They are narrower but they do share the same spacing on the mounting. https://www.ebay.com/itm/225529882792
Great, thanks!
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Old 04-18-2024, 02:17 PM   #18
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Great, thanks!
Oh,
I should ad, there is a plastic knub/flange on the back (for lack of better words) that needs cut off so that these will sit flush, right where the wires come out. I have not used them yet, so I cannot speak of the quality or the longevity.
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Old 04-18-2024, 04:24 PM   #19
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... Just curious, what kind or brand of caulk did you use?

Hey, Bea. It happened to be this https://www.homedepot.com/p/DAP-Alex...8103/100097524


It was on hand, and should come off easily when the project needs to be done again.
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Old 04-18-2024, 04:27 PM   #20
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I saw that those you got Suregrip are SAE. (Good price.) How bright are they compared to the original?


The ones I installed are not quite as bright, regarding the running lights. However, there are more LEDs illuminated with the brake or turn signal (think visibility).
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