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A Short Waiting to Happen

This week as I was preparing to take a trip, I performed my usual walk around after connecting the trailer to ensure everything was attached all the lights were working and everything was ready to travel. As I approached the back of the trailer, I noticed I had lost my right tail lights and center marker lights. Not having the time to work on it before fishing, I departed for the ramp and made a mental note of the necessary repair that I would perform later than evening.

After returning home from my fishing trip, I flipped the lights on to see if I could find the origin of the issue. I knew by the fact that my left tail lights were working that I was most likely dealing with a short somewhere along the wire harness on that side. When I originally purchased the boat, the trailer came with aftermarket LED lighting (Green) to highlight the boat at night. The gentleman I bought the boat from took pride in how the boat looked and operated. It was one of the reasons we purchased from him. However, we would soon discover that we have varying tastes when it comes to the quality side of things.

As I felt my way along the wiring at the right rear of the trailer, I was instantly met with heat emanating from the wires leading to the LEDs on that side. After switching off the lights and investigating the source of the heat, I found the wires to have overheated enough to melt the insulation from them. Following the wires to where they connected, I found they had been installed using the blue automotive EZ crimp type connectors that you squeeze over the wire with a pair of pliers until the terminal penetrates the insulation to connect the two (or three in this case) wires.

One thing I have learned through experience in the aviation industry and with anything coming in contact with salt water, you get what you pay for. This holds true whether you are buying electrical connectors, a boat, or even a pair of scissors. Yep, bought a new pair of scissors for cutting bait and they lasted 2 outings, but that's another story. In the case of the wiring issues, I cut the two connectors out of the circuit and removed the LED strip. After this was done, I found the wires too short to simply connect back together, so I had to get some marine tinned wiring to splice in it's place. This is not the preferred method because each splice has the ability to impact resistance. However, in this case, I realize I'm not wiring the navigation system and for something such as lights the splices will have little impact.

After removing the EZ crimp splices, I found both of them had melted under the intense heat of the short. To replace them, I used marine grade environmental splices that contain solder in the middle. These require no crimping and can easily be installed using a heat gun. A good heat gun will not only shrink the splice and make create a water tight seal at the wiring, it will also melt the solder to ensure the best splice possible.

If you are experiencing issues with wiring on your boat or trailer, always look for marine grade terminals, splices and wiring. The next repair I will be making will be on the boat as I replace a couple of relay switches that are no longer attached to their mount base due to corrosion. More to come on that project in the near future. If you are unfamiliar with what you may need to perform a repair, but have the ability to perform the work yourself, reach out to the staff at Tel-Conn Cable and Wiring. They have the knowledge and can provide you with the hardware necessary to ensure the best quality repairs for your boat and trailer. Look for their link on our sponsor pages and tell them Kevin sent you. #TelConnManufacturing

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