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1st gen extra backup lights mod writeup

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Old 03-27-2010, 11:33 AM   #1
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1st gen extra backup lights mod writeup

OK, this is my first writeup. It seems TW has all kinds of 2nd gen writeup and stickies, but not many for 1st gen, so I figured it was time to be a part of the solution...

When I bought my truck used, it had a cap with a tinted back window, and I quickly found that I couldn’t see worth a rat’s ass when backing up at night, because I had two tinted windows to look through: the slider in the back of the cab, and the Snug-top door. I couldn’t see when backing into my driveway (which is SOP), and was concerned that I was going to back into another car or pole while parallel parking at night.

This is a stock daily driver with a cap, and I wanted something pretty simple and cheap—nothing involving welding, 10 PIAAs, and a second battery and alternator to light up the woods.

I looked at several off-the-shelf kits from Hella and KC that were each more than $80, and then I found this nice little hitch-mounted kit from Pilot. Although I don’t have a hitch, I will likely get one eventually, and the kit looked pretty well made, wiring harness and all. The mounting brackets are specifically for a hitch mount, so I knew I’d have to come up with a mounting alternative, but I didn’t want to drill into anything, and there wasn’t going to be any welding. Like many of us, I ain’t got no fab shop in my garage, just a good basic set of tools. I also wanted to put some protections around the lights and wiring to protect then from debris and water; they will live right behind the back wheels. So here’s what I did.

Here is what you get in the Pilot Navigator NV-803 kit. Notice the special brackets for mounting to a square tube hitch. It comes with two 55w lights. Stainless fasteners, and the lights are adjustable in three axes. Cost me $35 bucks at a local store. You can get them from JC Whitney:
http://www.jcwhitney.com/navigator-b...61&zmap=368176


Here is a close-up of the back of one light. It has a good rubber seal for the wiring connection, and the light housing has a drain slit that you can see in this picture (the light is upside down here). But I would improve on the wiring’s water protection, which I will show later.


Mocking up the mounting location. I wanted it as high as possible out of the way for good clearance. I was using 1.5 in. aluminum angle I had lying around.


This is where I decided to attach it. For orientation, this is driver side outside of the frame looking inboard. The aluminum is inside the frame. I didn’t want to drill, so I was trying to work with existing holes. Although this oblong hole with a high pressed flange may seem like an odd choice, it was in the perfect location, and this is a lightweight application. And I had another idea to keep it snug…


So here is the actual bracket fabrication. Again, 1.5 in. aluminum angle that I had lying around, get it at any hardware store. Hacksaw, files, drill, and countersink bits are all you will need. NOTE: If I did this again, I would recommend 2 in. angle. These were a tight fit with the lights. The uprights were, if I recall correctly, 11 in. long (flush against the bottom of the bed), and the bottom 6 in. wide.


Here’s the back side. To join the angles together, I used stainless screws countersunk and stainless nylock nuts. The frame attachment hardware on the upright is just zinc with a nylock nut, too, but note the dark, flanged washer…anybody able to recognize those? Did you say “that’s a 22RE valve cover bolt grommet washer”? You were right. Had a few old ones from the deceased ‘93 pickup in the hardware bins.


Next two pictures are a final mockup to make sure it’s the way I want before doing the paint and wiring.




On the pigtails coming out of the lights, I added as much heatshrink as I could to help stop water intrusion. They would also be wrapped in split loom.



Here are the bracket pieces after dressing the edges and painting. This is probably as close as anyone will ever get to them, but I like stuff to be good. Yeah, I could have left them raw aluminum. Naw.


After scuffing the raw aluminum and cleaning with acetone, I used all Duplicolor: etching primer, then satin black all over, then, a week later, I sprayed only the “front” side (the sides facing the tires) and bottom with rubber undercoat to help protect them from becoming a chipped mess. We’ll see how long that lasts…




Here they are ready to go on the truck.


And here’s how that crazy 22RE washer works: the washer flange grips around the frame flange, preventing any movement vertically or horizontally. Normally, I would never attach anything to anything else using only one fastener, especially if I wanted it to stay in the same position. But the flat end of the upright is flush against the bottom of the truck bed, preventing the bracket from rotating. I was able to grab the bracket and move the truck without the bracket budging. Also, I realized that if this bracket got whacked, it will likely rotate up and away before it broke, possibly saving all the hardware and light. I can live with that. Yeah, OK, I tend to overthink things.



OK, time for the wiring. If you look back at the light kit picture at the beginning of the writeup, you’ll see that the harness has tubing (black) on it, but not split-loom, and it didn’t go all the way down the wires. Not good enough. I added more shrink wrap (gray) and then covered it all in spilt loom.


Passenger side looking back. This is how rocks and spray will see the lights and wires. This shows the protection I wanted. You can see the rubber undercoat here, too.


Driver side, as seen from centerline looking outboard. Notice how the rubber cover on the back of the lights is a bit mashed against the bracket? This is why I think 2-in angle would be better, but I didn’t have that lying around. Note also how the wire loom fit nicely right out of the box; the wires were just the right length for this setup. Some gentle curves, not much to spare.


This shot is across the back from the drivers side, and shows both brackets and almost the entire loom. I zip-tied the loom to the existing loom for the tail lights and license plate lights.


I was also able to attach the light kit’s prewired ground wire to a convenient tapped bracket. I happened to have a perfect fine-pitch bolt that fit. Bonus. That never happens.


Here we go up the driver-side end of the bed to tap into the taillights. You can just see the red hot lead and inline fuse from the kit up there in the dark.


Looking down into the taillight housing. I put some split loom across the sharp edge of sheet metal to stop abrasion and shorting of the growing mass of wires behind the taillights…

…because there were already two taps for the Snug-top’s dome light and 3rd brake light. The red hot lead for the backup lights taps into the reverse light hot lead (green).


So here it is all buttoned up. Stealth.


Here it is with flash so you can see them.


And here they are at night in action. They aren’t high-beams, but they definitely improve my visibility at night and in rain. If you really wanted them to be brighter, you could run a hot lead and fuse from the battery and do a relay to the reverse light wire. I think I got that right. I don’t know much about electrical mumbo jumbo, so feel free to chime in, electrical whizzes.




Overall, this ended up being a sweet, cheap, simple solution.
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:37 AM   #2
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THANK YOU!

Appreciate this, as I will be doing something along these lines eventually.

Awesome job!
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:40 AM   #3
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Wow! Nice write up! Clean install! So, you've wired the lights to turn on when you shift into reverse, right?
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkeith747 View Post
Wow! Nice write up! Clean install! So, you've wired the lights to turn on when you shift into reverse, right?
Thanks. It is a lot of effort to do a writeup.

Yup. They tap straight into the reverse light hot leads, so they automatically come on when you put it in reverse. I've seen a bunch of other threads about wiring through relays and a 3-position switch in the cab so you can have them off/on with reverse/on whenever to be used as aux. flood lights, but I have too many other projects going on and just needed to be safe quickly.
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:51 AM   #5
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Cool. I asked b/c I wired mine always hot (w/switch in cab). BUT, I like your setup better...when it warms up and dries out here, I'm going to convert to your setup. Again, sweet write up; oe reverse lights suck on the 1st gens. so this mod is "necessary" imo.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:57 AM   #6
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I used the same kit on my truck & love it! I have the hitch so the lights mounted right up to it. I wired mine to a relay & switch in the cab though. Here's a pic of the included bracket mounted to the hitch. Just remembered I need some wire looom on these. Great write up to the OP for making a set of brackets!
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:14 AM   #7
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damn good idea... i usually just run over everything behind me
good idea since my windows are tinted and leave me guessing when i dont feel like looking
+rep
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Old 08-15-2010, 03:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattleegee View Post
damn good idea... i usually just run over everything behind me
good idea since my windows are tinted and leave me guessing when i dont feel like looking
+rep
Thanks. Yeah, I have the tinted cab window and the tinted back window on the cap. Even with these lights, I still can't really see well through all that tinting if there isn't anything close behind for the light to bounce off, but they light up so much space that I can see much much better with just my sideview mirrors.
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Old 12-27-2010, 11:18 PM   #9
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Just wanted to chime in, i've had this bookmarked for a while and I finally got over to Harbor Freight today. Picked up one of these lights:



It looks like it'll work, but I don't think i'll be tapping straight into the brake light, I'll run a relay and use battery power. What did you mean by using a "3-position switch" in the cab? Does that make it so you can turn it on even if you're not in reverse? Anyone have a link to explanation about that?

Thanks, and i;ll post my writeup when i mount mine!
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Old 12-27-2010, 11:59 PM   #10
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Answering my own question here. These links were great, I think I understand what I need to do now.


http://www.jk-forum.com/showthread.p...for-aux-lights <--No pics but got me on the right track.

http://www.rallylights.com/hella/AuxLampWiring.aspx <--Read the paragraph at the bottom, it explains the 3-position switch wiring. Note that on the relay, 86 is the "trigger" wire, 87 is the "hot" wire that goes to the light, 30 goes to the battery, and 85 is the ground. Then you'd use the blurb from the first link to wire in the switch.

http://www.classictruckshop.com/club...h/foglites.htm <--Doesn't include the 3-position switch but makes things easier to understand.

http://www.traxide.com.au/Relay_Info.html <-- More relay info.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:21 AM   #11
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Can we sticky this??
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:29 AM   #12
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I've wanted this forever but never tried to do it since I feel I dot have the experience, thank you for this write up. +rep. Thank you thank you thank you.
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Old 06-07-2011, 01:52 AM   #13
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+Rep

Very nice clean work man
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:22 AM   #14
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+Rep

Very nice clean work man
Grassy ass!
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:47 PM   #15
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I love your avatar! Dr. Strangelove is my favorite movie. Oh, and I like your write-up as well.
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Old 06-12-2011, 04:57 PM   #16
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I love your avatar! Dr. Strangelove is my favorite movie. Oh, and I like your write-up as well.
Thanks. Yeah, they don't make movies like that anymore. And it is hard to beat Kubrick. Glad you found the writeup useful.
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:36 PM   #17
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i really like the look of the lights and i wanna get these. im thinking about mounting them on my headache rack as work lights and backup lights.
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:35 AM   #19
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man this helps so much. the oe lights for 1st gens are aweful and on top of that my taillights are blacked out and cleared. ur wiring is very clean too
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:24 PM   #20
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man this helps so much. the oe lights for 1st gens are aweful and on top of that my taillights are blacked out and cleared. ur wiring is very clean too
You're welcome. And thanks. I'm happy you guys are still finding this helpful.

Just an update, too.

I had one bulb burn out, but it is a standard bulb carried by O'Reilly or I am sure any auto part store.

I also had them both stop working on me recently. WTF? I thought it was bulbs again, but there was no current at the lights. Traced it back to slight corrosion on the inline fuse blades! I gave them a light sanding and put some anti-corrosion goo on them, problem solved. Just make sure the fuse is wire-side-down when you reinstall the tail lamp assembly so moisture can't collect inside the fuse connections, I guess.
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