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Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)

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Old 05-27-2013, 11:15 AM   #1
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Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)

Greetings TW, I bought a snugtop rebel camper shell used offcraiglist, and in needed to wire it up for the internal dome light and 3rdbrake light. I read a few threads on here and watched some youtube videos which all gave me a lot of help figuring out what to do. Here is mine, although I recognize there are other and possibly better ways to do it. I'm thrilled with the final result and would recommend this to others. Here we go!



Tools Needed:



Wire Spool or at least 10 feet of wire. I used 16 gage.

Wire Strippers (mandatory or you will damage wires you don’t want to mess up!)

Wire splice nuts or your choice of 2-wire and 3-wire splice method

Quick disconnects/wire harness plugs (many types on the market for computers and automotive)

Drill

1 Self-drilling screw

Round wire terminal (to be screwed to frame for new ground wire. See pic 3)

Number S(approx is fine) drill bit size. Roughly .350” diameter

10mm socket or nutdriver

T27ish torx bit

Electrical tape (more than one color is good or some other marking method

Vise grips or channel locks for crimping



Note: to save time, if you have the same setup as me with a dome light and brake light, go ahead and cut 4 2-foot lengths of wire and strip the last 3/8ths inch from all of them. Make sure not to damage the wire and just strip the coating. If you mess up, cut it a little shorter and do it right! Mark each end in some distinctive way so you can tell your wires apart both ends.

Here are the quick disconnects that were on the shell when I got it:







These 2 sets of quick disconnects I purchased at pep-boys along with a spool of 16 gauge wire.







One of the threads I read said that for the dome light, I would want to make a ground wire directly screwed to the metal frame of the truck. Since I didn't want to have the dome light and brake light on the same ground, I made this on the end of one of the 2-foot wires I cut. This may not be needed, but I like it and doesn’t complicate or confuse the wiring on the back of the taillight assembly which is nice: I used a hammer to collapse the tube on the wire, but had excess so I) wrapped it around the connector and then wrapped it with green electrical tape.







I used a couple combinations of different color electrical tape on both ends of each wire so I would be able to distinguish which was which after feeding them through. These are the two I decided would be the 3rdbrake light pair plain red for hot wire, black tape for ground.



Before starting on the truck side, I removed all the existing electrical tape and pulled the wires out of the conduit on the shell side and cut off the old white connectors that were on it. I would have left these on, butI didn’t have the mating sides to wire to the truck so these had to go. The new black ones are very easy, both connectors have an A and B marking for each wire, so just make sure they match up when wiring the truck side. I opted for A to be hot wires, and B to be ground although you could do the reverse and it wouldn’t matter as long as you do the same on both sides.



Time to take off the rear left brake light! The 10mm nutdriver bit was my choice, but a socket works too. There are three screws, the middle one on my truck had a rubber washer making it easy to figure out where it went back.



After removing the screws, just pull gently to remove the light from the truck



And viola! Ok, so there was a wire harness coming from the truck to that light housing that I tried to leave connected but it turned out to be much easier to work on if you disconnect it.

First things first, I used my self drilling screw to mount my new ground wire to the metal behind the brake light:



The brake light is the one where all the magic takes place! The black and white is the ground I used to wire to the 3rd brake light along with the green with red stripe as the hot wire.

(Note: the solid green wire will be used also for the dome light hot wire.)



At this point, I carefully removed as much of the electrical tape and exposed as much of the brake light wiring as possible. I was only able to expose about 4 inches of each of the three wires which turned out to be enough.Time for the plunge! I cut all three in the middle and used the strippers to carefully expose the last 3/8ths" of the now 6 wire ends.

Now I re-spliced the freshly cut wires back together, each with one of the new 2’ wires I had already made. I was very careful to do a very good job of fanning out the wires and making very good splices. Each of these was then secured with a splice nut until they were tight and each then wrapped with electrical tape completely for weatherproofing. The hard part is over!





Here is all three done before being wrapped in electrical tape!



Time to put all 4 of my new wires through the big hole behind the tail light and pull them through to the bottom of the truck:



At this point, use the torx bit to remove the 6 screws from the left side cargo box. Trust me feeding wires will be much easier without that in there. Remove the 6 screws and the box slides right out.



Time to make a hole where the wires will come out. I pussed out a bit here, There is a couple inch gap between the composite bed material and the sheet metal that is the outside of the truck bed. I was afraid of the drill bit popping through the inside and smacking the other side either denting or putting a hole through the outside. This scared me enough that I didn’t drillthe hole as high as I wish I had now, although it doesn’t really matter. Key point. BE CAREFUL WHEN DRILLING THIS HOLE! Let the bit do the work and don’t be trying to push the drill because it might just slam into the sheet metal after popping through the composite bedliner if you are an idiot here. Be slow and actually hold the drill back.



Woo! Now feed the wires through the new hole. You can reinstall the cargo box at this point although I didn’t do this until the very end. (I had already checked to make sure all my wiring was good and tested lights.. if you haven’t you might be pretty mad if something came loose or you screwed up somewhere..)





Now it’s time to finish the wiring. I was out of wire nuts so Iused the butt-connectors I bought. I’m mixed on these. They are hard to crimp,but hold well if crimped HARD. I think the best way would be on concrete with a hammer, but moderate force doesn’t collapse the metal tube enough to make an adequate connection IMHO. I squeezed the crap out of these because a couple came loose when I “test pulled” them. I crimped them until they didn’t come out when pulled pretty hard.

From the brake light, the green wire with stripe was the 3rd brake light hot wire.

From the brake light the black and white stripe was the 3rd brake light ground wire.

From the brake light the solid green wire was the dome light hot wire.

From the back new drilled in ground was the dome light ground wire.

Now splice and use lots of electrical tape!



Even after making sure none of these connections would come out, I made a strain relief like this to make sure that if these were pulled, the force wouldn’t be on the connectors. It made my final cable wrap thicker than I would have liked, but made them much more durable for the long-term.



I prettied things up here and wrapped everything with electrical tape. I could have made the hole bigger so that the wires could be pushed in flush with the quick disconnects, but I don’t think it will cause problems.



Time to connect the quick-disconnects. I made two small cuts about a half inch apart on the headlining of the shell and used a zip tie to hold the wires tight inside the shell out of the way. (Bad pic… sorry)



Now lets test this shite! If you have a partner or a stick or something like this tennis racket, you can turn the key to acc, and the running lights on. (I had tested already, and I figure you probably already did too before finalizing wiring.. but lets pretend)



Then go to the back of the truck and behold the beauty that is a working third brake light!!!!!!!!! Bright as HELL! WOOOOO!



Now for the icing on the cake. Flip that little switch on the dome light, PLEASE WORK!!!



It WORKS!!!! Granted with this method you have to have the running lights on, but now I have a bed light!



This could certainly be done more than one way, but I can tell you this works great. In the future, I may run a wire directly from the battery to the back for on-board air as well as extra power ports for the rear seat passengers. This would also make the dome light work whether the running lights are on or not, although this runs the risk of draining the battery if the light is left on accidentally. For now, good luck and enjoy TW! If I can do it, so can you. The hardest part was posting the write-up!
Attached Thumbnails
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Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic6.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic7.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic8.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic9.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic10.jpg  

Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic11.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic12.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic13.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic14.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic15.jpg  

Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic16.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic17.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic18.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic19.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic20.jpg  

Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic21.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic22.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic23.jpg   Camper shell wiring step-by-step (Picture Load warning!!)-pic24.jpg  
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:34 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing,
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:04 PM   #3
majorhavok [OP] majorhavok is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97Blk_one View Post
Thanks for sharing,
Thanks! It was my pleasure. This was nerve-wracking because I don't think I'm very capable with electrical stuff, but this turned out better than I'd hoped. If anyone is on the fence over doing this themselves, I say go for it. The satisfaction is great and it saves a lot of money over paying a shell company to do it.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:08 PM   #4
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Ive got the same dome light on my topper, but I think it's wired in from the battery since I can turn it on with truck on or off. Ive been wondering what else I can power off these wires in the bed, any ideas (bed rail lights)?
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:04 AM   #5
majorhavok [OP] majorhavok is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TanaTaco View Post
Ive got the same dome light on my topper, but I think it's wired in from the battery since I can turn it on with truck on or off. Ive been wondering what else I can power off these wires in the bed, any ideas (bed rail lights)?
That's not a bad idea. I have some great LED lights inside my safe that I've considered buying for my truck. They have a pressure switch so they flip on when I open the door, as well as an on/off toggle. Like some other TW members have done, these would look great under the rails.

http://www.litetechauto.com/ProductD...tCode=LED_Safe
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Old 07-03-2013, 05:03 AM   #6
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Going to have to rewire one I just bought. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-03-2013, 04:52 PM   #7
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I have a similar light but don't want to have the key in for the dome light to work. I also don't really want to run more wires to the battery. Same as Tanataco, im wondering if anyone knows a more consistent power source for the light. I think I just need to not be lazy, but that probably wont change......Nice write up though!!!
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:39 PM   #8
majorhavok [OP] majorhavok is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekapec View Post
I have a similar light but don't want to have the key in for the dome light to work. I also don't really want to run more wires to the battery. Same as Tanataco, im wondering if anyone knows a more consistent power source for the light. I think I just need to not be lazy, but that probably wont change......Nice write up though!!!
Thanks, I hope it helps. I am not a electrical guy, but took the plunge and am happy with the results.

Also, I have already left the light on accidentally at least twice, so I'm glad its wired a little bit idiot proof.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:54 PM   #9
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FYI, I am glad this mod is a bit dummy-proof and doesn't drain the battery. I have since done three other electrical mods that power a cb radio in the glove box, a DVD player in place of the dome light and a rear seat power inverter for 110v plugs and two have been left on accidentally at one time or another. I had the truck parked for a week at Lake Powell earlier this month and returned to a dead battery, kids/wife had sworn they turned off the dvd player but it was on after the jumpstart, so I'm blaming them.
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:54 PM   #10
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Great write up. Just wired mine up today based off of yours. I'm liking the idiot proofing on the dome light. Rep for you.
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Old 02-05-2014, 06:54 PM   #11
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You sir have just saved my life. Thank you! I'm going in for a safety inspection this weekend and didn't get the wiring harness (truck side) when I purchased my shell. I need to get the third light wired, and this is a massive life saver because I don't have to go plowing through wiring diagrams and messing around with my voltmeter.
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