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

Discussion in 'Technical Chat' started by majorhavok, May 27, 2013.

  1. May 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM
    #1
    majorhavok

    majorhavok [OP] Rabid Conservative

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    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:

    pic1.jpg





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

    pic2.jpg





    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.

    pic3.jpg

    pic4.jpg



    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.

    pic5.jpg

    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.

    pic6.jpg

    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.

    pic7.jpg

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

    pic8.jpg

    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:

    pic9.jpg

    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.)

    pic10.jpg

    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!

    pic11.jpg



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

    pic12.jpg

    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:

    pic13.jpg

    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.

    pic14.jpg

    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.

    pic15.jpg

    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..)

    pic16.jpg

    pic17.jpg

    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!

    pic18.jpg

    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.

    pic19.jpg

    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.

    pic20.jpg

    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)

    pic21.jpg

    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)

    pic22.jpg

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

    pic23.jpg

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

    pic24.jpg

    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!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  2. May 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM
    #2
    97Blk_one

    97Blk_one Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing,
     
  3. May 27, 2013 at 12:04 PM
    #3
    majorhavok

    majorhavok [OP] Rabid Conservative

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    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.
     
  4. May 31, 2013 at 1:08 PM
    #4
    TanaTaco

    TanaTaco Well-Known Member

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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)?
     
  5. Jun 2, 2013 at 10:04 AM
    #5
    majorhavok

    majorhavok [OP] Rabid Conservative

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    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/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=LED_Safe
     
  6. Jul 3, 2013 at 5:03 AM
    #6
    mrbillbrown

    mrbillbrown Member

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    Going to have to rewire one I just bought. Thanks for sharing.
     
  7. Jul 3, 2013 at 4:52 PM
    #7
    ekapec

    ekapec Well-Known Member

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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!!!
     
  8. Jul 6, 2013 at 7:39 PM
    #8
    majorhavok

    majorhavok [OP] Rabid Conservative

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    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. :)
     
  9. Aug 21, 2013 at 8:54 PM
    #9
    majorhavok

    majorhavok [OP] Rabid Conservative

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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.
     
  10. Oct 27, 2013 at 2:54 PM
    #10
    headhunter247

    headhunter247 Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  11. Feb 5, 2014 at 6:54 PM
    #11
    Sharky

    Sharky Well-Known Member

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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. :)
     
  12. May 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM
    #12
    treadstone

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    Does anyone know how, or if it would be possible to run a 12V outlet (female cigarette style) off the brake light system to the bed? I will be wiring my Snugtop brake light next week, and would also like to see what I can to to provide power to a Living Overland water pump system. I have a 2000 Tacoma.
    :threadjacked:

    http://www.livingoverland.com/p/store.html
     
  13. May 11, 2014 at 4:16 PM
    #13
    majorhavok

    majorhavok [OP] Rabid Conservative

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    My pleasure.. I have a few more electrical write ups I have been sitting on.. I need to stop being so lazy and post it.

    That's why I posted! Really glad to help!

    It should be the same as wiring the third brake light above. Good luck!
     
  14. Jun 17, 2014 at 11:54 AM
    #14
    Sharky

    Sharky Well-Known Member

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    Just wanted to add that I did this, but couldn't find the same connectors. So I bought a single flat 4 trailer wire connector and cut it in half and used one half on the shell, and the other half on the truck. They then connect together. It is about $5 at Wal-mart or O'Reilly so it is a cheap option. I like the connectors you used better but couldn't find them, but at least if I had some sort of major malfunction, it would be easy to replace the flat 4 or just snip off the connector and hardwire as I left some slack. Maybe I'll put up a pic if I think about it so people have a second option if they can't find the other connectors.
     
  15. Sep 2, 2014 at 6:30 AM
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    58 Siesta

    58 Siesta fox in the hen house

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    This is on my to do list. I was thinking that splicing into the trailer plug would be a good idear for numerous reasons. I'd rather not splice into my brake light wires, and I could use the continuous hot wire on my 7 pin to power the dome. Might even be a cleaner look when finished, though I'm not sure where to route the wires yet. Haven't even looked.
     
  16. Oct 1, 2014 at 9:26 AM
    #16
    takito sexy

    takito sexy Active Member

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    Genius!! Just got my shell yesterday and was thinking of running cables (+ & -) from the third brake light, dumb on my part. Thanks to the OP I am definitely wiring it to the tail light, thanks for such a great write up!

    :)
     
  17. Nov 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM
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    Bhumble

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    ^^This is the method I want to use. Have you looked into connecting to the 7 pin yet? If so, any insight you can share?
     
  18. Nov 13, 2014 at 3:27 PM
    #18
    skidooman

    skidooman I'm your huckleberry

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    A little late for you OP, but you don't have to drill through the bed. I ran my wires like this.
    [​IMG]IMG_7417 by Flyin' B photography, on Flickr
     
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