Saturday, February 22, 2014

Foretravel 2001, LED Tail Light Upgrade

For some time, owners of Foretravel coaches from 1995-2001, have discussed upgrading their tail lights from the Original equipment tail light assemblies, which used incandescent bulbs to new technology using LED (light emitting diodes).
LED's are not important in this application to reduce energy consumption as the engine would be  running and there is an abundance of power coming from the engine's alternator to satisfy all needs; however, the LED technology, allows many, many more lumen's...(Brightness!); so for safety issues, LED's is a very good upgrade if you have concerns for safety.

The problem for me, an owner of a 2001 coach, was that the OEM tail lights in my coach were of the 1990-1995 vintage design, using 3 bulbs and the new LED lights, while physically the same size and shape, had only 2 bulb sockets, not 3, so what to do?
--The ONLY tail lights that seem to be available as physical replacements, that use LED technology are designed for for later....1995-2007 Ford Econoline vans and 2000-2005 Ford Excursions.
--The newer ones Physically fit just fine, but they use only 2 bulbs (rather than 3); so how to rewire for

4.     AND.... BACK-UP these new Tail Lights using LED technology?

 "how to convert easily without shorting out the printed circuit boards on the new lights?    Can this be brought close to "Plug and Play"?  Maybe yes!

At first, I bought a set of the new style LED lights from Amazon.  After seeing the problem with the open printed circuit board and printed warnings.. first hand, I backed off and returned the units at my cost.

I gave it more thought, then reordered them, determined to figure this out.  I had a few ideas but....

I asked XTREME PAINT AND GRAPHICS, in Nacogdoches, Texas, who was soon to repaint my roof, (yes, every roof, needs to be looked after-sooner or later) to consider this project with me and they said 'yes'.

We verbally tossed around varying ideas to install these aftermarket LED tail lights that have a different wiring scenario than original.  The goal was to use the simplest and best way to satisfy all needs for tail end safety, with minimal rewiring difficulty.  It didn't take too long, to realize that there was a simple solution that actually added a couple of benefits.

Solution found!

Wire the NEW LED TAIL LIGHTS to utilize the RED 'Upper' 21 LED's to satisfy the tail light and brake light functions with the upper socket and wiring plug.

Then... utilize the 2nd plug in the CLEAR portion of the New Tail Lights, to hold an AMBER bulb and wire it for TURN SIGNAL application!

Wallah! Next is solution was the real winner!

.... Just Add a Surface mount(not shown) or Flush mount(shown) LED 4" round new a MUCH Improved Back-Up Light!  This turned out to be a win-win thought.   Beyond that, Xtreme tied in the rear corner Docking Light using a diode configuration that Blasts the back end and corners of the coach now, with light when you go into reverse.  I mean, how good can it get?  This really works!

The increased brightness overall is incredible.  This photo below was taken with a camera's FLASH!........and look how bright it is!   (yes, I had already converted ALL the upper clearance lights to new LED's- so they are also very bright.)  No body behind you will miss your intentions!  No one!

Check with Xtreme Paint and Graphics, Nacogdoches, Texas.
....... They are quick and fair and you will LOVE this Upgrade!  Hopefully they will also come up with a near Plug and Play KIT that can be sent to you... Time will tell.

Safety first!

               *****the New Amber light/turn signal, just forward of the rear wheels!  *****

Super bright Orange LED lights, the same as the forward/side turn signals,   were added just forward of the  rear axel!  Yes... safety first! 
 Rance, running the wiring back from the combination running light, turn signal light.
All wiring was installed in a sheath back to tie into the tail and turn signal lights.

Weeks later, I kept thinking about the circuit board on the back of these new tail lights, as the resistors were open to moisture.  In Econolines or Excursions, these would be in a waterproof section of those vehicles, but on a Foretravel, that area is open to water droplets being blown around in that slightly unprotected cavity, when driving in rain.

My solution was to cut up some Scotch Brite pads and glue them together with silicone and attach them to the back of the tail lights over the transistors.

 This will allow any heat from the transistors to dissipate, yet the Scotch Brite will catch any droplets and allow moisture to descend through gravity and never get to the electonics.  A small piece of light plastic was also siliconed on to the top as a protective shield from above the little Scotch Brite Box.
Hope this info helps some who might be considering this project!

Any questions?  Just email me directly  I'd be glad to discuss any of these issues.

No comments: