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Follow-Up to ECR Presentation on Lights and Reflectors


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One of the presentations I gave at the ECR last week was on the subject of required lighting for truck beds (slides here), and one of the things I've done after the presentation (on request) is to look over trucks to help find what's missing. I didn't make a complete loop through the campground looking things over as I have in the past, but there were definitely some things that cropped up pretty frequently. Last year, no one at the rally had everything they needed (including me!), while at the national rally we got to one (out of over 70 rigs!) that checked all of the boxes (Mark Bruss came really close to making it two--the truck was OK, but the trailer wasn't).


Since not everyone here is able to make the rallies, I thought I'd add a little beyond the presentation slides reflecting (pun intended) what I saw.


Most often overlooked is the reflex reflectors that should be on the back, on the sides at the rear, and (for trucks longer than 30') mid-way along the side. In the case of my Showhauler, it had all of the required lights, but none of the required reflectors. I added reflective trim rings around the stop, tail, and turn lights, and just replaced a few of the marker lights with a version that incorporates a reflex reflector. Most LED lights you pick up at a truck parts store don't have reflex reflectors--just being mirrored/shiny doesn't do what's required. While not required, a good reflector will be marked with its SAE code--you'll find an "A" molded in to the lens.


To show the difference, I installed intermediate side and rear marker lights with reflex reflectors built-in. I left the clearance lights along the top as they were--so reflex reflector ("A") and marker lights ("P2") down low, just marker lights ("P2") up high. In the pictures below, you'll see the difference the reflectors make in a low-light situation. The picture on the left is with the lights on the truck turned off. Note that you can clearly see the amber and red reflectors, and that the rear of the truck would not be otherwise well indicated without the red one. The reflectors essentially appear as if the lights are on. Now look at the right picture--lights are turned on here, and both reflected and unreflected lights look similar. Even with colored lenses, with flutes in the lenses, with chrome reflectors, etc., the lights at the top don't grab your attention when not on--leaving your parked vehicle (as big as it is) much less visible.




After reflectors, marker lights were the next most often missed item. Two are needed on the rear (facing rear, not combined with tail lights), two more at the rear facing the sides, and if over 30' long two intermediate marker lights are needed. Even if under 30', the intermediate lights and reflectors are a good idea.


Most trucks had the required reverse and stop, tail, and turn lights. A few were missing license plate lights. Several had front side marker lights that were burnt out--this is easy to miss on the second generation Volvos. There's a small 194 bulb in addition to the turn signal bulb, with the 194 serving as the side marker. Though having a bulb out is never advised, the dim filament on the turn signal bulb isn't required.


What perhaps surprised me looking things over this year was how many trailers were missing required equipment. There were a fair number of rigs (all of them?) from DRV and New Horizons (presumably as they left the factory) missing required items. I'm going to take a few pictures this afternoon of the two left here and show what needs to be done to fix them.

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Alright--here goes. My goal here is to show what's missing, along with the easiest way to check all the boxes with the fewest number of things to mount/wire. I'm going to start with the trailer, because it's a lot more straightforward than the truck. Here's what should be there, looking at the side:



Notice that there's nothing in the red box. DRV has been adding a reflector on their rigs there when they go in for service, and I was a little puzzled at first as one of the rigs where this was done already had a reflector further up toward the nose. The need for the separate reflector comes from the maximum height for side reflex reflectors--15-60". The one on the nose was higher than that. The marker light is still required to be as far forward as practicable, and doesn't have a height limit, so it still needs to go at the nose. Also notice that I haven't highlighted the light at the top middle of the side wall. That light would be helpful to showing the overall size, but isn't actually required.


So what does the side of Carl's trailer need? It actually has all of the required lights, but needs a total of 4 reflectors. The cheapest and quickest way to get them would be to get stick on reflectors in each of the four locations. In my mind though, that would look like what it was--a "cheap" fix to the problem. If it were me, I'd spend a little more for the three light locations to replace them with lights with integrated reflex reflectors. The next picture shows the "to-do" list for the sides of the trailer:



The back of the trailer has more boxes to check off the list:




Fortunately, most of that stuff is accounted for. Reflex reflectors are really the only thing missing.




Replacing the grommets is the easiest way to get reflectors installed cleanly, though you may also have to replace the lights themselves depending on which 4" round lights are there already. Here's how they look on the back of my RV (along with some of the dust I smuggled out of Deer Run):



Hopefully I'll get a chance to post the pictures for the truck tomorrow. Each time I've given the presentation, it's been followed by a few walk-arounds--you're all welcome to send pictures my way and I'll get them back to you with notes.

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These photos show the lighting I installed on my truck after discovering last year that in spite of being converted to RV use 7 years earlier, it had never gotten actual truck lighting:








The aluminum-framed things with two screws are the reflex reflectors.

Am I missing anything on this truck body?

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Am I missing anything on this truck body?


Not that I can see! If you don't mind, I'd like to use your pictures to show what should be there. The reflectors can obviously be combined with other lights, but having them separate should make them easier to point out. Then I'll use the pictures of Carl's truck to show an alternate approach (and what he's going to add to his truck).

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