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How to Run Wires for 3rd Brake Light Mod?
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Belladonna30c
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:18 pm    Post subject: How to Run Wires for 3rd Brake Light Mod? Reply with quote

PDXWesty wrote:
Here's another thread with more suggestions on 3rd brake lights.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=285490

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I want to do this mod, but I am having trouble knowing how to best run the wiring down and connect to the brake wires?

I can see where to run the wire from the AC cabinet mounting and behind the closet. I see where there are two AC hoses that run down through the metal and. That seems a logical place, but how would one do it? I don't want to start poking holes, cutting into tubes, etc.

I know some of you have done this mod...Can you please offer some help/instruction?
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markz2004
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chase the wire down next to the AC hoses it is a very easy route.

I used a semi-stiff wire called "Fish Tape" you can get it in the electrical section of any hardware store. You use the tape to find the path, tie the wire to the end when you get to the other side and then pull it back through.

I had this tape from previous home improvement projects. Given the short run and possible one time use, you could really use a coat hanger or something similar.
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climberjohn
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few tricks I learned for adding a 3rd brake light (’86 Westy with A/C). I am a very newbie car electrician and I am sure others may have a better way to do this, but this worked for me.

Goodies needed: drill, bits, 3 or 4 oz. fishing weight, twine, coat hanger, 12 ga. black ground wire, 12 ga. other color hot wire, tap splice, spade connector, zip ties, electrical tape or self-fusing silicon tape, crimper/stripper wiring, tool, Bentley. Optional: rough grit sandpaper, dielectric grease, stainless steel star washer.

1) I drilled one small hole in the wood between the 2 small “trays” that are just rear of the AC housing. This hole only needs to be big enough to pass two 12 gauge wires through, so it’s tiny. You also cannot really see it unless you stand on the rear bumper, and look down, so it’s very unobtrusive.

2) I took a 3-4 ounce fishing weight, tied it to some twine, and dropped it down next to the AC hoses. Once the weight made it to the engine bay, I tied the 2 wires (ground and hot) and a 6 foot length of twine to the other end of the weighted twine and pulled them down. (The extra length of twine is optional – it stays in place next to the wires, giving you a “pull cord” to make future wiring projects easier.)

2a) Correction: Use a coat hanger to fish the wires through, not a fishing weight. See update to this a few posts below.

3) Mounting the light: Be sure to center the light over the actual rear of the entire van, not the center of the rear cabinetry or the sticker. I incorrectly mounted it at first centered over the sticker, and it appeared to be perfectly centered as long as the rear hatch was up. But when I closed the hatch and stood back, it was way off center, whoops! A foolish mistake. If this does not make sense reading it, go out with the light to your van and it should be clear.

4) Wiring: I attached the black ground wire to the ground under the coil on the rear left side of the engine bay with a spade connector and a dab of dielectric grease. I took this time to sand the paint specks under the screw metal down to bare metal, and add a stainless steel star washer from the bulk bin at the hardware store to ensure happy grounding in the future. (Thanks for this tip, Tencent.)

The only tricky part for me was finding which wire was hot for the brake light from the bundle that goes to the rear left brake light. I seem to recall the wire was black and red. See Le Bentley, page 97-80. I used a tap splice (ask for it at Radio Crack or a good car parts store if you don’t know what this is). I wrapped the whole connection well with some self-fusing silicone tape, as I thought this area might get some moisture.

I got this light from JC Whitney (thanks for the tip PDXWesty)
http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/ItemBrowse/c-10...0000358340

Overall, it was my first adventure with van electrical enhancements and gave the confidence to tackle the new aux battery / Yandina / inverter / fuse box project. Adding a brake light is within your capabilities, so go for it and have fun!
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Last edited by climberjohn on Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Belladonna30c
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

climberjohn wrote:
A few tricks I learned for adding a 3rd brake light (’86 Westy with A/C). I am a very newbie car electrician and I am sure others may have a better way to do this, but this worked for me.

Goodies needed: drill, bits, 3 or 4 oz. fishing weight, twine, 12 ga. black ground wire, 12 ga. other color hot wire, tap splice, spade connector, zip ties, electrical tape or self-fusing silicon tape, crimper/stripper wiring, tool, Bentley. Optional: rough grit sandpaper, dielectric grease, stainless steel star washer.

1) I drilled one small hole in the wood between the 2 small “trays” that are just rear of the AC housing. This hole only needs to be big enough to pass two 12 gauge wires through, so it’s tiny. You also cannot really see it unless you stand on the rear bumper, and look down, so it’s very unobtrusive.

2) I took a 3-4 ounce fishing weight, tied it to some twine, and dropped it down next to the AC hoses. Once the weight made it to the engine bay, I tied the 2 wires (ground and hot) and a 6 foot length of twine to the other end of the weighted twine and pulled them down. (The extra length of twine is optional – it stays in place next to the wires, giving you a “pull cord” to make future wiring projects easier.)

3) Mounting the light: Be sure to center the light over the actual rear of the entire van, not the center of the rear cabinetry or the sticker. I incorrectly mounted it at first centered over the sticker, and it appeared to be perfectly centered as long as the rear hatch was up. But when I closed the hatch and stood back, it was way off center, whoops! A foolish mistake. If this does not make sense reading it, go out with the light to your van and it should be clear.

4) Wiring: I attached the black ground wire to the ground under the coil on the rear left side of the engine bay with a spade connector and a dab of dielectric grease. I took this time to sand the paint specks under the screw metal down to bare metal, and add a stainless steel star washer from the bulk bin at the hardware store to ensure happy grounding in the future. (Thanks for this tip, Tencent.)

The only tricky part for me was finding which wire was hot for the brake light from the bundle that goes to the rear left brake light. I seem to recall the wire was black and red. See Le Bentley, page 97-80. I used a tap splice (ask for it at Radio Crack or a good car parts store if you don’t know what this is). I wrapped the whole connection well with some self-fusing silicone tape, as I thought this area might get some moisture.

I got this light from JC Whitney (thanks for the tip PDXWesty)
http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/ItemBrowse/c-10...0000358340

Overall, it was my first adventure with van electrical enhancements and gave the confidence to tackle the new aux battery / Yandina / inverter / fuse box project. Adding a brake light is within your capabilities, so go for it and have fun!



OMG...Thank you! This was just what I needed....much appreciation for the time you took. I am sure this will be helpful to others in the future as well.
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Belladonna30c
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

climberjohn wrote:


2) I took a 3-4 ounce fishing weight, tied it to some twine, and dropped it down next to the AC hoses. Once the weight made it to the engine bay, I tied the 2 wires (ground and hot) and a 6 foot length of twine to the other end of the weighted twine and pulled them down. (The extra length of twine is optional – it stays in place next to the wires, giving you a “pull cord” to make future wiring projects easier.)


I understand all of the instructions, except for how to get the wire through to the engine bay. When I look at the AC hoses behind the cabinetry...where the hoses meet the metal...they pass through a rubber seal into the engine bay. There is no space to simply pass the wire through.
It is not clear to me how to get the wire through seal without cutting into the seal. Am I missing something?
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climberjohn
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies. I was thinking of another wiring project.
The fish weight suggestion is WRONG.

I now recall I used a coat hanger with the wires and twine taped to the end to fish the wires through.

If I could have dug my van out from the 2 feet of new snow we got today in Portland, I would have checked this before I wrote it. =^)
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Belladonna30c
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

climberjohn wrote:
Apologies. I was thinking of another wiring project.
The fish weight suggestion is WRONG.

I now recall I used a coat hanger with the wires and twine taped to the end to fish the wires through.

If I could have dug my van out from the 2 feet of new snow we got today in Portland, I would have checked this before I wrote it. =^)


No problem...who can keep track of the MANY vanagong projects anyways?.....wow 2' of snow...brrrrrr...

So, as I understand it:
Use a coathanger to poke a hole through the rubber seal and pull the wire through. Is that correct?
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Belladonna30c
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally completed this fantastic mod...with the much appreciated help from my father-in-law (thanks Tats!)...he did all the hard stuff...and I learned a lot too. Thanks again to ClimberJohn for his wonderful instructions too. Here are some step-by-step pics for others out there, with some tips...

I painted the mounting plates black for a cleaner look. Installing the light to the lip of the shelf of the AC cabinet is easy. Be sure to measure center of the van...NOT center of the AC cabinet. After measuring and marking, I noticed that the center snap for the rear bug screen was center...so that can be your guide! Drill pilot holes before installing. Also, I recommend that you drill your holes to pass the wires through from the light to behind the AC shelf BEFORE you install the light. I did not do that and access was a little more difficult.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


You will need wire to connect the wire from the mod light to the wire from the OG brake light. We left some slack in the wire for easy access from the top, should it ever need attention/repair.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


We ran the wire down behind the cabinet by attaching the wires to a small wrench (for weight). The wrench also helped us identify how far down we were and to coax it along. A large paper clip was used... unbent a bit and duct taped to the wires..to fish the wires through into the engine compartment via the electrical wires next to the AC hoses...thanks again Tats!).

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The hot wire for the taillight was #4 (on my van)...when you pull back the rubber cup from the light socket assembly...you can see where the wires plug in. We connected the wires using the blue thing in the photo (forgot what it's called)


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


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The ground wire was grounded into some metal bracket in the engine compartment that we drilled a hole through.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



Voila! We have lights! Now I need to straighten my bumper! Smile

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's pretty much exactly how I ran my wires. Nice job. Thanks for adding the pics!
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AlanD
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Friend Belladona30c,

Those little blue things I gave you are called Tap Splices. As you have shown, they are used to connect new wires to existing wires without the trouble and problems of other methods.

For those unfamiliar with how they work, here are some photos:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


For illustration, the red wire is existing and the black wire is to be connected to it. The existing wire slips into one side of the tap splice and the other wire goes in a blind hole on the other side. Make sure the black wire is all the way into the hole and extends past the metal clip. If it doesn't, then you have perhaps tried to insert it from the wrong side. The wrong side has a shallow hole and the right side has a deep one.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Once the wires are inserted, use pliers to force the metal clip down as far as it will go. This clip slices the insulation of both wires, makes contact with the conducting (metal) part of the wire, and connects them together electrically.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The final step is to bend the cover over until it locks. For even better security, you can wrap the whole thing with electrical tape.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Tap splices should be available wherever you find crimp-type electrical connectors.
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Belladonna30c
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Alan! What a great addition to this thread...

Thanks again for the tap splices.
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djbside
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I plan to do this same mod very very soon... But I am also going to buy two small round lights (white) and mount them to my rear bumper. They will be angled slightly "outward" off the corners of the van and spliced into the backup lights. Reason is so while backing at night, I can see what I'm backing up against or next to through my side mirrors...

Thanks for the instructions and photos... Now I know EXACTLY how easy this will be to do!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Belladonna,
Congrats on your brake light project! It looks great. I am glad I could offer some remote help. So many on this forum are so generous with their help, I am glad to return the karma when the rare question comes up I actually can answer.

Nice photos too. They should help a lot for the next person.

AlanD,
Wowzer, great macro photos! Those are the best closeups I've ever seen on the Samba. (I always wondered what that little extra tab on the tap splice was for - now I won't break that off anymore. Very Happy Even the Radio Crack guy did not know what the tab was for . . .)
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Home Team Van
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone have any advice on running the wires for a van that doesn't have AC?
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Home Team Van wrote:
Anyone have any advice on running the wires for a van that doesn't have AC?


I have an 81 aircooled model, so I dont know if all the same little ports are on our versions of the vans, but on either side of the engine lid are two rectangle rubber grommets, and if you pop them out you have almost instant access to the rear side of your tail lights.

mine is a westy, so on the cabinet side I can just barely access this grommet, popped it out of place on one end and slid the wire right through. no holes to drill, and the grommet popped right back into place holding the wire nice and firmly in place.

I have some bad cellphone pics of this install
The first two just show where the hole is, and the last shows where it comes out inside the engine compartment
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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yes thats a dead spider in the above pic.
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Home Team Van
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it appears that I don't have those rubber grommets on the my diesel westy but I see where the plug would go. Maybe I'll just drill a whole through in that spot. I appreciate you taking the time to post your pics.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

too bad. if you have that same cabinet in the back, its at the very least a good place to route wires as you can hide them up the back of the cabinet.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ran my wire down the left side of the cabinet through the engine lid to the light and tap spliced it ...easiest route and it works great
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if anyone knows of a more "waterproof" to attach a wire for the 3rd brake light than to just crimp one of those blue taps onto the existing wire?

also, is there a better (less exposed) place to tap into the existing wire than just behind the Left tail light?
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can most likely cut, splice, solder, wrap, crimp, modify, or wire it any way you want to your hearts content as long as you're tapping into the correct wire. The crimp on splice makes the job really easy. If you're really worried, fill it with silicone before closing it up. That would make it waterproof for sure.
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