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Photo 2/8 | Custer Lights 001 | Whether you’re hauling heavy equipment, tools and gear, or toys on the weekend trailer, visibility is of the utmost importance. Nothing is more frustrating than loading up in the dark with a subpar flashlight taking up space in one of your hands or having your trailer hit by the yuppie SUV driver who isn’t paying attention to anything but Facebook.
Photo 3/8 | Custer Lights 002 | Lightbars have become an incredible fad in the pickup space over the past few years, led largely by the increase in quality and reduction in price. However, not many people have thought to adapt them for trailer use. With a desire to light up the trailer deck, we opted for a 30-inch worklight from Custer Products’ Never Night line. This bar is overkill, producing 12,600 lumen while drawing 140 watts. It uses 14 10-watt CREE LEDs, carries an IP67 rating for water and dust intrusion, and is covered by a three-year warranty. We opted to add amber covers to help diffuse the light and tone the brightness down for our desired use.
Photo 4/8 | Custer Lights 003 | We don’t always work on projects on the deck of our trailer—they sometimes happen off to the side. Knowing this, we opted to install four 18-watt work lights facing outboard, two on each side of the trailer. These lights have a compact size and utilize six 3-watt LEDs with a 90-degree beam pattern. The mounting brackets are a bit difficult to attach to the housing, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the LED light industry. Careful consideration had to be made when it came to mounting these, as their placement needs to avoid interfering with the deck, and they need to tuck up high enough to not get knocked off by road debris—all while not impeding use of the trailer. Our preferred mounting position turned out to be a place we frequently used as a step, so it was quickly on to Plan B.
Photo 5/8 | Custer Lights 004 | Of all the fads we were glad to see die, neon underglow lights are certainly near the top of the list. However, when thinking of where light would be most needed on our utility trailer, we came to the realization that lighting up the area directly underneath and around the trailer would pay dividends in low-speed maneuvering and backing operations. It would also be helpful should the need to replace a tire at night occur. To fill this need, we chose a quartet of 15-watt compact work lights. The lights measure 1¾ inches tall by 3 inches wide and are ½-inch thick. They sport three 5-watt LEDs and broadcast 1,260 lumen in a 120-degree pattern. The lights also come with two super-trick rubber mounting pads. We opted to place them fore and aft of the axles, lighting up the area under the deck.
Photo 6/8 | Custer Lights 005 | It’s not only about seeing, but being seen as well. Factory marker lights typically meet the DOT’s bare minimum requirements, and trailer manufacturers aren’t adding any extras. We replaced our clunky incandescent marker lights with these slick LED units. The markers mount in a ¾-inch hole, have a clear lens, and glow amber. They carry full DOT approval and are far brighter than the trailer’s factory lighting. In addition to replacing the factory lights, we also added six more as cheap insurance against rogue SUV encounters.
Photo 7/8 | Custer Lights 006 | While we were updating the lighting, we decided it would be prudent to do the taillights as well. It’s shocking how old the technology is that manufacturers still use—even on high-end utility trailers. We pitched our factory lights in favor of Custer’s slim LED units. Each one uses 15 LEDs; at 2 inches thick, they’re about half the size. The stud mount employed is universal and made for a simple installation. However, the wiring is much improved, which meant we needed to splice them into our factory wiring. They are available with and without a license plate light. We opted to go without since our plate already has an LED light on it, keeping us legal at night.
Photo 8/8 | Custer Lights 007 | Rounding out the lighting package is an LED rear marker light. The bulbs in our factory marker died just months after it was purchased, so upgrading to LED was a no-brainer. The Custer unit was a bit wider than our factory-installed bar, meaning we needed to drill new bolt holes, which, in the grand scheme of things, was no big deal and well worth it to round out the upgrade package.