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Old 05-28-2014, 10:45 AM   #1
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Magnetic light kit

We finally found our new (to us) toad - a 1995 Tracker. Manual trans, manual hubs, even came with a tow bar! Cool. Now all we need are lights and a braking system.

I'm inclined to go the simple route and pick up a magnetic light kit rather than chasing wires, soldering diodes and the like installing a permanent system, but after reading the comments on a bunch of mag kits from several vendors (Amazon, Harbor Freight, EZtrailer, etc) the universal opinion is they are all pretty much junk. Undersized wire gauge, low luminosity, failures right out of the box and more importantly cheap magnets that won't keep the lights in place anywhere other than your driveway.

I'm willing to spend more than the $19.95 most of these kits sell for if I could find a system that I can actually depend on. I'd also be willing to go the harness route if I could find a tap harness that simply plugs in to an existing branch of the OEM wiring.

These little Trackers (and their cousins Sammie and Sidekick) were/are very popular toads so I know someone out there has "been there - done that" setting up lights. Any help would appreciated.

Oh, for extra bonus points any guidance on a cheap, simple braking system that would keep the DOT off my back would be helpful as well.

cheers...
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:16 AM   #2
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I keep a set of magnetic lights as a back-up. I use LED boat trailer lights, which I attach with Velcro and wire ties. This has worked very well for us for about 150K miles of towing.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:33 AM   #3
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I have towed my '98 Saturn SW2 over 20,000 miles without an extra braking system and without any problems. It weighs 2600 pounds, and I doubt if your Tracker weighs that much. You don't even realize that it's back there. I have used the magnetic lights without problems. I use 4 cables as security. I made them out of 3/8" plastic wrapped steel cables, with loops on the ends, and 2500# hookups. The only thing that I carry in the wagon is the satellite dish, for convenience. Eddie Elk.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddieelk View Post
I have towed my '98 Saturn SW2 over 20,000 miles without an extra braking system and without any problems. It weighs 2600 pounds, and I doubt if your Tracker weighs that much. You don't even realize that it's back there.
Agreed. The Tracker weighs in at about 2300 and neither me or my DP will care if its back there. Unfortunately if I was ever to be in an accident, my fault or not, between the federales now patrolling our cities and highways and some slick insurance company lawyer in a sharkskin suit the accident would become my fault if I didn't have a DOT "approved" aux braking system in place. AAA has a good map of weight limits per State before needing an aux system and many states are down to 2k, some even below that.

So for my own peace of mind I need something in place. I don't really care if it even works, although there's nothing wrong with having extra braking capacity, but one government roadblock someplace doing "surprise" inspections or a simple pullover for a burned out taillight or whatever and my day's ruined.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:15 PM   #5
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Even if you're not breaking the law of the state you're traveling through, the law of physics is in effect everywhere. Trying to stop an un-braked 2000 lb toad is going to extend your braking distance and could be a life of death issue.
ReadyBrake is a simple lever and cable method that I plan to switch to next time I upgrade. At present I have a Roadmaster equivalent of a BrakeBuddy and it's a pain to latch the clamp on the brake pedal. If I hadn't gotten it for a song on eBay (unused, new) I'd switch to ReadyBrake.
On the magnetic lights, try mounting them inside from the roof. That way the wire goes through the car, under mats, to prevent chaffing and scratching paint.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:35 PM   #6
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NSA ReadyBrute tow bar with Ready Brake is what I use and it works well. Very easy hookup and go.
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:11 PM   #7
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I have used a set of magnetic lights for several years without issue. I think I paid $20-25.00.
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:51 PM   #8
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While the need for braking seems unnecessary due to the light weight, keep in mind that most aux braking systems also have a " breakaway" system. Should the toad become separated the brakes will activate keeping your previously unnoticed toad from passing you by. So being cheap isn't always the best course. There is a reason they are required.
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Old 05-28-2014, 03:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
I have used a set of magnetic lights for several years without issue. I think I paid $20-25.00.
Remember where you bought them, or maybe a part number? If the magnets are strong enough to hold at 65mph through a wind storm that's good enough for me.

Maybe I can fab a cross bar mounted on the spare tire bracket that spans the back of the Tracker and mount the lights to it, keeping them in the slip stream behind the toad. Hmmm...
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Old 05-28-2014, 03:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardbark View Post
Remember where you bought them, or maybe a part number? If the magnets are strong enough to hold at 65mph through a wind storm that's good enough for me.

Maybe I can fab a cross bar mounted on the spare tire bracket that spans the back of the Tracker and mount the lights to it, keeping them in the slip stream behind the toad. Hmmm...
Bought from Camping World I think, has been several years ago. The magnets are very strong. Never move in use and I have them on the sides of my Jeep right in the air stream. When stored I put them together magnet to magnet - one cannot readily just pull them apart, you slide them apart.
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Old 05-28-2014, 04:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Bought from Camping World I think, has been several years ago. The magnets are very strong. Never move in use and I have them on the sides of my Jeep right in the air stream. When stored I put them together magnet to magnet - one cannot readily just pull them apart, you slide them apart.
Perfect. Exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. Since the Tracker is a rag top the sides are the logical place for mine as well.

Oh, here's a pic of our new "Sammy"
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:07 AM   #12
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I've used Harbor Freight magnetic tow lights for years. Never had a problem and often on sale for $9.95.

I purchased a 4 pin flat to 7 pin round adapter for $10 from Walmart. Thus no wiring needed.

-Tom, W3TLN

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Old 05-29-2014, 01:46 PM   #13
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This is what I use for the toad. High quality wiring and connectors, LED, powerful magnets. Not like the flimsy cheap lights. I have used them over 15,000 miles of towing in all kinds of weather and never had a problem with the lights not working or the magnets slipping one bit.

Grote Industries: Product #65720-5 - Red
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Old 06-02-2014, 01:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardbark View Post
We finally found our new (to us) toad - a 1995 Tracker. Manual trans, manual hubs, even came with a tow bar! Cool. Now all we need are lights and a braking system.

I'm inclined to go the simple route and pick up a magnetic light kit rather than chasing wires, soldering diodes and the like installing a permanent system, but after reading the comments on a bunch of mag kits from several vendors (Amazon, Harbor Freight, EZtrailer, etc) the universal opinion is they are all pretty much junk. Undersized wire gauge, low luminosity, failures right out of the box and more importantly cheap magnets that won't keep the lights in place anywhere other than your driveway.

I'm willing to spend more than the $19.95 most of these kits sell for if I could find a system that I can actually depend on. I'd also be willing to go the harness route if I could find a tap harness that simply plugs in to an existing branch of the OEM wiring.

These little Trackers (and their cousins Sammie and Sidekick) were/are very popular toads so I know someone out there has "been there - done that" setting up lights. Any help would appreciated.

Oh, for extra bonus points any guidance on a cheap, simple braking system that would keep the DOT off my back would be helpful as well.

cheers...
Simple, cheap, effective and painless is always good, so install a READYBRAKE and run dedicated wiring to a made up, plug in light bar or hitch hauler with some lights installed, utilizing the/a receiver on the back of the Tracker. If it also has a towing connector, you can use it as well for extra lights, when not being towed and if you'd like not removing anything. This way, all your lights and wiring is completely separate from the toad wiring. Our hitch hauler is always on the Jeep, carrying two bikes, when we travel, even though we use a plug and play COOLTECH harness made for a JK wrangler.
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