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Airstream LED Lighting Outside

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#airstreamtrailers #airstreamers airstream LED lighting LED taillights for Airstreams

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It’s a tough for me to swallow. The pricing on the taillight LEDs for the Airstream are anywhere from $29 to $35 dollars apiece on www.led4rv.com, and when I look at them up close, in person, at A&P Vintage Trailer Works; I see a Chinese unit that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a dollar to produce, okay maybe $2-dollars. Keep in mind, that retail cost is times four!

So I am starting to dig a little deeper into the endless world of wide web. I’ll let you know what I find.

The running lights, those that are dotted along the front, back and both sides, add up to five each of red and five each of amber LED’s for the ’70 Airstream Safari ’23. Now, these have a pretty common spread between the holes that secure them to the skins. And I am slightly partial to the power of LED’s used by truckers – basically LED’s on steroids. I took a close look at the offering at LED4RV, and it has something like six LED’s in a wimpy looking strip. On the other hand, an off-the-shelf LED by Road Pro, with the same hole pattern, has twelve LED’s arrayed in a “Diamond Lens” reflector. How bright are they? Well, have you ever seen a truck coming your way outside Amarillo in the middle of the night, and it looks like something from “The Road Warrior?” These are those lights. Blinding? I hope so.

They are only about a dollar more than the LED4RV version, and I can walk into just about any truck stop and find them right off the shelf. The only alteration I see is a groove that goes around the base that has several openings where wires would run through for different applications. For what we’re doing, the wires will run straight out the back and through the skin. So I am going to go ahead and create a silicone “gasket” that fills the channel with those multiple openings.

The original running lights may not be “original” in my opinion. I don’t think Airstream used any silicone (if it even existed in 1970), and these all have at least a dab of silicone on every single one of them. It could be they are original, but a previous owner took the “industrious ” step of “waterproofing” the originals with their own application of silicone.

I certainly don’t have any problem with LED4RV, or capitalism based on massive profits. If I could find a the manufacturer who makes those retrofits, and could buy them at cost (say 100 of them) … you better believe I would get into the LED business! It just seems to be one of those things that gets labeled “Airstream” and priced “Airstream.” I’d be glad to sell them to you at half the price of normal retail!

MAKING IMPROVEMENTS

Make no mistake, Wally would approve of replacing typical bulbs and fixtures with LED’s – whenever and wherever the opportunity presented itself. Another idea given to me by Paul, was to improve visibility of the rear taillights by going with 4 red LED tail lights and doing away with the clear reverse/backup light fixtures. That makes sense to me! How often will you be backing your Airstream in the dark? And if you are prone to backing in the dark, these lights (even if LED’s) won’t do enough good. You could improve backing visibility in a large number of other ways. How about a backup camera? A solo switchable backup floodlight?

OTHER EXTERNAL LIGHTS

There are a few more external lights to consider that are not integral to driving safety, but one is still required. There is a rather elegant license plate light that needs attention – and I may go out on a limb and try to customize a LED unit for this piece. There is also an above door light that can be retrofitted with LED’s from LED4RV.com. Of course, I will take a closer look at that site’s images of their retrofit, and see if I can figure out how to DIY it myself.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Virtually all of these upgrade LED’s rely on a simple plug-and-play ideal of plugging into the old light bulb connectors – be they #1141 or #1157. Personally, I consider that a weakness. There is a lot of opportunity for oxidization inside that female fitting, and the springs that hold those old bulbs get weak, and can and can rust as well. As long as we’re here, it’s time to do a modern wiring connector.

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