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When RV parts are discontinued, DIY projects to the rescue!

Wall light

By Nanci Dixon
When motorhome parts are discontinued, it is time for a DIY fix. Our 2017 motorhome has a unique living area wall light – a sconce that was slowly getting dimmer until it only flicked on every once in a while.

Non-replaceable bulb

After several discussions with the RV manufacturer about getting the bulb replaced, it turns out that the LED bulb is not removable or replaceable. Who makes a light that has a bulb that can’t be replaced? And the even better question, who puts it in a motorhome? 

Less than two-and-a-half years old and the entire $100 light needed to be replaced. I was not happy. But, we needed the light so I finally decided to bite the proverbial bullet and order another one. Two times they sent the wrong light and it wasn’t until after the second wrong light that I found out the original light was discontinued. No replacement was available from the manufacturer, online or anywhere.

If we wanted the light, we would have to get it fixed. I found that a lot of local lamp repair shops had no idea what to do with 12V lamps. That dead-end led me to an online store I had ordered from in the past. They came to the rescue and suggested a stick on LED bulb for $8. It had two layers to stay cool and came with a pin wedge adapter and a pin round adapter.

It was an easy, easy fix (finally!). Here’s what I did:

1. Cut out the old wires to the switch in the lamp
2. Cut off the wedge from the end of the pin adapter
3. Wired the pin adapter to the switch
4. Plugged the pin of the light into the pin adapter – makes the bulb replaceable!
5. Stuck the new bulb right on top of the existing non-removable bulb.

$92 saved! Let there be light!

Lamp works

Has this ever happened to you? What DIY project or modification have you made to your RV when traditional parts weren’t available? Please tell us in the comments below.

##RVT971

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Thomas D
3 months ago

You might have inquired about your fixture at one of the many rv graveyards but you did the best thing, albeit later. Congratulations on your repair. Now if it happens again to another fixture you know where and how to proceed.

Drew
3 months ago

Nanci,

That’s a beautiful fixture!

Steve
3 months ago

In our travel trailer, I replaced most of the interior 12v automotive-type bulbs with LEDs that just plugged right into the bulb sockets. It worked great and allowed us to dry camp/boondock with power from only two lead-acid deep cycle batteries for several days with no generator or solar panels.

When we sold that trailer and bought a new fifth wheel, LED light fixtures were a standard factory item. And all of these LED fixtures had permanently mounted LEDs. After replacing two of the fixtures with complete new fixtures, one of which was not identical to the original, I began taking them apart to see why the LEDs were not just plug-in bulbs. It seems that the fixture acts as a heat sink and, in some cases, a ground, for the LEDs. So they are soldered directly to the metal backing plate. Having learned more about how they are constructed, I began using Nanci’s less expensive method.

Donald N Wright
3 months ago

Many of the solar lights sold by Walmart have batteries that cannot be replaced, or, the battery costs more than the light does.

Bob p
3 months ago

There’s a place in AZ that sells orphan parts, when we had our 19 year old motorhome I had the number, after selling it I deleted the number. Google orphan RV parts you may find it.

Ed Fogle
1 year ago

Not about a light but in line with the topic. I think many RV parts are ripe for the use of 3D scanning and printing. Take the end pieces of Carefree of Colorado retractable windshield screens. Those plastic ends tend to break allowing one end to fall down since the mounting screw goes through these pieces. Carefree no longer makes a replacement part but expects us to buy a whole shade assembly for several hundred dollars. 3D scanning and printing seems to be a perfect solution for this problem

Scott R. Ellis
1 year ago

This is a great example of what I mean when I say of all RV’s, “If you don’t like messing with them, you shouldn’t own one.”

There is hardly any RV problem–whether it’s a result of shoddy materials, poor workmanship, bad original design, or just wear and tear–that can’t be “MacGyvered,” and there is today a wealth of help available on You-Tube, or on forums devoted to your genre or particular grand of RV, most of it actually good advice shared by good people.

I know: “It’s new and expensive and I shouldn’t have to fix it.” That is true, and, alas, probably pretty unrealistic.

Just fix it! 😀

Jeff Arthur
1 year ago

The permanent bulb/fixture has been around since LEDs came about. This to me isn’t that big of a problem. What as problem is discontinued parts that move the slides or windows. I have recently replaced 2 gearbox’s that were hard to get. Now that I just used my spare gearbox I see the part has doubled in price. My window operators currently are non existent, currently held together with vice grips. Strange because I can buy the whole window complete with the operator.
I’m at that Shark tank moment where I say “ with that I’m out “

DW/ND
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

Jeff: Don’t overlook EBay as a source for old or discontinued parts. It may take awhile to find something – like window operators – but put a watch on for that item and be patient. Somebody, someday will list it – usually way below market too. (That’s where I found window operators for our elderly Clsss A!)

Jeff Arthur
1 year ago
Reply to  DW/ND

That’s where I get my gearbox’s
YouTube & eBay are the two greatest things on the internet to me. Currently no window operators of the correct type are listed. I may simply change it to the emergency type although that will take some additional fabrication that the woman I work for has not approved. She said buy some more vice grips

DW/ND
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

Jeff: That last line sounds familiar!!! Ditto on YouTube as well!

DW/ND
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

Jeff: You might find window operators to match yours on EBay – you might have to be patient! Save a search and sooner or later it will show up. I had the same problem, now I have an extra set!

DW/ND
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Arthur

Ooops – guess I didn’t read past your comment – already answered this a year ago! (Aren’t computers great?)

Thomas D
1 year ago

As they are finding out,there are a lot of fixtures with non replacement lamps. They are supposed to last 50000 hours. But, low voltage will send them to an early grave. If your battery is low,don’t use the lights. They seem to tolerate higher voltage ok. As the original poster suggested you can always find a work around. Good job.

bisonwings
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Thank you for the tip on low voltage. I replaced all of the incandescent bulbs in our new to us 2015 Excel 5er with expensive dimmable LED’s. Many of them have gotten so dim I’ve had to go back to the incandescent bulbs.

Shamrock camper
1 year ago

Wow thats unbelieveable! So glad i decided to order spares for any piecey parts that could be lost or broken, tiny plastic lower drain caps etc. I will definately check the lights now too!

Michael
1 year ago

Who makes a light with a permanently mounted bulb, indeed! We have more than 70 round LED lights in the ceiling of our 2017 motor home. The bulbs are permanently mounted into the housing and cannot be replaced. They started failing about 4 months after taking delivery when the coach was new. Luckily for us, the manufacturer gave us enough no-charge, replacements to change every one. When the replacements began failing, they sent us a different design, this time with removable bulbs, again at no charge.

Steve Malm
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael

You can replace some of them now, but you can’t get the modules from the manufacture, you have to get them from aftermarket replacement suppliers. Look for m4.

Michael
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Update…The manufacturer just got acquired by Thor Industries. When I called a couple of weeks ago, I was told that I now need to purchase replacements. The rep mistakenly said the replacements had removable bulbs (they aren’t). Is the acquisition and the decision to start charging $11 each related? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions.

I am still replacing the second set. I haven’t encountered any of the new design failures. My guess is that the manufacturer’s accounting department made a design decision to use cheap, untested lights and got tired of replacing them. I think the marketing department selling the concept of replacements for defects free, to a point.

tom
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael

On LED bulbs-no such thing as unrepairable. A good tinkerer can fix anything. I’m replacing all overhead lights with leds, one fixture at a time. There are many suppliers on the iNet with led strips. Go for it.
Just because you bought an expensive coach does not insure that they did not use cheap parts.

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