Tools I Needed to Rewire My Utility Trailer
Properly rewiring the lights in a utility or boat trailer requires a few tools, most of which I already had because I frequently perform DIY wiring projects.
Most of the tools needed for wiring a trailer are available at better auto parts stores or hardware stores; but because quality electrical tools are specialty items, you probably won't find all of them at any one local store (especially if you want professional-quality tools).
Fortunately, however, all of the tools needed to rewire a trailer are available on Amazon, generally with free shipping if you're an Amazon Prime member.
As with tools in general, the quality of wiring tools varies from truly-atrocious on the low end to professional-quality on the high end. If you're planning a trailer-rewiring project of your own and are on a budget, the most important advice I can give you is not to skimp on the crimper. If you want quality crimped connections, there is no substitute for a quality crimper. You have more wiggle room on the rest of the tools. You can get away with a cheap wire cutter, but there's no substitute for a good crimper.
The tools I used or had available for my trailer-rewiring project were:
- The trailer wiring harness itself was a Hopkins 48240 Endurance Y-Harness. It gets good reviews on Amazon, and I like the fact that it has a cover on the connector to keep water and dirt out.
- Jack stands to hold the trailer up and wheel chocks to prevent it from rolling while I was working underneath it. I chocked the wheel on both the front and rear of each wheel, which is standard safety practice in any case, but which is especially important when working under a trailer that's not equipped with brakes.
- A fishing pole and a length of string to fish the harness through the center beam of the trailer.
- Diagonal cutting pliers. I used these to remove the old wiring more so than install the new wiring.
- Wire cutting / stripping pliers. I used only the cutter part.
- A socket wrench to remove and replace the ground wire to its post. The one I used is part of a Stanley Black Chrome socket set. I've found them to be very good tools for the money.
- An automatic wire stripper. This is what I actually used to strip the wires because it's much faster and easier than a pliers-type stripper.
- A bunch of heat-shrink electrical connectors. I actually bought a set of heat-shrink connectors because I was running low anyway, and they're cheaper by the set.
- A crimping tool specially designed for heat-shrink connectors. This is important. Using the wrong tool can damage the insulation on heat-shrink connectors as well as cause poor electrical connections at the crimp point. I used a Wirefy Crimper. Wirefy crimpers produce professional-quality crimps at an affordable price. I've been using crimping tools for almost 50 years, ever since I was being trained as an aircraft mechanic back in the 1970's. Wirefy's crimpers are as good as any I've used.
- Heat-shrink tubing in various sizes.
- A heat gun to shrink the insulation and the heat-shrink tubing. The one I used is made by Black and Decker.
- Clean-cut braided expandable sleeving to sheath and protect the wires. I used 1/4 inch sleeving to cover the front part of the trailer harness back to the transverse beam under the trailer, and 1/8 inch sleeving for the rest of the wires. This was for a four-wire trailer wiring system. If my trailer used a five-wire or seven-wire system, I would have needed larger diameter sleeving.
- Shop scissors to cut the sleeving. I used scissors, but a hot knife cutter is actually the preferred tool because it helps prevent the sleeving from unraveling.
- Alligator clips to hold the sleeving out of the way while working on the connectors.
- I had available, but did not need, a 12-Volt automotive voltage tester.
- Various sizes of wire ties to hold things in place once I was done with the job. I also used anti-corrosion grease on the terminals once the job was done, as I always do with any trailer connectors. A can of electrical contact cleaner is also good to have on hand, but I didn't use it for this project.
Most of the videos were recorded with an older-model GoPro Hero camera. The newer Hero action cameras provide higher-resolution video, I'm told. A few of the photos and videos were taken using a OnePlus 7t phone. I edited the videos on a homebuilt video-editing computer using Magix Video Edit Pro.