Ever sinceI installed the Aluminess Galley Box and the GoWesty Spare Tire Mount I’ve been very concerned about the lack of visible tail and brake light idicators behind my Vanagon for safety reasons. The stock light brightness wasn’t much to write home about as it was so with the added obstruction it just made it way worse.
The upgrade to the GoWesty Exterior LED Bulb Kit definitely helped kick up the brightness of the the light while using my stock light assemblies. Even with the added brightness I still wanted to add a third brake light in order to have tail/brake light mounted at a higher level which would be easier to see.
I looked all over the internet and found plenty of “Vanagon Third Brake Light” kits but all of them required it being mounted on the inside of the van. My van has limo tint on the rear window so I really wasn’t feeling that as the light would have to fight through. I kept looking, I found some cool small LED brake lights on a Jeep website that popped into the open lug nut holes of the spare tire wheel. I really liked that idea but didn’t like the execution as they’d have to be disconnected and set aside every time I access the spare tire.
I stumbled across a compny named Custom Dynamics that make a ton of LED tail/brake options for motorcycles like Harley Davidsons. These strip lights are meant to be mounted inbetween the saddle bags and the bike in order to be hidden and subtle until they illuminate.
I decided on the TruFlex LED Light which were offered in various lengths up to 17.8″ long. They seemed to be the best option for how I wanted them installed. I ordered a red 9.84″ TruFlex 75 LED Bar ($52.95) for behind my spare tire, a custom red 17.8″ TruFlex 140 LED Bar ($104.95) to mount across my Aluminess box and a TruFlex Dual Converter ($4.95) for each light bar which creates the step in brightness when the brakes are applied.
Now that the light source had been found I needed to figure a way to mount the LED bars to the rear of the van. I went to my local Home Depot and picked up a Aluminum Plate that measures 1/8″ thick x 1 1/2″ wide x 48″ long. I measured the bar and cut two pieces the same lengths as the LED Bars, drilled 2 holes into each, sanded them down and painted them black. Done deal.
The LED Bars come with a 3M adhesive backing which is how they’re attached to the aluminum mounting plates.
The setup information for the shots setup below is as follows. I mounted my Canon 5Dmk2 Camera and Canon 24-70 f2.8L lens to a tripod. Shot in manual mode with manual focus. This method allowed me to show the exact differences in amount of light created relative to each setup shot. This method however doesn’t show exactly how much light you yourself might see while standing behind the van since it’s hard to mimic your naked eye’s level of light sensitivity. At you can you see the differences in quality and amount of light very accurately with each change in Vanagon lights.
Most may feel like this is a bit overkill… It might be but I’d rather have the problem of having brake lights are too visible then to have brake lights that aren’t bright enough.
Here’s all 6 photos in a side by side…