How to Install a Camper Shell Brake Light on a Ford F-150 Pickup Truckby John Cagney Nash
The Ford F-150 pickup truck lends itself well to the addition of a camper shell, also known as a camper top or camper cap. The majority of camper shells are manufactured with an integral brake light, but some are not. Camper shell brake lights, properly called Center High Mounted Stop Lamps, or CHMSLs, are available in the auto aisles of home improvement warehouses and from at auto parts stores. The Ford F-150 features a redundant loom installed for use with a camper shell, so wiring the CHMSL is a simple project.
Purchase a CHMSL. If your camper shell has a recess designed to accommodate a light, ensure your purchase fits in that space. Ensure the CHMSL is supplied with an attached multiplug that fits the Ford redundant loom. Always buy a CHMSL that comes with a gasket to stop water from leaking behind it, and thus into the camper shell.
Remove the lens and bulbs from the body of the CHMSL and put them in a safe location. Hold the body of the CHMSL to its intended location and use your permanent marker pen to mark the locations where the fasteners will be driven. Use your electric drill to make holes through the marks and drill a third hole in the center large enough to accommodate the multiplug and its wiring. Sleeve the wiring hole with a rubber grommet.
Fix the body of the CHMSL in place using the fasteners supplied by the manufacturer or two appropriately-sized nut/bolt assemblies with washers and lock washers. Be sure to install the supplied weatherproof gasket and be sure the multiplug and wires are threaded back into the camper shell through their hole. Tighten the fasteners firmly in place using your screwdriver or wrench.
Replace the CHMSL bulbs and fit the lens in place.
Locate the extra loom supplied by Ford for fitting a CHMSL. In most model years it can be found under the driver's-side taillight cluster, but in some models it is located behind the frame rail where it passes under the driver's door.
Connect the multiplug attached to the CHMSL to the multiplug receiver on the extra loom. Run the wires from the CHMSL to the location of the receiver along a route that will not expose them to inadvertent tugging or cause a tripping hazard, and secure them in place using plastic zip ties. Have an assistant help you test the functionality of the CHMSL.
- Take the bulbs out of the existing CHMSL, on the back of your truck cab, before installing your camper shell. They would no longer be visible to other road users but do reflect back into your cab, and when driving at night this can be disruptive.
Things You'll Need
- Aftermarket CHMSL with Ford multiplug and weatherproof gasket
- Rubber grommet
- Permanent marker pen
- Electric drill and bit
- Screwdriver or wrench
- Zip ties
John Cagney Nash began composing press releases and event reviews for British nightclubs in 1982. His material was first published in the "Eastern Daily Press." Nash's work focuses on American life, travel and the music industry. In 1998 he earned an OxBridge doctorate in philosophy and immediately emigrated to America.