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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently bought a Softopper for my Rebel. This isn't a post about the top so much as about the lack of a brake light. The top is high, slightly higher than cab height at the tailgate, so it blocks the view of the cab-mounted 3rd brake light, just like more hard caps would. Here's something of a view of the rear panel.

Inside view:

Federal law requires the 3rd light to be a CHMSL (center high mount stop lamp) above the tail lights. There's no rule against having under-tailgate lights for additional lights, but the CMHSL is required. That would put it at the top of the tailgate or higher.

The Softopper folds down and into the bed when not in use, so I spent some time finding a fairly flat light. I wanted a bar, but not one so thick that it causes issues with the window and fabric when folded. Most of the LED units that looked nice were also an inch or more thick, as measured from the base to the face. This also means that there might be some tendency to droop over time.

I found this 15" smoked LED bar online. About 15.5" long, 0.5" thick, 1.25" wide. Has 3 wires, white is ground, black is dim (tail light normal brightness), red for extra bright (brake light). It's designed to be one side tail light for a trailer. Has a 1/2" wide tube coming out of the back, which I didn't want.

With some careful fiddling, I removed the tube, added some short pieces of heat shrink to the bases of the wires for strain relief, and filled the center cavity with epoxy. Then I added rubber padding tape around the wires and the screw holes. The green is just the backing for the non-adhesive side, which I left on until installing the light in place, to keep the rubber surface clean.

I ran ground and third brake lines from the underbody up to the bed rail behind the tail light, using a 2-wire adapter (ground is in the exposed pin coming from the truck, so it won't be shorting to the chassis if it touches metal somewhere). All of this is in wire loom to protect it. Ran the other half the connector and wiring in loom up to the location of the light.

I put grommets in the Softopper for the wire and the screw, with seam sealer on all the fabric under the grommets. Now it's mounted. I will probably add a thin backing plate to help hold the light close to the center rivet around the wire, but I didn't have any scrap metal of appropriate size handy as I did this. Plus I only had galvanized steel screws, and I'm going to replace those with black finished screws next time I run into town.

I didn't set up the topper completely as I was doing this. That's why the back isn't stretched tight. It does tighten up and the wrinkles go away when you set it up completely. Its actually quite nice looking when it is. As I said, this was just about setting up the light.


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