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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP
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16,232 Posts
Leaving the bulbs in I check with VOM and no voltage. I take out the bulbs, check with VOM and 12 volts are back!
Yep. Classic example of high circuit resistance/faulty connection as Gubi said. The dead giveaway is no-load volts are good, loaded volts are not.
 

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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP
Joined
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16,232 Posts
The 'Voltage drop' scenario describes my issue to the tee. I will test that and keep hunting the 'iffy' grounds.
Diagnose first.
Repair second.
No need to hunt for iffy grounds if it isn't the problem. Test for it. Voltmeter probes to the + and - terminals in the bulb socket. Load the circuit (install a bulb in the second socket) to confirm voltage drop. Now move the voltmeter ground probe to a good chassis ground and load the circuit again. If the voltage drops, the problem is the power circuit. If it doesn't, it's the ground circuit.
 
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