General Lighting advice and information, Part 2


Detailed info about adding extra pickups to improve performance, tools to make lighting installation easier and a few more tips & tricks!

In the preceding section, we covered the importance of pickup pretty thoroughly. Now it is time to look at HOW to improve or add pickups to loco痴 and other rolling stock.

We can稚 cover every brand or type of loco, so we will talk generally in the main, but we will try to cover all possibilities, so something below will apply to every loco or item of rolling stock.

I値l also try to add some images to our gallery as time allows here.

Diesels, US Prototype:

These usually use 殿ll wheel pickup for current production models.

Wheels on these loco痴 are usually attached directly to the axle and the two axle halves joined by an insulated collar, which may also include the axle gear. Power will be transferred from the rail via wheels to wipers on the back of the wheel or via a phosphor bronze insert which contacts the axle area close to the wheel.

Problems are found in three areas on these locomotives all affect pickup!

 Too much lubricant (or wrong type of lubricant) has been applied, creating an insulating layer on axle or wheel back. Disassemble and clean off all lubricant thoroughly. Assemble and add a small amount of lubricating oil I recommend either LaBelle oil or Wahl clipper oils, both of which are extremely pure oils. Avoid Teflon based products in this area of the loco.

 Chemical blackening creates an imperfect electrical path for the wheel treads or contacts area at the back of the wheel and needs cleaning off. We use a Dremel with a wire brush. We DO like the look of weathered wheels BUT the contact areas must be electrically active!

 We strongly recommend that the back-to-back measurement is checked thoroughly too. We consistently find that older loco痴 let this dimension drift a little, and with newer loco痴 the slightly finer wheel profile now used merits taking wheels to slightly wider than the NMRA standard I prefer a back to back of approximately 14.85~14.9mm for smoothest running and best pickup performance. Try it and see for yourself.

IF, after doing all the above, the pickup is still not 100%, we recommend stripping down the trucks and checking all bearing surfaces for 電ags or rough spots left over from manufacture.

Clean all bearing surfaces with 1200 grit wet-n-dry paper, re-clean, re-lubricate and reassemble.

As a last resort, add more pickups. This is easily done by soldering some .3mm / .030 phosphor bronze wire or .005 phosphor bronze strip to a thin strip of copper clad PCB material.

(Best sources: USA = UK = )

Mount this with superglue (I prefer Loctite 480) or 2 part epoxy - either under the truck or in a convenient out of sight position and then run a wire from the PCB strip to the motor.

Diesels, UK/EU/AU Prototype:

These are quite inconsistent, and the pickup method will depend very much on age and branding. Like US models, the trend to blackened wheels can have negative results on pickup, so check that carefully. Additionally, here are some other possibilities.

 Some use the US methods, and all the details/techniques above can be used.

 Others use one truck for left pickup, the other for Right pickup. The performance of these locomotives can be greatly improved by adding the missing pickups using phosphor bronze wire or strip as detailed above to double the amount of pickups employed.

 Rarely (mostly older models) you will find one that uses only ONE truck/bogie for pickup. These can also be greatly improved by adding pickups as per US diesels above. Don稚 forget the 鍍ip re using a short fragment of gold wire on the pickups!

 Smaller 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 diesels often use 努ipers on wheel backs for pickup. It is not uncommon to find that these are poorly adjusted at the factory, and making only intermittent contact with all wheels. A few minutes spent bending these carefully so they firmly contact every wheel will make a remarkable improvement to these smaller models. (We recommend that you use snipe nosed (round tipped) pliers for this).

 If you cannot see any way to really improve a loco that is less than perfect pickup-wise, there are three choices: Retire it, permanently couple it in a pair with a similar loco AND THEN join the two electrically OR, if you like email me: I値l see if I can locate the same model and improve or evaluate it, and then advise you accordingly. I can be contacted on

Steam Locomotives, all prototypes.

These are widely different, so I will treat each as a separate section.

 Split frame locomotives: These have all driving wheels live and electrical contact is via the 都tub axle very like a diesel truck/bogie. There are TWO things you can do to reduce any chance of lights flickering and greatly improve running performance of these loco痴 via improvement of electrical pickup.

Firstly, disassemble the loco carefully and remove the driving wheels and axles. Clean the axles thoroughly and polish them carefully with a small piece of super fine (no less than 1000 grit) wet and dry paper used wet. We want them to be shiny and smooth!

Clean the slots or holes the axles run in. First remove any trace of grease. Follow this with a good polishing with the same grade of wet and dry. I wrap it round a bit of metal rod slightly less in diameter than the axles, but any round shape of the right size will do. Remember, we are trying to polish NOT change the size and shape of the hole / slot.

Clean up axles and chassis slots to remove any gunk from the polishing, then coat both lightly with a little contact cleaner and let dry. Add a tiny amount of oil to each bearing surface using a syringe or oil-wet cotton bud, and reassemble.

Now take a look at the tender. If there is any room underneath, you can add 努ipers to pick up from the tender wheels. Carry these from the tender to the loco with a fine pair of wires, and connect to each side of the chassis block or motor terminals do be careful about polarity though!

If you do the above, you will be VERY surprised how much better your loco will run and you値l be pleased how good/flicker free the lighting is too

 Shared pickup locomotives: These have the driving wheels live on one side to the loco chassis, and tender wheels live to the other rail.

A wire runs between tender and loco meaning these locomotives will often be permanently coupled.

If, in a loco like Hornby痴 tender loco痴, there is a set of contacts on the drawbar, it will be found that overall performance will be better if the two are permanently coupled and a wire run from tender to loco. You could also take this chance to couple loco and tender closer for a better 斗ook

The first thing to do here electrically, apart from replacing drawbar connectors with fixed wires, is to clean wheels and axles as per the split frame types, and add some contact enhancer.

The next step is to add pickups to the 50% of wheels that are currently along for the ride! Make sure the pickup wire runs smoothly on the rear of the wheel or, if there is space above the wheel, on the top of the wheel, resting on the tyre. Do this with the PCB strip and phosphor bronze wire. An hours work or so will double the quality of pickups!

 Wiper pickup locomotives: These have a wiper already arranged to run on driving wheels.

Most commercial models only have wipers on the front and rear axle of a loco. Improve these by adding more one per driving wheel is best. And one on each tender wheel as well is even better. Tweak existing ones too they soften over time and gather a surprising amount of muck when in use, and a good clean plus a slight increase in contact pressure will greatly improve their efficiency.

 Loco痴 with between the wheels 迭ail Wipers: Sometimes, particularly with smaller scale or tiny narrow gauge loco痴, its almost impossible to easily arrange pickup improvements or perhaps with a small short wheelbase loco, you just can稚 stop the 都talling of flickering of lights due to poor power pickup in certain areas.

There IS a solution to this however the rail wiper. This sounds very non-prototypical, but I致e added them to several loco痴 and can assure you that done well, you値l never notice them unless you look very hard, and the improvement they can bring is amazing!

To make a 努iper, you need to think about the track a little. To stop it 菟icking joints in the rail, the contact area should be wider than wire, and be raised at both sides. I like to use a short section of 0.05 phosphor bronze or brass strip bent to a curve, soldered to a length of fine springy wire but you can also file a curve to a thicker bit of material and attach that, or even use some fine strip for the whole pickup.

Arrange it so that it drops to rail height alongside other side detail to keep it subtle, paint or chemically blacken all but the part that touches the rail and it値l blend in beautifully. Especially effective for small rigid frame loco痴 too. Place it between wheels to supplement pickup if your track is all live or outside the wheelbase on a tiny 0-4-0 and it値l stop stalling on dead frogs and other 菟ower free areas too! Not too much pressure downwards by the way you don稚 want it to reduce loco pulling power!

 Weight: Sometimes, the loco is just not heavy enough to assure good pickup. I like to fill every available nook and cranny with a heavy paste made up from glue and birdshot the smallest pellets that are used in shotgun cartridges. Weight is a BIG help for little loco痴 that need power pickup improvements.

(We added lots to this superb Aero-train when we corrected the horrible blue-white LED that the original manufacturer had used We also added sound to this model)

Pickups in Rolling Stock.

Lighting in Rolling stock needs good pickups, and these are usually down to us as modellers as with rare exceptions, pickups are not fitted by manufacturers!

However, it is NOT hard to do and the results are well worth the effort!

 DMU/EMU, Dummy Loco痴 & Railcars etc: These can often be easy to do, as they may use the same bogie/truck & side-frames as their powered equivalents. In this case simply duplicate the pickup arrangements.

Where they use a different form of truck/bogie; then treat them as any other form of passenger stock (see later notes).

In all cases it really is worth permanently coupling the electrical pickups between multi-unit loco痴 or stock as this will guarantee the exceptional pickup ability needed for flicker free lighting and excellent slow running

 Passenger coaches and rolling stock: These can be powered in three different ways, depending on the form taken by trucks/bogies, axles and wheel isolation. In all cases it is well worth also taking the time to ensure everything is at its best adding weight to rolling stock to achieve a consistent level and improve contact potential, to check and optimise the back to back or wheel spacing and to clean wheels and lubricate as necessary.

 Where both wheels are insulated from the axle, Add wiper type pickups to both sides as for steam or diesel loco痴: These are usually easy as the copper-clad strip can be glued to the truck/bogie frame. The pickup strip or wire should run on the wheel back or rim. Ideally you should add wipers to both sides of both trucks/bogies, however, if friction is higher than you like, then add to one side of one truck, the opposite side of the other.

 Where one wheel is 斗ive to each axle, you have several options:

If the truck/bogie frame is metal and the 斗ive axle reliably makes a circuit to the frame, orient them so one truck is live to each rail, then connect a wire from each to the lighting circuit.

If the truck/bogie frame is plastic, then you can add a wiper to one or both wheel as per isolated wheels OR

Add a wiper to the axles of each truck/bogie. Making sure that each truck/bogie is oriented so one truck is live to each rail OR

Cut a short length of metal tube (preferably brass or copper, about シ or 6mm long) whose internal diameter is a free sliding fit on the axle. Clean up each end so there are no burrs, and polish the axles and if possible tube interior with a bit of 1200 grit wet and dry. Put a thin coat of contact enhancer on axle and let dry. Solder a fine flexible wire to the short metal tube and slide it over the axle. Lubricate with a tiny drop of high grade oil so it slips smoothly on the axle. Orient one bogie/truck to pick up from each rail, and connect the wires appropriately to the lighting.

Or. Best of all: DCCconcepts make an easy to fit universal spring pickup. VERY effective!

 Where the rolling stock has a short rigid 4 wheel wheelbase, treat it as per multi-axle stock; however be aware that with only two axles in a rigid vehicle, both squareness (all wheels firmly on the track) and adequate weight are critical to good pickup. For this type of vehicle, it is well worth considering adding simple suspension to make sure all wheels touch the track at all times, or, if you壇 like the easy way to guarantee the lights don稚 flicker, take a look here at DCCconcepts easy to install 擢lickerfree !


Useful tools and materials to make adding lighting easier.

Installation of lighting and enhancement of pickups can be simple or complex, depending on the scope of the project. No matter what, it will always be far easier to do if a few of the right tools and materials are to hand.

Here are a few things that I find invaluable for many projects. This is not a complete list I assume all modellers will already have at least basic modelling hand tools!

Important Tools:

Owning good tools will not make you an expert, but it WILL make it easier to the job well a 澱eginner with poor tools has a very hard task ahead Don't skimp on tools if you are contemplating any task other than routine maintenance... good tools will be of great assistance to you in ANY modelling project.

With the exception of the temperature controlled soldering Iron, most of these suggestions are not expensive. I recommend that you progressively invest in ALL of these items. If you are working on a larger layout, or really like the challenge of adding electronics or modifying rolling stock and loco痴, even the temperature controlled Iron will be a very good investment, as it痴 so much more usable for fine work than a standard soldering Iron..

 Soldering Iron: I strongly recommend a temperature controller soldering Iron as the ideal tool for all model railway work. The thing to look for here is a good temperature range (say 150 to 450 degrees Celsius), a nice flexible lead on the Iron, a good range of bit types and a good solid stand to hold the iron when hot. Because the iron plugs into the 澱ase Station, you can, when budget allows it, own several plug in Irons each fitted with a different sized tip!

 Click Here to take a look at some good examples of high quality well built soldering stations and Irons at a competitive price. Its worth buying the best!

 Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner and Reviver: A dirty or pitted tip will simply NOT transfer heat properly, and that means bad joints. This little pot of miracle material will make even an old Iron work like new. Just roll the tip of your Iron in the material for a couple of seconds and it will be cleaned and freshly timed like a new tip! The best couple of dollars any hobbyist can spend! Click here!

 A reasonable quality digital meter. We only need a basic set of functions, but do look for a meter with a big clear read out. DCCconcepts stock only one meter - it is NOT a cheap meter, but it is excellent value! Click here to see what we mean!

 Good quality Pliers: Apart from a pair of standard hardware store pliers for the heavy jobs (any brand will do) there are three specialized types that you will use more than any others. Long taper jaw with round tip, long parallel jaw and standard taper jaw. These should be good quality tools. The tools shown here are the ones we use on our own workbench, (We only sell things that I would use myself) and so I unreservedly recommend them. Click here.

 Good quality Wire Strippers: Most wire strippers are just too heavy for our needs we are working with very fine wire and we need a precise touch. Sure, you can use a knife or even your teeth to strip if desperate, but when working with fine flexible wire such as for model wiring or decoder installs near enough is NOT good enough. Again, these strippers are based on a design I致e been using for more than 20 years the only change being the super sharp cutters between the stripping grooves a really excellent improvement! Will strip wire so fine you can hardly see it and can manage bigger stuff too! Click Here.

 Good Quality Cutters: By all means, get hold of a pair of heavy cutters for the tough or rough jobs, but reserve these two for model railway work. The first is the track cutter sharper than the 登ther favourite model railway brand and guaranteed against jaw breakage for one year when used on rail cutting up to code 100 or cutting of copper or other soft wire up to 2mm. The other is the flush-backed electronic parts and sprue cutter shown here this is a delightful tool to use and has become totally indispensable on my bench for fine work of all types. Click here for the best quality track cutters available bar none!

 A good illuminated magnifier: Preferably one that has an adjustable goose-neck arm that clamps to or sits on the bench, as we don稚 have enough hands to hold the magnifier AND the work we are doing! We need this as we will be working with some small parts including possibly some super tiny surface mount LED痴 and looking at parts to make sure they are clean and burr free plus we値l need to inspect contacts and wipers etc to make sure they are OK from time to time. A good investment for every modeller! Click here to see DCCconcepts magnifier - a nice magnifying lamp at a very reasonable price (240v only)

 A set of fine drills, or a few small drills and a set of taper reamers: We will need to drill holes from appx .3mm (fine KYNAR wire diameter) so a few number drills or fine metric drills will be very useful. A taper reamer set is a great addition to the tool kit too you can buy top quality micro sized titanium coated high speed drills from DCCconcepts. Click here.

 A set of Needle files. Swiss is best but expensive DCCconcepts has a really nice set of needle files with comfortable proper handles, not the dipped plastic type sold in the hardware store!. They are sharp and excellent to use, and come in a hard presentation box at a very good price! Click here to see them.

 A selection of Wet地奪ry abrasive papers 1200 grit, 800 grit, 600 grit.

 A mini Drill and attachments: I love my Dremel, but there are many good brands available now. Look for a chuck rather than collets to hold the bits etc, and do make sure you have a steel and brass wire wheel, some cut off discs and a basic selection of burrs and milling cutters if you intend to do much work with it! The new Dremel wireless is a lovely tool if you can stretch the budget.

 A few small blocks of wood, MDF or Melamine covered chipboard: These are useful as general hobby work blocks, to solder parts on, to pin parts to for soldering and many other purposes. White melamine is especially useful its easy to see things on and takes hobby chemicals, paint etc even heat, very well without surface damage.

Useful Materials:

Owning good tools will let you do the "Best possible" job But having the right materials to work with will make it possible to do a great one!

Again, I can only assume you will have some of the basics, so my list is limited to a few non-standard things I致e found really helpful.

 Shrink Tube: We use small wire that痴 impractical to use insulation tape on, so in many cases, shrink tube will be extremely useful. Slip it on the wire before joining it, and then move it over the bare section. Heat with soldering iron, heat gun or a match, and it値l shrink over the joint to permanently insulate it. Available in several "DCC friendly colours from electronic stockists, DCCconcepts also sell an 都ample assortment pack of many colours that will be sufficient for many, many installations. Click here擁t is excellent value!

 Liquid insulation tape: This is a 菟lastic liquid in a tube. Spread it over a joint or area you want to be protected and it will cure to leave a flexible insulating layer. Really useful for many applications especially if like me, you often finish the job then realise there is the odd joint that would benefit from protection! DCCconcepts sell this versatile product幼lick here.

 KYNAR wire: I love this stuff! Kynar wire is a solid core, silver plated wire with a very tough but thin insulation layer. It carries at least as much power as decoder wire but is actually far finer, making it easy to route through a loco or item of rolling stock. The fact that it is solid is a definite benefit in this case. It stays where you put it, and that makes it far easier to install invisibly. In fact it is so fine that it can be run on the 砺isible outside of some loco痴 as its about the same diameter as an electrical conduit or lubrication line that means it can be 塗idden in full view. It is easy to solder as the silver plating takes solder beautifully without tinning, and is easily secured around the model as it stays where you put it and the insulation loves super-glue if you need to secure it. Kynar can be hard to get and is expensive via a full reel,

DCCconcepts have made a 都ample pack available to help your budget. It contains several metres of several colours, enough for a lot of installations. Click here to see it.

Conductive paint in action: The LED in the guards hand is wired with silver conductive paint from DCCconcepts - It has been applied with the tip of a cocktail stick & painted over with normal paint once it has dried and been tested so now it痴 totally invisible!

 CONDUCTIVE Silver paint: Almost as good as Kynar In fact it痴 better for some tricky lighting installs! Like Kynar, this makes some installs so easy that you値l wonder how you got on without it. It comes in a small 10ml vial, but that is enough for many tasks. Basically, it is a varnish which is 斗oaded with a fine silver powder. It forms a 菟ainted on conductor that is as conductive as fine wire, so it can be used instead of wire for places where wiring is difficult, or where soldering is hard such as with tiny surface mount LED痴. It is not able to carry high currents so use it only where the load is likely to remain below 100Ma that makes it perfect for lighting! It is available from DCCconcepts and super cheap to ship world wide as its only a small item. Click here to see it

Example: To put a working light on the roof of a loco cab.

* With a tiny drop of glue (epoxy or superglue) fix a surface mount Prototype white LED/golden white LED to the correct position on the interior roof of the cab.

* Cut a small bit of copper clad/PCB material and divide it into two electrically by cutting through the copper in the centre.

* Solder one end of a resistor to one 菟ad of the PCB material, and solder the other end of that resistor to a function wire. Solder the second wire for that function to the other pad.

* Glue this tiny PCB in any place that is out of sight and convenient for the decoder installation.

* With a fine brush, paint fine lines from on the 都older pads of the LED to the copper of the PCB, and let the lines dry thoroughly.

* Test the function and be sure the LED turns on. If it doesn稚, either reverse the decoder function leads OR for an even easier fix, 兎rase the paint lines close to the LED and re-paint them, reversing them in relation to the led. DON探 forget the resistor is critical to the life of the LED.

* Paint over the cab roof interior with a normal paint colour. This will leave only the tiny LED visible, making the install look fantastic. (BTW don稚 paint with a metallic paint if you want a silver interior / cab roof first paint with a white or gray undercoat silver paint can be slightly conductive).

Using this 鉄ilver conductive paint technique on a passenger coach can give fantastic, easy, super-realistic results too and makes it really easy to do really special effects like table lighting in restaurant cars or individual compartment lighting in sleeping or English / EU compartment coaches.

Silver conductive paint also makes the creation of resistive axles for detection purposes super easy glue the chip resistor to the axle close to one wheel, paint from one pad to the axle (and on to the far wheel if it is normally insulated the other pad to the second/near wheel and you are done).

 Superglue & Epoxy: OK so what痴 special about that? Well, of course, as a glue, nothing really But superglue & Epoxy has other another excellent property. Painted on they both make a really good insulator.

For example:

Make an insulation layer: Paint it on metal and let it dry overnight, and you have a reliable super thin insulating layer. For a thicker layer, soak some paper in superglue or epoxy and apply it to a chassis to give a reliable insulation layer to insulate a motor frame from the metal below.

Make a light or motor mount: Paint epoxy onto a woven 徒itchen wipe cloth like 鼎hux and you have a strong thin reinforcing layer not unlike fiberglassVery tough. (To make a really secure motor mount, paint a motor can with Vaseline as a release agent and carefully wrap with a strip or two of epoxy soaked kitchen wipe. When dry, ease the 都hell off the motor, add a couple more layers to make it super strong, tidy it up a bit with sharp shears / a file and secure it to the chassis with more epoxy. Slip the motor in and bingo a perfect fit for a super secure motor. DO be careful about how much epoxy you use here just enough to 努et the cloth is enough.

Make Lenses for lights: mix up some 5 minute epoxy. If you want a coloured lens, add a small drop of food colouring or paint/ink or perhaps dye to the mix (experiment a little). Take a sheet of grease-proof paper or any paper with a coating of wax or perhaps Vaseline on it. Drip small drops of epoxy on the paper and let them dry. A toothpick is a good tool for this. They will spread slightly and dry round, with a flat back and a curved 斗ens on top. If you make every drop a slightly different amount, you will get a wide variety of surprisingly tough lenses to use on your lamps. Secure to the lamp with clear coat or varnish.

* Fibre Optic material: This is becoming very common and easy to obtain For example, any store carrying a collection of 鼎hristmas or special effect lights will probably have several items that contain fibre optic cable, so do keep your eyes open!

Fibre optic is a clear glass or plastic 斗ight pipe especially designed so that its optical properties reflect light that enters from its end back within its walls, therefore allowing light to travel along its length with almost zero loss of intensity. It is available from very fine (0.05) to heavier sizes, and is usually extremely flexible so can help you get light from a hidden source to many places otherwise inaccessible within your models.

Multiple decoders for many lighting functions:

Whilst decoders are available with up to six lighting functions, it痴 sometimes more convenient to have separate decoders handling the work. For example, with a multi-coach electric or diesel electric passenger set or an extensive steam powered passenger train.

Firstly, it痴 good to understand how the prototype makes up its passenger trains. It is VERY convenient for us modellers to realise that a full size railway doesn稚 regard each coach as an individual item. To save lots of shunting and to increase availability, passenger stock is usually divided into 都ets and a train is made up from a series of these sets.

For example, a UK prototype express 12 to 13 coach train may be made up of two standard 4 coach sets (say brake 3rd coach, 3rd class coach, 1st class coach, brake 3rd coach) a sleeper set (two 3rd class and one first class or combined 1st/3rd class) and a restaurant coach set (say restaurant coach, kitchen coach, vestibule open 3rd). 擢ull brake coaches or non-passenger carrying coaching stock may also be added.

The same principal applies to modern Diesel hauled or self contained electric/diesel electric passenger stock sub-sets are used to make up complete trains when added capacity is needed.

(b) An example: We can use this to our advantage when choosing how to wire up lighting as it allows us to divide our trains into manageable units say loco, set 1, set 2, set 3. Each item has its own decoder. Each item is 鍍hrough wired in other words, the wiring and pickups are made common between sets, giving excellent flicker free power pickup and a simple means of control for the whole set lighting.

Example: Set (1) is a brake 3rd, coach and another brake 3rd.

Pickups are from all 12 axles. One decoder is used for all 3 coaches. This is wired to allow the following: * We need a red 兎nd of train lamp on the outer end of each brake coach. When this set is in the middle of a train however, NO red lamp should show, so while the lights are wired as auto reversing (LED痴 back-to-back off a single function), we make them switchable on/off too

* Its nice to be able to vary the amount of light in a coach so each coach is also wired with TWO general interior lighting circuits each with SOME lights on it. For example, a corridor coach will have corridor lamps plus say 1/3 of the compartment lamps and the second circuit will have the other 2/3 of the lamps on it. All 3 coaches will have these circuits wired together, so that one function can turn on and off part of the lighting in all 3 coaches. Use imagination for this for example, a sleeping coach may have corridor lamps on, but just a few actual sleeping compartments may also be illuminated.

We can hide the decoder on the brake end of one coach. There will always be a LOT of space there, so added bits will not be hard to hide. We will need to run ONE wire for each function used plus a 田ommon wire to represent the blue. That痴 four wires/three functions for the example above.

For wiring the easy way is to hard wire between coaches But this can make a set of four hard to handle, so if preferred a standard in line header can be used as a connector on one end (half of an IC socket works well), with the wires at the other terminating in a small length of resistor lead or pins from a dead IC as a 菟lug. Decoder wire is usually a nice weight to represent hoses, and I壇 suggest that decoder wire 塗ard wired will cause no stress on operation on curves, and we can run up to six per coach set easily. This will be visually good too if all wires are painted black and are formed to a shape like hoses between coaches.

TIP: We CAN use the light functions to turn these on and off directly of course, but if we take track power for the lights and then use the functions to switch relays, we have no limit to the current draw of the lighting It痴 up to you!

TIP: Don稚 just power the LED痴 at full brightness. Use a higher value resistor to dim them a little so they give a warm glow rather than illuminating the layout as the train passes through Much more realistic. (On a tiny 0.8mm chip LED, I use up to 75,000 ohms on steam loco lamps, and between 1 and 5k on coach lights)

Controlling these 溺ultiple decoders:

Most often, sets of passenger stock will be run together. Therefore, we can do two things. Either give all 斗ighting decoders a simple number sequence that matches their type OR the train they usually run with OR create a 田onsist for the whole train grouping both lighting and train decoders together under a single 杜aster number, so all can be controlled simultaneously (you can still control individual decoder functions though). How you do this will depend on your DCC system and operating preference, but keep it simple.

Lighting in STEAM Locomotives:

Most commonly used LED for loco痴 is the 3mm T-1 type, but there are better options for steam loco痴. You see, steam era locomotives generally had lighting that was of a much lower intensity than diesels, and this was powered by oil or a simple generator. The 都tyle of lamp was therefore very different to the super bright lights we are used to today.

UK style lighting: Until the end of steam, the only lamps carried by UK prototype loco痴 were the small lamps placed on buffer beams and smoke box which doubled as 杜arkers to also indicate train classification.

They were NOT used as 塗eadlamps as English railways saw no need for them傭y law, all English railways are fenced everywhere for their full operating length!

These small lamps are best represented by DCCconcepts 0.8mm LED痴 inset into the lamps, and powered at a very low level.

Here are a couple of images of this, using 0.8mm 菟rototype white LED痴 on DCC power using a 70,000ohm resistor to make the loco lamps very dull in order to properly represent an oil powered lamp. The real thing is shown on the right!

Please note that lamps were rarely a clean white, and on some railways they were in fact black in colour - there is nothing screams 鍍oy more than a loco with a couple of bright white lamps on the buffer beam please try to be subtle with colour!

As a much easier and still very realistic option, we now have a new LED that is almost the perfect size for a UK loco lamp. This is the DCCconcepts 1.8mm 溺icrodot LED which has recently been released in an appropriate 菟rototype white. A few file strokes and a very convincing lamp is created! Many of the UK lamps on images in this website use these LEDs. Click here to see them

One of the problems of modelling UK loco lamps is that they were used as a form of 鍍rain describer. With their layout changing position depending on the type of train being hauled. This chart shows what I mean...

US/AU/EU style steam loco lighting: This was also initially oil powered, however larger lamps were often used and the adoption of electric / generator powered lights was very much more rapid in these prototypes.

A 3mm LED is an easy fit in most loco痴 as that痴 how makers design model locomotives, however it can be done much better!

For pre ww2 or larger steam loco lamps (or old world loco痴) there is nothing better than the 0.8mm surface mount LED as using them preserves the 澱ulb in lens look of incandescent lamps, with the 0.8mm LED beautifully representing this very distinctive look.

Lighting in Diesel Locomotives

Like Steam Loco痴, Early Diesels had a very distinctive 釘ulb in Lens look to their lighting. Only the DCCconcepts 0.8mm Prototype white LED can really reproduce this effectively, so this is recommended for ANY 擢irst Generation diesel stock main lighting. As time passed, far more powerful lighting was fitted, resulting in a blindingly strong light that totally eliminated the 澱ulb look.

(a) Therefore, choose well: for second generation and all general main loco lighting from say, post 1965, the standard 3mm T-1 type LED can be used for larger lamps, and perhaps either the 2mm lighthouse type OR a 0.8mm used at full brightness for smaller ones or to represent light 田lusters.

(b) Think carefully about lighting for diesels. Study the prototype, as even the same diesel class had quite different lighting depending on age, ownership and current purpose. Lights used range from larger searchlight types through flashing or alternating twin lamps, and a loco might have any combination of lights above, below and to each side of the nose not to mention ditch lights etc. We do have some examples in our Gallery pages, here.

(c) Something often missed in loco痴 is cab lighting: The most effective way to operate this is via a relay so the cab lights stay on while the headlight is off/while the motor is stopped, but as soon as the headlight is illuminated or the loco starts moving, the cab light turns off. To do this, wire the relay operation coils in series with the motor circuit (it will act as power is applied) or wire so the function operates the coils and have the contacts simply turn off the cab light and turn on the headlight. Of course the easy way is simply use a spare function! For an excellent description of US loco lighting and terminology, we strongly recommend that you take a good look at this site:

Lighting in DMU/EMU (Self Powered Passenger stock)

This is a delight to do as you can wire a whole train to act cohesively. Again, think carefully about the type of lighting to be used. Most lighting on this style of stock is of the smaller type, so we believe the 2mm lighthouse or tower type which has a 2mm diameter parallel lighting pin or the 0.8mm micro type will be of most use here. Concealed wiring is critical in this type of stock, so we think that you should strongly think about using 擢licker-free as it is supplied with very fine circuit boards to mount all LEDs so there are no wires at all.

Remember too, that when two DMU/EMU are linked, the lights between the two must be turned off. This can be accomplished by 田onsisting the two sets, or perhaps manually turning those lamps off via the decoder. We strongly recommend a six function decoder for all modern DMU/EMU lighting as follows:

F1 Front lights F2 Rear Lights F3 Cab lights F4 Door Lights F5 Passenger area lights F6 Day/Night marker lamps (you could also switch via changeover relay x 2 if this affects both F1 and F2)

(12) Lighting Brake Vans and Cabooses

Freight and goods trains need an illuminated end too. Freight carrying trains have no consistent size or format, so it was only by observing the lights on a goods train that signal men knew that the train was still complete and hadn稚 parted during its journey. Even if that wasn稚 the case, the presence of a soft glow from within a guards van or caboose, plus the glow or a red tail lamp or even the modern equivalent of a single flashing red light at the rear of the train adds a little magic to the scene.

(a) Add Pickups to all axles of any Caboose or Guards van and add a little weight to aid pickup too. Generally because it痴 a smaller vehicle, flickering can be a problem but Flicker-free will totally eliminate it for you. but even so, take your time and make sure that any pickups are able to work at their best.

(b) Keep freight lighting subtle. Interior lighting of guards accommodation had to be low as night vision was important to the men who rode in at the rear of a freight train interior lights should be limited to the soft glow of a desk lamp, and any external rear lights should be a gentle red glow, not a bright red beam of light! For both the 電esk lamp effect and the rear light, we strongly recommend the 0.8mm series (We do red too!) with a resistor of about 5 to 7k on the interior lamp, and anywhere between 5 and 10k on the external red lamps. If your 途ear end lights are limited to a flashing device on a standard boxcar or wagon, keep it dim. A subtle effect will be far more realistic than a bright red flash!

Lighting Passenger stock

The objective is a soft glow so do experiment with final lighting levels before you decide. What we are looking for is an effect that has the train visible and looking like a cozy place to be as it glides through the countryside not looking like a slowly traveling blaze of light. Flicker-free can do this for you. click here .

The ONLY bright light on any train should be the loco headlights and ONLY on a modern diesel should they really stand out.

(a) Take care with pickups adjust for good reliable contact without adding too much drag. A full passenger train is a LOT of load on a locomotive! Having said that, so remember that as long as the trucks/bogies are free rolling, a little added weight will really help the lighting quality.

(b) See earlier sections for making sure pickups are good and lighting is flicker free a train full of light is very obvious if it is intermittent.

(c) An older coach interior is really either a series of soft light pools under the lamps if an 登pen coach, or a series of small lit rooms if a corridor coach. Only modern (post 1970 for example) coaches have strip of continuous lighting throughout the interior. Flicker-free does this beautifully click here

(d) The lighting in any coach prior to approximately 1990 should be quite warm and yellowish. Only modern coaches incorporate fluorescent or 努hite light.

Controlling other lights with DCC (vehicles, buildings etc)

There is no need to restrict DCC to the trains. If you壇 like 滴andset control of accessories related to say a goods yard, passenger station or want to control road vehicle lights and sound effects this can be easily done with a standard decoder!

Do you still have questions? No problem just click here to email us and ask, we値l be happy to help!

WELL Have fun! It痴 been a long set of notes, but at last we are at the end of the 斗ighting with DCC section. If you have questions, would like to suggest changes in our presentation, want more details on any item - or perhaps have good ideas that you壇 like to add, please don稚 hesitate to call on +61 8 9455 6421 (GMT+8, business hours) or perhaps email me.

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