Train Headlight Color – Model Railroader Magazine


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posted by doctorwayne on thursday, october 15, 2015 12:43 am

You're reading: Train Headlight Color – Model Railroader Magazine

personally, i’m not a fan of working lights:  i don’t run night operations and my prototype didn’t use daytime headlights in the era which i’m modelling, either. 

here are a few examples of the mv lenses of which randy spoke:

train headlight color - model railroader magazine

train headlight color - model railroader magazine

train headlight color - model railroader magazine

train headlight color - model railroader magazine

Read more: Shrouds for Retrofitting Projector Headlights

train headlight color - model railroader magazine

mvproducts lenses come in a very wide variety of sizes and in several colours, too.  walthers does carry their product line, but i’ve had better luck finding what i need here:

spruebrothers.com

they may be able to match the correct sizes based on your particular model (many mv lenses are designed for specific models, but the same lense may fit anything which requires that same diameter lense).  if there are no lenses made for your particular model, you need to determine, as closely as possible, the diameter needed, in thousandths of an inch, both for the headlight and markers.
to use them on your model, use a drill bit of that diameter to make a dimple in the proper place, then cement the lense into it using white glue, canopy cement or a similar slow drying product which will turn clear as it dries.

wayne

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posted by doctorwayne on thursday, october 15, 2015 2:55 pm

the jewels are usually glass, and may be pointed on their rear face, so it’s not very easy to drill into their backs.  even if you could, it would likely remove much of the reflective material, which is what makes them sparkle.  while you can find the jewels in a lot of sizes, it will be hit-or-miss that any will fit your model exactly.
on the other hand, the mv lenses are a polymer casting with only a shallow curve on their rear face.  with the large selection of exact sizes available, you should be able to find the sizes needed to give the best appearance – after all, the fact that they’ll be lit will call attention to them.
to illuminate them, using either a bulb, led, or fibre optics, all that is required is to use a sharp instrument (a draughting compass tip works well) to *** (insert a commonly-used and inoffensive-when-used-in-this-context word which conveys the idea of creating a precise indentation to be used as the starting point for a drill bit) at the centre of the back face, then use a suitably-sized drill bit in a pin vise to drill a shallow hole – the lenses aren’t very thick – into which the led, etc, can be inserted and secured with ca.  when the light is not on, the lense will have the appearance of a bulb in a reflector (just like the real ones), and when the light is on, it will illuminate in a manner similar to the prototype.

farrellaa

didn’t realize you don’t run powered lights, but your models are supurb as always, and some sure look like they are lit.

   -bob

thanks for your kind words, bob. 

i used to do a lot of re-motoring, re-gearing and painting for a former lhs, and through that, met several modellers who have become good friends.  one of them, for whom i did dozens of brass steam locomotives, always insisted that all locomotives had to run well, be equipped with working front couplers, and have working headlights (if the tender had a back-up light, then the lights had to be directional).  while the variety of locomotives kept the work from becoming boring, and none of it was particularly difficult, the wiring required certainly got in the way of any other work.

that was one of the factors in my decision to not have working lights.

the other was the tendency of working lights to flicker when the locomotive hits a bit of dirt or a slightly rough turnout – not enough that you would even notice a pause in the motion of a smooth-running locomotive, but the flicker of the light drew attention to each otherwise unnoticeable incident. 

for dcc operators, the use of keep-alive devices has pretty-well eliminated that problem.  however, i’m a dc operator and not interested in converting because the things that dcc offers, in which i’d otherwise be interested, are already available to me in dc:  good speed control and the ability to run double (or triple) headers and pusher locomotives.  that i don’t need to clean track for finicky locomotives is a bonus.  without the excess wiring for lights, maintenance and repairs are simplified and there’s more room within both locomotives and tenders for additional weight.

wayne

Read more: What wire to tap into for 12v light source for autometer…

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posted by doctorwayne on friday, october 16, 2015 6:03 pm

six thou’ shouldn’t make them unuseable for that particular situation, but if you need really small ones and intend to illuminate them, use fibre optics.  if you have, fr’instance, a .010″ diameter strand of the fibre, heating its end will produce a lense of sorts (the material softens and then expands somewhat at the heated end).  there are dyes available specifically for tinting such lenses.

while i don’t use working lights, this photo shows class lights thus formed (within the narrow green stripe above the number boards):

train headlight color - model railroader magazine

wayne

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posted by dinwitty on saturday, october 17, 2015 12:03 am

you might be able to walk into michaels or hobby lobby or some crafts store and find jewels of a variety of sizes. i’ve done marker lights, fiber optics with a red led…drill a little hole into the led to fit the fibre in. if runnng dc, needs a resistor in parallel with the led. the led is already polarized so will not light up in the wrong direction making sure you wire correctly or it will be opposite. if dcc you could hook it to the standard headlight outputs reversed so forward is yellow wire, backward is white wire. if nothing else for the headlights, leave the original plastic optics in place, drill indent them, use a silver paint on the indent, then maybe you can use an mv lense over it, since it seems they don’t make a quite small enough headlight.

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Category: Headlights