Miniature Lighting Tips for Locos

By Gerry Hopkins MMR

Click on any image to enlarge.

Different "Lighthouse" LEDs

Two Lighthouse LEDS in the LED tester. The one on the left is a normal white and the one on the right is a golden white. The golden white is more suitable for steam locos.
This is a side view of the lighthouse LED to show its shape.
Here are the normal lighthouse LED and the bi-colour (red / golden white) side by side. The best feature of this LED is that it has a common Anode (+tive) instead of the common cathode (-tive) of a normal bi-colour led.

In non-technibable, this means the common (middle) connection can be coupled to the blue wire of a decoder and each of the other legs to a different function i.e. golden white to the yellow wire and the red to the white wire when used on the tender of a loco.
This shows two fibre optics coming out of the Lighthouse led and "poked" through a piece of cork.
The finished tail bi-colour markers on a Eureka NSW C38 class with a Tsunami decoder.

The loco is going forward at this point so red to the back.
Now the loco is in reverse, so white lights to the rear.

I get the bi-colour LEDs from Gwydir Valley Models here in Australia.

They are also available in the UK but I have not found a source in the USA yet.

Using Surface Mount components for the Headlights

These are the tails of a Tsunami 1000 Decoder. Strip a piece about 1" long (I use the black wire) and feed the two wires of a SMD LED through the sleeve.
This is the finished assembly that will hold the LED in the headlight case.

These LEDs can be found at Gwydir Valley Models here in Australia, and from Richmond Controls or Litchfield Station in the USA
Drill a 1mm hole in the back or bottom of the headlight housing and pass the assembly through the hole. Apply a small dab of Super Glue (ACC) to the outside of part of the sleave and position the LED as shown. About 1mm is enough to prevent the LED shorting against the casing.
At this stage check the LED with the tester. Next we will show you how to connect the 2 fine wires to a surface mount resistor and use the minimum of space.
This is one way to pass the sleeve into the boiler.

Just drill a 1mm hole behind the headlight and pass the wire and its sleeve through the hole.

Just take care with this so that you do not scratch the enamel wire.
Alternatively you can drill down through the headlight and the boiler in one go.. Position the LED in the housing before you apply the ACC (Super Glue).
The housing is filled with Microscale Krystal Clear and allowed to dry. Below is the finished headlight.

Remember to test the LED at each stage. It will save you letting the magic smoke out of the decoder.
This photo shows the finished headlight.

Connecting the headlight to the decoder in minimum space.

This is a piece of Clover House Tie strip. It has been prepared ready for connecting the fine tails from the Richmond Controls SMD with 6" tails to a surface mount resistor of 1k ohms and then to the blue & white wires from the decoder - in the smallest way possible.

Before soldering, apply a small amount of liquid flux to the surface.
Just hold the resistor in place with the tip of your tweezers and then touch either side with the soldering iron. This photo also shows the SMD against the size of a 3mm LED.
Now you can see the fine enamel wires from the SMD LED attached to one end. The white wire is on top and the blue wire will go underneath. Then slide a short piece of heat shrink over the tie and heat.

More surface mounts - for the firebox flicker

A piece of Clover House PCB tie has been prepared for mounting an SMD LED and an SMD Resistor.
This is how they will be mounted. With a small brush coat the PCB with liquid flux before placing the SMDs in place.
This shows the finished assembly (against a 3mm LED) ready to be mounted under the firebox.

The decoder output function can be set to firebox flicker.

SMD LEDs are cost effective, a strip of 10 LEDs in yellow cost $2.25AU.

The red ones are 20 for $2.25AU.

The resistors are only 10 for $0.95AU.

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