Lighting for model trains

The talented scratch builder John has created this video ‘how to’ on lighting.

Hope it helps, because the lights always drive me insane. Thought it was good.

(But not as good as the ‘ebay cheat sheet‘!)



Visit John’s site here for more tutorials

13 Responses to Lighting for model trains



    BILL H

  2. This fella gave me a lot of ideas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If we start to seriously use LED’s imagine how much less electricity is used
    with no worry of blowing circuits or overloads!!!!!!!!!1

  3. hi John i am a modeler in South Africa and model South African railways which i scratch build my self also i build ships that are mainly scratch built
    my flagship of my fleet is kreigsmarine PRINZ EUGEN@100scale thanks for your articles
    Cheers Al

  4. Suggestion for people who use or plan to use light emitting diodes for their ‘N’ and ‘Z’ scale layouts.

    Find yourself a long fiber-optic cable that you could remove the shielding/sheath from. and a white LED for using for street lighting. Thread one to four fiber optic strands thru your lamp posts, feed them down thru your layout and bring the strands from multiple lamp posts to one location, group them together and use heat-shrink tubing to hold them together. Then slip another heat-shrink tube over that and the white LED soldered with a proper value of resistor, so that it becomes one unit. Secure the unit to the underside of the layout with a cable clamp and wire that up to the lighting section of your control board. The same technique can be applied to traffic signals, (red, yellow and green LEDs connected to a signal light circuit), and lights for outside of buildings. You could use multiple LED units with shorter fiber strands if you don’t have long fibers.

    The same technique can be applied to regular filament lamps but be careful of the heat that they create.

    Unused fiber-optic lamps from years past, can be a source for fiber strands.

  5. very good great tips

  6. John,

    When I did my lighting, I never thought to use leds! Thanks for the info. When I put up the Christmas village and trains, I will be using LEDS this year!

  7. These are the best and most informative videos. Thanks for the info.

  8. Nice and Valuable information. Thanks.

  9. i was at a craft store recently and was looking at doll house supplies. i came across flat copper wire strips used for running electricity in doll houses. they even have plugs and light switches and various means of connecting them together as well. while i have not tried this material myself i can see where it would be used in modelling a city scape with many buildings. or a multi level building with different areas to be lit. it could even be used as a bus for track power or even used to place a speaker in a building. this material is made to hide under wallpaper so it could be painted, scenicked over or otherwise hidden very easily. imagine a strip of this material painted to look like a roof of a loading dock with small LED’s for dock lights. the possibilities seem quite endless. if anyone has done or does this please let us know how it turns out.


  11. Great info. I need the help!

  12. I like the ship, how long is ti.

  13. Recommend you go to Evan Designs in Broomfield, CO on the Web. They handle 1.8-3 mm LED sizes as well a “nanochip” LED. Procure them for either AC or DC or combo with attached rectifiers. Their white LEDs come in “warm white” or regular white and they recommend what to use for different purposes. The nanochip size in green and red made perfect nav lights for my N Scale Tugboat. They also have specialty LEDs such as quick flash, slow flash, aircraft avoidance beacons with long leads, a special effects welding light and a FRED Kit for custom installation. LEDs are the way to go for lighting!

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