David’s train light

“Hi Alastair:

Greetings from West Hartford, Connecticut, USA.

I have to tell you that the information you pass on to us is so helpful in creating our own “word of trains.”
A question: I’m almost positive that I saw about a year ago in one of your emails an article on using dryer lint to help in the making of scenery. I was going to print it out but never did. If it did come from you, would it be possible to send it out again? I’ve been thinking about it and why not use a handful of lint mixed with some green dye or very diluted green water base paint and sprinkled with some ground foam and you might have a decent looking shrub.

Thanks again for all the helpful information you send out.



Here’s a tip: I’m putting down G gauge track for my garden railroad. I’ve found that ¼” crushed gravel, not pea gravel, makes an excellent underlayment for the roadbed. But for ballast on top of that, I’m going to use #3 poultry grit! It’s just the right size, shape, and color, and it’s cheaper than dirt: $12.00 for a 50# bag at your local feed store.


“Not stunning, but I always keep a pot of sawdust going; it’s really useful for scatter material and can be glued in small clumps around the bases of walls etc, dabbed with a few different greens and yellows, and becomes weeds/foliage/whatever.


“I got this watch powered light i put on the back of this cab.


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A nice tip from David – works really well I thought.

Keep ’em coming.



16 Responses to David’s train light

  1. pretty coool idea for a light

  2. Ken says:

    Please be very careful with dryer lint. It is extremely flammable. We demonstrate to Boy Scouts how to use dryer lint for starting camp fires.

  3. John Meehan says:


  4. Eric Foy says:

    I just love all the inginuity you guy’s have and reading about it. I never throw out any card that has lights or fiber optics and colored leds. Been saving them since they came out. All sorts of uses as building lights and signage. Keep up the great work.

  5. Rob.Billing says:

    I think back in the day the red light used to be called “Fred” Not so visible in the daylight but at night it could be seen very easily. I would think saved many an unnecessary collision.

  6. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    Great idea. Marvellous what can be done with old stuff which may be getting thrown out

  7. Tommy says:

    Please put that light controller in the caboose and maybe a 220 or 330 Ohm resistor in series with the Led and it will look just great. Nice idea though.

  8. Dale Thompson says:

    Dave. Love your work. I am just beginning my planning for my first Model Railroad set-up. I have looked all over hoping to find where I can get a good photo or e-mail having the wonderful red brick retaining wall you have used in your set-up. It has arches with inset areas. Perfect for what I want to do. Can you advise where you got it or how you made it?

  9. Kevin McArdle says:

    I understand the economics of finding alternatives in modeling, but some are silly and dangerous, as said in an earlier post regarding dryer lint. If you shop at craft stores during sales, you’d be amazed at the bargains that can be had for modeling.

  10. Albert Finch says:

    Love the light and the ingenuity of using a watch. Can we get a link to a bit more of the “how” for folks like me who are not so knowledgeable of where to get parts and exactly how to do the electrical? Thanks


  11. Brian Leacu says:

    David, I like your idea and made me think about how to get the interior of a caboose lit up also.

  12. Robert Brady says:

    You Can use for end of train light,obvious a caboose is the end of train but I don’t use cabooses so I would install electronic board inside a Box car and hang light on or near coupler. But! u can buy a end of train light for 16.00 on line.
    Thanks for the idea David
    Robert B

  13. Just a note for those considering accuracy when using the flashing light device for the end of your train.

    The FRED (Flashing Rear End Device) began to be used when cabooses were eliminated from the end of the trains. Railroads cut the train crews to save money and used FRED’s to indicate the end of the train. The effectively replaced the marker lights on the caboose. So technically, FRED’s would not be used on a caboose.

  14. Brad Bourne says:

    F.R.E.D. Learn something new with every post. Thanks continually for the wonderful site.

  15. Berniedoc says:

    An idea using flashing lights from birthday cards to light buildings like Dangerous Dave has all over his layout.

  16. Dave Karper says:

    On Conrail we referred to them as Freddy theFlasher.

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