N scale white LEDs

Fred’s been back in touch with his stunning layout – have a look at what he does with his N scale white LEDs:

(His last post is here.)

“Hi Alastair –

I hope you are secure, well stocked, and relatively safe in your corner of the world.

Boston is in a surge right now, and I’m more than ever thankful for this wonderful hobby of ours, where I can hunker down and lose all my cares in a world of my own, free from cover, job loss, and fear!

Anyhow, I sent you a video via mail drop to show you the progress of my harbor.

Check out the backdrop, for which some separate photos, and also some photos showing the weird perspective of my oil refinery access road through the refinery. It always amazes me to see the kinks in a straight line you have to impose between modeled road and rendered extension on a vertical backdrop.

I think that the visual tricks of backdrop making are probably the most stimulating and satisfying parts of my project.

Amy questions, please let me know.


N scale white LEDs

N scale white LEDs

N scale white LEDs

harbor layout

N scale white LEDs

N scale white LEDs

LED train lights

harbor layout

It’s a bit of a squint to see Fred’s video, but sorry, not much I can do about that.

A huge thanks to Fred – his layout is a real joy to see. It looks just as good at night as it does in the day.

Now on to Mike:

“Hi Al,

With time on my hands, bought a coffee at the local coffee shop and grabbed a stir stick, my imagination went off the rails.

$5 bought me a box of 1000 stir sticks, a quick drawing, small saw and glue and I was off.

The framing is mostly done now the roofing and siding, followed by trim and windows. I can stay locked down for a bit longer.

Shed fits my 4-8-4 American Flyer steamer.

Mike Acebo

East Marion NY”

engine house

engine shed

locomotive shed

freight house

A big thanks to Fred for sharing his N scale white LEDs – stunning pics. Thanks to Mike too.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget, if want to make your start on your layout, just like Mike did, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Remember, it’s the start that stops most people.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More N scale layouts here if that’s your thing.

29 Responses to N scale white LEDs

  1. Mike’s Engine Shed is an amazing piece of work…
    Fred’s lighting is always a joy to see…

  2. Kaustav says:


    That is hands down the BEST nighttime cityscape that I have ever seen in a model form! The lighted background and the blue night light creates tremendous depth in those scenes. Man – this made my day!

  3. Dana V. says:

    Great contest winner’s submission! That freight shed was very good.
    Back lighting shown above is simply awesome. The use of a cutout with lighting is something I’ve never seen before. Great imagination! Very , very nicely done.

  4. Rich B. says:

    Mind boggling, but is at the point whereas could be a pretty good fire hazard candidate. Realize the use of fiber optics and low voltage components but way too busy and one short circuit… wood still burns? Recall something about John Allen’s G&D RR. Think somebody left on a space heater and the entire thing went up in smoke. Happened after his demise with only a few items spared, auctioned off. Don’t wish that fate on anybody.

    Too, shed looks very detailed. Popsicle sticks 🧐 with rounded ends? Do believe even period correct without firestops between 2×4 verticals.

    Regards, Rich

  5. Franco428 says:

    The Engine Shed is an excellent work of creativity. Stir sticks or Popsicle sticks, they all can stir the imagination.

    His shed is going to be a smoke house with out Roof vents, but I figure he was going to add that on in the finished product.

    That Night scene was the best yet!

  6. NJ Mark says:

    I am awestruck. Kudos to Mike and Fred. Cheers! NJ Mark

  7. Kaustav says:

    I also adore the scratchbuilt engine shed. It was always a treat when you can build things out of cheap and easily available materials. Coffee stirrers are becoming one of my favorite model building supply too.


  8. Robert Brady says:

    Mike, great engine shed You should have made a double track.Oh thanks for the blue print! My turn! i’ll make a double

  9. Robert Brady says:

    Fred your lighting and layout is spectacular / beautiful .I only wish I had the area patience and skill. HA that’s alot to ask .Lol

  10. george zaky says:

    Hooray for John
    Coffee stirrers are my favorite. I used the crooked ones to make a HillBilly shack.
    When Kaustav says Wow, you got a Comment from The Master. I agree.
    Big AL
    All- stay safe
    George from NY

  11. pat says:

    love everything about the layout except the wiring and music!!! why music??? Even if your day job is a record producer don’t bring it to the hobby video

  12. Ruben Simon says:

    Fred: how clever and effective!

  13. Brian Rockey says:

    Wow! wow! wow! Fred. Very, very special lighting effects, especially on the city and the street scene with the traffic – wow! again.
    Wokingham, UK

  14. Brian Rockey says:

    Pat, may I respectfully suggest that you leave out negative comments from posts. I have been on the receiving end before after having model railway articles published and it really isn’t appreciated. I think any of us would be happy with helpful encouragement and constructive feedback, but I don’t think we as contributors or readers need or want to know what someone doesn’t like!
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  15. Patrick Hanlon says:

    Incredible! Amazing! Unforgettable! Unbelievable! How long did the lighting display take you? It also looked like a calculation mess to get to completion. How many resistors and fuses did you blow? Lol! I would have blown a lot to get to that point. You probably didn’t blow any. Would love to see your layout during the day. Thank you very much for sharing.

  16. Norman Rosen says:

    Not sure which pictures are he best: those of the layouts or the ad for sexiest silk night slip styles……


    Absolutely breath taking! You are truly an artist and a genius. Anyone that would find fault with that better visit their shrink. Send more pictures. I know I can’t copy your genius but I can certainly use the ideas behind them. Thanks for showing them to us. Bill Roberts

  18. To Al – Actually, Al this is N Scale, which has made doing things like illuminating autos a real challenge! I’ll send some pics of my greatest miniature lighting triumph to date, which was successfully lighting an n scale motorcycle headlamp. Now I’ve figured it out, I ordered an even dozen bikes with riders from Shapeways. Have to have a biker gang tooling over the city bridge at night!

    Rich – I too have considered the fire hazards of model railroad wiring, and have tried to address with very careful soldering and insulation at connections. All of this is circuit protected, and feeds off the Woodland Scenics “Just Plug” modular system, which also allows me to dim all lighting to balance it out visually.. Just because the routing of wiring (and fibre optic threads) looks like hell doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dangerous, although they sometimes go hand in hand. There really isn’t a good way to plan wiring layout on these plexiglass backdrops, because from the artistic standpoint you have to install as needed from the visible side. A lot of the city lights are simply “scraped through the surface paint to the plastic beneath, which has been flooded with light from the edges. Once the backdrop is installed, the wiring will not be at risk of being disturbed by anything back there (except maybe the cellar mice!)

    Pat – Sorry you don’t like B.B. King. I was listening to him in the shop when I took the video, so this is background noise, not an intentional part of the video. I have been working on sound for this layout, which has speakers hidden all over the city and the harbor – bus traffic, cars honking, seagulls and planes overhead. When I get it working, I’ll submit another video to Al. Presumably that will meet your approval.

    To everyone else – thanks for the comments. We’re all a lot luckier than the other pandemic prisoners, aren’t we? Always a project to look forward to!



  19. Al, Thanks for showing a S gauge layout. It takes me back to when I was 10 and
    I’m 80 now. RJL

  20. Jim Maitland says:

    We once lived on the South Shore in Pembroke and know Boston well. Great background which makes things stand out. I though the track looked like American Flyer which if memory is correct is S gauge. But very nice!!

  21. Andrew says:

    Awesome lighting Fred, An artistic masterpiece

    Congratulations to John for winning the bespoke building competition and a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated.

    Andrew in Oz

  22. Linda H says:

    Very clever and turned out fantastic. I always love it when you find uses for everyday things to repurpose. Great job.

  23. Linda H says:

    I must say this is one of the best lighting displays I’ve seen. Absolutely incredible. Love it. Much too intimidating for me to try but certainly an art form to look at.
    Thanks for sharing.

  24. Bernie Schainholtz says:

    Unbelievable lighting of the city. It is more realistic than the real city would look.Bernie

  25. Steve says:

    Really liked the night time cityscape lighting. And since fiber optics and LEDs operate without much heat, it is actually a very safe way to do it. I use several sizes of coffee stir stick to create flatcar loads of bundled lumber, but have never used them as scratch building materials. That is a really good ideas as well since I eventually have a number of SP snowsheds to build for my Sierra Nevada Mountain subdivision. I also started with American Flyer S gauge trains 65 years ago, but have evolved that into 1:64 (S) scale modeling at this point. There aren’t many of us to it’s nice to see S-scale hobbyists featured occasionally.

  26. Will in NM says:

    Mike: What a clever use of stir sticks. I’ll have to pick some up the next time I can visit a grocery store. Loved your S scale engine house.

    Fred: WOW! I am dumbstruck by the realism of your night time lighting. And to learn that you’re doing all that in N scale is truly amazing! I’m glad you mentioned the plexiglass used to create the silhouette of the buildings. I was going to ask you if you’d created it with a laser etcher or something similar. Glad to learn you can achieve such great results without high tech machines. Oh, and I loved the BB King background music — just disappointed I didn’t get to hear the whole song. 🙂

  27. Gloria says:

    Fred, your cityscape is gorgeous and amazing. Thank you for posting it. I have been wanting to make a nighttime skyline. Any suggestions on what thickness of plexiglass or on cutting it would be helpful. BTW loved the music.

  28. Fred Gevalt says:

    Gloria –

    I used 3/32” plexi, and had to cut it with a vibrating “plunge” saw with a lot of subsequent filing and sanding!

  29. Absolutely gorgeous work on both projects

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