LED signal system for your model railroad

This one foxed me a bit.

It was sent in by Bernard.

Who told me it was drawn by Mark.

He then signed his name Ben.

But anyhow, I thought both of them useful – one more than the other.



And if you think that is clever, you really should bite the bullet and have a good look through my favourite resource.

And some more tips that have come through the ether too:

“Not modelling directly, but this may help someone:

A lot of modellers use an electric soldering iron and get frustrated when the copper bit gets dirty and/or corroded with use, needing frequent “re-tinning”.

A way to eliminate this is to remove the bit from the iron and give it a protective coating of silver solder, a.k.a. silver-brazing alloy. Use an SBA with a minimum of 35% silver content.

SBAs come in 35, 45 and 50% silver – any of these will do. You won’t need much, as you’re only coating the operating end.

If you don’t know about silver-soldering – you have to clean off the bit down to shiny copper, coat with SBA flux (a paste of wetted borax powder also works), heat to a dull red with an LPG torch (until the flux melts and looks like clear water) then apply the SBA rod until it flows onto the bit. Allow to cool naturally.

Replace the bit in the iron, re-heat, “tin” with soft solder and use as normal. The bit will come clean with a wipe on a wet pad but not corrode any further.

Note: Be sure to clean the copper bit down to shiny copper before coating with SBA flux as soft solder will take on top of the SBA, but the SBA will not coat the bit if any soft solder or scale remains on the surface.”


“Bark from trees such as oak or ash will make good rock faces.”


“I use real tree branches to make trees for my o scale layout. Bunch them like a real tree, and wire them together. Put some crayola air-dry clay on it for the trunk. Paint it brown. Trim any wire that is exposed-try to put it where it will not show. Then use a glue gun/glue to apply elk fern on the branches to make it look like a real tree. These can be made any size, or any way you like them to be. You should make a base as well, or use some other way to keep them upright. I always get a lot of compliments on them! Trim the branches to lengh with a pruner or wire cutter.”


Hope you liked ’em.

Keep them coming!



16 Responses to LED signal system for your model railroad

  1. David says:

    If anybody has a bush outside your house that has red berries on it. These makes great trees for ho scale railroading. The way to make a tree out of the red berries twig is to take off all of the berries roll the twig in elmer glue and then in that stuff that is like green sawdust used for grass and you can have a instant tree leave the berries on the twig and you will have a apple tree

  2. Ken says:

    Thanks AL love all the tips.

  3. Louis Seldon says:

    Do you have the schematics for a reversing track?

  4. jim kelly says:

    Do you have any commercial buildings

  5. Richard Simmons says:

    DONT do this to an Electronic Soldering Iron its not necessarily copper!!!

  6. George Ketner says:

    I use a standard dimmer switch/controller for light bulbs to regulate the temperature of my soldering irons . Works great and pretty much puts a stop to over-oxidation of the tip.


  7. Ian says:

    The reverse current LEDs is an ingenious solution to a fundamental problem. A schematic wiring diagram would be useful for the benefit of those who may not understand the principle of Diodes allowing current to pass in one way only and identify the anode and cathode connections.


  8. perry says:


  9. curtis collins says:

    need more wiring info.. you show 2 diodes and i can’t figure it out.. thanks

  10. Geoff Emery says:

    Please do not use the silver solder process on anything other than copper
    soldering iron bits. As Richard Simmons said before, temperature controlled
    irons often have steel cases and are designed differently. Heating these to
    cherry red will destroy the tip and they aren’t necessarily cheap!

  11. Jim says:

    I love all the tips , what a wonderful forum , so much to learn
    Thanks to all. O scale here I come.

  12. Paul Hindell says:

    Hi Al,
    I hope someone can help with this. I am trying to design a circuit, using relays and reed relays, to get a tram to run from one end stop and reverse back to the other end repeating. I have the concept of breaking one side of the opposite track at each end using the reed relay with a magnet attached to the tram, to operate another slow to release relay but just can’t get my head round the final cct.

  13. Tim says:

    re signal set up
    Need a proper drawing on how to wire up the LED signals, also is a photo sensor used its all a bit sketchy…

  14. Bill says:

    I’ve been thinking about the same thing. My take was to use a Raspberry Pi to control it. Was just thinking about it this past weekend so haven’t gone into it too deeply. If you do a quick search on model railroad and raspberry pi a bunch of hits come up. A PI is around $35-40 and looks to be a bit of fun too.
    In any event good luck.


  15. otimo good

  16. Tom Bilotto says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF THERE IS A WAY OF adding sound to a dc loco?

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