HO Step Lights?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Wildcatfootball, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. Whats the best way to wire up an engine with DCC to run these step lights? Which bulbs/LED/optic device would give me the best result and also not damage the shell? Also, isn't there a way to have the decoder only turn on the lights when I want them to turn on? Thanks guy.

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  2. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    You can get ridiculously small LEDs to do the job by miniatronics. I can't find my walhters catalog, but they are out there. The only thing is i don't know if you could make them look realistic.
  3. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    I've seen that done with the small LEDS, and fiber optic cable drilled through the shell to those locations too.
  4. I don't have any photos, but I've devised a way to make these quick, easy, and functional! If you want to try my technique, here's how:
    First, purchase a pack of the Details West step lights for use as a size reference, and a pack of plastic fiber optic cable - I'm not sure what diameter I used, I want to say about 1/32" - basically as close to the thickness of the scale step light as you can find.
    The reason to use a plastic fiber optic strand is that you can melt the end of the strand by holding it near a small flame, and the material will pull back, forming a small ball.
    Using the scale fixture as a gauge, make these balls so that their diameter equals the width of a scale step light. Let it cool / harden, then hold the ball and strand vertically, and use a rasor blade to chop of 2 opposite sides, flush with the fiber optic. Lay this down and slice what's left of the glob in half, and you're left with a scale step light already mounted on a fiber optic strand. You can chop away some of the 'roundness' from the top edges, too. Just paint the sides and a bit of the strand the color of your locomotives underframe or steps, leaving the bottom painted so light can shine out!
    As for illuminating them, incandescant bulbs or LEDs can be hidden in the shell, and connected to your decoder so that the running lights are independantly controlled as a function.
    While you're at it, ever notice the two little rectangular indentations at the bottom of the ends of locomotive hoods (long and short) - between the access doors in this image Cannon and Company Locomotive Detail EMD Hood End, Late-2 191-1154 These are walkway lights, and are easy to illuminate too - if your going to the trouble of step lights, and do go with fiber optic, these can be lit from the same source. Just drill them out, clean up with a sharp X-Acto, and after painting, insert a fiber optic strand so that it ends in the middle of the shell's material thickness, then fill the rest with zap-filling CA.

  5. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    That would make one nifty little detail! GEC, Miles and Chris, thanks for the thoughts about making them.
  6. There's another light that's good to add - the running light over the lead truck - these illuminate the roadbed so the engineer can see if the locomotive is moving at night.

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  7. Chris, that is EXACTLY what I was looking for. That explanation was amazing!!!! Detailed down to the very last cut and slice of the optic cable... Now, where exactly to get the fiber optic cable??? :?
  8. slufoot733

    slufoot733 New Member

    Another source for fiber optic material is an old antique store or junk shop. Look for one of those old fiber optic lights. They were very popular (and rather expensive) in the early 80's. Now-a-days most people pitch 'em. If you can find one they usually sell for about $10. One light will generally supply enough fiber optic material for dozens of small projects.

    Good luck,


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