The Lionel Polar Express my view from the observation car

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Gil Finn, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    I think it a pretty good deal and at $220 I recomend it for Christams morning or at anytime of year.

    It is versitle, I think, and can be operated all the year long.

    The engine and tender have about the same features as any post war Berkshire.

    Nice cast detail, smoke, an E unit and an air whistle. It is sort of classic that way.

    The cars are the same as a set I bought a few years back from the General Mills era. I dont recall what set that was buthe tender had the wheel underneath that, filled with shot, made a chuff sound.

    The coaches of the PE set, like on that set, were or are pretty well closed up. No sliding combime doors, no window or opening on the car ends, details all all moded in. Then as now it is low dollar. No place for those rubber things between cars.

    So the coaches are sort of a throw back also.

    Am I complaining? Not on your life.

    I can use the transformer and have a bushel basket of Fast Track and now I have more.

    I liked Lionel in the Fifies and in the Seventies and I like them now.

    To have all the mega deatils and funtions with the rail sounds a set would be in the $600 or higher bracket.

    The Polar Express set delivers what you paid for.

    This, along with a good track plan, switches,and some exra track, makes a heck of an entry level layout for the new father and son or the young adult wanting to get started.

    It has the Bubba seal of approval. [​IMG]

    I suggest if giving to children or setting it before Christmas, give them the DVD or maybe rent it to watch as you trim the tree, bake some cookies and have coco. It will be the Chritmas they will never forget.

  2. cucamonga loco

    cucamonga loco New Member

    Here's the view from my observation car.

    It just bugged the daylights out of me that the P Express came with no tail light nor a porch light on the observation deck as the one in the movie I put em in myself. :curse:

  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I've thougth about a P.E. set off and on but it just seems like such a Christmas thing to me. I couldn't see it being a regular runner and for that kind of money, that's what I want. It is a cool set for Christmas, however.

    cucamonga loco- Nice work on the lights! :thumb:
  4. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    It is pretty cheap fpr a passenger set Cannon Ball.

    cucamonga loco that looks great. any special trick to doing it? did you use a wheat germ lite?
  5. Brian R.

    Brian R. Member

    Love the lighting. Can u display a "how to" method as to how u put it together? I would like to start adding LED's to my engines and passenger cars, but as of right now I am not 100% sure if I feel comfortable doing it myself. Some diagrams would be greatly appreciated.
  6. cucamonga loco

    cucamonga loco New Member

    Here's very basic circuit I cooked up. An electrical guru will probably look at this and say...what the #@*^??? But it works well and so far hasn't set anything on fire.


    LEDs need D/C voltage to run, problem is, Lionel trains run on A/C voltage. That's what the diode is for. It converts the A/C into D/C...sort of. What you're getting is actually D/C which pulses at 30 cycles per second, but it's good enough for LEDs.
    What's the capacitor for? I designed this circuit to use in train cars and the capacitor helps minimize the "flicker" problem train lights have when your track gets a bit dirty. You don't have to use a 470mu capacitor, you could use a smaller one or bigger one, but the bigger the capacitor the longer the electrical contact must be broken before the lights go out. The capacitor functions like a small battery powering the LEDs during the brief intervals when the pickups lose contact on a dirty track. I discovered blinking LEDs won't work without a capacitor in the circuit either. Why? Hell I don't know, they just don't.
    Lionel transformers put out a max of about 18-21 volts and LEDs don't like things that hot. That's what the resistors are for, to bring down the voltage to something the LEDs can handle. LEDs are current devices and the value of resistor you use depends on the current draw of the LED. I've used 820ohm resistors on everything from tiny 2mm LEDs up to 5mm LEDs from a variety of manufacturers and they haven't failed yet, so 820ohms seems to be a good all-purpose resistance value for most LEDs in this application. You'll notice 3 resistors in my circuit, that's because it's designed to power 3 LEDs. If you need to only power 2 LEDs for your application, then you only need 2 resistors in your circuit. If you need more, then add more resistors and so on. The negative (-) leads on the LEDs can all be wired to the (-) side of the circuit, but each LED needs it own resistor on the positive (+) side. Now you could place just one resistor in the circuit in series with multiple LEDs, but because the current draw changes according to the number of LEDs you have, the value of the resistor needs to change to compensate. But screw it, resistors are so cheap it's easier just to install a resistor on each LED than do the math.

    Resistors don't have poles. There is no (-) or (+) so you can't wire them in backwards. It matters with diodes and capacitors however and they're commonly not marked very clearly. LEDs and capacitors have two leads coming out of them, it's always the short lead that's the negative side. Rectifier diodes are marked with a little band running around the outside. The band is always closest to the positive lead.
    Most of the components used here are very inexpensive, so buy a bunch and don't be shy about experimenting. If you burn a bunch of them what. :thumb:
  7. emt49

    emt49 Member

    I agree its alot of money to run just a month every year and for me being a HO modler
    this would be my only o set so ill just watch on the side lines. but i do have the movie and it is a verry good movie

    cucamonga loco nice work on the lights on the back :thumb:
  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I'm only saying that because I don't know jack about electrical wiring.
    That sucks since I'd like to wire an LED into my engine's headlight. It's got a space for it but no light was ever wired in. :(
  9. cucamonga loco

    cucamonga loco New Member

    That's pretty easy really.

    Negative side of the LED gets wired to ground. The motor frame or the engine body or a wheel truck will do....any part of the loc that makes electrical contact with the outside rails of the track. The other lead of the LED gets wired like this...
    Center pickup (from the center rail) >> to negative side of a 1N4003 diode>> positive side of the 1N4003 diode to 820ohm resistor>> 820ohm resistor to positive lead of the LED. You basically just make a daisy chain with the diode>>resistor then solder them to the + side of the LED.
  10. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Sounds simple enough.
    I just need to learn to solder. :D
    (Actually I can solder somewhat just not really small stuff. Wiring a 2x15 speaker cabinet is one thing.... LED's quite something else.)
  11. cucamonga loco

    cucamonga loco New Member

    Having one of these gizmos really helps.

  12. cucamonga loco

    cucamonga loco New Member

    Every light in these trains were converted to LEDs and I think the result is pretty stunning.


    The center tail light on the observation car on the left blinks, but you can't tell that on a still photo of course.

  13. gruggier

    gruggier Member

    FANASTIC! I just love this Polar Express set!
  14. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    How about those wheat gern lites, that would work on AC right?
  15. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

  16. cucamonga loco

    cucamonga loco New Member

    I'm not sure, I haven't checked into them, but they look interesting. Hopefully they don't get hot enough to damage plastic or their applications will be limited somewhat.

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