Using LEDs as a Locomotive Headlight

Ideas for using LEDs to light up your train yards

LED locomotive headlightsWhen used as a locomotive headlight, the effect is quite good. The Big Hauler on the left has a Radio Shack 12v 60 mA Grain-Of-Wheat bulb running at its ratings. The Shay on the right has the stock Bachmann bulb that came on the early production Shays, later Shays have a much more wimpy standard yellow LED as a headlight. You can see that the Big Hauler light is not very bright as compared to the Shay. Courtesy of George Schreyer
LED locomotive headlightsThis photo shows the same two engines after a bright white LED has been installed in the Big Hauler. The LED is running at its rated 20 mA vs the 60 mA that the old GOW bulb took. Now compare the brightness of the two locos using the Shay as a reference to see how much brighter the white LED is. The LED produces a tight bright beam that goes further down the track than most incandescent lamps. In a dark environment, it is bright enough to cast shadows more than 10 feet away. In the indoors environment, the LED might be too bright. These trains run at eye level and when the beam sweeps across my eyes, it is blinding. courtesy of George Schreyer
LED locomotive headlightsThe LED is installed in place of the original lamp, but it has to face forward to project its beam. The LED leads are insulated with shrink tube and one lead is pressed into the original support. The support had to be drilled out just a little to accommodate one lead and its shrink tube. The other lead goes into the boiler just in front of the support. A dab of hot glue holds the LED in position. Courtesy of George Schreyer
LED locomotive headlightsLED locomotive headlightsThe C-16 comes with a standard track powered, non direction al incandescent headlight. It is fairly bright the way it is, but I elected to install a white LED in place of the bulb. More information on bright white LEDs can be found on my White LED Tips page. The photo on the left is the stock headlight. The one on the right is after the white LED installation. In the photo, the LED doesn't look that much brighter, but it does cast a much better beam. Its color is more suited to an electric light instead the of the oil light on this version of the model but I like the brightness. Courtesy of George Schreyer
leds in model trainsI installed some White LED's from "The LED Light" as an experiment in an Aristo-Craft PRR Bobber Caboose inside the Marker Lamp Housings. The Marker Lamps I used ARE NOT the original Markers that Aristo puts on their Bobbers'. I used two from a couple of Aristo-Craft lighted bumpers that the lights had burned out. I removed them from the bumper by cutting the wires from the lamp to where they were soldered to the track. And then pulled the marker lamp off the bumper. I then removed the jewels in two areas of the marker so that they would face the correct direction and also leave an "open hole" where one marker resided, this is where the White LED will enter the Marker Lamp through a hole drilled in the sidewall of the caboose. Courtesy of Clay Fugitte
LED porch lightUSA Christmas Observation Car - Add A White LED & Reflector for a Porch Lamp! Adding this White LED Porch Light to the USA Christmas Observation Car rear deck was simple and easy, however it does require some soldering skills and a small amount of Electronics knowledge. If you have some of the knowledge of electronic components and can solder, this project would take you about an hour to install. It actually took me about 30 minutes to make this modification to my USA Christmas Observation Car. Originally I had tried using a regular incandescent bulb over Santa's head for illuminating him so that he could be seen, the problem was either the bulb was too bright and made it difficult to see Santa due to this or it was too dim to light Santa up very well. However, the 5mm T 1-3/4 White LED and Reflector I used came from The LED Light and proved to be the PERFECT Solution to the too bright or too dim problem. LED porch lightThe way I have my White LED Porch Light wired is so that it remains on no matter which direction the train is going, it is also wired to the "Marker Lamps" so that if I want to turn off the interior lights and still keep Santa and the rear marker lamps lit I can do so. So now Santa is clearly visible for further distances and the White LED lights him up very nicely, the marker lamps help light him up a little from the sides, but the White LED Porch Lamp is illuminating Santa more than even these incandescent lights are doing. The Santa Claus is an Aristo-Craft figurine and was perfect for placement on the back porch of the USA Observation Deck or "Porch" as some may call it. Courtesy of Clay Fugitte