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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I've searched the forums, corresponded with a few people and decided to throw this topic out to see what all of you have done to address this.

I have a passenger car set from Bachmann with battery operated (9v) interior lighting, also a non lighted Christmas passenger car set also from Bachmann and the Christmas street car sold as a set at Sams Club a few years back. I'd like to add interior lights to the non lighted cars. The lights use the batteries up pretty quickly. Usually a matter of a few hours. It looks like 2 options exist:

1. Change to battery operated LED interior lighting. Supposedly longer battery life. But HOW MUCH LONGER????? Walgreens Pharmacy has a string of 18 mini LED's on a battery pack for 3.99 that might work wonders.


2. Change to track powered and forget completely about ever changing a battery again! This sounds great in theory. But I need to look at electrical pickup options other than the over priced LGB wheelsets. Maybe Gary Raymond or another manufacturer. Once the initial puchase and install is done a string of 18 LED's inside, or outside the car, may run forever.

In your experiences what are the pro's and con's of either of these methods??? Or are their other options or variables of these that I am overlooking? My Christmas cars run 2-4 hrs per night a few days a week in December. The other cars run a occasionally at night.

Thanks for the input and advice!!!!

Paul H.
 

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If you're only running a few hours at night at christmas i'd say maybe battery is the way to go. You don't need a lot of LEDs in a car to get a good effect--in my experience two 5mm white LEDS from radio Shack will light a Bachmann J&S coach really welll.

I went with Track power for all my lighted cars and have been very happy--we like to run a lot at dusk and at night. You can get wheels from gary raymond--just make sure they are not "finescale" wheels. You can also get ball bearing wheels fronm aristocraft. I have a set but haven't installed them yet



You cna also get power pickup by inserting a brass bushing in the truck. i did this on a Hartland caboose--drilled the axle hole in the sideframes out and then inserted brass bushings from a spare aristo truck I had. Then I soldered a wire to the bushing. Cheaper than a set of BB wheels.


as to the battery life of an LED string, I just don't know
 

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I bought a string of 60 led lights (Holiday Time LED C4 teardrop light set) from Walmart for 10 bucks. I have had 3 of them hooked in series directly to a 9 volt battery for 4 weeks. They are getting dimmer but still put out a fair amount of light. I am planning on using them for lighting my AMS coaches and anything else that need lights.
 

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I rewired my Bachman cars for the lights to be in series. I do not run these 'fast' so the voltage is never over 18 volts.

I did mu the wiring between the cars and let the engine/tender supply the power.
 

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If you want your LEDs more diffused, stop by Michaels or Hobby Lobby, find a bag of clear beads, and glue the LED into the bead. I think I added a sequin reflector.



And you can do things like this:

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Today I added 3 yellow LED's to my Bachmann trolley car. I used track power by following Dave's LED articles on http://www.trainelectronics.com/. Thanks Dave! A pure beginnner was able to make this work using a bridge rectifier, capacitor, 470 ohm resistors and yellow LED's wired in parallel from Radio Shack. The only complaint is that they are not very bright. I wonder if I should of used a brighter clear LED instead of yellow? Or look for higher mcd (brightness) rating???

For my non powered passenger cars Winn states he's run 3 LED's in series directly to a 9 volt battery for 4 CONTINUOUS WEEKS! This sounded too good to be true so I asked him again and he says they only started to slightly dimm by the 3rd week. WOW! I hope I can get that life from mine.

Any comments on LED colors being brighter for interior car lighting?

Paul H
 

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We run our track at a constant 20 volts, using remote control int eh locos.

I put two 5 mm bright white LEDs from Radio shack in my Bachmann coaches, running them as described by Dave Bodnar with a 1k ohm resistor on one leg of each led. They were

A: too bright

B: too bluish

I painted them with a mix of testors orange and testors red. They came out a much wamer and less bright but a slightly odd color. It looks nice at night and it's warm and pleasant but it's not prototypical



I've also painted LEDs with tamiya clear yellow and it tones down the blue. If you find "warm white" leds they don't need as much toning down but I still have been giving them a coat of the Tamiya yellow
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the help on this topic.

Since I run rarely at night except for this time of year I decided on battery power for the LED's. Picked up a few strings at 50% off at the local Walgreens pharmacy for $1.99. They use 2 AA batteries and power 15 LED's either in flash or steady one mode.

I hot glued the battery pack underneath the middle of the car and ran the light string up through the floor, along the wall and mounted them on a strip of balsa wood hot glued to the ceiling.

It works like a charm for $2.00!!!

I'm not sure how long they'll go on a pair of batteries but I've run a few nights now at about 4 hours a night and they are still going strong.
They do have a bit of a bluish tint that many LED's have but for $2 I am thrilled.

Thanks again for all the help on these forums.

Paul H.
 

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This is kind of late since Paul has already put lights in his cars, but since I did the work and took pictures maybe some one else can use the info. I mounted the lights on a piece of 1/8 inch plywood and then glued it to the cieling of the coach.

These are the lights I bought from Walmart.



Here they are mounted on the ceiling of an Accucraft coach.



These are the parts. The globe on the right is modified to shorten the base and remove the point on the globe.


I drilled holes sized to provide a press fit for the base of the globes in the plywood. The LED which is inserted from the oposite side can be seen in the hole.


The legs of the LED's are soldered to #24 wire which is glued to the plywood. The three LED's need to be wired in series. Warning! the Leads of the LED's are very easy to break so be careful bending them.



I ground off the wire channels on the cieling of the coach so the plywood would lay flat.



I mounted a battery box under the floor.



The box made from .010 brass



A section of the frame cut out to make room for the battery box.



The battery and box installed on the frame before adding the floor.


I will leave the mounting of a switch and the routing of the wiring up to you. I mounted the switch in a little box between frame rails and routed wires inside the hollow frame.
 

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Posted By placitassteam on 12/23/2008 5:30 PM
This is kind of late since Paul has already put lights in his cars, but since I did the work and took pictures maybe some one else can use the info. I mounted the lights on a piece of 1/8 inch plywood and then glued it to the cieling of the coach.



The legs of the LED's are soldered to #24 wire which is glued to the plywood. The three LED's need to be wired in series. Warning! the Leads of the LED's are very easy to break so be careful bending them.



.



That doesn't look like a "Series" connection. That looks like parallel, which would mean you have the whole 9-Volts applied to each LED instead of it being divided amongst the 3 LEDS (3-Volts per).
 

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Charles, Your are right, That does look like they are in parallel. I should have shown the whole circuit. Stupid me I did lay out the two wires as though I were going to do a parallel circuit and then realized my mistake. What is shown is actually the end of the line, the upper wire was cut in two places and the LED's spliced in , the lower wire is the negative return. If I do another the upper wire wil be moved to the center connecting the 3 LED's in a row. Both wires were already glued down when I rrealized my dumb mistake and I didn't want to start over.

+____ LED ___________ LED _____________
\---O---/ \---O---/ |
O LED
- _____________________________________|____

It looks kind of like this, ignor the spaces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Winn, It's never too late! Great photos and explanation of what you did. I still have another Christmas passenger coach and a few Jackson Sharp coaches to convert and may use your methods.

Thanks for sharing your work!
Paul H.
 
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