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Michael,

The BNSF loco's that I have watched use the crossing lites with the headlite on bright to indicate the loco is moving.. Crossing lites do not flash when the horn is used on the BNSF & UP loco's.. There are no marker or class lites on the diesels.. When stopped, headlite is dimmed & crossing lites are turned off.. When meeting another train the headlite is dimmed & good engineers will also dim the headlite for cars on adjacent roads @ nite.. Cab lites can be on if stopped or if a 2nd crew is riding in mu loco's.. Porch/step lites are on all the time.. Number boards on mean it is a train.. Digitrax makes a function/transponder decoder also.. The HO decoders will work as long as you do not excede the current ratings & they meet the NMRA standards.. Some use the motor decoders to dim the lites in cars/cabooses & buildings..

BulletBob
 

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Michael,

Ditch lites are slang for crossing lites.. Ditch lites are dangerous for yard personal as they were designed to point 7 to 15 degrees off of center.. Crossing lites are aimed to strike the opposite rail @ 800', Santa Fe ( BNSF ) turns them 2/3 degree off center is all.. This makes it easier for cars @ grade crossings to see the lites of approaching trains.. I do not recall seeing SP loco's lites flashing when the horn is blown.. Out here the only loco's with flashing crossing lites are the NS ones..

Railroads remove all lites that are not needed, marker & class lites are not needed with the use of train control & radios.. Look @ BNSF loco's on the internet, they have welded plates over the holes where the lites were, & new loco's do not have them @ all..

I think the reason the porch & step lites are also on is the dummy approach, do not have to remember to turn them on.. If a loco is left running, and no one around then all lites are turned off..

I have heard that the lead loco's # is the train # & they are the only # boards on.. Make it easy to identify the train..

On the rotary beacons, some terminal railways still use them because of all the grade crossings, but again it is 1 more lite that has to work..

BulletBob
 
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