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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I was just changing my bloody nose SP GP9 over to DCC with an NCE 808 and a P5 from Phoenix. I was just wondering what to do about the classification lamps when I discovered some tri-coloured common anode LED's that can display white, green and red. These seem perfect so I got them installed and wired up, but just wanted to ask a couple of novice questions on how they were used in the real world?

What colour should be displayed when and in what direction on the loco?

Secondly, should I have independant control of them from my handheld throttle so I can set the colours myself, or should they be operated directionally?

Thanks for your help guys,
Gavin
 

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The purpose of classification lights was to help identify the train on which they were displayed. The three colors and their meanings were as follows:

White. Indicated an "extra" train not shown in the timetable. For much of railroad history, train-movement authority was granted by timetables. If a train was listed in the timetable, it had the authority to operate according to its printed schedule. Deviations from the timetable, such as a train running late, were handled with train orders from the dispatcher. Under this "timetable-and-train-order" system, it was important that trains kept as close to schedule as possible, and that any special trains not shown in the timetable be clearly identified as such with a white light. Many freight trains operated as extras, and thus carried a white classification signal.

Green. Indicated that, while the train displaying the lights was a regularly scheduled one, a second section was following behind it. This was done, for example, when ridership demand exceeded the capacity of a single passenger train. If there were too many passengers for a single section of, say, New York Central's 20th Century Limited, a second section was operated, and, if needed, a third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth. The engine of each section except the last would display green lights. While each section was a separate entity, the timetable's "train 25" would not be considered to have passed a given point until the last section of the train had gone by. For operational convenience, special trains that otherwise might have carried white "extra" signals were sometimes operated as advance or second sections of regular, but unrelated, trains.

Red. Indicated the end of a train. A train, be it a single engine, a group of engines, or an engine(s) with cars, must have a marker on the rear end. In the (relatively rare) situations when the last element in a train would be a locomotive, the red lights would be lit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the info!

So in effect, is the way USA trains represents the classification lights with green on the front and red on the back of the loco actually wrong? 

Also, when I look at a lot of photos of SP geeps, Strapac etc, all the lights seem to be dark. Would then have only been used when the situation arose?

Thanks again, appologies for the dumb questions!
 

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Flags (cloth or metal) were used in daylight hours and lanterns were used at night in the dark.

Different railroads had different rules governing what the colors meant. Railroad rules also changed over the years as the government or railroad associations stepped in to ATTEMPT to "standardize" the rules across many companies.

To know exactly what YOUR engine should show, you need to get a rule book for the particular railroad AND era that you are modeling.
 

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Posted By supagav on 02/09/2008 1:39 AM Thanks for the info!

So in effect, is the way USA trains represents the classification lights with green on the front and red on the back of the loco actually wrong? 

Not necessarily, if it was a lite engine movement and another section of the same train was to follow, then the above setup would be correct.

One must remember the following:

White: Extra train not running under timetable authority.
Green: Another section follows that is running under timetable authority.
Dark: The only section running of this class under timetable authority.
Red: End of train (or in this case, engine, when running lite)


Also, when I look at a lot of photos of SP geeps, Strapac etc, all the lights seem to be dark. Would then have only been used when the situation arose?

See above.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the help, that clears up my ignorance! 

I think I'll hook them up so I can either leave them off, or have independant control of the colour with different DCC functions.

Thanks again,
Gavin
 
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