Over the weekend, I finished the DCC installation on my RS18.
I also added lights and cab window glass, and built and installed number boards. Then, I assembled the locomotive – hopefully for the last time.
There are a few details to brush paint, a few final details to add, and some weathering to apply – but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…
(CNR X3640 West pauses in St. Williams)
In the photo above, the unit shows off its headlights, class lights, and number boards. Each operates on a separate circuit. This allows me to light the number boards at night, and light the class lights when running as an extra. The headlights are directional, but unfortunately I ran out of functions and wires to make the class and number boards directional so they’re on/off at all four corners, regardless of which way the locomotive is travelling. I can live with that.
In addition to the Tsunami for sound, motor and four light functions, I added an FL2 from TCS inside the short hood. This is a two-function accessory decoder, which allowed me to add a couple of neat features (which I’ll describe below).
The lighting represented my first experience with surface-mount LEDs. But a lot easier than it could’ve been, thanks to some nifty pre-wired LEDs from Evan Designs, which I picked up at The Credit Valley Railway Co (a local hobby shop).
The LEDs come five to a package, wired into an assembly that includes the appropriate resistors and a bridge rectifier so there’s no need to worry about input voltage or polarity. (The ones I acquired work on an input of 7-19 volts). I was able to simply wire them to the decoder and go.
Well, not “simply”…
The DCC installation was one of the most complex I’ve undertaken. There’s a seven-wire cable between frame and body shell. And the body shell has 15 LEDs in it, as follows:
– Two nano LEDs for each twin-beam headlight (4)
– One chip LED for each number board (4)
– One nano LED for each class light (4)
– One nano LED for each truck light (2) – running off the FL2
– One chip LED for the cab light (1) – running off the FL2
Fortunately, there’s plenty of space in each end of the shell to hide the electronics that regulate the LEDs. This is one of the (admittedly few) advantages of S scale over HO (Hey – we have to have some wins, right?)
The LEDs were positioned and secured with two adhesives. First, I used a dot of CA on the connecting wires to hold each LED in place. Then, I applied a coating of Microscale’s Micro Kristal Klear over the wires and around the LED. I also used Kristal Klear to form the lenses for the class lights and headlights, and to secure the microscope slide cover glass in the cab windows.
When I started this project, I knew I wanted to do something special – and adding working truck lights seemed like a good way to do that. These are the lights that the engineer can turn on at night to see the roadbed – often, the only way to judge movement and speed when one is in an area with no artificial light sources. Since the cab has a control stand and a couple of crew members in it, I decided a cab light would also be a nice touch:
(I’m no O Winston Link, but…)
The above photo reminds me that while a factory-fresh paint job is nice, some weathering below the frame will really bring out the details – especially under layout lighting conditions. So that’s the next step. Stay tuned…