Lighted MarkerWorking Marker Lights

This page shows you how to install working marker lights on your favorite locomotive.


Classification Lights

In the days of the timetable-and-train-order system flags and classification lights were used to identify the different types of trains.  Flags were used during the day and classification lights were used at night.


The classification or marker lights were used in three different colors:

Modeling Classification Lights

Most steam locomotives were equipped with two or three sided marker lights somewhat similar to the photo above.  For years colored jewels have been readily available to model different colored lenses.  With the availability of miniature surface mount white LEDís it is now fairly simple to model working marker lights!  Before I show you the steps to do this I want to give credit to Jim Betz for the idea.


Surface Mount LEDís

Surface Mount LED's With today's miniature components surface mount LEDís have become commonplace.† While red, green, and yellow surface mount LEDís have been around for quite a while, itís only recently that really good white LEDís have become available from Richmond Controls.† Richmond Controls offers these white LEDís in two colors, ďgolden whiteĒ and ďsunny whiteĒ.† The golden white LEDís have a slight yellow tint to them that is typical of an incandescent bulb.† The sunny white LED is a bright white that is more typical of a modern Halogen bulb.†


For the marker lights you want to use the golden white version.† The photo to the right shows a pair of the 0603 size golden white LEDís.† The 0603 size means that the LED measures .060Ē (1.5mm) long and .030Ē (.75mm) wide.† As the LEDís are intended for surface mounting on printed circuit boards they donít have any wire leads on them.† To use the LEDís for the marker lights you have to solder on some small #36 magnet wire leads as shown in the photograph.† As these parts are very small they can be tricky to solder to, first you have to scrape off the enamel insulation on the magnet wire and then you have to carefully solder a wire to each of the LEDís terminals.† Attach the wires so that both leads come off in the same direction as shown. †


If the LED is going to be installed in a plastic marker light then you are all done, if you are installing the LED in a brass marker light then you need to insulate the exposed terminals so that they donít make contact with the brass housing.† I used five minute Epoxy and applied a very thin coating of Epoxy over the exposed terminals of the LED.†


Preparing the Markers

modern marker lightsThe photo to the right shows a pair of typical modern era marker lights from Cal Scale.  As you can see there are indentations in the marker to accommodate common jewels or MV lenses.







To make room for the LEDís the markers need to be drilled out so that all three lens areas are open.† This drilling is probably the trickiest part of this whole project.


Drilling out markersLeave the parts on the sprue and clamp them in a vise as shown in the photo.† Use a .052Ē (1.2mm) diameter drill and drill through the two back to back lens openings.† You will probably have to support the bottom side to prevent the sprue from bending under the pressure of the drilling.† After drilling the through hole, mount the sprue on the top of the vise and drill out the third lens hole.† Make sure you have a sharp drill bit when doing this.


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Page 1 - Last updated November 13, 2006