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This has probably been covered before, so my apologies if I am going over old ground or opening old wounds...

 

I am modelling in 4mm and using Springside head and tail lamps on my trains.  But, because I model a branch terminus where trains reverse direction to return whence they came, I have been wondering about how to make the lamps removable and replaceable on locos, tail lamps on passenger stock, and tail and side lamps on brake vans.  Also, some locos will have to change duty during the running session, so that, for example, I might want to remove the Class B headcode and replace it with Class C or K.  It needs to be something simple and reliable that does not involve handling the stock,  

 

I suspect that making some sort of pin and hole/socket arrangement, or actual working brackets, would be, in the size we are talking about, beyond my comfort zone in terms of modelling ability (my eyesight and steadiness of hand are not what they once were), and have been thinking in terms of some sort of magnetic system, with small patches cut off from those plastic bendy fridge magnets you can get at the seaside, and glued to suitable places on the locos and stock, then 'painted in' to hide them, in association with similar bits glued to the lamps.  Pretty fiddly, but once it's done attaching and removing the lamps should be simple enough even for my clunky fingers with a pair of tweezers and without disturbing the stock too much.

 

Has anyone done anything like this (I cannot believe I've invented something!), and if so, does it work, and what problems did you have with it if any, or can anyone suggest a better way of doing this?  Looking at models on YouTube and at shows, the normal method seems to be to superglue the lamps on and just put up with it when, for example, there is a tail light on what was previously the last vehicle of a train in between it and the loco because the loco has run around, or a brake van has tail lights on both ends.  Such a train would be stopped at the first signalbox on a 12 inch to the foot scale railway.  I don't want to make this sort of compromise unless it is unavoidable, though I suppose it looks a little better than having no lamps at all, something that I cannot abide.  But I need to get away from this idea of permanently attaching the lamps!

 

I have been experimenting, very unsuccessfully, with blu-tack, which is not only crude and obvious but does not reliably hold the lamps, especially on loco buffer beams, though it's not so bad where the back surface of the lamp is used such as on bunkers, coaches, and brake vans.  I have yet to obtain a suitable fridge magnet to cut up into the small squares that will be required, or think of a method of slicing them off thinly enough that they are not blindingly obvious when no lamp is attached, but I will report progress if there ever is any...

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Magnets might work for locations such as on the footplate. But less so on say smokebox or tender, or hanging off on a brakevan or similar. Though if you do wish to go along with the magnet idea, I recommend supermagnetmam.com, no affiliation, satisfied customer. Great selection of magnetd big and small, smallest down to half mil or so.

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There is a tacky substance available for temp fixing of things like lamps to brake vans but the name escapes me.

Its sold in small round tubs and I will look mine out tomorrow and repost.

 

However..its certainly not the best answer by a long way.

If you are prepared to be glueing bits of magnets to both lamps and buffer beams and accept the clumsy end result you will be unlikely to object to a very small hole drilled on the loco buffer beam.

 

If theres sufficient metal ahead of the lamp iron then drill it there if not then the lamp iron may have to go but I would suggest a tiny hole will be less offensive than a lump of fridge magnet.

 

Then..its simple enough to drill the base of the lamps and insert and superglue a piece of nickel silver wire and trim to length.

 

We're talking very small mini drill bits but if the lamps are held square in a vice and the drill bit is marked with paint at the depth required so as not to appear through the top then its fairly straightforward.

 

I use wire a bit heavier than handrail wire and the square lamps are safer than the LNE round ones.

 

Then all that is required is to pop it through the hole in the buffer beam.

 

Make sure the hole is an interference fit but if its drilled a little oversize don't worry as a piece of blue tack pressed in will capture the pin and hold it steady.

 

For smokebox lamps its even easier as the hole is drilled straight through the lamp bracket and the pin through the back of the lamp horizontally.

 

I use Davy Franks' excellent lamps marketed under 'Lanarkshire Modelling Supplies' as they are exact replicas of square LMS and round LNE plus he has other types for brake vans and bufferstops.

They are also scale in every dimension and therefore look 'correct' unlike too many models with oversize toy white lamps on the front.

 

Try the smokebox ones first as unlike the bufferbeam there's no obvious hole showing and no need to remove any existing irons.

Cost is negligible so nothing to lose.

 

Hope this helps

 

Dave.

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I use Woodland Scenics Accent Glue. I don't change mine very often, though. Most methods seem to require holding the loco down to remove the lamps.

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One thing I didn't mention was that some of the better rtr models have quite fine lamp irons and the square LMS type marketed by 'Lanarkshire' although scale have enough 'meat' on them to allow a hole to be drilled up through the body.

 

Fill the hole in the lamp with Blu-Tac and then push fit over the lamp iron.

 

I have Hornby Black5/Brit/Clans all running with this arrangement.

 

Hornby Brit with lamps drilled and placed over original lamp irons.

 

post-2371-0-40570300-1481510898_thumb.jpeg

 

Dave.

Edited by vitalspark
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If you have a look at Alan's page, he's 3D scanned my collection of loco lamps, had a play around and managed to print them with a slot that will fit etched lamp brackets. You can change them around to your hearts content then.

 

http://www.modelu3d.co.uk

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There is a tacky substance available for temp fixing of things like lamps to brake vans but the name escapes me.

Its sold in small round tubs and I will look mine out tomorrow and repost.

 

(Snip)

 

Dave.

Tacky Wax?

 

Jeremy

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When I suggested magnets, I meant embedded into the footplate or underneath. Certainly not on top of the footplate!

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If you have a look at Alan's page, he's 3D scanned my collection of loco lamps, had a play around and managed to print them with a slot that will fit etched lamp brackets. You can change them around to your hearts content then.

 

http://www.modelu3d.co.uk

 

Another vote for the Modelu version.As mine are a tight fit on the lamp iron they don't need glueing making a change of position easy.

 

post-126-0-07148000-1481569853.jpg

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What's that snotty, sticky clear stuff they use to stick DVD.s etc to model mags - it's like a flexible sticky silicone and I reckon it might be useful for lamps. The January Railway Modeller had the free plastic kit stuck to the mag with this stuff.

 

Brit15

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When I suggested magnets, I meant embedded into the footplate or underneath. Certainly not on top of the footplate!

 

Sorry Trevor no offence hopefully but the original post suggested small pieces of flexible magnet cut from the base of fridge magnets then glued to the underside of the lamps and where required on the stock.. then 'painted in' to hide them.

It didn't sound too subtle compared to a tiny hole although I now realise after reading the post again that there was a reluctance to go down this road as it might prove too fiddly.

I still reckon that there's more surgery involved with embedding magnets although if the stock is plastic bodied your suggestion of small high powered magnets underneath the buffer beam will work fine plus another glued behind the smokebox door.

I've never tried this method but you've now got me thinking!

 

Cheers

 

Dave. 

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Thank you all for the response; I was not expecting such a comprehensive collection of advice in such a short time!  I suspect that the 'powerful magnet behind/underneath plus one on the bottom/front of the lamp' is going to be the way to go for me. I'm really not sure I can hold a lamp steadily enough in a pair of tweezers to put a pin fixed into the bottom/back of it into a hole on the vehicle, though I agree that would probably be the best looking solution.  So particular thanks to Spitfire, and Vitalspark for suggesting the tacky stuff which I might have a go at first.  Even if I don't use it for lamping, it sounds as if it will have all sorts of other uses, such as holding things steady while I improve or otherwise mutilate them.  And it may be more suitable than the magnets for tail lamps on coaches and brake vans where the area of purchase is greater.  I am beginning to realise that I am going to need 2 boxes of headlamps, one for 'bottom fixers' and one for 'back fixers', and maybe 3 if I have tacky tail lamps, but that is no biggie.  Ideally, I am looking for something where the lamp can be placed or removed with a pair of tweezers without having to hold the vehicle down, but I realise I might have to compromise with a steadying finger on the top.  I can probably put up with glueing brake van sidelights on and leaving them...

 

I am impressed with the scale appearance of the lamps on Vitalspark's 'Flying Dutchman', and will be looking into the Lanarkshire lamps which look much better than the Springsides which might be more at home on an O gauge model.  I model BR Western Region South Wales in the early 1950s, so the lamps need to be GW types but white painted.  If these are made of anything ferrous, of course that will have the bonus of not needing magnets glued to the lamp.  There are, for now, only 3 locos, 2 brake vans, and 3 sets of coaches including the auto to deal with, all pretty standard and preditcable plastic bodied rtr, so changing the basic system will not be too much bother or expense.  I have head lamps on both ends of the auto, and dab a bit of red marker on the trailing one, then wipe it off with a cotton bud; crude, but it works.

 

Once again, thanks chaps!  I will let you know how I get on when I've got around to doing something!

Edited by The Johnster
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Reading this thread with interest as lights on steam loco are something I have often considered and dismissed due to the small proportions.

 

But,

 

Having recently gone DCC, I am now getting a hankering for working lamps on steam stock.  Would I be right in thinking that lamps were only fitted to the irons relevant to the duties being performed ?  i.e. would it be unacceptable to have a pair of buffer beam mounted lamps and a smokebox lamp all constantly fitted, but, only have the lamp(s) appropriate to the current duties illuminated ? Obviously, working lamps would be far more difficult to make removable - it's do-able, but difficult !

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Reading this thread with interest as lights on steam loco are something I have often considered and dismissed due to the small proportions.

 

But,

 

Having recently gone DCC, I am now getting a hankering for working lamps on steam stock.  Would I be right in thinking that lamps were only fitted to the irons relevant to the duties being performed ?  i.e. would it be unacceptable to have a pair of buffer beam mounted lamps and a smokebox lamp all constantly fitted, but, only have the lamp(s) appropriate to the current duties illuminated ? Obviously, working lamps would be far more difficult to make removable - it's do-able, but difficult !

 

You've hit the nail on the head, andi, although permanently attached glued on lamps seem to be the norm on a lot of exhibition layouts.  If you have a tail chaser layout with fixed train formations then it is no real problem, you just need to have a link of locos permanently lamped up for each class of train, but when terminus operations involving a change of direction, or a loco having to haul more than one class of train during it's turn of duty, are involved, things get more complicated, especially if you want the little so and sos to be lit...

 

The lamps on steam locos and early diesels were mounted to indicate the class of train to signalmen so that they could correctly determine precedence at junctions and so on, the position of the unlit lamps serving the same purpose in daylight.  Unlike modern practice, the purpose was not to illuminate the train's path, something considered unnecessary on a railway enclosed from trespass by humans or animals by fencing, but simply to indicate the class of train and that one was approaching,  The BR standard lamp  headcodes are easily Googled, and are devised so that the codes are made up of a single or no more than 2 lamps displayed at various positions out of the combinations of the 4 brackets, 3 on the buffer beam and on the top of the smokebox and replicated on the bunker or tender.  Lamps are displayed only in the direction of travel, and the only lamp you should ever see on the rear of a loco according to it's direction of travel is a tail lamp when it is running light engine.  There is an exception of course, engines engaged in station pilot or shunting duties that do not travel beyond station limits carry a white and red lamp fore and aft each on the bracket over each buffer, 4 lamps in all, a tradition still observed by some industrial shunters.

 

So, unfortunately, your idea of 3 lamps mounted smokebox and sides of buffer beams with only the required ones lit won't fly (OTOH, your railway, your rules).  You need one in the centre of the beam for some classes of train anyway, and because the lamps denote the train's class by daylight even when unlit...  Sorry, but if it was easy we'd all be doing it!

 

The default for DCC seems to be that, even when lights are provided on diesel or electric stock and change direction automatically, 2 red lights are shown to the rear of the loco, which is only correct for a light engine and not even correct for that pre 1980, when one tail light would be shown, and highly improper for a loco hauling a train; notwithstanding, it is seen on just about every exhibition DCC layout I've ever encountered!

 

Many people seem to overlook the double sided side lamps on the brake van as well.  These were carried on all trains that were not fully fitted throughout. mounted on brackets on the side of the van, on the posts at the back of the verandah in the case of BR standard (LNER) and LMS vans.  They showed a red light to the rear on each side at night, and a white (well, more realistically a dirty yellow) light to the front so that loco crew could look back and confirm that the van was still attached to the train, by no means a given in the old days when couplings were made of wrought iron and loose coupled trains jerked and snatched about like they did.  Thus, such a train would show 3 red lights to the rear in a sort of 'v' formation.  Ah, would that were things so simple!  If the train was running on a relief or slow line parallel to a fast line, or in a loop or siding adjacent to one, they had removeable red shades so that they could show a white light to the rear, to reassure the drivers of overtaking traffic that they were clear of the fast line.  The driver of an express confronted with 3 red lights closing rapidly, but actually safely in a loop while the guard dozed, might justifiably express some concern, and be strident and assertive in his expressed opinion of the guard's parentage and intellect when he caught up with him!  

 

In the case of a loco propelling a brake van, allowable at up to 40mph, the van displays 2 white side lights to the front as if it was a Class A train, and shows no tail lamp, while the loco shows no lamps to the front in the direction of travel but carries a tail light to the rear.  This does not apply to a train setting back, which shows it's normal lamps.  A royal train or it's pilot engine carries a lamp on each bracket, 4 in all, and it was usual for the one over the centre of the buffer beam to be decorated with a little crown...

 

Working removable lamps might be possible using some sort of optic fibre routed to the back of the lamp, and either switched out or obscured when not required, but you've set yourself a bit of a challenge there, mate!  Early diesel or electric might be easier as the lamps were built in to the front of the loco and could not be removed, just switched off or obscured.  They were combined with Southern Region type headcode discs, which displayed the appropriate codes.  How you would change the aspect of a brake van side lamp from red to white while the train is moving is beyond my ability to contemplate and the sort of thing that sometimes makes me want to model modern image...

Edited by The Johnster

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Reading this thread with interest as lights on steam loco are something I have often considered and dismissed due to the small proportions.

 

But,

 

Having recently gone DCC, I am now getting a hankering for working lamps on steam stock.  Would I be right in thinking that lamps were only fitted to the irons relevant to the duties being performed ?  i.e. would it be unacceptable to have a pair of buffer beam mounted lamps and a smokebox lamp all constantly fitted, but, only have the lamp(s) appropriate to the current duties illuminated ? Obviously, working lamps would be far more difficult to make removable - it's do-able, but difficult !

 

That is correct. The lamps served to indicate the code. It was irrelevant whether they were lighted or not.

 

I have considered the possibility of using tiny neodymium magnets for lamps with a small piece of tinplate in the relevant positions, but have always discarded it as too fiddly. Also loose bits have the habit of falling off never to be found again.

Edited by Il Grifone

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Hi All...

 

As you may have guessed, I am not so versed in the daily intricacies of railway life - as much as I like trains, and, dare I say it,  "playing" trains, I am not a railway enthusiast as such, and, therefore, have not spent much time around 1:1 railways or really delved into the ins and outs of railway operation. I should do more research really ! I have been messing about with model railways for the last 35 years, but only really from a modellers point of view, modelling the bits I want to model !

 

@ The Johnster......

 

Thank you for your very comprehensive reply, I have ( I think ) always been aware that there were specific lamp locations for certain train types/classes, but I was not aware that it was so complex ! I can see the issue with having too many lamps or the wrong combination fitted - maybe I could get away with claiming that the dirty great 9F pulling 1/2 a mile of coal whilst displaying 4 lamps to the front was delivering coal to the Royal Household !

 

Modern LED technology is such that both a red and yellow/white LED could be built into one side of a 00 lamp with a white on the other - providing you have the eyesight, steady hand and a soldering iron with a 0.10mm tip !

 

Maybe a more practical way to produce removable working lamps would be to take a cue from vitalspark's post about small pins in the bottom of the lamps fitting into small holes drilled in the loco body - only you would need two holes (+ve &-ve, obviously) - the issue would be finding suitably small sockets to mount flush into the body, the legs on the LED itself could be used as the pins .

 

Hmm....... now my brain is ticking - I'll get no sleep tonight pondering this one !

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You've hit the nail on the head, andi, although permanently attached glued on lamps seem to be the norm on a lot of exhibition layouts.  If you have a tail chaser layout with fixed train formations then it is no real problem, you just need to have a link of locos permanently lamped up for each class of train, but when terminus operations involving a change of direction, or a loco having to haul more than one class of train during it's turn of duty, are involved, things get more complicated, especially if you want the little so and sos to be lit...

 

The lamps on steam locos and early diesels were mounted to indicate the class of train to signalmen so that they could correctly determine precedence at junctions and so on, the position of the unlit lamps serving the same purpose in daylight.  Unlike modern practice, the purpose was not to illuminate the train's path, something considered unnecessary on a railway enclosed from trespass by humans or animals by fencing, but simply to indicate the class of train and that one was approaching,  The BR standard lamp  headcodes are easily Googled, and are devised so that the codes are made up of a single or no more than 2 lamps displayed at various positions out of the combinations of the 4 brackets, 3 on the buffer beam and on the top of the smokebox and replicated on the bunker or tender.  Lamps are displayed only in the direction of travel, and the only lamp you should ever see on the rear of a loco according to it's direction of travel is a tail lamp when it is running light engine.  There is an exception of course, engines engaged in station pilot or shunting duties that do not travel beyond station limits carry a white and red lamp fore and aft each on the bracket over each buffer, 4 lamps in all, a tradition still observed by some industrial shunters.

 

So, unfortunately, your idea of 3 lamps mounted smokebox and sides of buffer beams with only the required ones lit won't fly (OTOH, your railway, your rules).  You need one in the centre of the beam for some classes of train anyway, and because the lamps denote the train's class by daylight even when unlit...  Sorry, but if it was easy we'd all be doing it!

 

The default for DCC seems to be that, even when lights are provided on diesel or electric stock and change direction automatically, 2 red lights are shown to the rear of the loco, which is only correct for a light engine and not even correct for that pre 1980, when one tail light would be shown, and highly improper for a loco hauling a train; notwithstanding, it is seen on just about every exhibition DCC layout I've ever encountered!

 

Many people seem to overlook the double sided side lamps on the brake van as well.  These were carried on all trains that were not fully fitted throughout. mounted on brackets on the side of the van, on the posts at the back of the verandah in the case of BR standard (LNER) and LMS vans.  They showed a red light to the rear on each side at night, and a white (well, more realistically a dirty yellow) light to the front so that loco crew could look back and confirm that the van was still attached to the train, by no means a given in the old days when couplings were made of wrought iron and loose coupled trains jerked and snatched about like they did.  Thus, such a train would show 3 red lights to the rear in a sort of 'v' formation.  Ah, would that were things so simple!  If the train was running on a relief or slow line parallel to a fast line, or in a loop or siding adjacent to one, they had removeable red shades so that they could show a white light to the rear, to reassure the drivers of overtaking traffic that they were clear of the fast line.  The driver of an express confronted with 3 red lights closing rapidly, but actually safely in a loop while the guard dozed, might justifiably express some concern, and be strident and assertive in his expressed opinion of the guard's parentage and intellect when he caught up with him!  

 

In the case of a loco propelling a brake van, allowable at up to 40mph, the van displays 2 white side lights to the front as if it was a Class A train, and shows no tail lamp, while the loco shows no lamps to the front in the direction of travel but carries a tail light to the rear.  This does not apply to a train setting back, which shows it's normal lamps.  A royal train or it's pilot engine carries a lamp on each bracket, 4 in all, and it was usual for the one over the centre of the buffer beam to be decorated with a little crown...

 

Working removable lamps might be possible using some sort of optic fibre routed to the back of the lamp, and either switched out or obscured when not required, but you've set yourself a bit of a challenge there, mate!  Early diesel or electric might be easier as the lamps were built in to the front of the loco and could not be removed, just switched off or obscured.  They were combined with Southern Region type headcode discs, which displayed the appropriate codes.  How you would change the aspect of a brake van side lamp from red to white while the train is moving is beyond my ability to contemplate and the sort of thing that sometimes makes me want to model modern image...

 

 

Excellent post and loads of information.

 

On the point of brakevan side lamps with double lenses showing a clear forward and red to rear 'Lanarkshire' have just produced these and they do finish off a brake van correctly.

 

Dave.

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As far as drilling into the bottom of a lamp is concerned, use a piece of brass tube slid over the drill so that just the required depth of hole peeps out. Secure with blutak if necessary. Ideally use a pillar drill and a machine vice to hold everything steady and economise on lamps and drill bits.

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With Locos, I generally use one for each duty, with the correct lamps fitted front and back, so it makes no difference which way it's travelling. Likewise, coaching stock are fixed in rakes, with tail lamps at each end. With goods stock, the brake van again fitted with tail lamps both ends. 

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I have no lamps fitted to any of my steam stock at present, but, some would be fairly straight forward, judging by all the info in this thread so far, such as the shunting/yard duty locos and dedicated freight locos. It is the mixed traffic types that would cause the biggest headaches. Those with near permanently fitted lamps could easily be made to work, it is those that would need to be removable that would need some ingenuity !  I have a couple of brake vans with a single centre red lamp fitted to one end - I just turn them if needed. As for coaching stock with red tail lamps - were they not, on occasion, a black painted lamp casing ? If so, they certainly would not be so noticeable when hidden between loco and coach if not illuminated.

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With Locos, I generally use one for each duty, with the correct lamps fitted front and back, so it makes no difference which way it's travelling. Likewise, coaching stock are fixed in rakes, with tail lamps at each end. With goods stock, the brake van again fitted with tail lamps both ends. 

 

But that means you have lamps at the wrong ends of your locos and stock, in between the front and rear of your trains, something not tolerated on real railways except in the very specific instance of slip coaches, and your 4mm scale signalmen should be stopping the trains because they do not clearly convey to him that a single complete train with head and tail lamps has passed through the section.  I know, I'm splitting hairs and this may be the compromise I have to accept, but not before attempting to implement the alternatives if I want to recreate reality to the best of my ability using the 1955 rule book.  It does make a difference (to me, anyway, your railway your rules) which way it's travelling.

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Part of my problem is that WR lamps were (mostly) painted white, so I really can't get away with lamps in between locos and stock, or on both ends of rakes or brake vans.  Brake van side lamps could be black or white, sometimes mixed on the same van, but my location and period suggests that I should be using white painted lamps for anything else.  Photo evidence suggests that white tail lamps and loco headcode lamps were the norm in South Wales in the 50s, though I know there were some black painted lamps around, and it is better in principle to recreate the normal, everyday situation than the odd one-off, as a sweeping generalisation...  Incidentally, valleys brake vans were GW single ended toads, almost universally with the balcony end facing down the valley, and the locos were smokebox first up the valley; anything else looks a bit odd in this context, so turning vans around isn't an option either!

 

No easy get-outs, sorry, at least not until I've satisfied myself that I've exhausted the other possibilities, of which there are several; thank you again everyone for your input, which has got the old grey matter buzzling (yes it is a word I just used it) away in a very satisfying way; I've started dreaming about it now...

Edited by The Johnster

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Search topic 'Locomotive headboards in 4mm scale' for a number of suggestions posted in September. You will see that ideas for headboards were equally applicable for loco lamps and head code discs.
 

Regards,

John           

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But that means you have lamps at the wrong ends of your locos and stock, in between the front and rear of your trains, something not tolerated on real railways except in the very specific instance of slip coaches, and your 4mm scale signalmen should be stopping the trains because they do not clearly convey to him that a single complete train with head and tail lamps has passed through the section.  I know, I'm splitting hairs and this may be the compromise I have to accept, but not before attempting to implement the alternatives if I want to recreate reality to the best of my ability using the 1955 rule book.  It does make a difference (to me, anyway, your railway your rules) which way it's travelling.

 

 

Brings to mind an incident I witnessed on a steam special a while back when the train took on a diesel pilot at Barrhead for the journey through Glasgow and when ready to go it whistled up for the road but the signalman stood resolutely at his window staring at the train but did nothing.

 

After a few more impatient blasts of the Class 37 horn the inspector climbed down and marched towards the signalman looking a bit irate and when within earshot the signalman slid open the window of the Caledonian box and roared at him..​'intermediate lamps!'..

 

The inspector stopped looked a bit sheepish and walked back and removed the lamps from the front of the Black 5 coupled inside the diesel.

 

The signalman then pulled of the signal and the train was on its way.

 

Signalman 1  -  Inspector 0

 

Gave us all a laugh as the guy in the box was known to be a bit cantankerous.

 

Dave.

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