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scratchbuilding platform lights

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Recently we added lights to some of our buildings, from a simple circuit made up using some old xmas lights with white filament bulbs (rated 2.2vac)


This has lent another layer of atmosphere to the layout but the absence of street lights was nagging. At about a fiver each we can't afford to buy these in, so I'm having a go at scratch building some. I thought members might like to follow along.


Here's the kind of light I'm aiming for




the parts list:


old biro inner

5mm drinking straw

filament bulb stripped from xmas lights

used tea light

bell wire


To start, cut the biro tube down to 60mm and cut a notch 15mm from one end.

Cut two lengths of bell wire 200mm. Take one of the lengths and strip the insulation from 80mm of it. Bend the end of the stripped length slightly.

Pass the stripped wire up the biro, the bent end makes it easy to pop the wire through the notch hole.

Pass the other wire straight through the biro inner.

Suitably strip, shape and trim the ends consulting the example.


For the lamp shade, cut a small circle of the tea light metal and drill a hole through the centre.


I cut a collar from the drinking straw which I will place on top of the shade once soldering is done.




up next, trying to solder the bulb contacts with an iron from down the market :D

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have an old set of white xmas lights in the loft doing nothing, so now you have created me another job :) How are you powring the lights afterwards, with DC or AC?


Also looking in my odds and end boxes I think the the BIC biro tops cut down would make good shades around the bulbs as long as they dont melt, perhaps lined with tin foil.

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Guest Digital

Here is a modern version ( O Gauge) I made from some brass tube following on from Pete Harvey's design.

The lamp head was from an etch made by PHD Designs.






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  • 2 months later...

campaman - Im powering the lights on a series circuit from the AC supply on a simple Hornby controller.


digital - nice work, when budget allows I'll be having a go in brass.


Hi Steve,


Here's some that i made earlier and I think a lot simpler than the method you employed.


Sorry i don't have the ability to take a closer shot as they've been sent to a new layout.


Basically all they are is 2.4mm brass tube, with a 0.3mm hole drilled through some way from the top. At the base end i've added a small piece of 3.2mm tube about 10mm up from the base. When complete a 2.4mm can be drilled into the baseboard and will be hidden by the 3.2 sleeve ;)


Turning to the lamp a small BA sized washer is threaded onto the bulb so that the washer is about 1/3rd of the way down the glass of the bulb. It is then secured with some superglue into position. When dried a small amount of putty is smoothed around the bulb emerging above the washer. The wires are then bent 90 degrees to the bulb and the leads separated.


If you are making a few its best now to set out some pins to shape the wire to the required design. I started with the top straight wire (the one that will run through the tube), having measured and marked the desired projection length, ensuring it was straight i once again coated in superglue. This dries clear but keeps the LED wire to the desired shape after a couple of applications. Then bend the second to its required shape and once again apply the superglue.


The first wire(straight) was then threaded the the tube and emerged at the base.The second wire was then cut down so that approx 3mm of bare wire could be soldered to the outside of the tube. Finally another piece of wire was soldered to the base and acts as the -ve, the wire running through the tube as the +ve. B)


Now its just a case of applying your desired colours :D




I saw the ones in your first post at a show, they cost around the 3GBP for each one. My four cost about the same but for all 4 and took about an hour to make!!!!!!!


Nothing fancy but saves the sky rocket:icon_thumbsup2:



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