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With the success of my headlight/taillight install in my #60, my next project is my new 18565 Lionel Milwaukee Road GP9.  I've attached a picture of the inside top shell, and it is very basic.  One incandescent bulb on each end of the frame.  I've also attached a picture of the front end (the back is the same).  There are 2 headlights, two other lights, and the lighted boards.  The opposite end is totally dark based on the direction.  The cab is lit only in the forward direction.

I tried to look up here, and via a web search, what lights should be lit, and couldn't find anything.  The question is what is most prototypical.

Should the head lights on the trailing end be red, or is it correct to have them totally off?  Should the board numbers on both ends always be lit?  What about the lights above the boards?  Are they supposed to be a color?  I imagine the cab being unlit in the reverse direction is only because of the way the lights are installed.

Front and Rear EndShell

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  • Front and Rear End
  • Shell
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Generally, all number boards would be lit regardless of direction, and the headlight in the direction of travel lit as well.  Real locomotives have the option to have one or both headlights on, and either bright or dim depending on rules and situation. The headlights would never be red, but the class/marker lights (top corners of the hood ends) can be lit up red, green or white.  Red is a marker light for the rear, green indicated a second section following and white is an extra train movement.

@texgeekboy posted:

@mlavender480,

Thanks, your info is much appreciated and I will go with what you said.  But, for the marker lights in the forward direction, from other stuff I've read here, they would most typically be green, correct?

No. The front class lights (they are not 'marker lights' as on the rear of a caboose or passenger car), would "normally" be white. As info: 1) "white" class lights indicate an "extra train", 2) "green" class lights indicate a "second section following", 3) "red" class lights would only be displayed on the rear of a light locomotive movement, or as on a rear of train helper unit with the "red" displayed to the rear.

I'm just looking for the most typical configuration.

What I just provided would be the most typical prototype configuration.

I did see someone on an OGR thread add some of these lights to an steam locomotive, and he chose green.  Actually, he installed little green plastic lenses.

The other question about GP9s I have isn't about lighting.  When my train starts up, the small end is in front.  I saw a post on another thread where the guy was adamant that the long end in front is the way it was run on railroads.  For freight service I think the small end should be in front, that way the noise and smoke is behind the engineers.  But for passenger service, perhaps the big end should be in front to allow the noise and smoke to dissipate as much as possible before it gets to the passengers.  This is said with my very limited experience riding on actual trains.  Other than subways in NYC and London, I've only ridden a train once, from Krakow to Warsaw, and I believe it was electric.

@gunrunnerjohn,

After I started this project I realized providing separate bulbs for the board lights to be always lit would be pointless since the light bleed through on the plastic assembly (headlights, boards, marker lights) is so great I wouldn't be able to have only the board lights come on (without expending more effort than I was willing to do).  Oh well.  The only enhancement (besides LEDs) that I would have would be to always have lights on in the cab.

I proceeded with installing 5mm warm white LEDs for the 2 headlight lenses in the front and back.  After gluing them in place, I snipped the hot/common wires going to the factory incandescent bulbs, hooked them to the LED leads, and got nothing.  I used a 430 ohm resistor and made sure all the polarities were correct.  In the last month I must have done over 20 LEDs (not counting strips), and never had a problem.

The first picture shows the factory bulb reconnected to the circuit board, so the circuit board isn't fried.  The second picture shows the LED headlight assembly connected to the circuit board, nada.  The third picture shows the LED headlight assembly connected directly to the transformer.

There are 3 separate hot wires from the circuit board to the lights (one front, one rear, one flashing).  There is only one common wire for all 3 lights.

The factory incandescent reminds me of bulbs in a Christmas tree with a contact on either side of the holder, so it isn't like a typical bulb.  Is that the issue?

I'm stuck.  I didn't expect this.  Any ideas?



  IMG_4217IMG_4218IMG_4219

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Images (3)
  • Factory Bulb Connected to PCB
  • LED Headlights Connected to PCB
  • LED Headlights Connected to Transformer

I'm still plugging away at this, and made some new discoveries.  Unfortunately I have no idea what they mean;

1. In the first picture below, I have the LED assembly connected to the circuit board, and also I have the factory incandescent bulb connected to the same wires.  They LEDs now light up.  Huh?

2.The bottom picture is the inside of the factory bulb holder.  If I take the bulb out, the LEDs don't light up.  This reminds me of the holders for simple strings of Christmas lights.

I've tried a lot of other permutations, but this is the only positive result.  I'd simply connect the LEDs straight to the power & common coming off the rails, rather than the circuit board, but that way I wouldn't be able to have directional lighting.



LEDs connected with Factory IncandescentInside of Factory Bulb Holder

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  • Inside of Factory Bulb Holder
  • LEDs connected with Factory Incandescent

The capacitors worked great, thanks @gunrunnerjohn.  I thought I was on the home stretch and was attempting to tap into the power feeds for the always on blinking light on top (to power lights for the cab).  I found out the blinking isn't because of the light bulb, but it comes from the circuit board to the power for that light.  I will have to tap into the raw track power to power the cab lights.  I don't want the engineers to be in the dark.

Another question came up, the picture of which is attached.  This strip of aluminum (?) is loosely connected to a plastic protrusion from the roof of the engine, and it connects to the circuit board.  Nothing is connected to it, and I could find no metal to which it connects.  Any idea why it's there.  The only thing I could see that it did was to block the blinking light from leaking through to the cab.  That's fine, but why connect it to the circuit board?  I've kinda run the engine and don't see that anything has changed.

As I'm writing this I thought, is this some type of antenna?  It says it is Command Control equipped, although I can't use that right now.

IMG_4228

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  • What Is This?
Last edited by texgeekboy
@texgeekboy posted:

I did see someone on an OGR thread add some of these lights to an steam locomotive, and he chose green.  Actually, he installed little green plastic lenses.

The other question about GP9s I have isn't about lighting.  When my train starts up, the small end is in front.  I saw a post on another thread where the guy was adamant that the long end in front is the way it was run on railroads.  For freight service I think the small end should be in front, that way the noise and smoke is behind the engineers.  But for passenger service, perhaps the big end should be in front to allow the noise and smoke to dissipate as much as possible before it gets to the passengers.  This is said with my very limited experience riding on actual trains.  Other than subways in NYC and London, I've only ridden a train once, from Krakow to Warsaw, and I believe it was electric.

I think that most of the engines running with the long hood forward are in Lionel catalogs.

Alam

New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio, Canadian National, Norfolk & Western, Great Northern, Spokane Portland & Seattle all had GP's running long hood forward with the long hood designated as "front."

Also all Virginian FM locomotives were long hood forward.

Rusty

What's your point?  Plenty of railroads ran short hood forward as well.

Union Pacific, Southern, Burlington Northern, Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific, Soo Line, Rio Grande, etc.

What's your point?  Plenty of railroads ran short hood forward as well.

Union Pacific, Southern, Burlington Northern, Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific, Soo Line, Rio Grande, etc.

Please.., I am well aware that indeed most railroads ran their locomotives short hood forward.  Plus some railroads had dual control stands so the locomotive could be operated comfortably in either direction.

However, I was merely responding to the comment  "I think that most of the engines running with the long hood forward are in Lionel catalogs" by mentioning roads where the long hood was designated as "front" and operated the units as such.

Rusty

Looking at the pics from my post on 6/20, one of the little people became dislodged.  It wasn't glued in as well as the other one, and I think the swing of the motor dislodged it.  I figured 'No problem, I'll just open it up and glue it properly.', easy peasy.  That wasn't the case.  I spend an enormous amount of time getting it back to where it was.  Problem 1 was all on me, the rest weren't directly my fault (IMHO).

1. Some of the soldering connections for the new LEDs were not solid, and in the ensuing work they came loose.  I've become much more proficient in soldering, so I hope this problem will become much more infrequent.

2. The GP9 doesn't have that much room under the shell, so additional wiring, even the ultra slim Kynar wire suggested by @gunrunnerjohn can sometimes get in the way.  I looked at options for wire management, and what I had was the best I could imagine.  In order to tape the wires so they didn't get in the way, I just used standard electrical tape.  That didn't hold very well and putting the shell back on wasn't a piece of cake.  In another OGR thread about the shields falling off old aluminum passenger cars, someone suggested using double-sided 3M automotive tape.  I bought some, only using one side, and it holds the wire very well.

3. To add the LEDs that were constantly on for the little people, I tapped into the track power wires.  For the ground, I connected the wire to a soldering lug, and screwed it into the location that had 3 other lugs, all connected to the engine and circuit boards.  While I carefully handled those wires and didn't put that much stress on them, the factory connections on the 3 lugs became loose and had intermittent connection.  I rewired 1 connection and resoldered the other 2 and they're fine now.

4. Lastly, the horn wasn't working on my simple test track.  I had my original 1950s KW transformer connected to it.  After checking under the hood (so to speak) MANY times for loose connections, I looked at some OGR posts and realized the whistle component on the KW may be suspect.  I put the GP9 on my larger oval track with a rebuilt ZW, and no problems.  I have a new rectifier diode stud on order.

So, after about 3 days work, I'm back to where I was.

It's a learning experience.

I've learned over the years and hundreds of upgrades, wire management is a key element in an upgrade.  Whenever I can, I secure all the wires that go to the shell up in the top out of the way and bring them to one common connector.  That not only makes it easier to separate the shells or put them back together, it also keeps them from getting pinched when reassembling.  A key is putting the wires where there is clearance, in something like the GP9, that precludes having them along the sides, it's better to have them at the top of the shell in the corners as a rule.

Oh, and NEVER use the crappy black electrical tape for anything!  It turns to goo in a few months and is really difficult to clean up, not to mention it doesn't hold anyway!  I use Kapton tape for a lot of taping chores, though I also use hot glue or CA adhesive to secure wires at times, it all depends on the situation.

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