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I am curious how MTH added the LED Christmas Light String to the Holiday Engines.  Did they add a daughter power board or did they use an existing power pin on their control board?  Looking at MTH's webpage and catalogs, none of the engines and train cars with the Holiday lights have a wiring diagram or exploded view for parts to show this.

My asking is that I am interested in doing this to an engine I already have and wonder if I will just need to do a power take off or if there is power on a pin available.  It is ok by me to not have a remote function to turn on lights, I can do that via a switch or always have them on.  

If MTH is on here, I would consider a kit that would enable me to do this without making it all myself.



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I have done similar light wrapping for box cars using lights I picked up at Michaels. I had also looked into doing a fiber optic method in a box car like people do for scale models, i.e. a Star Trek space craft. However, needed to buy actual fiber optics and not the sub par fishing line style plastic.  I did a mock up and was not happy with the results. If you are not aware of this method look it up on Google.

I would like to do the LED wrap for an engine, probably using a Michaels string and finding a way to put the board control in the nose of a diesel engine as that is the point of the most room. Power is the item to solve, not hard but was wondering how MTH did it.





I'm not really a fan of the flimsy wiring hanging on the outside of the boxcars.  I think I'd consider doing a PCB to go inside the car and using 2mm post LED's to project out through holes in the car.  This would be neat with no wires hanging, robust and reliable, and you could get pretty creative with the lighting effects with minimal extra effort.

A 4-pin 2mm post LED would work really well to project through small holes in the side of the cars.  With multi-color LED's, you could have a pretty cool animated display, way cooler than the fixed lighting of the MTH cars.  I wouldn't want to hand wire all of these, but a PCB would make the job manageable.

Luckily for you (not so much for me), I have my Dash-8 apart on the bench to see if I can troubleshoot why it shorted out. The LED's are wired to the two white connectors  beside the smoke unit, both coming from the back of the locomotive. Each connector has two LED wire strands intertwined together as shown in the second photo. From what I could trace, without fully dissecting the harness, it does appear they are using the 40 pin connector on the PS3 board.

I should also note that yes, while the LED's do have a 1/2" spacing when wound together, each strand bulb spacing is around 1". It's probably hard to make out in the photo on the underside of the shell, but I did measure to confirm. So, I suppose you could use the craft store ones and just twist them together to get the right spacing. Evan Designs also makes LED wiring kits.





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Last edited by robmcc

Rob, that is exactly what I was looking for.

Interesting pictures. The lights are attached by hooks or staples and the wiring inside the cab looks a bit of a hack.  I guess to do this on my own, it will be take off power and go to a converter board that may could fit in the front or rear of the engine. 

I am with GunrunnerJohn on the wires outside the cab and car as it looks fragile and out of scale.  That is why I was looking to do the fiber optics in side train cars a while back.  I was thinking to have several bundles of fibers back to LEDs and then have lighted patterns that could be automated, like a snow ball toss where the ball flies from one bear and plops on the other bear.  The fiber optic that I was planning to test next was from here: End Glow Fiber Optics or maybe find similar on Amazon. This method would not work on the engines though. 

This year Lemax sold Led’s called  super bright 24

Spacing is just under 2" apart. Typical “fairy” type lights are 3” or more.

Lemax Super Bright Multi-Color 24 Light String Summer Americana New 2018


I added them to this bridge. In hindsight, I should have just bought a new MTH led bridge.  It was a fair amount of work and I only did one side.

The Evans leds are very nice but I would have needed 2 sets. 


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I didn't take a photo inside the locomotive shell, but the lighting is basically held in place with hair sized copper twist ties that are fed through pin vise drill sized holes. It is definitely delicate and a bit flimsy in spots. I give MTH props for taking this on as I've always wanted the CP Holiday Train to be produced by someone. I'm sure they're re-thinking it though! The MTH model was based on the 2009(?) version of the Holiday Train when they were still using individual bulbs.  The recent versions (I took this photo in November) are using color changing LED rope lighting instead. I wonder if anyone is producing small enough diameter rope lighting that would work?


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I talked to MTH spares folks in the spring about buying spare LED strings for the CP train.  There was no stocking plan at that time.  I presume there is no up side for MTH to sell the strings.  They want to sell lighted trains and accessories.   I wanted a replacement string since one of my CP boxcars arrived with a damaged string which occurred during manufacturing.  I didn't want to return the car since I was afraid I would never see it again.  With some effort I disassembled and repaired the car.

RobMMC, I did not see any ready made LED strips that would be small enough to make a strip for the trains.  It would have be custom made strips that get molded into the body.  A crafty person may be able to make this for existing train cars, but it would be a big effort.  What could be used is SideGlow fiber optics or maybe EL wire. These would be a lot less effort and give a decent effect.  For the engines this may be the best way to go.


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