Lights!

I've done this before, but not to the Polar Express observation car.  Adding exterior lights, that is.  When Lionel first released their "new" heavyweight cars, I found that grain-of-sand bulbs will fit inside the marker lights, almost as if Lionel planned on it.  It involved making a constant voltage circuit for the 1.5V bulbs, but that presented little problem.  For the PE car, I contacted Even Designs, and they had AC/DC 7V-19V lights listed that worked out even better.  I ordered their "pico" sized ones that are unbelievably small, and fit inside the light housings just fine.  The "warm white" ones come pre-wired with the appropriate circuitry so they can be spliced into the bulb socket in the car with minimal work and they shine light in almost all directions.  For the upper tail light, their AC/DC 7V-19V red, 3mm light worked as easily once the factory lens was removed and the hole drilled out.  Here's the installation with the car on the tracks and 15V applied:

A view in a darkened room:

Going into a tunnel on my unfinished layout:

A close-up of a marker light:

Marker and tail light:

The actual color is more red than shows in the photos, and the contrast isn't as stark. 

This little project cost about $10 total and was lots more fun than raking leaves.  And WAY more fun than shoveling sn*w (a four-letter word)

 

 

 

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Nice job Jerry. I especially like the markers being lit up. So what's involved with that? How are the markers attached? Any holes to be drilled in the car and/or markers? Sizes of holes drilled if needed?

I have added LED strips to the car interiors and added an LED to the rear roof lens. My circuit involves an adjustable DC output so adding the marker LEDs would be easy.

Mark

Mark

The marker lights are hollow with red lenses.  Their stems are too and the lamps are cemented to a square hole in the body. You may have to trim a bit of the window glazing to access the hole but it's no big deal.  After that, all you need do is to insert the pico sized LED into the marker lamp.  Affix it with tape, clay, rubber cement or Goo. Then hook the wires to your favorite power source.  In this case, a 3V DC one.   Since I didn't convert the rest of the interior lights, I opted for Evan Designs' universal LEDs for simplicity's sake.  Like I said, it almost looks like Lionel had illumination in mind eventually.  

Jerry 

 

 

 

 

At one time Tomar Industries supplied observation car drum light kits. and the marker lights pictured.  Nice kit with very very small LED's.  Power supply was also included.  It appears from the website that Tomar was sold, and the offering discussed in this thread are not there.   An ever changing landscape in the model train industry.  

Amazing how small the LED can be.  LED, picture center, with Red and Blue leads.  Bridge rectifier was provide, part of the kit. 

Adlights   Note: LED's produce very little heat.

 

Chuck,

I have asked about the tail light on the PE before but I never got a reply that put my mind at ease enough to try doing the conversion. Did you remove the lens from the back of the car or did you do a measurement inside the car and drill to the rear of the lens there. These are conversions I would like to do on the PE and on my UP heavy weights but I need a little more info on the procedure. What did you do to remove the lens on top of the car?

Thanks

Ray

Just a quick photo of the wires on a previous installation where I used small incandescent bulbs (1.5V).  As you see, a tiny corner of the window glazing had to be cut away, but once done, the  hole can be seen where the bulb can enter the marker light. 

 

 

 

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Ray,

I drilled slowly from the inside and once I reached the cavity I popped the lens from the inside. I did not want to take a chance on scratching the outside of the car.

I also illuminated the marker lights and added roof lighting to the observation deck as it was in the movie. I had already converted it to strip led and used one led to light each marker light. As it passed from one side of the car to the other I flipped it above the deck and put two of the lights facing down through the holes I drilled in the ceiling. 

Rayin"S" posted:

Chuck,

I have asked about the tail light on the PE before but I never got a reply that put my mind at ease enough to try doing the conversion. Did you remove the lens from the back of the car or did you do a measurement inside the car and drill to the rear of the lens there. These are conversions I would like to do on the PE and on my UP heavy weights but I need a little more info on the procedure. What did you do to remove the lens on top pf the car?

Thanks

Ray

I believe I first drilled a hole through it from the outside and then pushed it out with a screwdriver from the inside. I used Evan Designs 1.8mm red bulb.20171115_19024620171115_190354

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