Adding External And Internal Lighting To Your Model Railroad

If there is a certainty about a model railroad it is that its creation or construction requires a great deal of patience as well as a long term time investment to finally create the layout which the hobbyist envisions.  It can also be said that the final reward unquestionably outweighs the effort which is put into successfully building a layout, and that also includes the expense which can mount over time. With that said, however, none of this effort will be of value or appreciated by visitors, crews you assemble to run your trains, or yourself if the area you’ve selected for your layout is a dark space or poorly lighted. 

One can easily say that a model railroad is never really what one might describe as a completed project, because this is something that may be an ongoing project for many years, and this is part of the pleasure in constructing a layout.  When you are at the point where you’re ready to run your trains, and share your layout with others, proper lighting takes on a significant level of importance.  Good lighting will not only enhance the users experience, the ability to work on your trains will be much easier, and visitors will be able to clearly see the details which are a part of your railroad.

External Lighting Options   

There are a variety of choices for room lighting for your layout, and if you were to continue to research this subject you would discover that railroaders have many differing opinions regarding what works best.  With that said, the following describes some of the options which are available:

Fluorescent-This type of overhead lighting will brighten a train room1. Fluorescent-This type of overhead lighting will brighten a train room, but also imposes a problem if you would like to dim the room to create different effects such as a dusk setting.  One way to get around this problem is to set up a type of lighting in addition to your fluorescent lights that will allow for a dimmer switch.  When placing fluorescent lighting you may want to space your fluorescent tubes at two foot intervals and also build a fascia around them to conceal them.

Halogen lights2.  Halogen-Some hobbyist prefer halogen lighting because they put out less heat and use less wattage.  Additionally, this type of lighting can be manipulated to create differing shadows on your layout.


3.  Track Incandescent Lighting-This type of lighting can be the right answer for those model railroaders who are looking for the most diverse track lightingsolution for their lighting.  It provides the opportunity to control the level of brightness, is a definite solution for dimming your lights, and also provides the ability to highlight a certain or individual part of your layout.


Internal Lighting

After investing time in researching and installing overhead lighting for your model train room, this effort will not serve the useful purpose which was intended if the only source of lighting on your layout is that which comes from the headlights from your locomotives.  You can bring your layout to life by adding lighting to a variety of things which are a part of every model railroad.  The following information describes some of the possibilities, and with a little imaginative thinking you may think of other ideas as well:  

Structures-Adding lights in your structures will create an illusion that your buildings are inhabited by people and that the normal activities of life are present.  Before you begin assembling, kit bashing, or scratch building your structures you should plan in lighting during the construction process.  This Structure lightingwill include deciding on what type of bulbs to use, whether or not your power source will handle the increase in wattage and voltage used, and also adding materials to back the interior walls so that light will not show through.  Keep in mind that you’ll also need to plan easy access to your lights so that you may replace them with ease should a bulb burn out.


Street lampsStreet Lamps and Other Options For Lighting-Another simple way to add an additional touch of realism to your layout is by including streetlamps to light up your streets, thoroughfares, and even bridges.  Adding signs which have lighting is another realistic touch…..especially business signs and billboards.  Products of this type can be purchased through manufacturers like Walthers, and you can find some great deals for lighting effects for you layout at both Amazon and eBay.

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