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Model Railway Electrics - Light Signals

Through the years railway signalling has changed from mechanical armed signals (which are still used in some places today) to the model light signals which are not all that different from traffic signals. If you are specifically modelling a time in railway history then you will know what signals to buy. But if you intend to model both Steam and Modern trains then the decision is up to you. Steam trains look more at home with the arm signals, were as Modern intercity trains look more at home with light signals. Even today the old signals can be seen on the Peterborough to Lincoln line, which deals with both freight and small passenger trains.

There are things to consider when deciding what and how much signalling you are going to incorporate into your layout, with one big factor being cost. Hornby light signals are 13.50 each not including switch. The cheapest light signal is made by Gaugemaster which comes with a switch and costs 7.00.

Gaugemaster Signal   Hornby Signal R406

(Gaugemaster (7.00) left, Hornby (13.50) right)

I'm not keen on the look of either of these signals, with their wide profile, or their cost (especially Hornby's 13.50) so I decided the build my own. This is fine if you have the time and patience, but if not you are going to have to buy them.

Home Made Signal

Home Made Signal

You can also make them with yellow lights for distance signals. I used 5V LED's fixed up to a battery pack (6V). I used a straw for the pole although now I have found some smaller metal piping which is better. If you would like to build your own signals, you can buy the LED's, battery pack, switch etc from my shop website www.newmodellersshop.co.uk. Below is the circuit diagram for a signal.

Model Railway Signal Circuit Diagram

If you want to buy a manufactured signal, buy the Gaugemaster model as it looks the same and also comes with a switch.

The arm signals are cheaper, for example Hornby's single arm signal costs just 5.70 (RRP) (4.49 from New Modellers Shop), but have the problem of needing to be controlled by hand. Hornby used to make a motor for them but I don't think they do anymore. You will have to take this in to consideration when deciding were to place these signals.

Hornby Home Signal R171

One problem I found was that nothing not even signals could be permanently connected to my base board as it was hinged on the wall for storage. This presented lots of problems like how to hold them up and easy quick ways of connecting the leads. I solved this by fitting long leads on them so I could leave them connected but pull them out and to the side, so they didn't get crushed. I also drilled a hole in the board to hold the signals which where smaller at the bottom than the top, to stop the signal falling straight through. I power my signals from battery packs situated under my base board. I used batteries because my signals use LED's which use very little power. For normal filament lights you need a mains adapter as they would quickly run down batteries.

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Model Railway Electrics - Power Clip - This page includes how to fit a hornby power clip, and where to put your power clip or power track. Model Railway Electronics - Train Controllers (AC,DC,DCC,PWD) What's the difference Model Railway Electrics - DC Controller - This page describes what dc control is. Its advantages and dis-advantages. R965 and C990 Model Railway Electrics - DCC Control - Digital Command Control (DCC) Model Railway Electrics - Infra-Red Control - (IRC) Infrared Model Railway Electrics - Point Motors Model Railway Electrics - Switches -  switches include  SPDT, DPDT, on-on, on-off, on-off-on, (on)off(on), Toggle switches, slide switches, and push to make switche. Switches can be used to operate model railway signals, model railway point motors, model railway turntable, Model railway Lights, isolating sections, etc Model Railway Electronics - Lights - This page include LED's L.E.D.'s,  filiment lamps and Bi pin lamp. This page discusses their power consumption heat and suitability for common uses. Model Railway Electrics - Arm Signal - How to Automate an Arm Signal R171 & R172 Model Railway Electris - Light Signals - Signal wire diagrams, How do real light signals work? Hornby, Gaugemaster, Build your own Signal - R406 Model Railway Electrics - Build Your Own Railway Signal, This page discusses how you can build your own cheap model railway signal Model Railway Electrics - How to build a working railway crossing Model Railway Electrics - How to build your own street lights Model Railway Electrics - Hornby turntable - Circuit diagram, Wiring diagram, video Model Railway Electrics - Isolating Circuit - What are isolating sections for, Circuit diagram, Build your own isolating section, How to wire isolating sections. Model Railway Electrics - Control Box - How to build a model railway control box to control your signals, points and other model railway electronics.

New Modellers Shop - A Model Railway Shop - Stocking model railway wagons, coaches, carriages, electric diesel and steam locomotives, power and control equiptment, point motors, train packs, scenery, signals switches, and much much more. Supplying model products along with reviews and advice. Railway Pictures - Railway photograph gallery covering all areas of railway traction, buildings, and trackwork. Extensive photo library, which is being added to weekly. Upload and share your own images to the site using its inbuilt upload features.

Hornby Model Shop

R8312 - E-Link Computer Controlled Model Railway

Hornby E-Link
Computer Control


Hornby Model Railway Train Sets - Hornby Mixed Freight Train Set - R1126

Hornby DCC Mixed Freight Train Set


Hornby Trakmat

Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack A - R8221

Hornby Extension Track Pack A


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack B - R8222

Hornby Extension Track Pack B


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack C - R8223

Hornby Extension Track Pack C


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack D - R8224

Hornby Extension Track Pack D


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack E - R8225

Hornby Extension Track Pack E


Hornby Model Railway Extension Track Pack F - R8226

Hornby Extension Track Pack F


Hornby Trakmat

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