Model Railway Electrics -
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
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
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
www.newmodellersshop.co.uk. Below is the
circuit diagram for a signal.
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.
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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