Let me brighten up your railway with this quick and cheap way of adding lights to your layout.
In the past I’ve written about wiring up LEDs. As discussed, these little lights are normally powered by a suitable DC supply and with appropriate circuitry (such as Train Tech’s marvellous mini LED controllers mentioned in the article) can create a pleasing glow or flicker in your buildings.
They do require a power supply and wiring however and while I use them in various places on my layout I’m always on the look out for easier and cheaper options.
It was while admiring some lights Mrs. MRE was putting out, and some imitation candles she’d picked up in a local shop in particular, that a thought dawned on me.
Could they be used on my layout?
At the prices they’re sold for, these candle lights can’t be more just an LED, battery and perhaps a few other bits and wires encased in a tea-light style package dressed up to look like a candle.
It should be easy to extract the bits I want and given these are often sold in quantities of 50 or more for under a tenner it’s a cheaper way than buying the components needed.
After a bit of experimentation it was indeed as easy I’d hoped.
Using a pair of pliers I cut and pulled away the outer casing and removed the LED and battery.
The rest of the gubbins made a very simple plastic switch that pressed one of the prongs from the LED to the battery providing an on-off switch. They really are very simple. These bits were discarded.
With the LED and battery, cellotaping the LED to the battery (one prong on each side of the batter) and putting the the contents inside the buildings on a layout to produce an effective illumination for a fraction of the price it would otherwise cost.
They probably don’t have a long life and need turning on individually* but if you’re looking for a quick, safe, simple and above all cheap way of bringing lights to your model railway buildings nothing can hold a candle to to them.
Update: Thanks for @ for the following extra tip:
hook up a pair of AA to them though and they run for an absolute age!
— Passenger Action (@passengeraction) December 21, 2016
Now to explain to my wife why we don’t have as many decorations as before…
If you’ve got some LED candle lights in your house, give this a go now and see how you get on.
* You can get remote control versions but these cost more which defeats the point of this tip.A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.