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Working Lamps

Red tail lamp in the dusk.

Head lamp shining brightly, the "Yankee" is fitted with the same design but in yellow.

Many narrow gauge railways ran and still run with no lamps. On the Evensford and Midland, a tail lamp is integral to the safety of the railway. A tail lamp tells the signalman that the train is complete as it passes. A tail lamp may therefore not be present on a vehicle which is not the last vehicle in the train.

These conditions mean that the tail lamp must be removable. In the daylight, the presence of the tail lamp is clear whether it is lit or not. However, at night, the tail lamp must be lit.

Lamps with tiny watch batteries are available but if they are switched on, they only last 15 minutes or so. Not even long enough for a steam-up.

The EMR now uses a system of removable lamps which plug into a small bracket on the vehicle. They are based around a 5mm LED and the legs of the LED are used as the "Plug". The socket is modified from a standard PCB sized socket. Various sockets are available from suppliers such as Maplins in the UK at Best thing to do is go to their trade counter if you can and ask the guy to find some sockets which would take the LED legs. Failing that, mail order is fine because these things are only a few pence each so it's not a big investment.

The body of the lamp is made from plastic strip and rectangular section.

Power is from two AA batteries via a suitable resistor. The LEDs are so bright that it is better to add the biggest value resistor which will still allow the LED to light. That will reduce the brightness and also increase the battery life. I have had the same two batteries in my first installations for more than two years now and they are still as bright as ever, after many, many hours of use. The current must be tiny.

Goodwill Sales on ebay normally stock suitable connectors and LEDs.

The first installation was on my Hartland-based brake van.

Here is the socket on a Brandbright brake composite.

The battery box mounts underneath the vehicle.

I use a similar socket to allow the roof to be removed.