Lighting and other wiring

Now that I've finally elevated my board and given myself a small basement to work with, I've been able to do a lot with lighting. Underbed railroading is dark by it's very nature, and while the light on the locomotive is exciting to watch as it barrels through the darkness, it's hard to see the rest of the train or anything else you might have built underneath the bed. Flashlight batteries were getting expensive.

I began with a few small lamps I set up running off track power. They were easy to connect with the terminal rail connectors and I could put them anywhere. It was kind of neat to watch them light up in connection with the train speed, but they didn't really like DC power very much and burned out constantly. Then I went to Radio Shack and got some speaker wire and some 8-position dual-row barrier strips (Cat. No.274-670). This let me distribute power more effectively, though it wasn't until I found the 8-position bus strip (274-650), which breaks down the barriers and turns the strip into a distribution center, that it was really convenient.

Hiding the strips under various building was getting extremely inconvenient, and the wires were making a mess of what realism my setup had. I pondered using thin wire on telephone poles before I decided that I needed a real solution and elevated the board. Now I have enough space to put the strips underneath the boards and drill holes through the board to accomodate the wires for the lights.

Because my setup is on four smaller boards, and I still have a few illusions about taking it all apart when I move, I had to set up a few distribution centers. The main one is at the bottom left, where the power supply normally goes, with a large one at top right that supports lots of building lights and streetlamps. The others support small numbers of highway lights that work well for the primarily industrial back area of my layout - they're ugly but bright enough for me to see what's back there. The remote switches are also supported underneath here. As you can see, I had to fold up my bed to reach this - Manhattan apartments are not known for roominess, at least not at my rent. Because this is something I didn't want to repair often, I also attached the wires to the board with clips meant for telephone wires and made sure they had slack. I don't want to create disasters by pulling the board out from under the bed.

At last I could see my trains, and enjoy the full ugliness of the industrial and residential scene I created.

Dustball Main Page

Copyright 1996 by Simon St.Laurent. All rights reserved. You may print this document for yourself or others at no charge, but commercial distribution without permission is prohibited.

448 West 25th Street #3
New York, NY 10001