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Lighting on Athearn F3s

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  • Lighting on Athearn F3s

    Earlier this year I posted a question about removing the factory headlights from an Athearn F3 locomotive. My question was answered by the forums number one answer man, Louis. I have since replaced the headlights with LEDs and have added a LokSound decoder. All works well, however I would like to light up the clearance lights and number boards. The clearance lights look like they can be lit by a couple of pico SMDs, but the "light tunnel" to the number boards looks to be less than one mm. Louis posted a picture of a Great Northern F3 with these lights installed, but the photo was a front shot not showing wiring details inside. Can someone share with me their procedure in wiring the lights in question so I don't have to do so much trial and a lot of error? Thanks....John

    GULF COAST & WESTERN


  • #2
    Hi John, I have Bachmann Plus units, but I can't see why you can't do the same with your Athearn units. Follow the pictures to see what I did. I made-up a new tube for the headlight 5mm LED. Then mounted two 3mm LED's for my clearance lights to each side of the headlight LED tube. With a piece of black plastic stock I made-up a cover for the two number board LED's to keep the light separate from the clearance lights above.

    I hope this helps you with what you want to do.










    Louis L&R Western Railroad
    Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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    • #3
      Thanks Louis for all the info and photos you have posted. I think I might be able to rig up something similar to your model in regards to the clearance lights. But the number board setup on the Athearn shell (Highliners) is a bit different. The Highliner shell is made to accept a large number board (which is what I have, F3) or an earlier F2 number board which is a bit smaller and has the classification light built in just forward of number board. The hole for lighting the number board is supposed to work for both situations. The hole molded in to the shell runs almost parallel to the sides of the shell and is less than 1 mm in dia. This hole shows up on the front page of the Highliners kit instructions but thats it. I have ordered some fiber optic filament in .25, .5 and .75mm dia and hope to thread the filament into the small hole and rig lighting in this manner. I have instructions on building a Highliners model but they do not address any lighting options except the headlight. The large number board frame is an add on piece (glued in place for Athearn F3) and access to removing any plastic from inside the Athearn shell in this area would be tricky at best. I am doing U.P. units and am guessing the classification lights should be green. If anyone has better info about correct color, please let me know. Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks....John

      GULF COAST & WESTERN

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      • #4
        ..........


        Louis L&R Western Railroad
        Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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        • #5
          Union Pacific did use green classification lights. U.S. railroads used a single light and outer lens, with colored lenses in between that could be changed as needed. On diesels these were often located near the number boards on the front of locomotives. The purpose of classification lights was to help identify the train on which they were displayed. The three colors and their meanings were as follows:

          [White]. Indicated an "extra" train not shown in the timetable. For much of railroad history, train movement authority was granted by timetables. If a train was listed in the timetable, it had the authority to operate according to its printed schedule. Deviations from the timetable, such as a train running late, were handled with train orders from the dispatcher. Under this "timetable-and-train order" system, it was important that trains kept as close to schedule as possible, and that any special trains not shown in the timetable be clearly identified as such with a white light. Many freight trains operated as extras, and thus carried a white classification signal.

          Greenid="green">. Indicated that, while the train displaying the lights was a regularly scheduled one, a second section was following behind it. This was done, for example, when ridership demand exceeded the capacity of a single passenger train. If there were too many passengers for a single section of, say, New York Central's 20th Century Limited, a second section was operated, and, if needed, a third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth. The engine of each section except the last would display green lights. While each section was a separate entity, the timetable's "train 25" would not be considered to have passed a given point until the last section of the train had gone by. For operational convenience, special trains that otherwise might have carried white "extra" signals were sometimes operated as advance or second sections of regular, but unrelated, trains.

          Red. Indicated the end of a train. A train, be it a single engine, a group of engines, or an engine(s) with cars, must have a marker on the rear end. In the (relatively rare) situations when the last element in a train would be a locomotive, the red lights would be lit.


          Louis L&R Western Railroad
          Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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          • #6
            John have you opened up your locomotive and took off the shell yet, to see what is in there?

            The reason why I ask is because I opened up my Genesis F3 GN #353 to see if the number board and class lights were cut out. They are not. You would have to drill a hole for the classification lights, and drill out the number boards. I also opened up my Genesis F3 Santa Fe #200 unit, and that also isn't cut out.

            Here is a picture of inside shell of the GN F3.




            Louis L&R Western Railroad
            Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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            • #7
              Louis...WOW ! Thanks again for your reply. Lots of good info.

              Yes, I have the shell off. There are openings for lighting the classification lights with surface mount or as you have on your Bachmann unit, 3mm leds. It is the number boards that look tricky. You are correct in stating there is no access to the number boards from within the loco shell EXCEPT for a small hole along the side of the shell right behind the board. It is through this hole I am going to try to thread the fiber filament into. This small hole should be in your Athearn (Highliner) shell as well. You just have to look for it. One of the holes in my shell actually has some paint in it and would be easily overlooked if you didn't know it was supposed to be there. I can't find much info from other sources of people sharing there experience of lighting the number boards on these models. I will try to post some photos if my method yeilds a good result. Have to wait for green leds and fiber optic filament. Routing all wires and filament in the loco cab should prove to be a challemge. Thanks....John

              GULF COAST & WESTERN

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              • #8
                Well, upon closer inspection of one of my Highliner "F" kits, the small hole I thought could be used as a place to thread fiber optic filament thru is just a locating hole for the number board. The number board frame for the loco is a solid piece with the number board being glued to the frame. In short, there is no access to the back of the number board for lighting except if you attached the number board, then drilled and filed out the plastic in the shell and number board piece. I know this may sound confusing unless you look at a Highliners kit. In other words for me to add lighting to the Athearn shell number board , I would have to remove the actual number board (not the surrounding frame) from the shell and remove enough of the plastic from the shell and number board frame to allow room for an led light set up. Unfortunately, the number board with numbers would probably be destroyed in the removal process. No wonder I could not find any info on this lighting project done by another modeler. Classification lights won't be problem to install but now I am wondering if the final results will look alright with classification lighting but no number board lighting. I think it will look like an unfinished lighting project. While the Highliner shells are very nice, I am somewhat disappointed there is limited lighting provisions provided. Thanks Louis for your info as usual. John

                GULF COAST & WESTERN

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                • #9
                  That's what I had thought about the Genesis/Highliner shells. And the reason why I had never done any extra lighting to mine. Lighting just the classification lights won't look so bad. But if it were me I'd cut out the number board, glue in a piece of clear plastic and print up new Numbers on the computer, or purchase new numbers and place them onto the clear plastic. If you look at my F Unit picture above #311-A, you'll see where I cut out the number board, placed clear plastic lens within, and printed new numbers on my computer, and glued them on top of the clear plastic to get mine to work. It takes a bit of extra work but looks worth the effort in the long run. Good luck with what you choose to do, but if you decide to cut the opening out I'll give all the advice as you go if needed. I always enjoy lighting effects, and decoder installs, of any kind. Looking forward to your progress.

                  If you decide to cut out your number board, you'll need to replace a new number board, because in all probability you will not be able to save the old ones. I took a photo of the original number board and mocked up a duplicate on the computer, then printed the graphic out on clear transparency film. I then spray painted the back of the transparency film white and cut out the graphic. I trimmed the number board to fit the space. It’s so small when on the track to the naked eye that one would be hard-pressed to notice it’s not original.


                  Louis L&R Western Railroad
                  Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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                  • #10
                    John after some thought, you would not have to cut out the entire number board area, just drill a hole for a 3mm LED, or place a surface mount LED behind the hole. Once the LED is lighted up it will illuminate the entire Number Board through the clear plastic used for the numbers. There is no need to have to cut the whole area out. Then just use a Fiber Optic for your classification lights. You can mushroom the fiber optic end with a heat source, like a soldering iron, as seen in the second picture. Then the classification lights will look like the next picture, installed once pulled through and inserted into the hole. Then glue your printed number into the number board area.






                    Louis L&R Western Railroad
                    Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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                    • #11
                      Louis....I like your idea of just drilling a small round hole behind the number board. I may be able to salvage the number board itself from the Athearn shell if I am careful trying to drill a small hole from the inside of the shell out. However, using some clear plastic cut to size may work better and make my work a little less stressful. I have a Microscale decal sheet stashed somewhere that has numbers for use on number boards. As I recall there are both white with black background and black with white background numbers. The decals let light through the white part of the decal. I will need to find the decals to make sure the size is correct. The holes for the classification lights are already open on the Athearn shell and have clear lenses installed. I believe the surface mounted leds will work best for all lighting. I can run wires flat against the shell thus providing a less cluttered engineers cab. Formula 500 canopy glue should hold the leds in place. This will be a bit of tedious work but I think the results will be worth the effort. The LokSound decoder has has some "aux" soldering pads for this type of lighting project. Again, I will try to post some photos as time and progress allows. Louis, your help is greatly appreciated on this project.

                      GULF COAST & WESTERN

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                      • #12

                        Your welcome John![:-cowboy] :up:


                        Louis L&R Western Railroad
                        Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

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