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Fiber Optic Lighting for Model Trains

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Using Fiber Optics on Model Trains
theatre marquis lights

Dozens of fiber optic strands multiply the effect of three bulbs to make miniature chase lights on this HO scale theatre marquis. Modeling by Walter Kuhl.

©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Model railroaders often put lights in trains, buildings and signals. But what about other lights that might be too small to model with bulbs or even LED's? Fiber optics offer an opportunity to try a lot of different lighting effects.

Fiber optics are small, hollow tubes which can carry light from a source to the end of the filliment. While they can carry and show light, they do not project a beam of light like a bulb or LED itself. In other words, you can use fiber optics for lights that you want to see, but not see by.

A model railroad presents several options for using fiber optics, and they will work in many scales. From vehicles to figures to special effects, fiber optics can put lights in places you wouldn't have thought possible. Here are some potential uses:

  • Switchman's lanterns
  • Night Watchman's flashlight
  • Miner's helmet lamp
  • Smoker's cigarette
  • Vehicle headlights, turn signals, accessory lights
  • Locomotive walkway, stair and truck lights
  • Theatre marquis / chase lights
  • Signs
  • Carnivals / Amusement parks

Follow the steps on the following pages and let your imagination run wild!

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