Woodside, Scremerston, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland TD15 2SY

Customer project 64 – Model train lights using fibre optics and LEDs

While most of the optical fibre that we sell ends up in star ceilings or in the star cloths that we manufacture, we also get a regular stream of small orders from modellers who want to take advantages of the light-carrying capability of fibre optics.

In some cases, the requirement might be for several hundred metres for large dioramas, but in other cases a customer needs only a few centimetres. At Starscape we don’t impose any formal minimum order requirement, but our P & P charge for small orders does effectively include some handling component to make the smallest orders viable. So, do bear this in mind if you are placing a tiny order.

Here at Starscape we’ve done fibre optic installations involving fibre runs of 20 metres, but in this project by railway modeller Brian G the fibre runs are not much more than 20mm! We’re not going to get rich on the strength of such orders, but what chap can resist the allure of a beautifully crafted model?

The lights at the front of this 00-scale Class 08 BRML engine are created using optical fibre to carry light from internal LEDs.

Brian chose to use sheathed fibre to prevent unwanted light leakage, and his LEDs were also shielded to this end, by encasing them in polystyrene tubing which was then painted matt black for good measure. If you want to add colour to a model lamp you can either use a coloured LED, or else simply add a bit of paint to the output end of the fibre. A tiny dab of enamel paint on the end of the fibre works very well and can also produce a bit of a lensing effect.

The internal workings are exposed here. The 0.75mm sheathed optical fibre runs from the black cylinders in which the LEDs are housed. Click for a bigger image.