Ask a Daft Question: Express Models DCC coach lighting kits

Installing a DCC lighting system will illuminate any coach with DCC track power – and this is how it’s done

The subject of coach lighting has been described in RMM before, where a simple battery-powered lighting strip by Train-Tech could be installed in almost any ready-to-run coach regardless of whether the model was to be operated on a DCC or traditional analogue-controlled layout. The use of a battery made the lighting independent of track power.

A further advantage of the Train-Tech product was not having to do any soldering against the need to find a convenient a way of changing batteries every now and again in coaches of complex assembly such as the Bachmann Mark 1 or Mark 2.

An alternative method of installing coach lighting is to use a kit that draws current from the power in the running rails of a layout in the same manner as a locomotive does – the advantage of using track power is not needing a battery.

The Bachmann Mark 1 BSK is a typical OO gauge coach model that’s available in a variety of formats and liveries to suit both steam and diesel era layouts. The Mark 2 coach range is constructed in a fairly similar way. It can be a challenge to fit with lighting.

Users of Digital Command Control (DCC) systems can take advantage of constant track current, providing power for more than locomotives – it keeps lighting systems constantly illuminated too. A low current consumption lighting kit using LEDs for illumination is a great solution to illuminating the interior of your model coaches, but at the price of a little soldering. Most modellers, experienced or otherwise, can turn their hands to a little electrical soldering every now and again, so installation should not present too much of a problem.

How the Express Models kit works

Express Models has been providing lighting solutions for locomotives and rolling stock for many years and was innovative in designing lighting kits for Lima and Hornby models before installed lighting in locomotives together with DCC became the norm.

Today, Express Models offers interior lighting kits and a variety of other products for layout lighting and animation. Its DCC coach lighting kit consists of an LED strip with self-adhesive backing long enough to fit the longest British outline coach, but can be trimmed to fit smaller coaches. It is powered by a small circuit board which is fitted out with capacitors for constant lighting, together with a rectifier to convert DCC track power to 12v DC to power the LED strip.

Connected to the circuit board is a small potentiometer which is used to control the level of brightness. This is a particularly thoughtful addition to the circuit, as I will explain later in the article. The circuit board is simply connected to track power through current collection pick-ups fitted to the coach bogies and the circuit board does the rest.

For the full article, see the May edition of Modelling – available now!

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