Ditch Lights


Since the last post, I’ve simply spent some time running and breaking in the re-powered CF-7 on my Downtown Spur layout.  I don’t know how long the donor Kato mechanism was sitting in the box (over a decade maybe?), but it has really smoothed out to be a silky smooth runner after logging some run time.  The next order of the day was adding ditch lights.  The bulbs are of the 1.5v variety from Miniatronics, the light castings from Details West.  Making the connections was easy enough, but the challenge continues to be cable and wire management. Lots of “stuff” to fit under the shell and it has to be in a way that there is no binding with moving parts.   It took over an hour of trial, error, and careful wire re-positioning to finally get the shell seated back on the chassis.  My enthusiasm for taking it off again at this point to install  working beacon wiring has diminished to pretty much zero!

Unlike my CSX ditch lights, which come on and flash when you sound the horn, from watching YouTube videos it appears the LAJ prototype ditch lights are on all of the time.  I put a call  into Norm at TCS tech support to confirm the correct solder points for the bulbs.  He then also had me set CV35 and CV36 to “3” so they are constantly on with the headlights.  Next, working from the bottom I drilled holes for the bulbs and threaded them up through the pilot walkway.  Fortunately, the Athearn frame has a gap that makes threading the wires through a relatively easy task.  Once the bulbs were threaded through and sitting loosely in position, I simply slipped the Details West ditch lights down over the bulbs from above and secured them with a dab of CA.

To summarize this job, ninety-five percent of the work was wire management.  The wiring and light installation was pretty easy.