Tips and Tricks for Lighting Your Model Railroad
Light, sounds, and special effects can really elevate your model railroad. They also help you increase the degree of realism in the scene. Using lighting in their layouts can intimidate some people, so we’ve prepared a list of best practices to follow. Use our tips and tricks for lighting your model railroad for a fantastic finished look.
Lighting Multiple Layers
Are you in the process of designing a multi-layer model railroad? One of the problems with having multiple layers is that it’s hard to see what’s on the lower levels. Increase the visibility with strip lighting attached to the bottom of the layers above the track.
Train Room Overhead Lighting
If you have a dedicated train room for your layout, choosing good lighting is essential. Incandescent bulbs offer more realistic “sunlight” but also give off a lot of heat. Fluorescent bulbs are less expensive and more energy-efficient but emit a colder light tone.
Lighting Night Scenes
It can be a lot of fun to simulate your train running at night. Unfortunately, turning the lights off also means not being able to see what you’re doing. We recommend using black lights or blue bulbs to give the room a darkened nighttime appearance. Thankfully, the bulbs should give off enough light that you can still see.
Pro-Tip: Adding Floodlights
Another thing you can do when simulating night scenes is adding floodlights, just like in the real world. These are especially helpful at train yards and other places where you need to see what’s happening.
Wire in Zones
Another trick for lighting your model railroad is to wire in zones. If you wire all your lights and special effects haphazardly, you’ll have difficulty knowing where your technical problems lie. We recommend creating zones with your wiring, which makes it much easier to narrow down the source of any issues.
Fixing Thin Plastic
Sometimes model train buildings aren’t made from very thick plastic. When you run your trains at night, you may notice light shining through your buildings, which doesn’t look very realistic. An easy fix is to paint the insides with a couple of layers of black paint to make them opaque.
The Model Train Experts
If you’re interested in getting into model trains or need help taking your layout to the next level, contact us at Midwest Model Railroad. We love helping newbies and veterans alike find the right parts for their next train project.