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Lighting for Caboose

Started by punkin, June 11, 2015, 10:43:39 PM

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Hello all,

I'm sure the first thought that comes to one and all is to "Google It". I have and likely I don't know the correct or best terminology to search by for the best results.

I recently purchase a big caboose for my train. It doesn't have any lights and has plastic wheels. I have a DC set up and would like to set the caboose up with interior lighting and would very much like to have the little lanterns on the sides light up to.

I have read about battery power but don't really care for that solution. I would much rather get the power from the tracks. I do know this will take some special wheels but even after extensive searching I can't positively identify what I would need. Until recently I thought metal wheels was the solution but I now understand that some sort of contacts are also required to pull power from the track, through the wheels and to some wiring.

I have searched these forums but so many of the exchanges seem to talk about the digital systems or battery power. I believe I can handle this modification if I could identify the parts to pick up power from the track (wheels and other parts). I'm quite handy with a soldering iron but the train lingo is where I seem to get lost.

Thanks all
I can type my handle with one hand.

Chuck N

Who made the caboose: Bachmann, LGB, Accucraft, USAT, Aristocraft?  What does it look like: four wheels, eight wheels, center coupula, baywindow?

Plastic wheels, would suggest an LGB bobber.  The that is a guess.



To somewhat answer your question you will need metal wheels on your caboose. It will travel better and have a little more weight. To wire the lights you'll need a pick up brush that contacts the wheel on the inside, be in mind that this will require a spring or other tension to keep it to the wheel. You will also need weight to prevent the wheels from sparking wildly. When I built the trucks for my scratch L-8 stepple cab loco, the pick up was a brass bar held to the wheel by force. I had to add 2 real rail spikes for weight so the wheels didn't spark on the track. once you get the pick ups working you can power anything of the voltage of your transformer.

I would sujest tacking battery power to track pick up since it would lower the amp draw, and be simpler to build plus you can turn of the lights or certain lights during the day. The lights on the outside of the caboose with red green lenses are classification lights. If your lights are hallow inside then you just have to drill a hole through and place your light.

Good luck with your project

Loco Bill Canelos

Some brands of cabooses had trucks with provisions for adding spring loaded plungers which pressed against the inside of the wheels.  If yours does most brands of plungers will work.  It is also possible to use the spring loaded plungers with holders which when added to a modified truck ought to work fairly well.

Lighted marker lights were available from several manufacturers, and aftermarket add on manufacturers as well. 

Have fun.


PS As noted by Chuck you will usually get much better help if you identify what item you actually have.  As for Google try "add lights to model caboose"  There are quite a few hits. One involved adding wipers to an HO scale caboose, but the principle works for Large Scale as well.
Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway-Missouri Western Railway
Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
Colorado RR Museum-Brakeman-Engineer-Motorman-Trainman
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!


Thank you everyone,

I do sort of understand what is required but there are so many different models and products. I should have stated what caboose I have. It is a LGB 4175 D+RGW caboose and passenger car. There's a picture of it here; I actually bought mine on ebay but the picture isn't there anymore but this is the same unit.

Thanks very much.
I can type my handle with one hand.

Chuck N

Thanks for the ID.  First you will need metal wheels.  Bachmann makes suitable wheels for this car.  The trucks have a long tongue that holds the coupler.  About a quarter of the way along each tongue are small tubes that stick out to the side.  These are made to hold plungers that force a graphite plug against the inside of the wheel.  You will need to get two pair of these LGB plungers.  One pair for each truck.  Insert them into each tube and solder a wire to the end of each of them.  One color wire on one side and a different color on the other side.  Insert the metal wheels in the trucks and you will now have trucks that will pick up electricity.  There are light systems that you can connect to the wires from the trucks.


Chuck N

Here are some part numbers for wiring up your caboose:

Bachmann metal wheels #92421 (31mm diameter, 4 axles per package)

Wheel brushes LGB #63120 (8 brushes  per package, you will need four brushes)

Interior lighting kit LGB #68333 (one light per package, you will probably need 2 packages)

Suggested vendors are Train-Li (Upton, MA), Star Hobbies (Annapolis, MD), or Charles Ro (Malden, Ma). There are many others out there, but these are the ones I use.  They take phone orders, and ship promptly.

A word of advice, Bachmann sponsors this site and one of their rules is that discussion should be limited to their products.  If you have questions about other manufacturers products you should start using one of the sites that is open to discussion of all manufacturers; these are <>, and <>.  Both are very helpful, I am active on MLS and like it, but the LSC is also very good and welcoming.  You will need to login and as a beginner, ask your questions in the "Beginners Forum".



Thanks VERY much Chuck N. This is great information.

Have a great weekend!
I can type my handle with one hand.

Chuck N

You are welcome and welcome to the world of Large Scale trains.

Have fun and let us know how the lighting project works out.

As was said earlier metal wheels add significantly to the performance of your cars whether you need them for electrical pickup or not.

They add weight for better tracking and lower the center of gravity for better balance.   They will stay on the track better than plastic wheels.  Most of us immediately replace plastic wheels with metal ones.  This involves the axle, with wheels.  The truck frame is fine no modifications of it is needed.


PS  There are ball bearing wheel sets with tabs for electrical pickup.  I don't have any, but I have heard that they are excellent, but they are more expensive.


One final update.

Thanks to everyone for the information and recommendations. I purchased the metal wheels and the little springy/plunger parts which went really well. I also purchased a number of soft white LEDs, 1k Ohm resistors, an adjustable voltage regulator, bridge rectifier and capacitor.

I was able to use the bridge rectifier to give me polarized DC output regardless of the track polarity. The capacitor is used to store/buffer the input voltage to the voltage regulator. The regulator output is set for 5VDC out and provides voltage to the load resistors and LEDs before the train even begins to move. I used three LEDs in the front of my Combination Caboose car, one in the observation section and two more in the baggage area.

In my opinion, the lighting is perfect...not too white, not too bright, never flickers, works forwards and back. I'm very happy with the results. I may look at some of those fancy ball-bearing wheels as I do notice the pickup springy things too cause the wheels to drag a little.

Next on my "hope to do" list is to figure out a way to but some light into the lanterns on the back. I bought some micro electronic surface mount LEDs which would easily fit inside the lanterns but the bigger problem is how to run wire into the lanterns but,...that's for another day.

Thanks again to you all for the information and advice. This was fun little project!
I can type my handle with one hand.


Hi punkin

In lighting your classification laterns on the side of the caboose. You will need to drill a hole for the wire to go through. There are a few companys that make them ready to plug. Bachmann has done a good job on placing them on there light cabooses. If your caboose has a interior you'll need to hide the wire.

this youtube channel has a lot of great reviews to help you out.


I can type my handle with one hand.