Adding Lights to a HO Scale Union Pacific Water Tender Part 3

In last week’s post I shared with you my work on adding working headlights to a set of my HO UP tenders; you can find the post here.  For this week’s post I will share with you how I completed the project.

Having already constructed the power pickup assemblys and installed the DCC decoders the last thing to do was to install the headlights.  For this I used headlights from a Bachmann 2-8-4 Berkshire locomotive. These, when in stock, can be obtained from Bachmann as spare parts.  They come as part of the smoke box door assembly as shown below.

HO Tender Headight 1

The headlamp is an injection molded part with a clear plastic lens that fills the headlight and runs out the back as shown below.   The lens tail has been painted black to prevent light from spilling out sideways.  With the 2-8-4 locomotive the light is inside the boiler and travels through the lens tail to the headlamp.  I intend to do the same thing.

HO Tender Headight 2

First I need to spray the plastic part with UP Harbour Mist Gray; I removed the lens to do this.HO Tender Headight 3

As I mentioned in last week’s post; I didn’t want to install the headlights untill all painting and decal work was complete.  This has now been done and the tenders are ready for their headlights.  The lamp assembly consists of the parts as shown below; the lighthouse LED with its resistor, a joiner and the headlight.  For the joiner I have used a section of plastic insulation cut from a mains electrical cable.  The inside diameter is the same as the LED and headlight lens tail so they all push fit together well.  With the parts assembled I painted the visible bits of the LED with black paint to minimise and light from inside the tender.

HO Tender Headight 4

A hole in the shell needs to be drilled just above the headlight support bracket for the lens tail to stick though; then the headlight can be glued in place.

HO Tender Headight 5 HO Tender Headight 6

Fitting the LED & joiner to the back of the lens tail inside the tender was a bit awkward to do as my hand fills the avalable space.  This also made it impossible to photograph.  However I achieved it by powering up the LED, which not only checked to make sure it was pointing straight through the joiner but also helped me see what I was doing.  Once it was aligned I pushed the joiner over the lens tail and glued the whole assembly to the roof of the tender.  Then the tenders could be fitted to the chassis and a test of the headlights could be done.

HO Tender Headight 7

Both headlights are bright but with a warm glow.  On DCC power they could be turned on and off with the F1 function.  And with a flick of the switch on the underside of the chassis they become DC powered and function like ordinary directional headlights.

The final stage was to add the rest of the details such as the roof top tool boxes and ladders.

HO Tender Headight 8

These tenders also need coupling to be completed and then they will be ready for service.

The Backmann headlights worked well but I would prefer to develop my own for use on other projects.  Having the lens carry the light from inside the tender seems to be a good idea for this so I will experiment with 3D printing the headlight and running a fiber optic cable from the back into the tender for the next set.  I will share this with you when when its done.