What LEDs to get for Headlights

Discussion in 'General' started by Iantha_Branch, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Looking at a locomotive project that I can put a LED in to replace the old Athearn bulb with. But I need to know, what brand, size and color do y'all recommend for replacing Athearn BB bulbs, or just headlighting in general?

  2. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Re: What LEDs to get

    Ethan, TCS and Soundtraxx both sell Golden White LEDs. Litchfield Station sells them as well as Tamiya Transparent Orange Paint which can be used to paint white LEDs to make them give them a yellow-ish tint (I highly recommend this solution).

    In the past, I have purchased from this merchant on ebay:
    Note that the vendor includes the resistors needed for 12v or 5v operation.
    These LEDs are what are called T3 LEDs; they are round, dome shaped 3mm in diameter. There is a larger size T5, 54mm in diameter that don't fit as easily in tight places.

    LEDs are fine for older locomotives where there is a large plastic piece that feeds light to the headlights from inside the shell. Atlas is known for this type of setup. The newer Athearn locomotives use 1.5v, 1.2mm, 15ma bulbs like those that are from Miniatronics. For the best price for them, I buy them in 20 packs.

    The T3 LEDs can be mounted in a hole drilled into the back of the plastic light pipe assembly to light number boards as well as the headlights.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2011
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  3. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Ok Keith, I will keep that in mind. I've been using the minitronics bulbs for several installs now. But I wanted to do something with LED's.

  4. renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013)

    renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013) Passed away March 8, 2013

    To each their own, but I only use pure white LEDS for headlights. I use a 2mm Tower White LED from China. Google 2mm Tower White LED and it will take you to the Ebay supplier, you get 50 LED's for about $12.00 with resistors. The 2mm Tower LED will fit into the dual beam headlight casting on HO model Diesels. Wire them in Parallel Long Lead to Long Lead to Blue wire in DCC decoder. Wire short lead to short lead to a 1000 Ohm resistor then to White or Yel wire in DCC decoder. If needed, reem out headlight casting with #46 Drill Bit.
  5. Ozarktraveler

    Ozarktraveler Member

    A modeler's note: painting the inside of the body flat black will help reduce the "body shine thru" to help with realism.
  6. renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013)

    renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013) Passed away March 8, 2013

    An excellent point which I follow.
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  7. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Black Nail Polish can be used as such and also to cover the backside of lighting to prevent light leakage.

    For tiny LEDs that will fit in steamer headlight housings, mount behind class lights, under Details West Prime Stratolights, or other tight locations, 0402 Warm White pre-wired LEDs fit the bill very nicely. They can be pre-coated with a tiny blob of Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue and allowed to dry; this insluates them to be used in metal housings (brass, etc).

    1.5 mm Clear Plastic Fiber Optic cable can be used with LEDs to replace the 1.5 mm incandescent bulbs used for headlights on many models (i.e. Athearn).
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
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