This post goes hand in hand with the last post as lighting is being installed as the bench work is being built. The reason I didn’t talk about it then was because it would have been to much information for one post.
On the last layout I had experimented with several different types of lights for the lower deck. To answer the question, yes I played around with a variety of Christmas lights that everyone said would not work. I just figured they hadn’t done it right and I would be able to make it work. Yes, I know I’m an idiot.
So I figured on the new layout I was going to have to suck it up and spend the money on fluorescent strip lights. I planned on using T5 lights at about $10 a foot. This was going to get expensive as I figured to get around the layout was about 85 feet times 2, as I would need to light both decks. Then I “discovered” commercial string lights on Partylights.com, the type restaurants use over there patios. They are 50 foot strings that take standard light bulbs up to 25 watts. Not enough light if you’re using incandescent bulbs, but more then enough if using CFLs. I have since learned that the model railroad world knew about these, but no one told me about them.
But what to do with all the Christmas lights I had bought. Well the strings of C7 are strung over my deck for lighting, like the restaurants. And the ropes lights? I’m using those to light the aisles.
Once I installed the sub roadbed they give off enough light to light the aisles rather nicely. I will get a picture posted at a later date. I will be running a blue rope lights through the upper deck joists for night lighting.
As I had mentioned when assembling the upper deck I had to run the light string as I was assembling the bench work. One thing I failed to mention was that I originally spaced the studs on a 16″ center, but after buying the string lights I moved these to a 12″ on center spacing as the sockets are set every 24 inches. Fortunately this happened early enough in the process that it was easy to do.
I was pretty sure since CFL’s diffuse light rather well that even though they were set in every other bay there wouldn’t be very much light pooling. The moment of truth came when I had finished the bench work and installed all the bulbs. The result was perfect as the lighting is very even you as can see below.
After I finish all the bench work I be installing a valance around the layout and will be installing both the CFL’s and a string of blue rope lights, again for night lighting.