Lighting System and visual display

here are details of the lighting system we are using on Kirkmellington.

First up are the lightweight lights. These were discovered by a fellow Rochdale MRG member in Maplin. They are a 5m long flexible strip of LEDs. They give off 16W per metre run which equates roughly to the output of the fluorescent tubes we have previously used but without the space and weight. There are various colours of light a available to suit your taste. They are low heat and low voltage. A 5m coil is roughly £50. The strip can be cut every 50mm or so making it flexible in application and form!

Maplin flexible LEDS

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Now that we have a light weight light, we can re-engineer the support system. No longer do we need steel conduit or bulky timber frames and facia panels. These would not have fitted into my car with the rest of the layout where space is at a premium. So what could we use that is modular and light but rigid and durable?

Being in the construction trade, I had a vague idea that plastic drainage pipe could work so headed down to the nearest big builders merchant to investigate options. A 50mm waste pipe, solvent weld type proved to be rigid enough and had couplings and junctions as part of the range that would allow me to build a cantilever up and 650mm out over the layout and then along the front. I have glued the 90deg bend onto the uprights, the main cantilever arm has the T junction solvent welded on but just push fits into the upright. The long front tubes simply push fit into the cantilever arms.

Selco 50mm waste pipe

Screwfix 50mm waste pipe

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The push fit is tight enough to not warrant any further fixings but should this change with use, a simple vertical hole cut through the junctions will allow a long bolt to be inserted, Newton and his magic gravity will take care of the rest. Once the pipe frame is set up, the LED tape was simply unrolled from its reel, cable tied in position and plugged in. The light was well distributed and enough to illuminate the layout for exhibition purposes.

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The missing piece of the design are facia boards which will frame the layout and hide the LEDs. Here we will be using corrugated plastic from a professional sign maker. Vinyl overlays will be added with layout name and such information. Velcro strips will hold the facia panels on the frame. I also need to paint the plastic pipe, metal grey with rustis my current intention.

So that is what we have. Perhaps not the cheapest option, all in our layout lighting has cost £140 and the facia sign panels are yet to come but they will be reusable and most importantly, they do fit in my car and are easy peasey to lift up into the eaves of my garage for storage.

2) visual display – fascia

Presentation of our layout is important to us so we have invested in fascia boards to show the layout name and to frame the layout and hide the lighting. As we are using lightweight plastic drain pipes for the lighting support, the fascia panels also needed to be light. We have opted for corrugated plastic (correx) with a printed vinyl overlay. There were produced by GR labels 4 Signs. These are attached to the pole framework with Velcro.

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3) visual display – signs

Every layout needs a name badge and strong visual display. For many years, I have used professional sign makers for this purpose. The quality is excellent and rates are very reasonable.

We have taken delivery of two name badges for Kirkmellington. Based on the once familiar NCB / British Coal colliery signs, these measure up at 600mm by 300mm. Also produced by GR Labels 4 Signs in Oldham for £20each (including perfecting the artwork I sent from MS word & autoshapes) they should help the layout stand out in a crowd and firmly nail the period we aim to represent.

Layout colliery sign

Good images of the real signs are thin on the ground but this is a good example from Wikipedia. The image is by Tom Jolliffe under Creative Commons License.

Deep Navigation Colliery by Tom Jolliffe

Deep Navigation Colliery by Tom Jolliffe

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