depends upon what type of vessel - your modeling, but as a rule, most
any type of vessel will have the following typical types of light
Here is a listing of
navigation lights on board towboats.
Port light red
Stern lights 2
amber lights placed vertically 3' apart
amber... flashes with sounding of horn
Makeup lights clear
Range lights 2
vertical white lights atop pilot house
can be adjusted from pilot house
Light boat lights 2
white lights, one placed on jack staff amidships & one forward on pilot
Interior Lights ...
Fixtures include types like - Ceiling, Table lamps, or Instrument Gauges
typical deck lamps, referred to as "GUARD"
lights (covered by protective - Metal & Glass Safety Frames) , provides
lighting around the deck for crew to
see to walk around at night. They use standard light bulbs in yellow or
Today guard lights
are using plastic amber lenses to replace the old metal safety frames.
Popular now-a-days is the
use of the long lasting fluorescent lamps in place of bulbs.
Side - Flood Lights
... Are located Forward & Stern and usually
mounted on the helm Roof, or just below the helm on a lower deck. These
flood lights allow a better side view for pilots, when locating objects
the vessel is running or maneuvering close to things.
rectangular halogen flood lights are used for this purpose.
Here's a simple way to make halogen flood lights.
Use 1/8" plastic angle and cut to 10 scale inch lengths. Glue thin
styrene on the ends. The photo shows the way I do it. Paint the inside
aluminum and the outside black or gray.
Navigation Lights ...
lights atop the pilot house with a red lens facing
forward and left to signify port and a green lens facing forward and
right to signify starboard.
... two amber lights placed
vertical 3 feet apart on stern facing aft.
Spot Lights ...
High Powered - Carbon Arc, Zeon, & Incandescent Light systems - on the
Helm Roof, are also found sometimes on the stern deck - as well.
This is an orange colored light that flashes
with the sounding of the horn located atop the pilot house.
A white light atop the pilot house and one astern that can be seen 360
degrees that is switched on when not pushing barges.
a better spot light than the typical grain-of-wheat bulb. How about
using a Mini Mag light instead. Here's how.....
need a couple of the small
type lights that uses the
What we want to salvage out of the flashlight is the
reflector, bulb, and socket.
If the reflector is a little too out of scale for the boat we can cut it
down a bit, but not much or the bulb will protrude out past the
important step in getting every thing to come together and knowing what
length to cut out brass tubing is adjusting the bulb in the reflector to
where it focuses a beam. That way it'll
throw a longer spot
of light. Once the socket is removed we need a couple of
soldered to the posts where the bulb plugs in. "How else are we going to
get electric to it?" Next we plug the bulb into the socket place it in
the reflector and hook an appropriate battery to the leads. "We don't
want to go blowing a bulb now." Slide the reflector in and out till it
focuses the light into a "beam" instead of a "ring". Once the "spot" is
found, this is where you want the final assembly to be. Get a
measurement from the back of the socket to the end of the reflector.
This will be the length to cut the brass tubing.
mentioned before, if the diameter of the reflector is a little too big
we can cut it down a little. I used 1/2" tubing cut 5/8" long for my
1:48 scale spot lights. That's about as small as you can get because at
that the bulb is flush with the front of the reflector. What I did to
reduce the diameter was to fit the reflector into the tubing and use a
"Sharpie" pen the mark around the diameter. Then I carefully used a
moto-tool with a cut off disk to cut off the excess.
reflector is cut and the tubing is cut to length, drill a small hole in
the middle of each side of the tubing. This will be for mounting the
light to a base. Now it's time to glue the reflector in to one end of
the tubing. Once that is done and the glue has set up, it's time to fit
the socket with the bulb into the other end. Use some scrap wood to
wedge the socket in line with the reflector and check the focus of the
bulb one last time to be sure it's throwing a
Once it's all aligned and focused, epoxy the socket into place. For the
back of the spot light you can either build up epoxy to round off the
back or use filler putty. You can also go two ways with this. You can
have a rounded back on the light or a flat back with rounded edges, it's
To make a base for the
lights just take a piece of larger tubing and cut a thin slice and cut a
small section out, bend tabs on the ends that will go into the holes
drilled into the sides. Solder it to a length of rod and make a round
base out of wood or plastic to drill into for the rod to insert into.
I purchased these spot lights from
Blue Jacket Shipcrafters. I
drilled a 5/32" hole through the center of the lens area. Then I painted
the inside lens silver.
I purchased ultra bright LED-75 LED's from
All Electronics and epoxied
them into the holes from the back. After it set up I coated the back of
the LED with filler puddy to keep any light from shinning through the
back of the light.
Remember that LED's are polarized and will only work
wired one way. The long lead is
and the short lead is
They operate between 3 to 3.5 volts and the ultra
brights will throw a beam twenty feet away.
Lights for Barges & Tows
tiny Mini - Led Lights, powered by a 555 timer circuit and 9 volt
battery ( All parts from Radio Shack or electronics' Suppliers ). They
realistically represent the Navigation Lights on Barges and Boats. Using
Green, Red and "One Orange" LED - light, for the "Center of the Tow" =
Flashing Lamp, which the 555 circuit flashes and operates. These afore
mentioned Navigation Lights, are standard items, used on all Tows, "No
Matter" - how wide in number of barges, the tow - Is. Note-
there's a Blue Nav Light -
Atop the Banner Flag Pole .... This is the Pilots - Gun Site, he must
use to aim the tow at night, its always used and very bright.
it aids the pilot in knowing if he is still in a "slide" while rounding
a bend. However in a scale model, it would require
a very tiny - Grain of Sand sized bulb, and almost impossible for most
modelers to replicate this item!
Below is a
night photo of a tow that was following us.
Head view....Tow coming at you. Center yellow light flashes.
Here is a
view following behind a tow.
Stern view.... tow lights and guard lights
showing on each side.
lights - Inside Decks & Structures
This can be very easy,
using small "Wooden Blocks" as Insulators, with holes drilled in them,
for the wiring. In this drawing you can see - Two Diagrams, the top
drawing showing a basic "Two Wire" System. Meaning single - Negative &
Positive lead, is all
that's used. With jumpers across the two leads for attaching power to
each Deck Light or Nav light, with its wiring added - inside the
Structures - of each of its Decks.
is a "Three Wire" system = Red - Green & Black = wires,
allowing two different functions to be operated from the same wiring
harness, by using a "Stereo Headphone Jack & Plug" - for example, to
equip the model with this system. Wired to the battery with the ground
or Negative lead - split between the Red & Green Wires - to provide both
systems - A Ground. While operate its - Two different light systems,
even with different voltages ( one circuit using a Voltage Regulator ),
for different lighting effects. For example, a Radar = that turns, or a
set of Spotlights that require a smaller voltage - say = 6 volts, that
would use a voltage regulator to reduce the battery voltage to needed
Effectively the second wiring diagram,
could be expanded ( use a larger number of wires ), to work a models -
entire varied system of lights & effects, which is very common practice.
Using additional wires and mounted into wider - wooden insulators, with
the holes for all needed wires. Of course, everything needing a fuse,
and possibly some sort of voltage regulators, to operate different
effects at different voltages, from a single battery.
Bill uses this idea to "Back Light" a
models - HELM Console, plus its gauges in the pilot house It would also
- if you used the multi wire arrangement, supply all the power to the
lights on the Helm Roof. Hiding Wires behind the helms - wall panels, or
under a false - Helm Ceiling, for examples!
Whenever I can find them,
I purchase mini-LED's to use on my boats. They're small enough to use on
1:96 and 1:87 scale vessels if you like.
mini-LED's lying on a 9 volt battery for size comparison.
Mounted on it's back, I bend the two leads and drill two holes in the
cabin wall for the leads to go through. To simplify wiring, when you
place your LED in place, have the + lead in the same direction so when
it comes time to connect them you'll know which is which since a
reversed polarity LED will not work.