Monday, March 22, 2010

FVM GEVO Part 2 - Brightening up the Ditchlights

The Fox Valley Models new GEVO are excellent locomotives. There are so many great aspects of the models that puts them head and shoulders above Atlas and even Kato.  Outstanding details, easy DCC  install, very smooth running, options to install even more provided details such are grab irons, wipers and sunshades.  They are great locos.  There is just one thing that was disappointing for me.  The very dim ditch lights.  So, I looked at improving the brightness of the ditchlights.  After removing the shell and inspecting the light pipes I noticed that rather than being one peice there were two seperate peices, one for the headlight and one for the ditch lights.  Also, the ditch light pipe was loose and able to hang down.  Obviously, the lower ditch light pipe was not getting enough light.  The LED was aimed at the upper head light pipe.  So, the first thing i did was place a very tiny amount of superglue between the two pieces and pressed the lower piece onto the upper piece.  The small amount of glue was able to hold the lower piece up against the upper piece as shown below.  The red circle shows the two peices where the glue was applied

After putting the shell back on the loco, there was an improvement in the brightness of the ditch lights but, the difference between the headlight and ditch lights was still pretty large.  So I used a pliers to carefully bend the LED down toward the lower ditch light pipe.  Unfortunately, this rendered the LED dead.  So, I removed the LED, and replaced it with a 3mm LED that I bent down before soldering it to the light board.  The LED was a bit longer than the original so I had to clip the tip of the LED off so that it cleared the light pipes. 

The result was even more improvement on the brightness of the ditchlights.  Still not quite as bright as the headlights, but definately visible.  Below you can see the ditch lights with the new LEDs and glued light pipes (first picture) compared to the original (seoncd picture).

As you can see I use a white LED for 5405 and a yellow LED for 5697.  I'm sure which one I prefer but I am leaning to the white.  The problem with deciding is that the pototype looks white some of the time and yellow at other times as shown below.  It seems to me that they are white when seen in the bright afternoon sun and appear more yellow when there is less sunlight.  Any ideas out there?

I'm glad I was able to improve the ditch lights.  Its a very easy and very inexpensive improvement.  I will definately be purchasing more GEVOs (got a KCS unit on order and will likely pick up a CSX unit and maybe even a couple of BNSF units).  With the improved ditch lights they're simply the best.  BTW, after running the units around the layout for a while they are fully broken in and run as smoothly as my Katos.  In fact, I would say they are quieter that my SD70ACes.

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