A Railroad with Relevance

More Lamps!

Written By: Alan - Mar• 02•13

With the upper deck benchwork finished it is time to install the lighting for the lower deck. Right now there is free and clear access in the benchwork. The positioning of the lamps is critical for uniform illumination of the lower deck so they go in before anything else – wiring, risers, electronics, etc.

benchworkFirst on the agenda was to find CFLs that are the same color temperature as the lamps in the upper valance and of an effective brightness that matches the illumination level on the upper deck. There are several factors at play. First, the distance from rail head to lamp is roughly 24″ on the upper deck but only 16″ on the lower. The lamps will be closer to the rails on the lower deck. Second, the spacing between benchwork cross members is approximately 16″ while the spacing between the valance lighting panel grid is 24″. The lamps will be spaced closer together for the lower deck. Lastly, the upper lighting is behind acrylic diffuser panels. The lower lamps will be bare. Adding these three factors together tell me the lower CFLs need to be much less bright than the upper CFLs.

Well, in the end it doesn’t matter! I discovered I have but a single choice for bulbs. The upper CFLs are 9W 5000K. The only common, low cost, lower wattage 5000K lamps I could 100_5174find are 5W. There are special purpose lower wattage bulbs available but they would cost a fortune to do the whole layout. So, it looks like 5W bulbs it is. I bought a single Satco S7263 lamp from Light Bulb Emporium to compare the color and gauge the brightness. Better lucky than good they say. I got lucky. While I suspect there are different phosphors used in the Satco lamp and the nvision Home Depot brand (upper lamps), the two sure do look like the same color to my eye. Test one passed! And the 5W lamps are so small. Sweet.

The upper 9W lamps are rated at 540 lumen each. The 5W S7263 lamp is rated at 280 lumen. In any given four feet stretch there are two (24″ x 2 = 48″) 9W lamps = 1080 lumen and down below three (16″ x 3 = 48″) 5W lamps = 840 lumen. The 240 lumen difference I hope will be the necessary compensation for the lower lamps being closer and with no diffusion. I don’t have three 5W lamps to test this theory but it doesn’t really matter at this point. I have no other practical choice.

Another three Party Light strings were ordered and arrived this week. These strings make installing a bunch of sockets so easy. I can’t image how much time it would have taken to mount and wire individually all the sockets. It appears I need 67 sockets for the lower deck. There are 24 sockets to a Party Light string so I will have 5 left over unused. Nice how that worked out.



Not related to lighting but going on simultaneously is painting of the shelf brackets. Decided I did not like the factory gray color. Better to have them painted Serene Sky blue to match the walls and backdrop. So, in groups of five I take them down, sand them, paint them blue, and put them back in place. There are a lot of brackets so this operation will be going on for a while.


100_5200Well, I am off to the train room to install lights. Thanks for following along.


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  1. Holy smokes Alan! That benchwork is cabinet grade plus! I’m so impressed with your layout room prep. I have no doubt you’re going to have a world-class layout when it’s all said and done. Really nice work.

  2. alan says:

    Thanks for the compliment Kevin. Folks, if you haven’t already then you need to check out Kevin’s Washington Northern Port Andrews layout to see some fantastic modeling.

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