A Railroad with Relevance

Party Light Installation

Written By: Alan - Jan• 23•12

I am so glad a fellow posted a comment on MRH about Party Lights. What a wonderfully easy way to add a whole bunch of lamp sockets in a hurry. The upper valance has 96 lamp sockets neatly installed and ready for CFL bulbs. It was a piece of cake!

The sockets are on 24″ centers which fit nicely with my light panels which are also on 24″ centers. The sockets were attached with a pair of 1-5/8″ drywall screws through the molded-on mounting ears on each socket. A nylon cable clamp supports the cord between sockets. As best as I could manage the sockets are centered in each light panel along the valance. Every light panel has a lamp. In the areas over 2′ in depth (Lapeer, Kitzmiller, and Brittain roundhouse) the Party Lights also run along the backdrop. This should make the lighting more uniform in the deep bench work areas.

Next, I have to cut to size all of the light panels. The panels themselves are quite expensive – $8.97 ea. I need bunches of them. Even more vexing than the cost is figuring out a means of accurately determining the shape and dimensions of each panel based on the grid already installed. I haven’t quite figured out a solution to this problem but I am working on it. Fortunately time is on my side. I need to spread out the cost of the panels over a long period of time so I can ponder the solution for a while.

Between panel cutting I can also start the grid work for the ceiling over the aisles and the rest of the room. I have a sufficient quantity of wall angle on-hand to get a good start. Two years into train layout building and I still haven’t made it off the ceiling!




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  1. […] 4 zones each approximately 25′ long. The beginning and end of each zone is determined by the party light strings mounted earlier. The LED strips were fashioned to mimic the party light start and end points. The […]

  2. Lou Nigro says:


    I am considering using party lights similar to what you did for lighting my layout. I’m wondering if you are happy with the setup now that you have had it up and running for quite a while? I might try using LED flood lamps, instead of CFLs. Are the party light sockets fairly robust once mounted?

    Did you have any concerns about code compliance?

    Great blog BTW, thanks for posting all your progress.


  3. alan says:


    Yes, I am still very happy with the lighting and would do it the same way if I had to do it all over again. CFLs were the bulb of choice back then. LED bulbs would be used today. Although not flood lamps, beam pattern would be wrong. Need to use regular LED lamps that emit in all directions.

    The party light sockets and cabling are well made. They have not given me any issues whatsoever.

    The installation is probably in a gray area of code compliance. Not sure if an inspector would consider the installation in-built or a consumer appliance. I did do my best to make sure the installation is safe i.e. connections inside boxes, proper grounding, etc. One reassuring aspect is the party light strings are rated for 25 watt bulbs whereas the CFLs are only 9 watts so considerable safety margin there.

    Worth noting, the installation of aluminum roll flashing reflectors made a significant improvement in the amount of light on the layout. Highly recommend you do the same.

  4. Lou Nigro says:

    Thanks Alan, I’m glad it worked out well. I’m going ahead with the party lights,LEDs, and reflectors. The distance from my lights to the track surface is great than yours, so I’ll have to experiment with the bulb type.

    The light string does look well made and I plan to do the same in terms of proper installation.

    Appreciate it,

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