Some jobs on the McKinley Railway need a little extra help. That is especially true when the challenge is a more technical one, and coach lighting certainly falls into that category.
It isn’t hard to put lighting into a passenger coach. Rolling stock has carried internal lighting for years. The problem the McKinley tech department faced was that the railway has more than 50 different types of passenger coach among a total roster which runs to over 150, each of which needs to have variable ad controllable lighting.
The answer was to bring in Manchester-based GFB Designs, a small business which designs and manufactures electronic control products for model railways.
The solution the company came up with was the DLC0126 coach lighting module, a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) which is fitted into the roof of each piece of rolling stock, and to which varying types and styles of LEDs can be directly attached.
The boards act like a loco decoder so they can be controlled directly from a throttle. Lighting can be turned on and off, or adjusted as required on an individual coach. Power to each board is taken directly from the track through bogie pickups.
The technical design reflects the need for lighting to be quite different across the fleet. Some prototype coaches may have had more yellow rather than white lighting, or a toned-down effect. Capturing and controlling these visual nuances was a key requirement.
The boards also feature a novel magnetic activation feature for ease of programming. This avoids the need to dismantle the coach, or to move it to a programming track, once the board has been installed.