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One of the things I get asked quite often is where I got my platform lights from. When I tell people I made them I’m often asked if I can make more.  Well its nice to be asked but I really don’t want to get distracted from what I should be doing and besides which they are dead easy to make anyway.

Before I get into how, some thoughts on the subject of lights on layouts.  People easily get sucked in by the gimmikyness (is that even a word) of working lights.  Of course that’s fine if that’s what you want and you run your layout in the dark but if you don’t it does leave 2 questions:

Why compromise the look of the light to make it work?

Why are the lights on in the day anyway?

OK you don’t have to compromise the look of the light (I built a ‘dayburner’ street lamp to prove to myself I could) but on in the daytime?  Its just not how things work.  Thus my lights don’t work because they don’t need to.

So anyway, in true blue peter style here’s how I make my platform lamps.

You will need:

  • 1mm dia brass rod
  • 20 x 80 thou strip
  • 20 x 100 thou strip
  • 80 x 80 thou strip
  • 2mm OD, 1mm ID plastic tube


If you have a strip cutter (I use one of these these – if you haven’t got one then you should, its one of the handiest tools I have!) set it to 22mm and cut 1 each of the 20×80 and 80×80 strips for each lamp you need, you no doubt will need more than one).  Cut the one 20×100 strip to 23.5mm and the tube to 24.5mm.   One end of the tube need shaping to a taper and I mount it into a mini drill and run it against sandpaper to get the shape I want. Use a dabbing action so that the tube doesn’t get too hot and starts melting.

The 80 x 80 piece needs a 1mm hole drilling through its center and the ends shaping with a file and the brass rod need to be cut to length, I use about 80mm as I want it mounted through the platform and into the baseboard. You should now have a kit of bits ready to assemble.


Glue the shaped 80 x 80 strip to the 20 x 100 so that its centered (make sure the hole is the right way, obviously) and the 20 x 80 on top – again make sure its centered.

Glue the plastic tube onto the brass rod so that its base is 60mm from the top.  When these have set glue the pole to the head ensuring everything is square and that’s it (told you it was simple)


Further detailing

There are 2 types of these lamps ones that fold and ones that don’t.  The folding ones are generally used on platforms where the running lines have overhead so that maintenance people don’t have to use ladders.  The bases on the 2 types are where the differences are.  On the rigid ones they have a lozenge shaped access panel on the base which can be simply made by cutting a lozenge shape from paper or a sticky label. The folding ones are more distinctive and I etched an overlay for these.  Few of New Streets lamps are actually the same, some having loudspeakers, platform telephones or HST stop signs added to them (or any combination thereof) although none had station nameboards which are common on many platforms.  New Street had the name printed on the lamp head itself, these were printed on DIY waterslide transfer paper (available from here)

platform lamp final



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7 years ago

Thank you for this most illuminating (I’d ask you to pardon the pun, but it was just too good to resist) mini tutorial. You make it look so easy. If they were suitable for my layout era, I’d be tempted to have a go myself, hell I might even make some anyway.