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One of Canada's Largest Model Railway e-Commerce and Bricks & Mortar Retailers Since 1993

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Lights, Sounds and Animation

Recreating the real world in miniature is often the aim of the many model railroaders. Despite our efforts to do so, we can really only try to mimic reality. Such features as lights, sounds and animation can enhance the feeling of reality.

A perfect example of these three would be an operating sawmill. With some ingenuity the log carriage can be made to run back and forth, accompanied by the sound of the saw. Lights inside the mill can highlight the actions taking place within the mill. The ‘Jack Ladder’, a continuous chain, could lift logs out of the millpond and take them into the mill where they drop into a hidden chute that returns them to the bottom of the jack ladder.

The sound of nighttime insects in a country scene can be coordinated with the dimming of lights. Lights in different rooms of a building or different buildings in a town can be wired to turn on at appropriate times:

· A blacksmith could raise and lower his hammer, accompanied by the sound of a hammer hitting an anvil. The sparks and the glow of the forge could even be created using an LED circuit.

· A man standing outside a general store could be smoking a pipe, the intermittent glow of the tobacco showing in the twilight. This is easy to do with fibre optics and a blinking diode.

· The inside of a roundhouse is dimly lit by a series of bulbs hanging from the ceiling rafters. In one corner, a welder’s torch flashes blue and white.

· Level crossing lights that flash or gates that drop down when a train approaches, chase lights on a theatre marquee, and flashing lights on a police car or ambulance are all possible with today’s technology. These add to the overall effect of the scene.

All of the parts and accessories are readily available to create these and other effects. Many electronic circuits used to trigger these features and different sound systems are also close at hand. Moreover, new electronic devices are regularly introduced to the marketplace.

The Credit Valley Railway Co. Ltd has many of these items in stock as well as books on lighting and animation. Kalmbach Publishing has recently released their second edition of Realistic Animation, Lighting & Sound, which features a wide array of animation, lighting and sound projects to help bring your model railway to life.

If we don’t have what you need, we can help you find it.

NOTE: Any additional lights or motors used in the creation of the feeling of reality should be wired to a power circuit separate from the track wiring. Small transformers are available to power these accessories.

The Credit Valley Railway Company carries a large selection of How To books and reference books on specific railroad related topics. These include books on layout design, prototype operations, how to build and detail structures and many other topics related to creating realistic looking model railroads. Our staff has had many years of model railroad experiences, and is always willing to provide you with specific information, advice and answer any of your questions! You can also email your questions to us via Our Contact Page.