Playmobil Ideas?

James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
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#1
Dear All,

As we now have a dedicated Playmobil section, I thought that I would like to share some ideas with members about some modifications I have made to some of my PM locos. I hope that others will share their own ideas.

I am no modeller and frankly just enjoy operating my trains. My layouts are automated DC. A while ago I came to the conclusion that locos with lights that did not light up, or went out when they stopped, looked 'dead'. A project then began to add lights to some locos without them: The diode lighting units were made by a chum and were designed to keep the light on and bright as long as possible. Later lights were added where missing to the RC fleet too, although this time they draw power from the battery.

First Steaming Mary: I always found the lack of a working light disapointing:

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So a diode was added powered by an umbilical from the tender. The best feature though has to be standard Playmobil lens modified to fit by a chum. Quite plased with the result of this, but apologies for the loco looking a little wonky in the imnage!

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Apart from Thomas, tank engines should go backwards as well as forwards, but the lack of rear lights was a real shame. Some extra light fittings were bought from PM direct a few years ago and others from dealers such as PlaymoKing on E-bay.de and these were mounted in the coal load.

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This is an RC version, but all my tank engines have these in the appropriate colour except the US versions, which can only haul trains forward due the cow catcher/pilot.

The same was done with the diesels too This time most of the parts were from PM direct, including the black lamp surrounds and the lenses with the LED cups as used in the 4085. Lamps for the older diesels were bought from E-bay.

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This is another RC version where the lights stay on all the time, as they do with the 2nd Generation RCE and Bo-Bo. On the track powered versions of the steam locos and diesels the LED lighting is directional.

The chassis in the above two RC locos are of the more modern type with the power take off. For the steam loco the spring arm arrnagement was removed and a pair of wires with solder tages were screwed to the take off points on the chassis. A pair of plugs was added to the lead to allow the chassis to be easily removed when required. If no modern chassis is available leads can be run direct from the battery connections.

What I need from others are some ideas for installing LED lighting in the works locos. At present mine have a pair of LGB plug in type bulbs mounted in gromits, but I was a little put off by the lack of space in the model for the circuitry!

James
 
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playmofire

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23 Oct 2010
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North Yorks
#2
Like you, I've converted the dummy light at the front of my R/C tank locos to a working light and added one at the rear, slightly higher I think than yours. At first, I'd planned to have an on-off-on switch in the cab so the lights could be switched to reflect the direction of travel. I got as far as fitting the switch through the smoke box door, but my soldering skills led me to abandon the idea. In the end, I bought two of the 4010 motors off eBay and used these, altering Tamiya(?) leads so that I could run both lights off the one connection point on the top of the motor block. The wiring for the rear ;light, comes thorugh the cab bulkhead and then out into the tender through the coal outlet. The lights themselves are LEDs.
 
James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#3
Thanks Gordon,

I would be interested to see how you did your rear lights. Are you able to post an image?

Here are some close ups of some of my track powered ones, I have not powered and illuminated these, so that you can see the lamp mountings more clearly:

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This shows the rear lamp from a Green 99 280. As you can see it is set into the coal load. The electrical supply comes up through the bunker from below the rear of the cab. I have tried using wires and thin brass strips to bring the supply from the modules at the front of the locos.

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Here is the rear light as fitted to one of my 4050 Diesels. This particular one came as a spare for the 4085 type. Some modification is also needed to make the black lamp holder fit into the front of the 4050 too, as the fastening had been modified before the 4085 loco was introduced.

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Here are a pair of original 4050 type light housings modified to mount on the rear bonnet. I use a screw through the rear of the cab to hold them, but this is not really necessary given how long LEDS last, so they could probably be glued!

The black tape helps seal the joint and prevent light leakage. I should probably paint the insides of the all the red, yellow, green and gold lamp houses black to stop them glowing. That is on the list of jobs to do tomorrow.....

James
 
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James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#4
Here is an image of a pair of the modified headlights like the one used on the Steaming Mary. In front of them is one of the original style of PM clear lenses and a pair of the modified type with the diode holding cup as used on the 4085 Diesel.

I found the modified lenses really useful when upgrading the fleet from bulbs to diodes.

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James
 
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playmofire

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#5
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Here are the photos I promised showing how I wired up the lights on one of my R/C tank locos. Looking at them, I made a rather neater job of things than I remembered!

The first photo shows a Tamiya type connector fitted to the outlet on the motor from a 4010 loco.

It's apparently quite simple to alter the original R/C motor so you can take power off from the same point. All is needed is to carefully drill two small holes in the block in the same position as the screws in the picture and insert a couple of self tappers until they touch the power feed from the motor. Before they are fully home, attach a wire to each and then attach a block connector to the other end wires and run wires from the block connector to the front and rear lights/LEDs.

The second photo shows the wire running from the motor connected to a block connector in the boiler from which wires run to the front and rear lamp holders. I used the lamp lens which takes an LED in the front lamp and fitted an LED bought as a spare part from Direct Service, part number 30812902, now no longer available. The plug on the end was clipped off and the wires were then connected to the connector block.

For the rear LED (also from Direct Service, although I also bought some from Playmoking on eBay by buying a wiring loom for the 4019) a Tamiya connector was wired into the block connector after feeding the wires through a small hole drilled in the cab below the firebox. The coal bunker on the loco was then unclipped, the "coal" removed and a small hole cut in the rear of the coal where it would be directly below the lamp when it was fitted on the rear of the cab. The wiring for the LED was then slotted into the hole in the coal with the LED projecting above the coal and ret of the the wiring with the connector on was pushed under the access hatch for the coal into the cab. The coal bunker was then clipped back, the LED fitted into the lamp and the lamp fitted to the rear of the cab with double-sided sticky tape. The connector in the cab from the LED was joined to the Tamiya connector and the job was done. See photo 3. (This all may sound very complicated, but that's partly because I'm not too good at explaining electrical wiring operations; the pictures are probably a better explanation.)
 
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playmofire

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#6
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Here are photos of the wiring from the coal bunker to the rear lamp and the rear lamp in position.
 
James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#7
Gordon,

Thanks for the description and the very clear images. The higher light works really well. I was concerned that mine would be too low, but luckily the lens is just clear of the lip of the bunker.

When I 'broke up' a couple modern PM locos for parts recently I re-used the original circuitry for the lights in some other RC locos. Otherwse I use diodes and resistors supplied by a chum, which I run off the 6v supply from the loco. As you say the earlier RC motor blocks are easy to take a feed from.

With track powered locos a rather clever chum has designed and built some modules for me that contain powerful capacitors that keep the lights on for several minutes after the loco has been isolated. I am no electrical genus myself. Basic circuity is all that I can do without help from a 'grown up'.

James aged 55 1/4
 
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playmofire

Registered
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#8
Thank you for your comments, James.

I thought of converting my track-powered locos and tried to get hold of some piggy-back connectors but couldn't find any so abandoned the idea.

Gordon, aged 71 and 50 weeks.
 
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James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#9
Here are two more Playmobil Ideas that I would like to share:

Firstly the US style 0-4-0 has a massive spark arrestor smoke stack, so clearly this loco does not burn coal, yet there is coal in the bunker!

So I fitted five of Playmobil part 30 05 8570 to each loco, which I obtained from Playmobil Direct. This is a stack of logs and is supplied in many Playmobil sets, such as the Xmas Santa Caboose, the kitchen of my daughter's Fairy Castle and even a Nativity set that was bought a few years ago.....

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Next I have always wondered what Playmobil intended to fit behind the firebox grill of that 2-4-0. Given the 1980s origins of the loco, I imagine that it would have been a flashing bulb, or perhaps two? A chum built me a rather nice flickering firebix module featuring orange and red LEDs and I mounted a foil reflector on the bracket moulded onto the running plate. The LEDs face this. Here is the result:

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All I need now is to get a Playmobil version of Bacon and eggs to mount on the fireman's shovel!

I do tend to run the loco tender first a lot more now, so that I can enjoy the firebox. It looks great in the dark too.

Has anyone tried fitting a smoke unit to this loco? I see that the Chimney is built with an inner sleeve to take one, although it was never supplied with one. Any idea which one it was intended to take?

I have never had much luck with smoke units. I have always found them disappointing and the smoke gets lost in the garden. My system is conventional DC of course, so my guess is that they would probably do better from a contant DCC supply, but I am going to pass on that!

James
 
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James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#10
Thank you for your comments, James.

I thought of converting my track-powered locos and tried to get hold of some piggy-back connectors but couldn't find any so abandoned.

Gordon, aged 71 and 50 weeks.
Gordon,

What sort of piggy back connectors do you mean?

I didn't realise you had track power too - see the other thread. There is an offer on the table for you re that 2-4-0!

James
 
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playmofire

Registered
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#11
A German Playmobil train fan suggests that a Seuthe no.6 or 7 unit (approx. 12-15€) is the answer.
 
trammayo

trammayo

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#12
I have been trying to find a thread on how I fitted a 5 volt unit to a big hauler (with considerable help and advice from a Forum member). The unit came from Cornwall Model Boats and the other bits off ebay.

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stockers

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#14
trammayo

trammayo

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#15
Yes you need a Meter. Those LCD display ones are as cheap as chips and a lot easier than the old type. I did fry my smoke unit but it was the manufacturer's connection that shorted (honest).
 
stockers

stockers

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#16
We will believe you.>:)
 
James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#17
James Day

James Day

Guano Corner Rly - Runs weekly - Guano permitting
6 May 2012
1,724
349
Warwickshire
#18
I have been trying to find a thread on how I fitted a 5 volt unit to a big hauler (with considerable help and advice from a Forum member). The unit came from Cornwall Model Boats and the other bits off ebay.

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Thanks so much for this posting - Very instructive. I can see the benefits of using the LM2596 unit now, to give you the 6v you need for the smoke unit to give a decent output. Never tried a low voltage unit before. I have a digital meter.

I understand that the Jellyfish looking thing is a bridge rectifier. I usually make them on verroboard with four diodes.

From reading I also understand that the output of the LM2596 can be adjusted, using the screw? (this is why you need the meter)

My question is, will the output from it be 6v constant, (assuming that is available from the source) OR will it be variable according to the input, in some kind of ratio? Hopefully never exceeding 6v?

I am 55 and have never succesfully smoked, if you get my drift (apart from my original Tri-ang Seuthe units - I never got on with Tri-ang's Synchrosmoke or my 1970s vintage LGB track voltage ones either!).

James
 
trammayo

trammayo

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#19
Thanks so much for this posting - Very instructive. I can see the benefits of using the LM2596 unit now, to give you the 6v you need for the smoke unit to give a decent output. Never tried a low voltage unit before. I have a digital meter.

I understand that the Jellyfish looking thing is a bridge rectifier. I usually make them on verroboard with four diodes.

From reading I also understand that the output of the LM2596 can be adjusted, using the screw? (this is why you need the meter)

My question is, will the output from it be 6v constant, (assuming that is available from the source) OR will it be variable according to the input, in some kind of ratio? Hopefully never exceeding 6v?

I am 55 and have never succesfully smoked, if you get my drift (apart from my original Tri-ang Seuthe units - I never got on with Tri-ang's Synchrosmoke or my 1970s vintage LGB track voltage ones either!).

James
Hi James - yes the screw is for voltage output adjustment.
As for a constant voltage I cannot answer that! As I operate on a nominal 12 volts DC, the adjustment was done static. In theory, at least, a fully charged 12v battery will yield around 13 or 14 volts (I use a Train Engineer in the garden and a simple potentiometer control in the trailer) so I shouldn't have a problem but it really needs a variable input voltage test. I set mine at 5v

I have a replacement smoke unit to fit to my BH when I get around to it. When I do, I'll test the voltage and post on here. To my shame, I cannot remember the name of the fellow forumite (Nick or Neil) who pointed me in the right direction and provided the diagram and links to the required purchases. It's all well protected (thick skull) information but I seem to me unable to access these files!

What I do know is the LM boards and Bridge rectifiers were dead cheap on ebay!

If the person that was so helpful to me is reading this, I entreat him to reveal himself. I was so sure that I did a thread because I promised I would post the results on the Forum. I will try and use different keywords to search.
 
trammayo

trammayo

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24 Oct 2009
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#20
Found it - bumped it to show in today's postings - in two minutes I have even forgotten the thread's correct title!