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Monday, January 10, 2011

Niles Project ~ Christmas Headlights

Shaping Christmas lights LEDs to work as headlights.

Well a year ago I encouraged you all to seize on the end of Christmas sales to grab cheap LED's. Well, I should have known, but it turns out that...

... Christmas LED's come in different sizes (and colors). The bulbs I grabbed (left) are way too big to use as headlights. Fortunately, I have a good friend in John McWhirter who gave me some of his Christmas bulbs (right) that fit the Niles cars perfectly.

To get a good fit for the bulb in the headlight opening, a little shaping of the LED's leads is necessary. Then the tip of the bulb is shaped into a lens shape.

Looking through doorway to see the inside of the front, you can see how well the bulb fits into the hole. And how the leads are bent around the housing and then up the widow posts. Which brings up a little problem; does the window glass go over or under the leads? Obviously, the glass would look best pressed against the window frame. So the glass goes under the leads. Which means, the next step is installing the window glass. Yes sir! Installing the window glass is next.



  1. The headlamp housing is brass, so even if its painted you do *need* insulation in those leads!



  2. Bill speaks the truth folks! Not insulating the leads would be sabotaging myself. Nothing worse than to have a car to suddenly stop working for no visible reason. Frustrating! Fail safe precautions have to be made at every step of construction to ensure long term reliable operation. Insulate bare wires, tug on solder joints to ensure a strong connection, and clean your solder joints with alcohol to neutralize the corrosive flux.

    Thank you for commenting Bill.


  3. Reading your blog, I wanted to have an HO interurban since longtime. But Suydam models are very, very rare in Europe.

    Yesterday, I found two Suydam Brass Interurbans in a Paris Shop - and bought them immediately. They are not PE motors, but a big Niles wooden 1907 car (painted green) and a smaller Chicago North Shore 700 (brass). Basic condition is good, and I will start to clean them and remove paintings.

  4. Congratulations Volkmar! Good find.
    I've never been to Paris, so it all sounds so romantic to me: " I was strolling the Boulevard past the Boutique de Tramway when she caught my eye...
    Keep me posted with your progress, and if you need any advise, feel free to ask me.
    Good luck!