Dwarf Signals on the Pennsy Yard module.

Building Inexpensive Dwarf Signals
MPRR Clinic Night Archive

Clinic By: Stu Dom
Clinic Night Date: April 27, 2014

Dwarf signals are generally used by railroads for control of trains near yards and sidings.  I found that they offer considerable interest to a modular layout if they are used around turnouts in the yard or yard lead tracks.  My usage of these signals on my layout is for identifying turnout position.  They not only are interesting to look at, but they are also a hit with the model railroading fans.

The convention that I have adopted for my layout is as follows:

There are several commercial products on the market, but I decided to create my own dwarf signals.  The total cost of each of each of these dwarf signals was less than $2.00, and the time need to make each of these signals was about 45 minutes each.  For this project I used light emitting diodes (LED’s), and a positive and negative 12 volt power source.  The materials, parts and tools needed for the project are listed in the box on the right.

The primary objective of this project is to convert the 2-color PCB LED into a dwarf signal.  The finished product has a base, a mounting tube, and necessary wiring to connect to a Tortoise turnout machine that is supplied with a positive and negative 12 volt power supply.  It is very important to this project that the power supply has a positive and negative voltage, as there are only 2 lead wires used for the dwarf signal.  I’ll lead you through each step of the project.

Materials/Parts List

Tools Needed

The finished product is shown above.  The larger than life image highlights the thickness of the brush painted signal, but this would really not be noticeable in HO scale, as seen on the layout.

I enjoyed making this signal head and have installed six of these dwarf signals onto our clubs’ staging track leads.  I plan on installing about 25 of these signals on my modular layout.  So, I better get moving, as this needs to be completed before our next major show.

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