MR Magic Website

The UN-official History

The Whitby Loco


"Highlighted" above are the back head lighting FX. You will find brief descriptions of all of the Whitby's lighting below...

"Electric Fire box"
The fire in the firebox of the Whitby loco is technically NOT an "electric" fire. That is, it is not audio driven lighting. The only audio aboard the Whitby is that sound which is audible, all lighting effects are electronic circuit driven. A pair of Circuitron AW-3, arch welder circuits are mounted beneath the floor of the cab. These circuits each output to a pair of lamps, one lamp acts with a continuous random flickering while the other lamp randomly strobes (to simulate arch welding). The character of each of the four channels is adjustable with trim pots. The 4 lamps do feed an "Electric" Fire FX projector housed in the firebox to simulate a wood burning fire, see below. The AW-3 s are assisted by a GRS FM-3 Flamemaker circuit and lamp, the 3/4" long lamp is positioned horizontally in the base of the projector to add character to the overall fire. There is also an alternating flasher adjusted to a very fast rate to simulate shimmering coals in the bed of the fire. Altogether, there are seven lamps, each with its own distinct character and timing, working in concert to create the overall effect!


The "Electric" Fire Projector
This side view (which is very close to actual size!) shows the basic components of an "Electric" Fire Projector. The lamps are gelled with yellow, orange and red Sharpie pens. There is a brief description below, but just exactly how the projector works, and how to build one yourself, is another article altogether...

In the above illustration the screen is a 1/16" plastic sheet lightly sanded on both sides to give it a flat frosted finish, it is leaned forward to minimize any reflected glare or shadows from outside light sources. The gobo is a copper sheet with several small (from about 1/4" to 1/2" tall) flame shapes cut out near the center of the bottom edge. The AW-3 lamps are GOW bulbs which are focused projecting up through the gobo cutouts towards the middle part of the screen. The FM-3 lamp is the size and shape of modern Christmas lights (you are looking at the top end of a lamp lying on its side). Aluminum foil is wadded up and then opened back up to cover the floor and lower walls of the firebox (there is an open area in the center of the clear plastic floor where light can illuminate the track below). The alternating flasher lamps are not viewed directly, but they create a shimmering effect in the entire area in front of the screen and below the wood. The wood on the floor is actually placed in through the firebox door after the loco is completely assembled, and must be repositioned on occasion. There is also a partial log glued directly on to the screen, complete with a burned away area where projected flames can work their magic.

As a given lamp changes in brightness, the size (and height!) of the projection on the screen changes. The overall effect is one of a great deal of movement, where there is NONE! Lamp positions, relative to the gobo cutouts, project various flames overlapping each other on the screen, the result is quite convincing. As the loco moves past the viewer, the viewing angle changes the character and shape of the separate flames, providing a random and natural looking fire.

The headlight is lit with a single GRS FM-3 circuit board mounted in the smoke box. A special order clear lamp is mounted in the reflector inside of the headlight housing. The track power to the LGB motor block is dropped through an adjustable power dropping resistor hidden in an air tank (heat sync) mounted under the left hand running board. In this way, a full 14.5 volts are delivered to the loco for driving the lighting effects circuitry, while the motor only sees enough voltage to cause the Whitby to crawl along at a more realistic slower speed.

There are two kerosene burning lanterns carried aboard. One is a hand held lantern hanging on the engineer's side saddle tank handrail, the other is a general store lantern hanging inside the cab, on the left hand side. The hand held lantern is driven by a GRS FM-1 Flamemaker circuit mounted in the saddle tank, the cab lantern is driven by a secondary lamp on one of the firebox lighting channels.


Sight Glass & Hydrostatic Lubricator
The sight glass and hydrostatic lubricator (as well as the cab lantern mentioned above) are lit with secondary lamps tapped from three of the firebox FX channels. Although these lamps act in concert with elements in the fire itself, the appearance is one of the fire casting the light out into the cab, very nifty! The same approach was taken in the pot belly stove in the Station at Summit. The pot belly stove is actually audio driven, but has flickering and strobing channels similar to the AW-3 s. The strobing channels feed the flame tips, and also feed lighting devices hidden in the rafters that are focused down on the floor directly in front of the stove to simulate a much brighter fire casting light around the stove. The sight glass and hydrostatic lubricator lamps are tapped from the alternating flasher circuit, creating a shimmering effect that reinforces the notion that there is a great deal of heat in the water and oil, and around the boiler, nifty again!

Steam Gauge Reading Light
The steam gauge reading light is the only electric light aboard The Whitby! As the only appliance connected to it, the gauge reading light is the sole excuse for the steam generator (besides the nifty high pitched whine that steam generators make!). Theoretically, the headlight is acetylene, all other lighting is either kerosene, or wood driven...

The steam gauge lamp is connected to the motor block buss and resistor, and fluctuates with track pick-up contact variations, and motor draw.