The EZ-LITE™ Locomotive Lighting Kits were specifically designed to be EASILY installed in powered N Scale and small HO Scale locomotives, without requiring the user to do any cutting of the locomotive chassis (NO CHOPPING™). Other similar locomotive lighting products currently on the market can be extremely difficult to install in powered N Scale locomotives or small HO Scale locomotives. Unlike the EZ-LITE™ , these products require a great deal of space and major modifications to the chassis and motor wiring for installation.

In general, there are two different ways to power lights in a model locomotive: battery power or track power. Battery powered lighting kits can be very effective, when there is room for a battery and the other circuitry. However, the space required for a battery is generally not available in N Scale locomotives, or in smaller-size HO Scale locomotives. The battery-powered approach has the advantage of providing constant lighting regardless of track voltage. In practical applications, however, it is generally necessary to provide additional circuitry for turning off the light, achieving directional lighting, and recharging or replacing the battery.

All track-powered lighting circuits require about 2 to 3 volts across the rails before the lights begin operating. (Technology exists to allow this to be reduced to about 1 volt, but this is costly in terms of additional components and space.) Most existing track-powered lighting products are designed to be wired in series with the locomotive's motor. They function by diverting the first 2 to 3 volts of applied track voltage away from the motor and to the lighting circuit instead. This technique works as long as the motor, by itself, draws more current than the lighting circuit.

If the motor draws more current than the series-connected lighting circuit, this approach has the relative advantage of providing constant lighting before the motor starts turning. If the motor runs on very little current, however, it can starve the series-connected lighting circuit, by not allowing enough current to flow to keep the lights on. (Manufacturers offer a dummy load to pass more current around the motor - this requires even more space and wiring, and is a source of heat.) The voltage drop across these series-connected circuits is about 2 to 3 volts, so at any given track voltage, a modified locomotive runs significantly slower than an unmodified but otherwise identical locomotive, because its motor is receiving about 2 to 3 volts less voltage.

In most N Scale locomotives, or small HO Scale locomotives with low-current motors, these series-connected designs have the following disadvantages:

There is no space for currently-available circuits, and installing them requires major modifications to the chassis. (Removing metal from the chassis is difficult and time-consuming, and reduces the locomotive's weight, pulling power, and intrinsic value.)

Wiring a module in series with the motor can be difficult or impractical, since many N Scale locomotives have no wires which can be cut and spliced, but rather make motor connections through metal chassis parts.

The motor current may be less than the lamp current needed to operate the module.

Any accidental short circuit across the motor may damage or destroy a series-connected lighting module if the power supply output capacity is high.

All locomotives of one brand and general type (such as KATO E8As and E8Bs) would need to be modified if they are to run well together, to insure that each motor receives the same voltage.

The EZ-LITE™ module was designed to be wired in PARALLEL with the locomotive motor. The disadvantage of this approach is that by the time the track voltage reaches about 3 volts, some of the better locomotives will be starting to move. (However, it is not unusual to observe lights in prototype locomotives being switched on after the train has started to move slowly.)

The advantages of the EZ-LITE™ parallel connection are:

Wiring across the motor is trivial,

Locomotives equipped with the EZ-LITE™ module run at the same speed as similar locomotives not equipped (in other words, no module is required in B-Units to make them run at the same speed as a modified A-Unit),

Operation of the module is not a function of motor current, no matter how much current the motor draws,

A motor short circuit or open circuit will have no effect on the module,

The circuit is inherently smaller and less expensive.

For locomotives with flywheels, the flywheel will drive the motor as a generator when track power is lost, keeping the lights on until the motor slows appreciably.

One additional advantage for EZ-LITE™ modules: they have been designed to fit those locomotives with the most restricted spaces available, making it very easy to find the space to mount the module in almost any powered locomotive!


Contact Richmond Controls Company, P.O. Box 1467, Richmond, TX 77406-1467.

Phone: (281) 342-4895

"EZ-LITE", "NO CHOPPING", and the "NO CHOPPING" / hatchet symbol are trademarks of Richmond Controls Company.

1998, Richmond Controls Company