Since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed messing with lighting-related projects. So a few years ago I felt inspired enough to buy a bunch of cheap hurricane-style lanterns, along with a lot of sockets and LED stuff, in hopes of creating some fun low-voltage lamp fixtures to hang about the layout.
Specifically, the lanterns would hang from posts of the deck which resides over much of the layout. Here’s an early concept, with the lantern sitting on a shelf made of pressure treated.
But some pitfalls became apparent:
- The shelves, with their little pieces, would fall apart even faster than regular parts of the deck (which requires a lot of maintenance, sheesh).
- The lanterns are designed to let air flow out, and I couldn’t see a straightforward way to prevent water coming in.
- The lanterns needed to be easily removable, for deck maintenance, LED repair, etc., and not hard-screwed to a shelf
- The down-lights I’d picked (beneath each shelf) were crap; needed something outdoor-tolerant
That was all back in 2014. So for my other winter project (the first one is the Joe Douglas loco), I decided to figure out these lanterns or offload them on Ebay.
Fortunately, since 2014, some good things have happened. Lots of new products have emerged, and I’ve gotten a lot less idealistic. E.g., the lanterns no longer have to look perfect, as I will soon demonstrate. And I gave up on the faux flame bulbs…
So here’s the intended solution for the sealing, which was the main show stopper. The globe holder and cage have been removed, and the globe has a new acrylic base. The tank has a new acrylic platform which holds the socket, which will be sealed to the tank. Self-adhesive foam sheet forms the seal between the new tank top and globe bottom.
Above the globe will be a gasket of (closed-cell) self-adhesive foam sheet, with layers of differing diameters that help it index into the globe below and the chimney above.
The spring action of the chimney compresses the gaskets and holds all together.
The entire chimney area will be filled with (I think) RTV silicone and (as a backer perhaps) expending foam. Other areas of water intrusion will also get the RTV treatment.
This shows how unrealistic it is… but this is the only way I can seal it all, in the time frame my give-o-crap will permit.
The downlight is an LED fixture. OK for boats, but not itself sealed. I’ll seal the tank around and over it though, and maybe do more if my gut says to. I’ll also drill drain holes in the tank bottom and the two lower bends of the arms, just to be sure.
Here’s the test fixture.
The shelf is no longer; and “wrought iron” plant hangers are now performing that function. These are fairly cheap, and found on Amazon.
Here’s the test fixture I just rigged up, to check the theory of the two plant hangers working right, that is, like springs holding the lantern in place against the wind. And they seem to do the job.
The final lanterns are black, so all will match for a couple years. After that, I’m expecting everything to rust, which is fine. And when someone remarks on the black paint flakes around the layout, I’ll just explain in great detail how that represents a by-product of all those Comstock stream engine boilers, called “flake soot.”