Large Scale Central

Lights used by locos during switching operations

What lights were in use and when during switching operations and which type of loco carried what during duties. Two truck locos, lill critter etc. Can anybody help

Might have to specify what time and what country this information is desired for.

For example, during the early and mid steam era here the answer for switching in daylight would be none; and during the early era of those big box oil lamps the lamp might have not even been on the locomotive during daylight.

Note that this mainline 4-4-0 running in daylight does not carry a headlight on the mount.

Here’s an industrial critter which mounts headlights, what seem to be marker lights on posts, and to top it all off, a rotary beacon

Look far enough and you will find critters and dinkys with no lights of any kind, not even in the cab, assuming there is a cab.

And also where is this switching occurring? I thought there were different rules for switching in a rail-yard versus switching at an industry.

Many thanks for replies from forrest and david. When I asked I did not would be so complex. To put a little more context to it I have had an lnterest in american diesel locos for many years, living in UK not a lot of info on operations on these locos. At last I am able to own some models in g scale. I have recently aquired an aristocraft lill critter and was puzzled by the light bar on bonnet which has front/rear facing green lamps, and red lenses to left/right, a search on internet did not help ,as a curious man I wished to find out more about how and why they are used. Nothing remotely like it over here.

Green marker lamps are used to signal a second section will follow that may not be noted in a timetable. Flags of steel or cloth may be used during daylight hours.


Since the Aristocraft Little Critter is not a model of a real prototype, I guess anything goes. If I remember, they use An RS-3 hood shell which probably has some marker lamps (just lenses) in some protruding mounts. Aristo probably just put whatever lenses they had available in them.

Pete Riches said:
Nothing remotely like it over here.

Brings to mind in 1980s when I had ordered some Hornby steam locos from a place in New York, a little Southern 0-6-0T wouldn’t run so I called the store’s service department.

me - It’s not running, no life from the motor at all.

them - “Does the headlight come on?”

me - It’s British.

them - … ???

I was amused. (

Pete Riches said:
… which has front/rear facing green lamps, and red lenses to left/right,

And in real life here, there was what the Pennsylvania RR did, and what everybody else did.

Which makes really interesting that the Pennsy was sometimes called “The standard railroad of the world” (

PRR used class/marker lamps at ends of pilot beam and at rear corners of tender, example,

And sometimes, those 4 locations plus 2 more one each side of smokebox,