Scratch Crossing with battery powered lights

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#1
Hi, I'm new here...but not new to the internet. I'm certain I'm breaking at least one rule, and as such I've got my flame suit on. On to the post...

So my 8 year old is obsessed with crossing gates. And I'd like to build one that runs off a battery so he can use it for any number of toy trains we have from Thomas, GeoTrax and a Lionel Ready-to-Play. We have one of these - https://mthtrains.com/30-1073 and it looks like only the lights are electrical. Which I'm fine with. Can I run those lights off a battery and if so, what kind of battery do you guys recommend? Would I be able to wire it through a lightswitch or some kind of switch? I might go crazy and do two gates, paint, fake grass and a shed for the battery on a 1/4 inch plywood base, but I don't want to get too far into this if it isn't feasible. I'm handy and tech savy, but I don't do a lot of electrical wiring. As such, I'm not confident with this idea and need advise.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
#2
Difficult to answer without knowing a bit more about the unit. Are the lights LED or incandescent? Are they just on/off, or do they oscillate? Is there a circuit board involved or just simple wires? I don;t know that I would be able to answer your question even with that knowledge, but those are the things that I would look for if this were my project.

Most bulbs designed for use on model railways are designed for 12v use. And as such, a 9 volt battery will usually illuminate them. If it's straight LED, though, make sure it is either designed for 12v or has resistors to pull down the voltage.
 
#3
They looked incandescent. They look like these, but a translucent red - Amazon. I'm not sure if they flash or anything, we originally got it as a stand alone toy (which is expensive) so he could pretend and mimic the videos he watches. I didn't see any circuit boards in the base, but that doesn't mean there isn't one someplace else. I'm going to get one tomorrow, keep it hidden and test with some wire and batteries and see what happens.

My big concern is zapping my younger kid(s) as they play or my wife as she moves it around.

I wish RadioShack was still around...this would be so much easier.

ETA - It does have a circuit board. So it might be a flashing one (which would make sense) but I'm not sure how it detects the train to move the plunger/cylinder to lower the gate.
 
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tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#4
YOICKS! 29 bucks for a light bulb. Hope it comes with a 50 year warranty. I see the gate is still listed on MTH's website as being in stock and available from their distributors as well. The part/product number is as in your first link, 30-1073 and it's called the #262 Crossing Gate Signal. You can write to MTH through the contact "button" at the bottom of their pages and ask questions. They usually answer quite quickly. Our resident Lionel etc specialist, Louis Bruette, might be along here to give any input he may have, but he has been busy with work.
 
#5
YOICKS! 29 bucks for a light bulb. Hope it comes with a 50 year warranty. I see the gate is still listed on MTH's website as being in stock and available from their distributors as well. The part/product number is as in your first link, 30-1073 and it's called the #262 Crossing Gate Signal. You can write to MTH through the contact "button" at the bottom of their pages and ask questions. They usually answer quite quickly. Our resident Lionel etc specialist, Louis Bruette, might be along here to give any input he may have, but he has been busy with work.
That link is merely an example! :D

I'll do that, I thought that random people on the internet might be faster. Random people on the internet won't be restricted by liability concerns either.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#6
That link is merely an example! :D

I'll do that, I thought that random people on the internet might be faster. Random people on the internet won't be restricted by liability concerns either.
They would at least be able to tell you what voltage is used, pretty sure it's higher than 12V, 18V maybe, and what other electronics are in it. Highly likely to have been modified/updated since the date of your example.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#8
We got it in 2016 or 2017, but I know what you mean.
Many (Most?) Lionel light bulbs are 14.4V. The solenoid coil to move the gate would be the same.

Usually to run accessories like this they made a pressure plate that fit under one of the track ties to activate the unit. BUT I always did it by making one of the outside rails of a section of track insulated. Connect the unit to the center rail and the isolated rail. When the train gets to that section of track the electricity flows through the axles of the loco and cars to compete the circuit and lite the lamps and drop the gates. This is also why O-gauge power supplies were producing huge amounts of power because they not only had to power the train but all the accessories along the way.

To answer an original question, they would probably run on 12V. You would need a small lawn tractor or motor bike battery. Since this unit was probably originally designed for AC and a battery is DC you would have to figure out which way to connect the polarity to the circuit board.
It should be easy to do a simple button to operate it manually.
 
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tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#9
Since this unit was probably originally designed for AC and a battery is DC you would have to figure out which way to connect the polarity to the circuit board.
Wouldn't you need a DC to AC inverter, such as the ones used with vehicle batteries to run AC appliances?
 
#11
Many (Most?) Lionel light bulbs are 14.4V. The solenoid coil to move the gate would be the same.

Usually to run accessories like this they made a pressure plate that fit under one of the track ties to activate the unit. BUT I always did it by making one of the outside rails of a section of track insulated. Connect the unit to the center rail and the isolated rail. When the train gets to that section of track the electricity flows through the axles of the loco and cars to compete the circuit and lite the lamps and drop the gates. This is also why O-gauge power supplies were producing huge amounts of power because they not only had to power the train but all the accessories along the way.

To answer an original question, they would probably run on 12V. You would need a small lawn tractor or motor bike battery. Since this unit was probably originally designed for AC and a battery is DC you would have to figure out which way to connect the polarity to the circuit board.
It should be easy to do a simple button to operate it manually.
That's fantastic info! Those batteries are quite bulky and much too large for my purposes though. But having an idea on what volts it needs to operate, I can test without going crazy. If it blows smoke, it blows smoke. It won't be the end of the world as he doesn't know I'm planing on doing this and the electrics being fried won't change that he can operate it manually. I'll be spending a lot of time on AvE's YouTube channel
 



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