The Hills Line, both prototype and model, is primarily a daylight affair. While I have no doubt that there were times that crews either started their day at the crack of dawn or ended it just as the last rays were dipping below the horizon, as far as I’m concerned it’s always sunny and warm in our basement.
In principle that means I don’t have to invest in pricey and time-consuming methods to simulate nighttime on the layout. While I’ve seen plenty of examples of stunning replications of sunsets and stars on many model railroads, it’s not something I either need or necessarily want for my own.
In practice, however, there have to be lights on a layout. While I’ve previously detailed the ambient and overhead room lighting arrangement, lights extend to the modeled portion as well. The plethora of street, building, and security lights in our modern world deserve to be replicated in some form or another.
However, that same reluctance to model the witching hours continues to the layout itself. Functional model lights are obviously available in a variety of styles, each with their respective costs. But I see no need to invest in a solution that doesn’t support my principal approaches to layout design and operation.
Fortunately inexpensive alternatives are available. JTT Scenery Products offers materials for all scale endeavors, including architecture models. A wide variety of options for external illumination are available… all non-functional of course.
Since they’re primarily designed for architectural needs, the lights are actually undersized, coming in at 1/100th in scale. However, the basic components all work with a little cutting and painting.
For street lights, I use the single light version, cutting off the mast and other supports. Once painted an appropriate metal color and attached to a power pole or other mast, the size difference is unnoticeable.
For building and security lights, I start with the double parking light (which gives me two separate lights for the price of one). The masts and other parts are quickly trimmed away, leaving the fixture to be quickly painted an appropriate color depending on the application.
The end result is an inexpensive and consistent approach to lighting up an area… at least in my minds eye.