Katzhagen modeling department

Let there be light...

In fact I had decided not to take new vehicles into regard for adding them to the rolling stock some time ago and even managed to follow this decision until...
... I stumbled across an offer which was that salutary that I couldn't resist it. In view of the quite low costs it was easy to sanctify this acquisition with a traction gap regarding freight trains (iow : a nice alibi for self-deception).

When the Taurus hit the tracks for the first time, I thought of a defect when both the head and tail lights remained dark as soon as the engine started to move slowly. But as soon as the head lights became visible a bit after the engine ran a bit faster, it was clear: the model had an emergency lighting ex factory only.

After just a few rounds during the first test drive the engine began to judder and I remembered once having heard that picking up power wasn't one of Piko's strenghts. So it was somewhat of disappointing that the wheels turned out to be dirt magnets interfering with the power's pick up. After cleaning both the wheels and pick up shoes as well as the tracks thoroughly, the Taurus ran flawlessly, though. Chromed wheels most likely were an advantage...
When comparing prototype pictures to the modell it caught my eye that the model's red paint of some parts of the pantographs didn't match the Hector Rail version. At this point I decided to disassemble the model in order to remedy the illumination and paint deficiencies.

After removing the ten screws from the model's bottom, the housing was easy to remove from the chassis. The revealed interior offered lots of space for additional electronics and my guess regarding the emergency lighting proved to be correct: Two simple bulbs with each a light guide made from acrylic glass.
When removing one of the light guides it turned out that the head light inserts were painted on their interior. This meant that the paint had to be removed from the inserts' "second eyes" first. This was done by cautiously scratching out the paint first and polishing the lenses with an appropriate burnish (see picture on the right).

Head light inserts with two clear lenses per side after applying the polish

Grid circuit boards matching the light guide's shape were built for accurately fitting the new LED illumations into their places. Bringing some life to the dashboard was accomplished using four LEDs, two of them being blinking LEDs.

Light guide and its successor for the new illumination

The dashboard's bottom - four LEDs, red and green as blinking ones

Ribbon cable was used in order to keep the power supply wiring neat and clear for both the head and tail lights as well as for the dashboard and the cab illumination. The latter uses a cold white LED which submerges the workplace into a bluish light.

LED-module for head and tail lights and the dashboard with four LEDs

Cold white SMD LED beneath the driver's cab ceiling

The illumination boards were glued to the head light inserts and mounted behind the body shell's fronts. After mounting the LED-equipped dashboards, the engine also got a simple starting delay consisting of five diodes connected in series per motor and direction each.

LED illiminations mounted behind the model's front

A simple starting delay and velocity delimitation using diodes

Switch for disconnecting the motors from the tracks - parking light function
The diodes connected in series increase the starting voltage by 4.5V to approximately 7V, which results in a perfect illumination while the model is standing still. A positive side-effect is a decreased maximum speed, since the model is more than just a tad too fast ex factory at 24V.

To make use of the parking light in the shelf at 12V on the track, an additional switch had to be mounted for disconnecting the motors from the track. An ideal, since almost invisible place for this switch was found below the chassis (see picture on the left).

The circuitry's final version for feeding power to a directional illumination meant the need for two circuits (one per direction). These were implemented on a grid board which was mounted on the chassis after a first successful test with a flying setup.

A first test of the circuitry for a new type of LED - works !

Two identical circuits for directional illumination

The following picture shows the complete implementation inside the housing and on the chassis.

Starting delays mounted to the metal weights, power supply mounted on the chassis as well as ribbon cable wiring and LED-boards inside the housing.
Comparing the model with photos of its prototype it caught my eye that parts of the model's pantographs and their girders didn't match the prototype's paint. This called for a change...
Removing the pantographs from the model's roof proved to be simple due to three easily accessible screws. Disassembling the pantographs into their parts turned out to be a bit more complicated. While it was a quite easy exercise to detach the tension spring, disassembling the pantographs other parts was a balancing act between brute force and a sure instinct for the plastics behaviour...
After having mixed a paint for the pantographs' parts and the girders matching the prototype's roof colour, a simple appliance was made to simplify the process of airbrushing the small parts (see picture on the right). A sufficiently long drying time of the new paint provided for a problem-free reassembling of the parts. Afterwards the pantographs were mounted on the model's roof again.

Repainted parts of the pantographs on a simple appliance

Dried parts of pantographs ready for reassembling them

The pantographs now match the prototype a bit more regarding their coloring

Retrofit of pantos and illu complete. The model now features a directional illumination of head and tail lights, dashboards and driver cabs.

The representation of instruments and operating controls is up next...

The LEDs narrow angle of reflected beam provide these are no rear fog lights

Doc Wilfer hard at work - during the graveyard shift...

... and there was light

This was a nice occupational therapy for a weekend with a luminous effect which not at least worked quite quickly and without problems due to the engine's simple configuration. A bit of a mystery remains why the manufacturer refrained from equipping this model with an illumination ex factory in favour of some dreary lamps. The cost issue appears to be a paltry excuse, since the parts used for this illumination probably were no more than around ten Euro for a mass production.

A first test drive outside in the garden during dusk showed that the LEDs used for the engine's head and tail lights make it impossible to get lost of the Taurus' actual position...