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Old Oct 08, 2007, 12:04 AM
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United States, MN, Brainerd
Joined Oct 2004
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Stern Lanterns for the brig...

I wanted to add lights to the brig because it has, and will in the future, sail at night in our club's "Lighthouse Night" show.
I found some 30mm "brass" lanterns from Model Expo that are about the right size. They are cast metal coated with a "whiff" of brass, and the panes are an ugly orange-red opaque plastic. See the lantern here:
http://www.modelexpo-online.com/cgi-...TRAN85=N&GENP=
Learned a number of things I thought I would pass on.

The LED's: Must be very bright RED leds with clear lens. A superbright white LED looked white thru the red panes (I had to make new red translucent panes) of the lantern. See the pics for the LED that worked - red, superbright (880mcd), wide angle. The LED must be reshaped to fit thru a mounting tube into the lantern, and the surface must be rough-sanded to "frost" the LED to distribute the light more evenly. When reshaping, don't overheat th LED or expose any inner components. The LED I used requires 1.7V. I used a 330 ohm resistor with a 6V battery and got about 1.75V across the LED.

The lenses: Experiments required.... I tried to cut out little panes of clear red plastic sheetstock to fit the openings - all slightly different in size and shape. By the second one, and after unsuccessfully trying to neatly glue them in place, I knew it wasn't going to work. Thought I would try filling the spaces with a film of epoxy applied witha toothpick, like the clear window glazing fluid sold by Testor's (it isn't waterproof ). Put red food coloring into the epoxy, and it actually worked. But the test batch set up rubbery. So I let some red food coloring dry out overnight and then mixed the epoxy on top of the dried food coloring film. Worked great! Epoxy set hard and fast. You have to play with the ratios. It doesn't take much red, and I mixed way more epoxy than I needed to fill the lantern panes. 15 min epoxy set too fast. I had to work really fast. The epoxy "sags" in the openings, so after filling all the panes, I put the first lantern in a lathe chuck and let it rotate very slowly to keep the epoxy in place til it set. I turned the second lantern in my hand for about 10 minute. Better to do one at a time...

Mounting was straightforward. The wires are easy to hide and to snake thru underdeck from the stern to the hatch. Pics show mounting steps.

Don't know if these are historically right for the brig Syren, but they look cool...
Were there other lights on ships of this period? I'd like to get some soft yellow glow on deck, maybe, and a forward light to "balance" the stern lights.
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Last edited by DanL; Oct 08, 2007 at 09:20 PM. Reason: add a pic
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