The Airport Rotating Beacon
Every airport diorama needs a rotating beacon.
The first problem is the massive, bright red, metal base.
The next problem is the beacon housing.
The next issue was the anemic incandescent bulb that comes with the beacon. The lamp consumes most of its energy generating heat instead of lumens. Once an ensuing search, produced a couple of exceptionally bright 12v LEDs
The lenses presented another problem. For reasons that now escape me, I ruined the lenses when I spray painted a clear coat over them, so I purchased another set
Once again I went on an eBay search to find Fresnel lenses that would fit into the beacon housing
Of course the clean, bright, tower framework had to be rusted to represent the look of most everything ferrous in that part of the world.
The most difficult problem with the Lionel is the rotational speed. Airport beacons rotate at 6RPM. The Lionel beacon has three modes of operation – no rotation, Intermittent rotation, and Warner bros. Tasmanian Devil. After many trials – and errors, I eventually got the beacon working in a reasonably correct manner. While it is still too fast on startup, after about 30 seconds it slows to an acceptable speed and without the annoying vibrating hum.
I cut a ring of medium thick evergreen plastic to insert between the rubber washer and the coil, applying graphite on the ring to make a smooth rotation.
Working the Lionel beacon into a usable airport beacon for the diorama about doubled the original cost paid for the unit. However, knowing what I now know would have saved a considerable amount of time, money and effort on experimental trials. But then isn’t that always the way with what begins as a great idea?
2 additional images. Click to enlarge.