I didn't feel very good about my relighting job in my Drovers Caboose. I have cut over to battery power for my lighting to prevent flickering. That didn't fair well in my Drovers Caboose. I still had power pickup problems between the rails and the frame side of the trucks. After spending far too much time dinking around with the trucks I decided it was time for new trucks. I ordered several pairs of Kadee 500 Bettendorf metal frame fully sprung trucks. Well they aren't any better than the trucks that came on the IHC Caboose. That set me back awhile.
I looked around for a better way to get reliable power from the rails. I even did a post on the Model Railroad Forum asking for help. The preferred way is wheel wipers, I've tried those in the past and I didn't like that even a little bit. There was a post from Pacfic Coast Air Line Railway describing how to make wheel wipers from Kadee centering springs. I had tried making them before without any success. The site goes into depth on how to make them, I followed the instructions and they work. The way they are installed gives you all wheel power pickup.
I began with a pair of plastic frame trucks and followed the instruction from the site. I used a #62 bit and a 00-90 tap for the brass 00-90 screws. A sharp pointed Awl did the job in the thin Kadee spring.
The truck below has #0-80 brass screws.
I found a good price on 00-80 x ⅜" brass screws on eBay ($4.95 per 100) so I tried a pair of trucks with the larger screws. Other than appearance they are the same.
I was concerned about drag on the trucks using #30 wire, one wire is scary but two really worried me. Back to engineering mode. I looked for some super flexible wire and found some #36 superflex on eBay.
I prepped the under carriage for the installation. After many attempts or failures I finally found a way to route the wires for minimum effect on the trucks. The trick was to loop it around the truck and anchor it to the center of the frame.
I put a red dot on each truck to prevent accidental reverse polarity.
The caboose floor has a perfect entrance for the wires.
I drilled a 1/16" hole in the battery box for power entry.
With the power pickup portion finished I'll continue with the Mel upgrade inside the caboose.
The first thing I did in the on my upgrade was to remove the factory glued roof to give me better access to the interior.
Here I have removed the old 1.28 volt Ni-Mh battery and and installed the new 4 volt LIR2032 coin cell. I replaced the 1½volt micro bulbs with wide angle warm white LEDs.
I added a pair of micro connectors into the steps, one on each side of the platform.
I added a new 1 amp bridge rectifier and a 5 volt regulator to power the 4 volt coin cell TP4056 charger board.
In this picture the 5 volt power supply and battery charger have been installed.
The mysterious step connector.
This little guy has a working lantern in his hand. He is standing on a micro connector that slips into the step connector. The lantern is a warm white micro 1 mm LED drawing a whopping 60 ųa and it is still very bright.
My Drovers Caboose is finished and the lighting works great, the Kadee Centering Springs fixed the power pickup problem.
The total current draw from the 4 volt Lithium Coin Cell is just under 4ma.
For those of you that use the 1½ volt Tomar Marker lights this system will power them very good. I put two Tomar Markers in series to operate on 3 volts then a 100Ω resistor drops the 4 volt Lithium battery voltage to 2.8 volts. I re-powered one of my cupola cabooses using that method.
I went with a larger battery because of the slightly higher current of the bulbs. A coin cell would work if you don't need more than about 20 minutes of battery operation. The bulbs in series draw about 15ma and the LIR2032 is rated at 40mah. I often leave the lights on for long periods so I use a battery that will operate full lighting for several hours. The battery in this cupola caboose has 600mah capacity.