Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Installing a FRED in a Well Car

The FRED in action on the CP Rail M & M Sub.
Since I model the mid-1990s, I can’t have cabooses at the end of trains. In the era I model, the last car in a train carries a Flashing Rear End Device, or FRED.

A FRED relays information to the locomotive about things like air brake pressure. It also carries a flashing red light to let other trains know there is a train up ahead.

I don’t have FREDs on all of my trains. This is because the consists of the trains change from session to session—I can’t always have the same FRED-equipped car at the end of every train. But that’s not the case for my doublestack train, which never varies. For that train, I installed a FRED in one car that always brings up the rear.

My FRED came from Circuitron. It is a completely self-contained unit, with battery and on-off switch.

Installing the FRED in a well car is dead easy—no drilling required. The double-sided tape makes it easy to affix to the bottom. The hardest thing was cutting a hole in the bottom of one container to cover up the FRED. And even that wasn’t difficult—a few holes made with a drill, followed by an X-acto blade, did the job.

To activate the FRED, I simply lift off the container and press the on-off switch—the process is the same to turn it off.

Now when the doublestack train rolls across the layout, it looks like it belongs in the mid-1990s.

You can see the doublestack train in action on the CP Rail Manitoba and Minnesota Sub. on YouTube, and see a bit of the FRED in action, at

A photo showing how easy it is
to install a FRED in a well car.

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