BATTERY POWERED DOODLEBUG
Shortly after its conversion, Gas-Electric Motorcar No. 2 heads out along the Pine
I love a bargain. So at the 2004 East Coast Large Scale Train Show, when I saw an Aristocraft
Doodlebug at a bargain price, I just had to pick it up. Yet in the back of my mind I knew that it would cost
more to convert it to battery power than the car did in the first place. Bob Whipple had done a nice job
kitbashing this car into a PRSL doodlebug, and I got inspired. The Petersburg and Charlottesville Railroad
needed a car like this to provide economical passenger service on its branch lines. This one would be a
perfect fit if it were equipped with battery power. So I considered the various battery options. On the
Aristo Forum, I noticed that Paul Norton has been having great success with AA batteries. So I made up a
battery pack for AA batteries by taping together two 4-battery holders and a 2-battery holder as shown
below. It's only 12 ounces and very compact. 12 volts gives it a moderate speed, fast enough for an old
doodlebug, but you may want to use more batteries for a little more speed.
Then I took a Trackside Train Engineer Receiver, pulled it out of its plastic case, and mounted it in
the car's baggage compartment. I used 1/4 inch spacers cut from discarded wheelsets and 4-40
bolts and nuts. There was room for the battery pack between the TE and the room divider. I also
wired in a power on/off switch on the floor on the right side (in this photo, just to the right of the
I also wired in a charging jack, mounted in one of the car's underframe housings. Below you can
see the charging jack on the left and the on-off switch is barely visible on the right, just above the
For the headlight, I used the same basic AA-powered LED system as in my other engines, but this
time the LED was a "Golden White" from Richmond Controls. I couldn't manage to open up the
headlight casing, so I snipped off the old light's wire, pushed it in, and drilled a hole to fit the 5 mm
LED. The old bulb was easy to pull out. I drilled two small holes in the roof for the LED leads. The
switch is on the roof (opposite side as the bell) and looks like just another protuberance on the roof.
Notice the brightness and realistic color of the
AA batteries mounted on the cab roof,
switch on the right, and wires soldered to
the LED leads at the top of the photo.
I used the same kind of circuit to wire in LED lights in the ceiling. I removed all the Aristo lights and
wires, mounted 10-mm yellow LED's with double-sided tape, and wired them in paralled. The batteries
are mounted to the roof with double-sided tape and one screw located under one of the smokestacks.
The switch is on the roof also, located above the batteries in this photo, on the right side of the roof when
it's put together.
I have more work to do on this car, but it will be a while before I get around to it. I promise to revise this
web page as I progress on this project.
This compact battery pack holds 10
NiMH AA batteries, for a total of 12
volts. It weighs only 12 ounces. The
equivalent gel-cell battery weighs 38
ounces! On this one I'm using 2000
mAH batteries. AA's range from 1200
to 2200 mAH depending on price.