Modeling-ABC by Wilfried Eck
back to glossary back to homepage

How to make position-, navigation-, and warning lights

Position-, navigation-, and warning lights are so easily made it's really not necessary to spend any money. - In principle as follows:


Heat clear plastic rod (sprue from kit) over a candle; turn rod to get an even heating.

Remove from flame when plastic gets soft (shines) and pull ends slowly apart to a thin rod (narrow for a little light, thicker for a bigger one).

Cut in half; spare one end for further use.

Put one end near a candle flame (there should be no wind) until the end rolls back to a mushroom form. Remove from flame.

Slightly squeeze mushroom to get the horizontal planform into a teardrop shape.

Use transparent permanent marker to get the desired colour (red for an anti collision light in this case).

Cut diagonally as appropriate to get the right shape.

Apply glue to underside of light and fix it onto model. Ready!

Wing lights:

Conventional way:

Remove appropriate part in kit wing. Heat and press clear sprue to tear drop shape as described above, If in the original a coloured light bulb is covered by transparent glass,  drill a hole and colour it with permanent marker (blue right side, red left side) to resemble the light bulb. Glue part in, sand and polish to blend it in if necessary.

Alternative below:


My favorite way, perfect fit guaranteed: Heat and soften one end of clear sprue, then press it into the precut aperture. Take care that it is completely covered.

If the original position light is covered by tinted glass apply cement to insides of the aperture before the clear sprue is pressed in (permanent fix).

If the light contains a coloured light bulb covered with transparent glass, remove clear sprue, bore hole in the appropriate place and colour it. Then glue clear part in (cement only to the insides of the aperture!).



Cut off outer parts of the clear sprue, sand remains to shape (as the outer parts of the clear part should not have contact with the glue they should go off easily). Fine grade sandpaper and polish is used in the last step to get a shiny appearance.

Alternative, easy and safe:
Remove light part, insert (scratch) light bulb, cover cutout with flexible adhesive tape on one side, carefully fill epoxy glue in (no bubbles!) ; if necessary trim front edge after glue has hardened, then polish it. If there is some adhesive from the tape left it can be easily removed with thinners; alternatively adhesive tape slightly larger than the opening can be fixed on the lower tape, non sticking surface upside.


Other lights:

Rear position light: As described above, but leave some lenght of stump. Apply glue and insert part (colored white) into predrilled hole.