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Adding the Dorfan Lighted Wide Gauge "Victory" Bridge To A Layout

By Jim Kelly-Evans

The 1930 Dorfan catalogue listing for the 414L bridge

A lucky find at York several years ago was an example of Dorfan's most impressive accessory: the wide gauge 414L illuminated "Victory" bridge. Catalogued with illumination in wide gauge for just two years, 1929 and 1930, it was the top of the line bridge of the six models, both single and double span offered by Dorfan in both 0 gauge and wide gauge. The bridge is 56" long and takes the space of four sections of wide gauge tinplate track, so you need a lot of available real estate to put this on your layout. It has ramps on either side of the double section middle span that would take the track up about an inch and a half from ground level. Since the accessory is made of all tinplate, there are no diecast components and no worry about disintegration. Electrically, the four lamps on posts at the corners of the bridge proper were all wired to the center rail underneath. Therefore, the lamps were illuminated only when power was applied to the track.

Each lamp is mounted on it's own minature socket with a ceramic base. There is also a ceramic insulator that screws into the outside of the brass exterior lamp housing. One problem with existing examples of these illuminated Dorfan bridges is that these small ceramic insulators are missing from the light socket assemblies. This is really more of a cosmetic issue since the low voltage lamps do not generate that much heat. A bigger problem exists if one or more of the entire lamp assemblies is missing. That was the case with the bridge that I acquired as it was missing one complete lamp assembly. Therefore, my fist task was to fashion a replacement lamp socket.

I came up with suitable parts from my plumbing and electrical junk boxes for the housing and I used a spare vintage ceramic light socket to complete the assembly.

As found just a stalk with missing lamp assembly

Base for the replacement assembly soldered in place

Completed exterior replacement lamp assembly

Final completed replacement lamp assembly

While I was working on replacing the missing lamp assembly I also re-wired the four lamps so that they could be powered independently of the track. The original factory wiring was present but crumbling, so the re-wiring was necessary in any event.

Once repair and re-wiring work was completed, it was time to incorporate this spectacular accessory into the upper level of my layout. I decided to install the bridge over a culvert so that the ramps and bridge surface would all be level with the rest of the layout. In order to accommodate this accessory I had to expand my layout somewhat and design the sub-level footing for the bridge.

Layout modifications to accommodate the 414L bridge

A small sub-platform supports the bridge

Lichen and water add to the colorful display

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