THE EL LIGHT MOD

The Flux Bands and Reactor on the Eaglemoss 1:8 scale Back to the Future DeLorean are normally lit using some LEDs and basic fiber optic cable. While this can work OK, the end result of this solution typically means the fiber optics have dim middle sections with mildly brighter ends.

I originally planned on replacing the Eaglemoss fiber optic cable with some high performance side-glow fiber. However, Corrie and Chloe from Model Modz have created something much better….The EL Light Mod. This mod replaces the stock LEDs and fiber optics in our models with real electroluminescent (EL) wire that evenly emits light along its entire length. If you are not familiar with EL wire, it works by passing alternating current (AC) through and around a thin copper wire coated in phosphor. This electricity cycles down the wire at high frequency causing the phosphor to glow. The wires are then encased in a protective PVC sleeve so there is little danger of any harm to us.

While the power requirements are relatively low, it does require an inverter system to convert the on-board DC to 100V AC and bump the frequency to about 1000 Hz. Because of this, the AAA batteries normally used are insufficient and you will need an much better external DC source such as The Power Mod, which I already have installed.

Contents


The EL Light Mod includes:

  • DC to AC Inverter Unit
  • Front Flux Band EL Wire
  • Left Side Flux Band EL Wire
  • Right Side Flux Band EL Wire
  • Reactor EL Wire
  • Extension Wiring for all connections, with color-coded heat shrink

Installation


NOTE: For Part One, I had just finished Issue 58 of the build so these steps are based on that level of completion. If you are farther along, you may have to remove additional parts of your model to access some of these components. Also, I already have The Power Mod installed, so these steps and photographs reflect that mod.

PART ONE

Before You Start

We will need to make some slack in the power cable so we can work inside the Fuel Tank. Therefore, you may want to remove the three Tabs holding down the power wire first. This is a picture of the original battery wiring, but you get the idea:

Step 1

The instructions available from Model Modz come in three flavors (Standard, Advanced, and Body-On), but I am going to go a little different route. Also, depending on how far into the build you are, you may need to disassemble things until you can get the lower interior assembly (floorboard) out of the car.

We will start with the EL Extension Wiring which has color-coded heat shrink on each plug wire (red, blue, green, and black):

The red and blue plugs (color-coded heat shrink) need to pass through the Center Console of the interior assembly from the rear to the front. You could take the interior apart until you have removed the Center Console, but I found that is was not that difficult to feed these plugs through the assembled interior just by taking it slow and easy:

I carefully inserted these these two wires into the rear opening of Center Console

…until the thicker middle section (black heat shrink) of the Wiring Extension lined up with this square opening:

At the front of the interior, I used tweezers to grab on to the plug ends and pull them through this opening under the dashboard:

This process was preferable to taking the most of the interior apart, considering all the work I have done on the decorative wiring details. Luckily, this step was pretty easy to work through while leaving everything in place:

Step 2

With The Power Mod installed, there should be two power connectors available at the front of the chassis:

One of these connectors needs to be fed back into the Fuel Tank through the notch in the chassis:

Step 3

On the underside of the model, remove the six (6) screws holding the Fuel Tank Cover in place and move the cover aside. The two rear screws are type LM (circled in blue below) and the front four screws are type BM (circled in red). Be sure to keep this in mind for re-installation later:

Now, you can pull the power connector the rest of the way through the chassis notch and into the fuel tank compartment…

… and move the Fuel Tank Cover out of the way:

Step 4

This step requires some cutting and grinding/sanding. The old power switch housing and these two tabs need to be removed:

First, I used some flat-nose snips to cut most of the plastic away, like this:

Then, I used a rounded sanding bit on my Dremel to carefully grind away the remaining plastic until I had a flat surface at all three locations:

Step 5

We can now install the Inverter. There is a pre-installed adhesive strip on the front surface:

Remove the backing paper from the adhesive strip and attach the Inverter to the center of the forward edge of the fuel tank. If you are feeling adventurous, you could alternatively drill two holes in the front of the Fuel Tank and use some screws to attach the Inverter instead. The adhesive was enough for me, so I left it alone:

Step 6

Connect the power lead plug you passed through the chassis to the red socket of the Inverter. Be sure the red wires line up and match each other. Otherwise, the Inverter will not work. This provides the positive (+) power connection:

Step 7

Next up is this long thin black wire. It is used for the negative (-) power connection to the Inverter:

The mod instructions say to feed this plug/wire towards the rear of the car by running it under the radiator water pipes, around the transmission mount, over the driveshaft, and up through the chassis to get to where the rear plug for wire #23 is. I decided not to do that. I didn’t want the wire that visible, so I fed this plug back through the notch in the chassis instead:

I flipped the car over and ran the black wire along the existing wires, under the clear sticker, and over to where the other plugs were:

Next, I located the plug at the end of Wire #23 (right rear of the chassis):

I temporarily removed the rearmost Tab holding these wires down, slid Wire #23 out, and folded it forward so I could connect it to the black wire from the Inverter. I prefer this way of routing the black wire more, as I don’t have it visible on the underside/engine bay of the car:

Step 8

At this point, we need to connect the red heat-shrinked lead of Wiring Extension we installed through the interior to the Inverter. As attaching the interior to the chassis is part of Issue 59, you may want to refer to that issue for reference. Bring the interior down close enough to feed the ‘red’ color-coded EL plug through the notch in the chassis and into the Fuel Tank:

IMPORTANT: On the underside of the chassis, connect this plug to the matching plug of the Inverter.

Then, tuck all of the wires into the Fuel Tank and replace the Fuel Tank Cover. Remember, the longer LM screws fit the two holes towards the rear of the car, while the shorter BM screws fit the four holes to the front.

You can now flip the chassis back upright and secure the interior assembly to the chassis per Steps 40-41 of Issue 59 as required.

Step 9 (optional)

With The EL Light Mod, you won’t need Wire #19 (front left of the chassis) or Wire #22 (left rear of the chassis) installed your model. It won’t hurt anything to leave them installed, but I chose to remove them. I loosened the Tabs holding these wires in place, pulled them out, replaced the Tabs, and tossed the wires into storage:

Step 10

Feed the blue heat-shrinked wire toward the left rear of the car, securing it under the Tabs if you want:

Step 11

Feed the green heat-shrinked wire toward the right rear of the car, securing the long lead under the Tabs if you so chose. Be sure the short lead that splits off this wire remains at the center of the chassis behind the bulkhead (this is the plug for the Reactor EL wire, circled in yellow below).

Feed the plugs on the ends of both rear EL wires towards the middle of the chassis and down towards the ground (circled in red below). Later on in the build, these will eventually fit in the rounded notches you can see in the frame near the wires:

These two plugs should hang below the frame like this:

That it! This completes PART ONE of The EL Light Mod installation. The rest will have to wait until I get the issues where we install the Flux Band boxes and Reactor. However, to make sure it all works, I connected the power supply, attached all of the EL wire, and pushed Button #1. Wow, this looks amazing and I can’t wait to see the finished product!

PART TWO (Coming Soon)

PART THREE (Coming Soon)

Thoughts


While I have not finished this mod just yet, it is still so much better than I expected. The Flux Band EL wire is a cool ice blue color and the Reactor EL wire is a subtle orange. All of the EL is bright and evenly lit from end to end. There are no dim sections at all.

Before I turned it on, I was a little concerned about the noise the Inverter was going to make. EL wires require a high frequency current and typically these inverters make a high-pitched squeal. However, I was pleasantly surprised that, while the sound is indeed there, it is barely noticeable. Of course, at my age I can hear less than before, so it could just be my ears. Either way, I am happy!

So far, I am very satisfied with The EL Light Mod, both in quality and ease of installation. Thank you Corrie and Chloe!