General LEGO train discussion

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Near Naas
53° 13' 38.6868" N, 6° 39' 37.6596" W
Joined: 5 Jun 2009

LEGO has had a number of rail systems over the years. While the track gauge hasn't changed in the past few decades the power source has. The 12V system had a powered third rail in the centre of the tracks. The popular 9V system which was only discontinued a few years ago carried the current via a metal strip in the rails. The LEGO 9V motors picked up power from the tracks and were controlled, not by remote control, but by a single controller connected to the tracks. These are the tracks you saw in Dun Laoghaire and Blackrock. One drawback with 9V systems is that as the equipment has been discontinued, tracks, motors and controllers need to be acquired in the secondary markets, e.g. ebay or These are not cheap. There is a (US) company starting to make fully compatiblle aluminium tracks again and an internet search should find this.

The more recent sets as you've noted used batteries and there is a LEGO rechargeable battery pack available. These trains are the power function (PF) trains and they run on the cheaper plastic tracks aswell as the 9V tracks. These are infra-red remote controlled and as you might have noticed at the exhibitions are difficult to control (at least by me) as they need a line of sight to the receiver on the roof of the trains. I find it very difficult to control these and prefer the 9V system but others like PF as PF can offer more possibilities, e.g. multiple trains running at variable speeds and even in opposite directions on the same track.

When it comes to LEGO there are no boundaries. Some of the most fantastic looking models out there have had some bricks (e.g. baseplates) cut without the public ever knowing but personally I think there is more satisfaction in creating a model using only unmodified standard bricks (from any line, past or present). Some of the best train creations out there also use stickers to recreate liveries or unusual windscreen designs. They often look fantastic but again I prefer the challenge of brick-built liveries, e.g. the Irish rail logos on the trains we had at the exhibitions (see image gallery for pics). Its down to personal preferences.

As regards leaving creations intact I think this depends on the resources available. Those that can afford to keep several trains built will probably do so. They don't take up a lot of space and extra wheels, bogies, magnetic couplers etc. are still available from LEGO.