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Starting out on 12V trains

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Hello everybody!

I decided I couldn't just sit around watching lego turn expensive, so I'm now planning my first venture into the realm of LEGO trains! It took me a while to think it all through, and I've decided to settle on 12V, I'm a sucker for the complicated commands and tracks.

My plan is to build my own train, while buying only the most basic and necessary parts for a 12V train (locomotive and a minimum of 2 carts). While browsing through BL and ebay, it became obvious that 12V trains can leave you penniless in a matter of minutes. Even with the basic stuff such as a round track, a motor, bogey parts, transformer, cables, etc. it comes to around 100$....cheapest on BL.

As I'm not a collector, I find no comfort in having complete boxed or even built sets laying around. I really want to make this train my own by building it almost from scratch (of course, based on a real life train), and keep on adding to the track over the years (the only way I could afford expanding). I even wonder if a used complete set would be more worth it than individual parts.

I'm in need of some friendly tips, suggestions and walkthroughs about starting on 12V. ...maybe there's even someone with a spare 12V motor :cry_happy:

Thank you,

-Adrian

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A brave venture, as 12V is getting more and more expensive.

Needless to say is that with any of the systems you can make remote switchpoints with PF motors and the new flexible track makes custom track easy as well. I know that some people even build in DCC decoders in 9V trains, controlling them by a computer.

I wish you good luck! :thumbup:

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Hmmm... I wouldn't say you should go with 12v just for the complex wiring etc. It is just way too expensive. I think you would be far better off goin 9v and, like CGH suggested, using DCC on your trains, wiring up computer controlled signals etc. I think you could get your mechnics kick out of 9v for a cheaper price too.

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I would also look into 9V sets/parts as opposed to 12V. 9V is still more readily available on the second hand market. There's a number of great 9V sets that I'd love to get my hands on, but even they bring a hefty price tag.

Good luck with finding your parts and please share a few images when you're able to bring everything together.

You might also check out Train Tech periodically for some tips. We've seen a lot more train activity lately, and more and more train fans are sharing their technical knowledge.

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I wish you luck, I hope you have deep pockets or a second job to pay for 12v!

Paul

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As I was scrolling down to read the replies, I was reaaaaally hoping I would find at least one encouraging suggestion :laugh::grin:

On the price and switches: I'm not a mechanically gifted person, I simply like gizmos. Wouldn't the extra PF systems to control the switches even up the cost of a 12V? The only gripe I really have with 9V are the expensive tracks, although I'm not sure they reach the cost of 12V tracks.

But seriously, I appreciate all the help so-far :) I'm definitely going to look into a 9V purchase too. For now I'll stick with the plan until I hit a wall, even if it might not be the most cost efficient way, at least for stubbornness' sake. (some of the cheapest 12V accessories such as tracks are available in a BL shop close to my location, if it wasn't for this I would have long abandoned this idea).

Thank you and please let's hear some more!

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As a 12v expert, at least I have a lot of 12v, I advice you to start collect 9v. Why, you ask? Well, 12v is not very reliable and it's very very expensive nowadays. I don't know where you're form, but outside Europe it's also very hard to get. When it hasn't run in a week, you need to clean the tracks again. The 9v system is the most ideal system, because it's reliable and powered form the wall. Al the extra's, like remoted controlling switches and cross-overs is simple to make for the 9v system. Which I'm busy with it at the moment. Only you need extra is a 12v control unit for the lights and stuff.

Check at the pic's form my layout sofar:

g_-_control_is_made_bigger.jpg_thumb.jpg

I do love this picture, only a nightmare to connect everything.

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I was going to add that Panda has an awesome collection and 12V layout, perhaps he might give you some pointers... and now I see that he has. :thumbup:

If you're still highly interested in 12V trains; just like everything else, if your willing to pay the price, I'm sure you can find the pieces and/or sets your looking for.

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Panda9001100: I admire your layout skills and patience, as well as your knowledge in 12V. What you did there is beyond anything I even plan to achieve by collecting trains. I am located in Romania, so 12V would be fairly accessible for reasonable prices. Thank you for the tips.

The Brickster, everyone else, thank you for the honest suggestions, but I am afraid I will have to stand my ground :classic: . Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to come off as arrogant, or an avid collector who has nothing better to do with his money. Reading over these comments, I realized I have to turn this into a personal project, and see if I can collect the basics of a 12V layout with the limited financial resources that I have (my day job payment is almost 200$ a month). In a way this will be an experiment in what would be the cheapest possible way to own a simple 12V layout. I do not plan on buying official complete sets, and I don't plan on buying parts for a huge layout. I only need a motor, transformer and tracks, I will build my own locomotive and train carts, and the track layout will be basic. I will also share my tips while in the process of buying components, maybe more people will be inspired to start their own train layouts, without having to rob a bank (for example the cost of tracks to build a circle track layout for 12V, will cost me the equivalent of the brickmaster exclusive Venator set, which comes cheap for most in the US, but pricey in Europe. And I'm negotiating this trade with someone right now) .

The way I see it there's two ways for me, I can either give up on 12V and buy a 9V set off ebay/BL, but a couple years later I will want a 12V set/parts anyway.

Or just continue with the initial plan as described above.

Again, thank you all, and I hope this project will be received with positive opinions :thumbup:

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Another issue with the 12V line might come up depending on where you live. 12V was only ever released in Europe and the transformer is built into the control unit (unlike the 9V speed regulator), so there is only a European 220V plug on it. I'm not sure how you would use the thing in the US.

Some of the 12V components were very cool though. The motorized gates and signal lights could be recreated in the 9V system, but I think 12V even had an automatic magnet decoupler. I agree with others that 9V or PF is your best bet overall though. They are cheaper and also more flexible and extendable in the long run.

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I recently got some 12V track, an engine (7745) and remote controlled gates (7866).

The only thing I´m missing is that dammit piece of track that combines the tracks with the power source. :hmpf_bad:

For this one piece, you´ll pay 5€ at least.

Then I browsed ebay for other remote controlled lights, decouplings and switches.

Man these ARE expensive! :oh:

For this reason alone I´d suggest to switch to 9V (better reliability) and if you still can afford it, add the remote stuff to it. You´ll get the best of two worlds.

Or maybe, maybe we´ll see some remote thingies in the future with the new PF elements.

Not all channels are used with the new remote control right now...

Who knows? :grin:

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If you really want 12V stuff, don't forget that you don't really need 12V train wheels for all your creations. The train wheels that are in production right now will run on 12V tracks nicely; the gauge has always been the same. This means that you can also add 9V and (future) PF waggons without any problems.

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If you really want 12V stuff, don't forget that you don't really need 12V train wheels for all your creations. The train wheels that are in production right now will run on 12V tracks nicely; the gauge has always been the same. This means that you can also add 9V and (future) PF waggons without any problems.

Thank you for the info, that is something I wasn't completely sure about. I was hoping there was a way to avoid those classic 12V wheels.

I've seen different types of 12V motors on BL, one with two pinholes and the other with three (and that one has two versions). Are there any major differences?

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Nothing, only you need different connectors to connect it to a wire. Very simple to adjust, aslong you've the right connectors :classic: .

The motor with 3 holes are newer then the motor with 2 holes.

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Firstly, I know next to nothing about Lego trains, not owning one, so I'm just speculating :blush:

From what I can see, 12v trains are very like Scalextric in how they work - the power comes through the two metal strips between the main tracks. The strips are connected to the motor inside the train by metal brushes, and each strip is also connected to a terminal on the power source (which is a stepped-down mains current). The speed and direction can be controlled by increasing or decreasing the current.

Assuming all that is correct, I'll begin.

With your MOCing capabilities (and I've always assumed that you're technically minded), surely it would be possible to build a train that runs on a standard non-train motor (power function motor or otherwise)?

And to connect the motor to the track, two bits of standard insulated wire, each with one end (stripped of the insulation) curled around one of the stud connections on the motor/lead (the black studs on the motor below). A brick on top of this (or maybe blutack e.t.c.) would keep the wire in place on the stud.

43362c01.gif

The other end of the wire would come out the bottom of the train. The end should be splayed out, to make maximum contact with the track (wire with multiple copper strands in the middle would be best for this), like in Scalextric -

73377814_o.jpg

And that should save you buying a motor. The voltage of the motor here could be 12v or 9v - it doesn't matter. That leads me onto the transformer. I use a simple AC-DC adapter for any Lego power I need, which can be set from 3v to 12v. A wire connected to each side of the track and to the adapter's terminals should work to provide power that is safe and variable.

I'm not sure about it, but a mobile phone charger might be modifiable to act as an adapter.

And thus all you need to buy is the track (and any extra switches e.t.c)

Hope that helps :sweet: I've got all excited about trains myself now :grin:

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That there is some far out thinking! I like the idea of using a 9V technic motor, and the only part sacrificed (and by that I mean horribly sliced) would be a short and cheap connection wire (even I'm not purist enough to care about it). I also like sticking to a sure power source rather than batteries.

I am still in negotiations with my supplier of parts, so-far we're settled on a Bane and Riddler minifigs in exchange for a round complete track layout, some straight tracks, couplers and magnets. Now the non-train motor plan SlyOwl suggests could be put in action ... it all depends if I can trade my brickmaster 20007 set on a 12V motor :D .

Hope that helps . I've got all excited about trains myself now

It does help, thanks! Aye, Venturing into unknown territories (themes) is a thrill :D .

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In 2001 I exhibited this 12V layout

I motorised some of the points in pairs.

There was a level crossing near the point on the diagonal double track bit and a station at the top.

It was enough to run a train each way and shunt in the yard.

There was a gantry crane over the diagonal double tracks and a goods shed over the end of the lower track.

I isolated the crossovers between each main line and the yard because their polarities could be opposite.

I used a LEGO transformer in the yard and a bench power supply on the main lines.

Having moved to 9V for my main line trains, I had a plan to one day do a 12V layout of Baker St. underground station (Metropolitan platforms).

I think 12V trains are good for trains with a centre electric rail.

Consider the cost of the 12V parts for this layout:

10 electric points at £20 each

10 12V train motors at £20 each

58 curves = 8 packs electrified at £10 each

218 straights = 28 packs electrified at £10 each

1 transformer at £40

Total = £800

Lights, level crossing etc... on top

It's brave, but it's not as much as the £1300 it cost me to switch to a similar amount of 9V soon afterwards!

The main thing with that was having to use two 9V train motors for every 12V one.

Needless to say, my 9V collection expanded significantly from there :classic:

This was the 2003-4 layout for comparison.

As long as you're happy to clean the tracks (a pencil eraser works well, as does a cloth dipped in a minimal amount of methylated spirit) and motor contacts, it should be just as rewarding as 9V. Not sure I'd be prepared to pay silly prices for custom units such as a decoupler though. That also depends on the couplings with an extra vertical bit so that the device can push them apart. The vertical bits disappeared when 9V came along.

I did burn out a 12V motor and a couple of others started getting intermittent. That was why I switched to 9V because I couldn't replace the motors after 1996. OK, I had been applying the motors to Technic like this! A 4-wheeled robot with a motor per wheel (62mm model team wheels 32020 with tyres), geared down by pulley and then 16:24 by chains, that could climb a pillow at 60 degrees, powered from a 12V 6A computer power supply! It melted a 9V pole reverser switch! 12V at 0.67A x 4 = 32W! I was more reckless in those days! :classic:

Mark

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First off, I wanted so badly to reply to this topic. So I decided to sign up. Ive been a long time lurker.

I live in the US and have been in love with the 12V system for a long long time. I have a huge collection myself just like Panda's. I started with a hand train back in '81 - 7710 which had the dutch colored wagons, and have been adding sets here and there until I had em all, plus some more.

Its a bit more expensive than 9V but hey if its something you like to do, go for it. Dont make money the stumbling block. It will take some time before you have what you want.

First and fore most I would recommend looking at Ebay.de. This is the place where I get all my stuff. Ebay.de has all the things you need. Bricklink also have them except sometimes they over charge. Try or if you already know, to learn German just a little, so that you can understand the description of the items. For you since you live in Romania, its cheaper on the shipping side compared to me who lives in California.

Try and see if you can get a cheaper set. ie Such ones like the 7745, 7710/20/22 (except no motor). This set is one of the more recent ones and can be easily had. You can probably snatch a used 12V BLACK motor for 20 to 30 euros depending if you can find one on bid.

Usually I would look for auctions that sell a mixed box full of 12v stuff and the owner doesn't know if its complete or not. And if you know what your looking for sometimes you can get lucky with stuff you can get. On German Ebay I once got a mixed bag of 12V items which had 3 yes 3 RED 12 V motors in great condition and payed a whopping 57 Euros for it!!! So if your patient and look carefully and know how to search Ebay youll find it.

So just be patient and once you see something you like snatch it.

Ofcourse the other items are a bit more expensive like 7860 and 7862 and 7866. But again you just need time and patience and you'll find one of them.

So, good luck and keep us posted.

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AMuller, Mark Bellis, thank you both for your replies.

Not sure I'd be prepared to pay silly prices for custom units such as a decoupler though. That also depends on the couplings with an extra vertical bit so that the device can push them apart. The vertical bits disappeared when 9V came along.

Is that the only thing the vertical coupling is for? If I ignore the decoupler feature, can I use normal couplings?

I'll try not to be as reckless :), I have two 12V motors on the way to me, and I plan to keep them in fair condition.

First off, I wanted so badly to reply to this topic. So I decided to sign up. Ive been a long time lurker.

Welcome! I'm sure this community needs more enthusiastic 12V train fans such as yourself :D .

I kept in mind your tips to keep an eye out on ebay auctions, and I managed to score this: lot of rails, switches, controls and a motor for 24 Euros (+7 euros shipping to a friend in Germany), heck! the engine alone is worth 50 Euros.

I also got in touch with a someone in Hungary who was open to trades. I gave : one bane minifig, one riddler minifig, one Ashoka, one Anakin (CW), one Rotta + 20007 and 20006 sets in built once condition with instructions. These parts and sets never cost me anything, most were from prizes. And I received one full circle of 12V tracks, 4 straight tracks, one transformer, one black 12V motor, a bunch of couplings and magnet. Sure I might have gotten more for those figs and sets if sold individually, but I never spent a cent on those.

I also made a BL order for a curved transformer connecting rail (4.50 $) and two 2x2 white light bricks ( 6.50 $ each) ... this is the only part I don't see as a bargain. But so-far I'm very content with my 12V buys.

Edited by Olog

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You did a great bargain, I'm jealous :blush: .

I can't wait to see some pic's of your layout. I never see great layouts with 12v trains much around brickshelf.

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You did a great bargain, I'm jealous :blush: .

I can't wait to see some pic's of your layout. I never see great layouts with 12v trains much around brickshelf.

I noticed there are lots of great bargains on Ebay. I have a theory: Here you can see one (possibly incomplete) 7735 12V train set, with transformer . At this moment there are only seconds left until the bidding ends, and it's at 7 euros. You know why? Because of the title of the auction. Most Ebay buyers usually search for specific items such as "lego 12V", "lego eisenbahn" ....and it's obvious that not all sellers label their lots with these words. These items are not found by most lego buyers. Your only chance is to just search for "lego" and look through the hundreds of bids ending that day. If it weren't so much trouble to send payment to Germany through bank transfer, I'd be all over this auction.

Edited by Olog

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Well, he does have the set number in the title. I think most people look for "lego 7735" or some variant of that. Some of the biggest bargains I have come across over the years are items with a wrong or no set number in the auction title, or lacking the "Lego" somewhere in the title.

Personally, I would stay away from auctions like that because of the picture. You can't tell anything about the quality of a used set from just one small picture like that.

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Adrian, it's a crying shame you didn't bid on that last one... My advice: set up a PayPal account. It costs next to nothing and is extremely useful if you want to buy things over eBay and not go through the entire hassle of international bank transfers.

@CP5670 - at a price of ~20 EUR I would rather try and get what I can than pass up such an opportunity. Besides, if you think about it, had the seller had sufficient time (and desire) to photograph what he sells in a proper way, he would also have found some more time to think of a better title. And btw, Olog is right, there are much more clicks related to queries such as "lego eisenbahn" or "lego 9V" than to specific sets. However, that only applies to Trains and with any other kind of LEGO it's the other way round where set numbers are of utmost importance.

In any case - since this is my first post in this thread and I'd like to at least TRY and stay on topic, I would like to congratulate Adrian for his enthusiasm... I have recently started setting up a 9V layout from scratch, so I can pretty much relate to his highs & lows :sweet: Best of luck with that 12V hunt of yours and do share the result when you get one done :)

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Sorry for resurrecting this, but I'm in need of some help. I'm planning a layout for a future-future event in Romania, but due to my small collection of 12V tracks, I'd like to keep the train layout as simple and as practical as possible. We're planning three or more tables of city-scape, each linked together with rail bridges. My first idea was to make a single track along all tables, with a loop at each end so the train can turn and continue it's voyage around the layout on the same portion of track in the middle. Like so O-----O

BUT ... It's Illogical. Since the cycle wouldn't be complete this way.

So I'm wondering if there's any way to avoid using a double quantity of straight tracks... is it possible to link the two ends using 12V cables? Thus making it work theoretically (in my mind at least, but that doesn't mean much :P )

As an update to my initial project, I managed to score another ebay auction for 12 euros for a couple of switches, 12 straight rail sections and 22 curved rail secrions. I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to amass enough rails for a nice little layout that would look great.

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What about this?

trainlayout_olog.jpg

In this way you've 2 loops and can add more switches if you like. Only one track will shortcircuit the elec. This way the train can run forever. Ohw, and if it runs a whole day.......don't put the speedregulator on max speed, otherwise the 12v motor can be overheated and the contacts in motor can melt away. A bit shame, exspecially it's a red one of value of 100 usa dollars.

Good luck and don't forget the place pic's here.

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