I have a collection of 9V trains - and thus, I have a large array of 9V train track. 12V set 7813 Shell Tanker Wagon is arriving in the mail, and I plan on picking up both 7898 Cargo Train Deluxe and 10194 Emerald Night in the near future. As my collection of trains diversifies, no doubt will my collection of train track, and by the end of the year I speculate to have each different type of track before the year's end.
However, I'm growing curious - how will I mix 12V, 9V, Remote Control, and Power Functions? Will I have to buy different track for each type of train?
The Different Tracks
- 4.5V, the first "real" LEGO Train line if you don't count the 1965 push locomotive, used brick built track and is of course incompatible with all other types. A motor pushes the train along, like in 12V.
- As I understand it, 12V incorporated a "third rail" which powered the trains - the same method used by most hobby trains. However, in this case, there were two rails running through the tracks.
- With 9V, the "third rail" wasn't used, and had pretty much the same track as the new Power Functions. The 9V track moved power directly from the metal rails to the train's wheels.
- I don't know much about Remote Control, but I believe the track doesn't conduct electricity and is therefore irreconcilable with 9V track. The trains are controlled by the remote and not the track.
- I'm unaware about the "other" trains, such as the 10183 Hobby Trains and 4837 Mini Trains, but I'm relatively certain that they don't run on any track whatsoever, and are thus irrelevant.
I only have 9V trains, so I have never had any Remote Control, 12V, etc. trains to switch wheels and motors with. From information I have read on these boards, I can only assume that you can switch any train's wheels with any other type, and thus, any train could run on any track. Unfortunately, you'd need a heck of a lot of a certain type of wheel, the patience to remove the wheels from all of your other trains, and potentially a bunch of wasted track. Then again, I don't know if all types of wheels can be switched out - I've only read that 12V and 4.5V can be adapted to 9V. And perhaps you can't switch the motors between Remote Control, Power Functions, and other types. It would take someone with experience switching wheels and motors to give an accurate opinion.
Which Type of Track is Best?
If you decide upon switching train wheels and motors, then another question is posed: which type of track will you use? 4.5V and 12V use brick built track with bendable rails, which sound quite limited. How are you to create cross tracks or points? Both 9V and Remote Control operate on four kinds of track (Power Functions can go on either type of track, I think): straight, curve, points, and cross. There is also a third type of track, the flexible set which came with the Remote Control line - since this track doesn't have metal rails to conduct electricity, it appears not to be compatible with 9V. Remote Control seems to have the most varieties of track, but I, like most other builders, have more 9V track than Remote Control.
Which type track do you use? How do you mix them up? Can you fill in the blanks on switching wheels and motors? And how should I best go around bringing other types of train into my collection?