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Building Lego Train Track


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Poll: Which type of track do you like better? (80 member(s) have cast votes)

Choose your ideal track

  1. Track in pieces (4.5V, 12V) (33 votes [41.25%])

    Percentage of vote: 41.25%

  2. Prefab (9V, R/C, PF) (47 votes [58.75%])

    Percentage of vote: 58.75%

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#1 TheBrickster

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:11 AM

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Some of you who remember 12V and 4.5 train track might also remember building the track.  I don't mean snapping preconstructed track together 9V-style, but rather actually building each piece of track with rails and ties.  Many 9V and new R/C (as well as PF) fans might appreciate the convenience of being able to quickly assemble an oval of track, or especially a larger layout; but did we loose something as LEGO train track progressed.  What happened to building the track almost in the same fashion as early track layers did, piece-by-piece?  Being able to create a scene of train track builders has been reduced to a few single pieces of rail found in sets like the Dwarf Mine.

If you had your ideal track, would it be in pieces or do you prefer prefab?  

Discuss the topic here.

#2 Piranha

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 06:22 AM

Cool topic B!  :classic:

Brick Built Track:
These do have a more LEGO feel to them, snapping the track pieces together and building them just like they were constructed in their real life counterparts, snapping the rail on the metal. They also are easier to store as they break down and can have different uses.

Pre-molded:
These I prefer because they are easy to snap together and look better in general. I would prefer something that looks like the real deal than something that is built the same way but comes out different. These capture track very nicely in LEGO form.

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#3 Legoist

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 08:01 AM

I prefer the old brick-built type track, hands down.

The individual rails were great for creating other stuff, like mini-monorails (like in 6970 Beta I Command Base), they took less space to store, you could customize them more easily, and if you want you can also leave them partly disassembled to create an area of your train layout where the railway is under construction.

#4 Grrr

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:36 AM

I definately prefer the old brick built track.

In particular, I like it for places where there are no sleepers in real life, such as this wharf.
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#5 Captain Zuloo

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 12:03 PM

I voted for the prefabs, but only because they are what the 9v system is based on. However my idea track piece would be 9v and in actual bricks, it would make things like tram lines a lot easier and it would provide more flexibility for different gauges.

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#6 lightningtiger

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 01:12 PM

Hey my vote leaned it towards 'pre-fab'.
I prefer this system, I guess since I have modern trains and modern tracks are also pre-fab too. :sweet:
With flex-track, well I can't wait to get some that's for sure ! :grin:

#7 Holodoc

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 03:51 PM

I definitely prefer the prefab track!

I have grown up with the blue brick-by-brick-track and it was a pain. Especially the powerline in the middle wasn't easy to stick together.
Even worse was getting all that stuff apart again. There's just the storage problem that speaks for the parts-solution.

If you are building bigger layouts you will very soon find out that the prefab track is a lot more conveniant. Just click and go. (And you need less parts for a complete circle btw.)
You can still MOC the prefab track to a nicer look if you wish to, by using 1x1 (round) plates or 1x4 tiles for example.
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#8 tedbeard

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 05:35 PM

I would prefer parts for the flexibility of design an building possibilities but also for the economics. I suspect it would be cheaper to package and ship smaller parts rather than large constructions. For every box of prefab track I imagine they could ship 10-20% more as parts.
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#9 paul_delahaye

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 10:02 PM

12v for the tracks and sleepers (although I always used to have issues with the centre power rail.  Could cause the train to stop suddenly).

4.5v was terrible, just push the rails onto 2x8 white plates, rails always came off if you knocked them,

9v for sheer traction and the fact you did not need the rubber drive bands!

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#10 3D LEGO

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 12:30 AM

I voted for the old track.  There are currently a few things that you just can not build with the prefab sections like grease pits in engine shops, narrow gauge (yes I was actually toying with this the other day), and easily built turn tables which require not track modification (not to mention usage as crane rails, turntable guide rails and what not).  Besides it would actually be cheaper for LEGO to produce.  They could make a new rail mold and have so it rests on normal 2x8 plates.

My fear with the prefab sections is that eventually the connectors will break (just like the droid arms on my poor marshen).

Edited by 3D LEGO, 12 January 2010 - 12:30 AM.


#11 MatthewUSA

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 12:51 AM

I will agree, this is a great topic that I have not given much thought to.  The vote was certainly a difficult one, I actually had to think :) .  Both concepts definitely have their advantages and disadvantages.  The advantage of the parts type is certainly the "feel" of building the track bed from ties to rails.  Unfortunetly this type really did not stay together when you accidently moved it.
My vote went to the prefab due to the fact that they "snap" together and stay together even when you move it.  You can still create a track bed with these which is nice.  Another advantage to the prefab is the 2 extra ties they added to the curve track.  This definitely adds to the realism of the part.  The disadvantage would be the building "feel".  With prefab, you certainly cannot create the track cars you see on the MOW trains.  They look a little strange.  One cool thing you can do though is use the part type rails for these railcars.  This will make them look realistic, plus you can create a unique maintenance scene using the parts type.  Nice to know you can use both in a layout.  

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#12 peterab

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 03:11 AM

I voted for the old track, simply because it is more useful in Mocs such as turntables.

Both have their advantages though so I'm not really fussed either way and use both.

#13 vgo

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 03:35 PM

I prefer the old style, usually I make my own "modules" of them using 16x32 baseplates and 1x1 and 1x2 plates for ballast. I've just ordered parts for making 40-50 of these for my new layout each averaging 100 parts total... :P

#14 Helmantel

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 04:33 PM

The old 70's blue style fell easily apart with only half the sleepers, but the 80's style with the "click" sleepers is pretty strong. Actually now that they're 20-30 years old and have become harder and brittle, it's easy to break them when taking the tracks apart.

The 9V system is much simpler and more reliable and looks good too. I have a lot of 80's 12V trains and track but find building the track the most boring part of it all, so even though I'm a bit 80's 12V fan, I like the 9V track better.

#15 SeaKing61

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:01 PM

In terms of realism and MOCability I do prefer the old 12v track. It's annoying to get out and set up a layout but it's fantastic for setting up track laying scenes etc. I tend to store mine in pre-assembled 4 track sections if i'm only disassembling it for a short time. It does annoy me that the central power rail has a habit of popping up and disrupting the train though.

The prefab track has the advantage of being so easy to set up and the metal 9v rails do look pretty good in my opinion.

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#16 Mark Bellis

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:02 AM

I voted for prefab simply for the ease of use, though Track Designer is even easier for standard track pieces!
Please could someone update it with flexi-track!

I have all the types of track.  All could be ballasted.
I used to hate the lack of grip on white sleepers with blue rails.  Glad the 12V clips sorted it out!

I used to like using blue and grey rails in ways other than 6-wide.  2.5 wide or 3-wide could be good for a Great Ball Contraption or mining train, 4-wide for a crane track appears in the 777 railway ideas book.
Separate parts would allow there to be fewer part types overall, given that we now have the Indy mine chase track at 4-wide (bring on the straights TLG!).

I've ballasted mostly prefab track.
12V track had more of a problem with discharging ballast between the rails - 9V track can use ridge tiles on the sleepers to get the load through the holes but 12V can only really discharge to either side unless it's an unpowered siding.  The common ballast wagons years ago were the Catfish, which discharged only through the rails, and the Dogfish which could discharge either side as well.  The Trout was a side unloader, so some of my early wagons for 12V track were like that, built on 6x16 motor frames and using a geared system similar to the wagons from the 7777 book to pull out axles on cranks and release balls into the chute.

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#17 Lockt

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 02:35 PM

Difficult question asked here, and to my suprise I alsmost had a tie in chosing between these.

Built Lego Track vs Prefab Lego Track

Round 1: Storage

A clear winner for the built Lego Track. It requires less space for bigger tracks. A major advantage when it comes to storing or transporting your track. However, only a small victory here, since it doesn't happen much you don't have enough space...

Round 2: Flexibility

Again a win for the Built Lego Track. It is far nicer to built a MOC truck, where the individual iron beams are transported, since it is more realistic. Also you can play with narrower tracks (like Lego did e.g. in Dwarves Mine)  etc. A clear advantage here for the MOCers!

Round 3: Convenience

Here finally Prefab Track starts to gain. Of course large lay-outs save considerable amount of time by using this system. Putting done the rough layout of your train lay-out is very easy and if you miscalculated something in size of number of pieces, it is easily modified.

Round 4: Endurance

And here the Prefab Track makes a pure knock-out round versus Built Lego Tracks. Although I am very cautious with my Lego collection, there are only one type of pieces broken and that are the these prefab Tracks. They are very solid connected but when disconnecting you have to put quite some force on them... *Crack*... not terribly damaged, but those tiny connection points are the first to go. The track can still be built, but is not very solid locked anymore.

Only because I hate broken parts Prefab Track wins this fight...

#18 Davey

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:51 PM

I have to agree with a lot of the points that Mark and Lockt bring up here.  If I look at the track purely from a 'fun' stand-point, I gotta give it to the brick-built track as it's just more fun to build.  I have to agree with Mark though that when it comes to ballasting, I prefer working with the prefab track and Lockt's comment that required storage space for the brick-built track is less is spot-on.  I also like that you can easily change the gauge of the rail using prefab track.  This would allow a person to build a nice narrow-gauge or rack railway.  

So with all those advantages...I had to go with the brick-built track in the vote.  That being said, the majority of my track is 9V.  Why?!?!  Availability (at the time I got back into Train), the 'look' of the metal rails, the power source, reliability, ease of setup for large layouts.

The prefab track certainly wins on convenience and I really just love the look of the 9V rails.  With that metal on top, they just have a more realistic look to them.  For me, the 9V or the RC/PF track is the easiest to deal with on a large scale layout.  I am, however, considering adding a small 4.5V line on our layout at some point.  

Good topic here Brickster!  :thumbup: :thumbup:  

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#19 wmanidi

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 02:55 AM

prefab all the ways cheeper more easy its a great choise :thumbup: :thumbup:

#20 ManitobaMoe

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 05:15 PM

Well the parts track allows you to have rails and timbers in your yard waiting for assembly, i still prefer the easy of the pre formed tracks

#21 Pingles

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 05:25 PM

I'd never argue that the new track isn't more convenient but I LOVED those old single rails.

There was something SO Lego about those rails.  You had to MAKE track out of rails.
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#22 mrblue

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 10:44 PM

having been through all the rail tracks era, I can only say that (Imho) the best choice for lego minded people are the 12v gray rails, but in the same time, 9v and pf ones are the best if you think only about laying them out, but they feel like juniorized parts.
blue rail were the worst ever! blue color??? and not enough sturdy. hopefully, with the 12v gray update bringing the 2x8 plates with clips, track started to feel much more solid, even more than the new ones (if you consider like a 4/5 modules long track)
my future layout will be 12v gray, blue and pf, but as soon as possible, I'll change the blue with the newer ones; 12v rail in bl would be too expensive.
anyway, my vote goes to the brick built gray!

have a nice lego train day
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#23 vgsprites

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:16 PM

I voted for prefab because 9 volt is the only system I've known and use to since it came out at the begining of my lifetime.
This is up untill the recent PF/RC systems but they use the same mold without the powered rails.
I'm excited for the aftermarket ME rails though. They will give me the chance to build my own rails and ties with the ability to power my 9 volt trains.
Makes me wonder why anyone didn't think of it sooner.  :grin:
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#24 Dazmundo

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:50 PM

I voted brick built, basically because the only track I have is the old blue track with white 2x8 sleepers.
It is a classic.

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#25 LEGO Guy Bri

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 12:17 AM

I'm 9V all the way. I wasn't around for the 12V or 4.5V, though I do like some of the sets. I don't see myself getting any though. Not a fan of PF though. That system screwed us 9ers. :classic:
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