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Future availability of 9V


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#1 hoeij

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 03:41 PM

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I've been wondering about what would happen to 9V in the long run, and how long
the items we need (e.g. 9V train motors) would remain available at reasonable cost.

At the moment, if you are new to lego trains, and if you like to build long
trains, then the 9V system is difficult to get into because of the high cost of 9V
straight track (if you have long trains then you need lots of straight track,
otherwise it's not going to look good).

But I think that in the longer run, 9V is going to become cheaper.

In the short term, the excessive price of 9V straight track will prevent some people from
entering 9V.  In the longer term, there will be more lego battery trains out there,
which will also reduce demand for 9V from people new to lego trains.

So at the moment supply (especially the straight track) is low, but demand is low and
will likely decrease.

Supply, on the other hand, is not likely to decrease any time soon.  Lots of 9V trains
have been sold, and every year when kids go to college, they end up on eBay.  This can go
on for many years.  Consider that 12V is still being bought/sold, that there are many more 9V
train sets out there, and that 9V is much more recent than 12V, all this makes it seem
likely that a couple of years from now 9V sets will be cheaper on eBay than they are today.

9V switches are already decreasing in price (the price of curved track has to be low
because there is way too much of it out there.  For the same reason, controllers can only
go down in value as well).

Another thing to keep in mind is that most used 9V sets don't come from AFOL's, in other
words, most of those motors have only a small number of hours of usage, they are essentially
new. When 9V ended I anticipated an increase in the price of straight track and motors, and
both lots of both.  But I think that in a few years, motors will start to decrease in price.
Unfortunately, the collections of non-AFOL's tend to have few straight track, so
straight track will remain expensive longer than 9V motors will.  Still, looking at what
happened to 12V (12V straight track is cheaper than 9V straight track) it seems likely
that five years from now, straight 9V track will be easier to buy than today.

#2 rday1982

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 01:37 AM

9V power regulators are already pretty cheap on eBay (got one for less than £6 including shipping last week) and I'm seeing a few decent prices (below £18) for motors.

Straight track though, that's a bugger to find at a decent price. I paid £4 for one piece, as part of an eBay lot. There were a couple of other parts there as well, but I basically got the lot for the track section.

I have no plans to upgrade to power functions in the immediate future, but wish that I could make PF track compatible with my 9v stuff.

Does anybody know anything about modifying it?

#3 Whittleberry

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 01:54 AM

 rday1982, on 08 August 2010 - 01:37 AM, said:

Does anybody know anything about modifying it?
Yup, there's a tutorial for that here
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#4 andythenorth

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 07:52 AM

I'm only interested in RC / PF trains...

....but I've seen some used 9v sets that I would quite like to buy and convert to PF.  However the eBay / Bricklink prices are too much even for incomplete sets, and in many cases I'm left with metal track, motor and power regulator that I have no use for  :tongue:

Is there much demand for 9v parts?  Enough that I could resell the 9v parts easily (I don't want to start a Bricklink store or pay eBay listing fees).
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#5 Goldenmasamune

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 03:59 PM

 andythenorth, on 08 August 2010 - 07:52 AM, said:

I'm only interested in RC / PF trains...

....but I've seen some used 9v sets that I would quite like to buy and convert to PF.  However the eBay / Bricklink prices are too much even for incomplete sets, and in many cases I'm left with metal track, motor and power regulator that I have no use for  :tongue:

Is there much demand for 9v parts?  Enough that I could resell the 9v parts easily (I don't want to start a Bricklink store or pay eBay listing fees).

You can use 9V parts with Power Functions. The track works (even some 9V track that doesn't exist in RC) and the 9V train motor can be used in place of the Power Functions motor. The 9V motor possesses better traction, and is considerably stronger than the RC motor.

I've been considering turning all my 9V trains into power functions, and it looks like an easy task; all I would need is a "PF" car that will have the sensor and battery box, and run a PF extension cable to the 9V light fixture (which will also power the 9V motor)

#6 rday1982

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 06:38 PM

It's the ugly cable connecting the motor to the box that means I don't want to convert to PF, I mean there's no space in either of my locos for the box, so I'd have to build it into a tender for the steamer, or a covered van for the diesel. Either way, there would be a visible cable from the PF box to the motor, which would ruin the look of the trains.

#7 CarrollFilms

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 08:19 PM

9V has been decomisioned from what I have heard from TLG. Also when I was at Brickworld 2010 I asked one of the head designers if 9V would ever be broguth back, NO he said, and that was the end of the conversation, so if I were you, STOCK UP WHILE YOU CAN, I have already bought 120 pieces of 9V straight track and I plan on buying some motors in a while. Don't plan on the prices going down, they will slowly start going up. Go to Bricklink.com for cheap 9V track, that's where I get all mine.

LONG LIVE 9V!!!!! :sing:

#8 rday1982

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 11:54 PM

It's this kind of refusal to be flexible and accomodate what their customers want that will ultimately cost LEGO customers and therefore revenue.

#9 gambort

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 02:22 AM

 rday1982, on 08 August 2010 - 11:54 PM, said:

It's this kind of refusal to be flexible and accomodate what their customers want that will ultimately cost LEGO customers and therefore revenue.

Too true. Can't they be more creative.

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#10 legotrainfan

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:12 AM

Speed regulators are cheap and will be cheap for quite a while, I believe. They were available in every starter set and normally you don't need many of them. Indeed, certain AFOLs may need several speed regulators, but that's more the exception than the rule. I normally don't use more than two. Two more are unused and another two I bought MISB (and they still are MISB) when TLC sold them for 10 euros. As for curved tracks, they will also remain quite cheap since you usually got quite many in every starter set. Sometimes you can find MISB curved tracks for only 10 euros.

What will definitely always be expensive and become even more expensive are straight tracks. Just recently I've bought two 4515 boxes, MISB, for ca. 28 euro on eBay. A bit pricey but I've seen more expensive MISB 4515s on bricklink. So I had to get them. Straight tracks are simply needed more often to extend your layout and to make your train go faster. A curvy layout is no good for your beloved high speed train.

9V motors are still quite affordable and their price hasn't increased considerably yet. However, I wouldn't be too happy about this fact. Their price is rising slowly, I suppose. So it's better to get your hands on some 9V motors now instead of buying one at a later point of time when they have become rare and expensive gems. Since it's difficult or impossible to upgrade smaller engines with PF - unless you want to use a tender - 9V motors are much wanted.
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#11 SavaTheAggie

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 04:24 PM

 rday1982, on 08 August 2010 - 11:54 PM, said:

It's this kind of refusal to be flexible and accomodate what their customers want that will ultimately cost LEGO customers and therefore revenue.
Not true.

The vast majority of LEGO's revenue comes from laymen, and they'll buy their kids the trains no matter what without thought as to the method of locomotion.  And with Power Functions trains being backwards compatible with 9v track, the laymen, as a whole, won't complain about the change from 9v to PF.  

When 4.5v trains was retired in favor of 12v trains, people thought it was the refusal to continue to support the old system and to be flexible and accommodate what their customers want that would ultimately cost LEGO customers and therefore revenue.

When 12v trains was retired in favor of 9v trains, people thought it was the refusal to continue to support the old system and to be flexible and accommodate what their customers want that would ultimately cost LEGO customers and therefore revenue.

It's happened before, it'll happen again.  It's the refusal to be flexible and open minded to what is available to them that will prevent certain AFOLs to enjoy life, challenge themselves to incorporate Power Functions and see the many tangible benefits that it provides.

--Tony
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#12 rday1982

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 04:53 PM

Enlighten me, then? What are the benefits?

Drawbacks: Batteries need to be changed, meaning that painstakingly assembled models will need to be taken apart. Battery boxes are freakin' huge, meaning that smaller locomotives have no locomotion. Exposed cables are ugly. Remote capabilities are terrible. Pushing a button on the train is fine on a small layout, but when it's on the other end of a simulated mile of track, it's irritating to have to lean over without damaging your layout. There's no way for PF to power more than one motor with a single battery box without a drop in power (or reduction in battery life). PF motors will lose power as the batteries become worn out, meaning that you have to replace batteries which STILL have some life left in them if you want your loco to be able to pull the train. The all-plastic tracks look nowhere near as nice. The PF setup costs *way* too much. I mean, the costs for motors, battery boxes, controllers, and receivers are fine individually, but as a complete setup, the cost is staggering compared to 9v track and a power regulator.

That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure if I think about it, I'll be able to come up with more reasons 9v was a superior system.

You're an awesome train builder, Tony, but there's no need to defend LEGO when they replace a brilliant product with something that's slightly inferior just because you love LEGO. Excercise your right to be dissatisfied!  :tongue:

Edited by rday1982, 09 August 2010 - 04:54 PM.


#13 Goldenmasamune

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 05:06 PM

 rday1982, on 09 August 2010 - 04:53 PM, said:

Enlighten me, then? What are the benefits?

Drawbacks: Batteries need to be changed, meaning that painstakingly assembled models will need to be taken apart. Battery boxes are freakin' huge, meaning that smaller locomotives have no locomotion. Exposed cables are ugly. Remote capabilities are terrible. Pushing a button on the train is fine on a small layout, but when it's on the other end of a simulated mile of track, it's irritating to have to lean over without damaging your layout. There's no way for PF to power more than one motor with a single battery box without a drop in power (or reduction in battery life). PF motors will lose power as the batteries become worn out, meaning that you have to replace batteries which STILL have some life left in them if you want your loco to be able to pull the train. The all-plastic tracks look nowhere near as nice. The PF setup costs *way* too much. I mean, the costs for motors, battery boxes, controllers, and receivers are fine individually, but as a complete setup, the cost is staggering compared to 9v track and a power regulator.

That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure if I think about it, I'll be able to come up with more reasons 9v was a superior system.

You're an awesome train builder, Tony, but there's no need to defend LEGO when they replace a brilliant product with something that's slightly inferior just because you love LEGO. Excercise your right to be dissatisfied!  :tongue:

There are benefits to Power Functions. for starters, there are more doable layouts. Also, the PF motor seems to be slightly stronger than the 9V motor. YOu can also control trains individually. You can buy rechargable battery packs, and charge them while they are still in your train. You can also hide cables pretty easily. As much as I prefer 9V, I've accepted that 9V is over, never coming back, and PF is what we have now. Luckily it is easy to convert any 9V train into PF with a simple cable. If you build a "Power Functions" car you can hide all the PF stuff behind the train, and have a hidden cable going into the actual train to power the motor.

#14 fred67

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 05:15 PM

Well... I feel somewhat in the middle of Sava and rday...

I do see benefits of RC, and understand that PF can indeed have a lot of pulling power, but I also think that being saddled with battery boxes isn't much of a benefit in any respect.  They could have stuck with electric rail (*) and still used PF motors and RC controls.  People are hacking that now, and it seems to work - best of both worlds.

But the way I see it, by continuously changing, TLG actively discourages AFOLs from making a big investment.  Yes, I know people like Sava are the exception, but I'm gun-shy on anything new, learning the lesson that TLG WILL drop it for something else in the future.

So the bottom line is they target the kids, and the continuous changing doesn't effect them.  Most will be gone by the time TLG decides to go another route.  In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the two current sets will be the last two before a redesign (possibly incorporating PF instead of the current train motor).  I know they don't really seem to be happy with trains at all.

I suppose I wouldn't mind going to PF so much if there was a better battery box (non-rechargeable, or at least a rechargeable that wouldn't cost $75 including the adapter).

I'll stick to building from things like Sava's plans and rolling my own, generally modified to work with 9V or something of my own choosing... not buying complete sets from TLG anymore, although I'll still buy things like the Emerald Night and parts to build stuff myself.  In fact, as far as track goes, I'll probably be doing more of this.

(*) - the big disappointment... discontinuing electric rail.  Yeah, I've heard stories... it cost too much, the mold broke and would cost too much to fix/replace... but I'm not buying the excuses because the battery operated trains aren't any less expensive in the long run, especially PF with that outrageously priced rechargeable battery.  And track might be cheaper... offset by the fact you HAVE to buy an equal number of curves.  The new sets have been very disappointing as far as price goes... they kept saying 9V was too expensive, that parents weren't buying it for their kids for that reason... yet the new sets cost just as much if not more than comparable sets.

#15 rday1982

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 05:53 PM

 Goldenmasamune, on 09 August 2010 - 05:06 PM, said:

There are benefits to Power Functions. for starters, there are more doable layouts. Also, the PF motor seems to be slightly stronger than the 9V motor. YOu can also control trains individually. You can buy rechargable battery packs, and charge them while they are still in your train. You can also hide cables pretty easily. As much as I prefer 9V, I've accepted that 9V is over, never coming back, and PF is what we have now. Luckily it is easy to convert any 9V train into PF with a simple cable. If you build a "Power Functions" car you can hide all the PF stuff behind the train, and have a hidden cable going into the actual train to power the motor.

If the stronger PF motor ran on 9v, I'd be a lot happier with that. Also, the rechargable packs are very expensive. As far as a PF car goes, that's the way I think I'd have to power all my trains if I make the switch. I'm not at all happy with the change to PF.

#16 fred67

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 06:11 PM

Here's a thread I started a while back, rday, perhaps you can get some ideas from it.

http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=39919

For the record, I simply haven't had enough time to try even any of it out, and don't really see much time in the foreseeable future.

#17 SavaTheAggie

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:59 PM

 rday1982, on 09 August 2010 - 04:53 PM, said:

Enlighten me, then? What are the benefits?

The Benefits of Power Functions Trains (an incomplete list):

Complex track layouts - The 9v system cannot do double-backs, wyes, and other very common rail configurations, as doing so would cause a short circuit.  With all plastic track this is a non-issue, and very handy for people, like me, who do not have room for large loop layouts.  

Multiple trains - the PF system allows for multiple trains running at multiple speeds on the same track.  This cannot be done with 9v without a significant investment in DCC and the time to install it.

Longer trains/Stronger Motors - It has been suggested (I have yet to play with them so I can only go by third party knowledge) that the new PF train motors are stronger than the 9v motors.  I can say with certainty that trains built with standard PF motors (Either the Medium or XL motors) and brick-built motor bogies are head and shoulders above 9v in terms of pulling power/tractive effort.  At Brickworld 2009 a train strength competition was held and none of the 9v locomotives using non-LEGO power supplies could even come close to out-pulling the PF locomotive.

Longer/Bigger Layouts - Like it or not, electrified rails is an extremely inefficient method to powering model trains.  As the electricity flows through the rails it's current drops, and the trains lose power.  The further away from the power regulator, the weaker the signal, the slower the train, and eventually it becomes necessary to boost the current with either an extension cable or a second regulator.  Before someone pipes up about batteries dieing and slowing the train down - the rechargeable battery box, while expensive, offers constant current up until the point it runs out of juice - for the life of the charge your train will continue to run at peak performance.

Reliability/Replaceability - Like it or not, the motors made towards the end of the life of the 9v system were inferior to the motors made towards the beginning.  Lubricants, parts, etc. were all skimped in the name of saving money.  The older, more longer lasting motors are now very old.  So regardless of you having an older or newer 9v motor, they're going to fail sooner than later.  Power Functions motors train or otherwise are currently available, and if they fail can be replaced at retail cost.  As 9v motors die the amount of usable motors will decrease, and the price of 9v will only go up.  9v rails, too, age.  The metal rails will corrode and as they are used will eventually break free of the plastic track base.  

Brick-Built Track/Backwards Compatibility - While 9v hold outs weep and whine about the loss of 9v, 4.5v and 12v collectors rejoice, as PF trains are not only backwards compatible with 9v rails but with 4.5v and 12v as well.  You can also create realistic details, such as water pits for steam engines to take on water without stopping (as in the US), or pits for working on trains that the train can roll over under its own power.  You can also create more realistic road crossings and turntables using brackets.

Other, Misc. - Without the need for electric connectivity, things like drawbridges are much more easily constructed.  While it isn't my thing, customized track is much easier as well, since cutting and gluing track requires no re-wiring.  The PF control system allows users to walk away from their layouts and still retain control of their trains.  If the train is about to derail, or already has, no one needs to run to the other side of the layout to turn off the 9v regulator - the controls can be kept easily in a pocket.  

I'm not saying the PF system is perfect, but neither is the 9v.  They both have strengths and weaknesses, but the rush by so many to simply say "PF sucks, 9v forever!" is incredibly closed minded and illustrates a frightening lack of imagination.  I'm not a cheerleader for the LEGO company, not by any means, but I am a realist.  PF is what we have, so we better get used to it.  At least LEGO listened to the AFOL community about the severe limitations of the RC trains and came up with a better PF based system that provides the pulling power and flexibility we wanted.  

--Tony

Edited by SavaTheAggie, 09 August 2010 - 08:08 PM.

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#18 rday1982

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 08:11 PM

Stronger motors, eh? Now that's going some way towards swaying me. As is longer track runs, and the idea of peak performance right until the battery dies. Might be worth investigating the possibilities of PF for myself rather than stocking up on 9v parts.

Thanks, Tony. You've given me more than expected to think about.

#19 Goldenmasamune

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 08:30 PM

 rday1982, on 09 August 2010 - 08:11 PM, said:

Stronger motors, eh? Now that's going some way towards swaying me. As is longer track runs, and the idea of peak performance right until the battery dies. Might be worth investigating the possibilities of PF for myself rather than stocking up on 9v parts.

Thanks, Tony. You've given me more than expected to think about.

Also, as I have said you can use 9V motors with Power Functions, which helps cut cost if you want to convert.

#20 legotrainfan

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 11:35 PM

Since this has popped up here again and tends to pop up regulary in many threads, I'll give my usual response: You're not obliged to buy Straight and Curved Rails 7896 to get straight tracks and curse about the unnecessary curved ones. If you want only straight RC/PF tracks, just go to shop.lego.com. Click on "Contact us" quite at the bottom. Use the phone number given for your country/continent to contact a LEGO employee. Tell them that you want pick-a-number straight tracks, namely those that appear in set 7896. Stress that you only need straight ones and tell them how many you need! Voilà, you'll get brand new straight tracks from TLC! It's as easy as that! I myself once bought two new straight RC/PF tracks from TLC by just phoning them. I haven't got a single curved RC/PF track.

I've mentioned all that elsewhere here on Eurobricks. Folks, you can be happy that I'm a teacher! I'm used to saying things multiple times with no one seeming to really listen!  :tongue:  :hmpf:  :wink:
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#21 peterab

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 02:45 AM

 rday1982, on 09 August 2010 - 04:53 PM, said:

Enlighten me, then? What are the benefits?

Drawbacks: Batteries need to be changed, meaning that painstakingly assembled models will need to be taken apart. Battery boxes are freakin' huge, meaning that smaller locomotives have no locomotion.
Well, those drawbacks at least seem to be only in your mind, as this shows. Note that building that engine would be really akward with 9V, because trying to have dummy middle driving wheels was a nightmare. This is one of the smaller German prototypes, so if its possable (and in fact this is a highly detailed result so it doable to a very high standard) just about anything is.

Other benifits of the PF system are better fine control and independant control of trains for more realistic shunting operations. Also the possability of independantly controlled lights, doors etc. Also more flexibility in bogie design. Also not having to maintain metal track which corrodes. Also its easier to add more motors independant of the number or wheel layout of bogies.

 fred67, on 09 August 2010 - 05:15 PM, said:

I do see benefits of RC, and understand that PF can indeed have a lot of pulling power, but I also think that being saddled with battery boxes isn't much of a benefit in any respect.  They could have stuck with electric rail

Part of that benifit is because of better traction because of the weight of the battery.

#22 fred67

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 02:52 AM

 peterab, on 10 August 2010 - 02:45 AM, said:

Part of that benifit is because of better traction because of the weight of the battery.

With all do respect, that's a horrible justification as it's perfectly easy to add weight and you can do it in a multitude of ways, whereas a battery pack takes a specific bulk of space.

Don't get me wrong, I've come a long way towards PF from 9V, but, for starters, I am NOT spending $75 to get a battery pack and charger when they should have a $5 battery pack that I can use my own rechargeables in.  I find it's much nicer to be able to pick up from the rail.  Unlike Tony, I don't have a huge layout and can live without track looping back on itself... I'm talking about a typical use at my house, which might be around the Christmas tree, for example, that I want to run for a LONG time without having to stop and recharge.

If you can pick up from the rail, you get most of the benefits of RC and none of the drawbacks.... you don't need DCC, you can do a simple conversion cable to make it all work.

#23 hoeij

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 03:39 AM

 legotrainfan, on 09 August 2010 - 11:35 PM, said:

Since this has popped up here again and tends to pop up regulary in many threads, I'll give my usual response: You're not obliged to buy Straight and Curved Rails 7896 to get straight tracks and curse about the unnecessary curved ones. If you want only straight RC/PF tracks, just go to shop.lego.com. Click on "Contact us" quite at the bottom. Use the phone number given for your country/continent to contact a LEGO employee. Tell them that you want pick-a-number straight tracks, namely those that appear in set 7896. Stress that you only need straight ones and tell them how many you need! Voilà, you'll get brand new straight tracks from TLC! It's as easy as that! I myself once bought two new straight RC/PF tracks from TLC by just phoning them. I haven't got a single curved RC/PF track.

How much would it cost per track if you wanted to acquire a large number of track pieces this way?

PS. For the debate, about which system is better, clearly in each system there are certain things
that you can do that don't work so well in the other system.  It's interesting though that only a few
years ago, the end of 9V was viewed as the end of the world (e.g. the "save 9V website") whereas now,
only a short time later, we're seeing several voices that the new system is better....  Clearly the
end of 9V is not exactly the end of the world after all.   I enjoy my lego trains (12V, PF, and
lots of 9V), and I think that things like motors will remain available for a long time on eBay
and bricklink at reasonable prices, but, as a precaution, I did buy a number of spare 9V motors
just in case my prediction turns out wrong.

#24 rday1982

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:25 AM

 peterab, on 10 August 2010 - 02:45 AM, said:

Well, those drawbacks at least seem to be only in your mind, .

No cab space for a driver. The battery box is still built in, and to be removed, the model will still have to be partially dismantled. I'd say the drawbacks I mentioned are prefectly cromulent.

The back of the loco looks absolutely awful too. With the switch and the blue pins visible.

I have to say, I'm impressed with the overall design, just not the integration of PF.

Edited by rday1982, 10 August 2010 - 04:34 AM.


#25 Goldenmasamune

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 05:20 AM

 rday1982, on 10 August 2010 - 04:25 AM, said:

No cab space for a driver. The battery box is still built in, and to be removed, the model will still have to be partially dismantled. I'd say the drawbacks I mentioned are prefectly cromulent.

The back of the loco looks absolutely awful too. With the switch and the blue pins visible.

I have to say, I'm impressed with the overall design, just not the integration of PF.

Uh, that stuff isn't visible. The picture show the cover plate for all that removed. that is why the blue pins are there to begin with. Whoever built that did a great job at hiding the PF stuff.



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