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MOC idea: what about an underground monorail?


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#1 Martin_B

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 08:15 PM

I'm planning a town layout with an underground railway for my next MOC and want to try something based on the monorail instead of, say, the 9V Train system. The old Classic Town Airport Shuttle looks like a good starting-point - I'm not familiar with how it works, but there's a really helpful review on here somewhere that gives detailed pics of the complete setup. My idea is that, rather than a rail that goes from ground level to a raised one, it spends most of its time below street level with the ramp pieces serving to raise it up to street level (for above-ground stations or maintenance sheds, for example).

I've travelled on the London Tube and the Tokyo Metro, and the idea of smaller-gauge underground railways is cool to me; it's something I'd really like to incorporate into a MOC city. Yes, it's ambitious but it wouldn't occupy any extra floor/table space since it'll run underneath everything else! I've seen one or two people here who have done some excellent MOC street scenes with a bit of stuff going on below street level, and I'm sure a few of you have one of the original Space or Town monorail sets.

What's the best way to start? I'm torn between saving up for an Airport Shuttle set, stripping it down and rebuilding it or buying the pieces separately and starting from parts. Neither option is going to be cheap of course but I'd like to hear opinions of how other people would go about it.

So...what does everyone think?

#2 LEGO Guy Bri

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:31 AM



Your idea is a great one. In the layout I've designed on paper, I proposed an underground rail system as well, for space saving. Though it would be either a 9V, or RC. Personally, if I had the Airport shuttle, I would keep it above ground, above the streets because of it's design, relative cheapness in support costs compared to raising traditional track. Not to mention most, if not every monorail I've ever ridden (a good handful) have been above ground, so I've grown to like them that way. I am interested to see an underground monorail.

I don't own a monorail (wish I did) but, the way it works is simple. The motor has a little gear that lines up with the center groove on the track moving the train forward/reverse as well as 4 small plastic whees on each corner for it to roll on. The other parts of the train have bogies, one at each end, with 2 sets of the same plastic wheels. One of the long sections of train has to be dedicated to mounting the 4x8 Battery Box.

As for cost you're looking at $30-40 USD for the train base, bogies, and motor, alone. That doesn't include the 9V battery box or motor cover (red only, optional). I can't say for sure, but if you just pieced together you'll probably end up, at or more than saving up for the set. A quick look at the track prices, it's looking $10-18 dollars per section. At that rate, it would roughly equal +-$200, just for the same amount of straight and long curve in set 6399 alone. That stuff seems to be the highest in demand. So like you said "neither option will be cheap".

I'm sure you've already seen the prices, I am giving those interested in building a monorail a quick idea of costs.

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#3 kyphur

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:26 AM

How about neither?

Have you seen this: http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=56952

It's a brick-built monorail system.

I'd imagine you could engineer slopes also, maybe using 1x2 tiles with grill for traction...

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#4 F0NIX

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 06:35 AM

This sounds like a good idea and I think it would be easiest to make with the old monorail system from LEGO. The feature you want from the monorail is the steep hills that make the train come up to the surface quickly and goes down quickly. The traditional train take up much space (in length) to get hills that a train is able to climb.

As Kyphur mention, you could also make your own monorail system. And if you follow the link you will see that I have built one myself, but the hills is a challenge. Mine can take hills as good as a normal train, but not much steeper. You could probably make some monorail with Technic, Gear Rack 1 x 4 beside the track on hills, and then have a gear beside the wheel that make a better traction for steeper hills... just an idea...
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#5 Darthluke824

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 09:14 AM

That is a good idea. I had a monorail idea but couldn't afford the Airport Shuttle. One was at £200 on Bricklink and the next day it had gone! I did buy all the parts including the highly wanted motor cover and made my own design on LDD. I used a Power Functions Battery Box and a PF 9V converter wire for the motor.  It came to a total of £50 for just the monorail parts. It worked well but then there is the track. 2 straight pieces alone are just £20! So from that point of view buy the set.

If you want track, pieces and stations get the set. If your planning on making your own design buy just the pieces. Good luck.

Edited by Darthluke824, 26 October 2012 - 09:16 AM.

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#6 Martin_B

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 06:18 PM

Thanks for the replies - I really appreciate it. I must say the lazy person in me is favouring adapting an existing set over making one from individual spares! :laugh:

In terms of the ready-made monorails, sets of the Airport one are on Bricklink for upwards of £400 (I'm restricting my search to inside the EU since importing from the US carries customs charges and extra delivery fees). There are sets of the old Futuron in the UK for less than £200, which would give me the rolling stock and a simple oval of track including ramps. The Unitron (a small range that seemed to run parallel with Spyrius) is another Space-themed monorail which, again, is available - again outside the UK - for less than £200 and includes a few extra ramps and points. Going onto Ebay might prove to be even more expensive still, unless I happen to be in the right place at the right time for a bargain.

Realistically then, it's going to be over £200 by the time I've rebuilt the carriages and platforms to look like a modern 'Metro' system. I'll probably go for the Tokyo model rather than the London one, since the Japanese ones are more square so will be easier to recreate. Considering the time and expense involved, I think I'll have some of the track above 'ground level' to keep things interesting.

I'll give the DIY monorail vids a look later this evening. Thanks again for the advice so far, and I'll post pics of this when I get the project underway!



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