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MOC: 4-Wide Tiny Train - Wooden Railway Compatible

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#1 zephyr1934


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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:02 AM

While my Lego club was displaying at a train show, during some down time I wandered the vendors and stumbled upon a store selling the Whittle Shortline cars. These are wooden trains designed to look like real trains, e.g.,

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My young son took an interest in wooden trains and my Lego trains. Unfortunately most of my lego trains were too delicate to let him have free run. So one night I decided to find the convergence of the two. I wanted to build my own realistic looking trains that ran on wooden tracks, but I'd do it out of lego. Like the Whittle designs, I wanted to keep mine simplified. I first  built a GP and caboose (click on the photo for more details).

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I had settled in to the 4 wide set, which proved to be a fun challenge. I wanted to keep a few clearly lego features, e.g., using the fence for the railings on the end or the hitches for couplers. I built a few more locomotives and cars over the next year. Until now, the only photo of them that I had was at brickworld 2010.

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I've just uploaded shots of all of my freight equipment, click on the photo to see them all.

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My favorite is probably the SW1200 and it is a more complicated build than many 6 wide trains.

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The collection includes a working crane, tank car, auto rack, and more. The gondola borrows an idea from... (urg, I don't remember where I first saw that) using minifig seats for thin walls.

If you poke around the photos, you'll see that I kept jumping around between different track options. I've ultimately settled on dual gauge track, putting an extra rail in the "biscuit" track as being the easiest for my needs. I have three other working solutions (including one with actual wooden track) that you can see in the various photos and that I will post more about in the future. I also have a passenger train that I will post when time allows.

Click here for the new galery

and here for the overview

#2 Fugazi


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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:41 AM

Very inspiring! Considering the size, the detailing on your rolling stock is superb. I love your SW1200 and your bay window caboose. I am tempted to give this scale a try, given that we have a respectable collection of wooden tracks at home. Are your builds relatively free-running on wooden track?
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#3 TheBrickster


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Posted 27 October 2012 - 02:38 PM

This is most clever Zephyr.  We've seen mini-trains before but I see a solid LEGO Train compatible with wooden train track a great scale/train for the kiddies.  Many of us who have children know Thomas, Brio, and some of the generic wooden train brands.  To run a more sturdy LEGO train on wooden tracks as well as a modified LEGO track as you've done so creates excellent playability and a nice option instead of Duplo.  Well done!

#4 Toastie


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Posted 27 October 2012 - 05:35 PM

This is a stunning mini train series, Zephyr.

It does perfectly combine all the wonderful things the LEGO universe is giving us: In the local TRU kids want to play hours with the Brio set-up they have there - pushing along trains, cranes, going up the slopes and all that. Plus, you have shown how beautiful and diverse the trains can be made - this is what LEGO is about - there is virtually no limit to the varieties of rolling stock, trains, and track side stuff (provided you have the skills to do that, as you have).

Plus: No track issues. The wooden train series have quite a bit of straights, curves, points, bridges and so on. At the local IKEA, you can even buy a Brio compatible straights + curves pack. Like in the good ol days of 9V!

Love it. Kids love it. Very well done and very cool idea.


#5 zephyr1934


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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:47 AM

Thank you for the kind words Fugazi, TheBrickster, and Toastie.

The trains are durable but obviously not as durable as a real wooden train. I will post more about the various track options I've attempted when I have time next weekend. In my "keep it simple" approach I used turntables to attach the trucks, so they will not do grades (and my kids LOVE the wooden arch tracks). I would imagine a more complicated truck could handle grades.

I would say they are okay running on wooden track. The obvious solution of using the wide wheel holder doesn't work on wood track because the underside does not have enough clearance to make it across the track joints.
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Flipping it over seems to work, but then it is a major pain to attach (I have not yet tried building the entire train upside down though). They work great on the old GeoTrax track as long as you don't have any facing point switches. The newer GeoTrax track has a gear rack in the middle that causes similar problems as the wooden track.

The regular wheel holders are too narrow for wooden track unless you flip the train wheels backwards. This approach seemed to work, but I didn't like the aesthetics, (if you can't visualize it, I'll post an example soon)
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Meanwhile, doing a quick google search, it would appear I'm not the only one at the intersection of lego and wooden railways. Although I haven't tried, according to one review of Mega Bloks Thomas & Friends Vehicle - Thomas (10501) on TRU, "the BEST PART is that it fits perfectly on the Wooden Thomas the Tank Engine Track." Then on Amazon, another reviewer said, " THESE FIT ON THE WOODEN TRAIN TRACKS!!!!! I actually feel these stay on them somewhat better than the wood trains." And a warning, elsewhere on amazon I found another review that claimed the Duplo car base is compatible with wooden track... I tried it, it isn't.

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#6 Keper65


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Posted 29 October 2012 - 02:19 PM

Are thoose trains motorized?

#7 zephyr1934


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Posted 30 October 2012 - 06:21 AM

View PostKeper65, on 29 October 2012 - 02:19 PM, said:

Are thoose trains motorized?

The ones shown above are not, but I also made a PF 2-4-0 that works with some wheel slip (with the new availability of the technic pulley wheels in black, it would probably work better)

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Railbricks 12 has a really great motorized 4-wide train by Alban Nanty with smaller spacing between the rails. It even includes instructions for the train, but you'd likely have to modify it to put rubber wheels for wooden track. And while in the 4-wide land, RB12 even has instructions for building one of the Chuggington characters.

#8 zephyr1934


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Posted 04 November 2012 - 02:11 AM

Here are the various track and wheel geometries that I've found some amount of success with:

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Poke around the gallery to see details of the designs.

The trucks are the same for the top two variants, while each of the bottom two are slightly different. Most notably, I used the two stud wide wheel holder for the wooden track and flipped the train wheels backwards to get the necessary vertical and lateral clearance, respectively (the trucks used in the top two designs are too low and catch on the wooden track joints).

Since we have PF track in the kids hands, I've settled on the top design for now. This dual gauge track uses the normal lego pf/9v track and adds a third rail using the 12v track. The inside curve rail is moved one stud in. Very important: note that the added rail overlaps the adjacent segment by one stud. The curved rail segments do not have studs for most of the distance, allowing the overlap at all of the ties. The two drawbacks of this design are that you can only turn one direction (I think you could turn both ways if you strictly used 12v rails) and you can't have any switches.

I like the bottom design (aside from the colors) but the transition from straight to curved kept breaking when played with.

Oh and poking around more, I found this forum's moderated list of MOCs from this year (now that's a moderator working overtime- thanks T.Brickster) where I found a slick 4 wide motorized train (please don't bump that old thread unless you have good reason to do so).

#9 AussieJimbo


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Posted 04 November 2012 - 04:21 AM

Hey zephyr, you've done a great job with your wooden railway train.

I really like your cute little 2-4-0.

I also tried the ball joint couplings but found that they cause derailing on S curves (change of direction from curve to opposite curve). They need to be double articulted to cope with this situation. You can address this by building the bogies with the 3x2 plate with hole part...
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... and then joining the cars with 2L tecnic 1/2 bars and pins...
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.... or use pin with ball and small rubber bands like I've done with my small scale train.
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View Postzephyr1934, on 04 November 2012 - 02:11 AM, said:

Oh and poking around more, I found this forum's moderated list of MOCs from this year (now that's a moderator working overtime- thanks T.Brickster) where I found a slick 4 wide motorized train .

Thanks for the compliment, I'm glad you like it.

Cheers Brickster for indexing too.

:classic: :classic:

Edited by AussieJimbo, 04 November 2012 - 04:22 AM.

#10 zephyr1934


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Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:02 AM

Aw shucks, thank you AussieJimbo. Well I've got to tell you, that little train of yours is a tour de force in using every square mm (and I bet it could pull a pretty good sized train too).

We haven't had any S-curve problems, but we usually make a simple loop. Though we frequently have derailments because one of my boys likes long trains (I have no idea where that came from). He'll put all of the cars in one long train and off it goes as soon as he pulls it into a curve (stinkin physics!). Seems to be stable with 5 cars though.

#11 lightningtiger


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Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:12 AM

AWESOME work and PF'ing such a small train....work of a genius.....Brick On 'zephur1934' ! :moar:

#12 Hey Joe

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 02:29 PM

Great stuff, many thanks for taking the time to post. My little boy will enjoy this if I can pull it off.

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#13 James Mathis

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 06:06 AM

Very cool concept and execution! Really clever.

#14 Hrw-Amen


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Posted 08 November 2012 - 10:01 AM

Great, my friends son has some of that wooden track and is really into Thomas and co right now. Maybe an option to into LEGO Trains. He was especially pleased to see my full size LEGO trains running around, but seemed to want to push it..

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