Recommended Posts

It's 7 weeks till Christmas week from now and you know what that means? Tis Christmas Train season coming up quickly! Some of you may remember me setting up a little train layout in my office last year. All colleagues loved it very much and so this year me and some colleagues are expanding the office train for this year! Compared to last year the new office train will be about 60% more track, 70% more cars and can carry more than 50% more "real cargo" than last years train!

This year's office train will feature the following:
- T-Shaped 9V layout with 3 stations (calling at 3 different desks, so everyone in this particular office has access to the train)
- 4 Track wide cargo cerminal and card
- 20m of track length in total
- 16 cars in total
- Original Santa Fe Super Chief Engine upgraded with the original light brick
- Candy wagon for storing and transporting real eatable candy
- Band wagon for transporting a bluetooth speaker and stage for the BrickBand
- PF shunting engine for the Power Functions yard
- A small handcar (this is an inside joke with colleagues)
- Winter Holiday Train which I built yesterday

I'm super excited - construction will begin this week. We'll see how far we can build it during lunch breaks. Pictures will follow shortly after! But to get me started, I have a couple of questions: How does one operate a 9V layout with two transformers? Do they plug in parallel (i.e. exactly the same way on both transformers)? What power settings do I use when running a train with two 9V motors (power setting the same on both transformers)? Do I have to unplug one of them if I run a smaller train with only one 9V motor, or do I just not bring up power on one of them? 
Thanks in advance for answering my questions! 

Here's the planned layout for this year's office train:

Tbzj4Pf.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could isolate different sections, one transformer for one part, the other for the other part. Putting a "scotch tape" between the two track pieces will help. Officially you should isolate an entire track piece so the metallic wheels won't short while the motor moves into the other section, that is basically also how the gray era points work (they isolate only one pole/side though). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm but will one transformer even supply two 9V motors with enough power? I had the feeling that putting two 9V motors on the same track doesn't increase the overall "pulling power" of the whole train but rather "divide" the power onto the two motors, effectively doubling traction (because 8 wheels now turn instead of 4). So I thought adding a second transformer to give each motor the power it needs to actually double pulling power would be a good idea. The trains will be quite heavy...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi from Hamburg, Germany!

From my experience, the 9V transformer has enough power to run 2 train motors on the same track. The problem is the weakness of the motors themselves, especially in comparison to the old 12 V motors...

I would also isolate the track layout into two halves.

It is easiest done, if you leave a 1 stud gap between 2 track sections.

And don´t forget to reconnect the track sections mechanically with two plates 1x3 at the outer sides of the rails and two 2x3 plates in the section between the rails ;)

regards

CaL 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, McWaffel said:

How does one operate a 9V layout with two transformers? Do they plug in parallel (i.e. exactly the same way on both transformers)? What power settings do I use when running a train with two 9V motors (power setting the same on both transformers)? Do I have to unplug one of them if I run a smaller train with only one 9V motor, or do I just not bring up power on one of them?

Hi McWaffel,

How you use the transformers depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to run two independent trains you will need to isolate sections and connect a transformer in parallel to each section. Since you don’t have two independent loops that probably isn't really very helpful to you, and your siding will already be isolated anyway for storage of your second train.

More helpful for what you plan, you could just attach the two transformers in parallel so you have more current available.This is done on large exhibition layouts to overcome voltage drops and to have enough current to run extra motors. Your layout isn't big enough to suffer from noticeable voltage drop especially since it doesn't have grand or straight curves, but heavy wagons, and long trains on normal LEGO curves can draw a lot of current. The LEGO transformer varies from region to region, and the controller comes in a couple of different versions with different maximum current outputs. The worst combinations can struggle with two motors under heavy load, so you might benefit from parallel controllers.

As you suspect just connect them up exactly the same in parallel. Test that you've got the polarity right by making sure a motor moves in the same direction when you turn each controller on. In operation you should try and keep both controllers on the same setting so they don't fight each other as it could potentially damage them.

Just in case you get conflicting advice here's a picture of my clubs layout from a few years ago to illustrate my experience with multiple controllers;

Brickvention 2014: Main train layout

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I recall, Lego officially said that you could run up to two 9v motors simultaneously off of one controller. I don't think you need the extra power though. I think I've gone up to 3 motors and 20+ cars off of a single controller, and I THINK if you go over power the controller will simply trip off. The problem you will likely face is loss of power due to all of the track joints, so the train will slow down when it gets far from where the track connectors are. Simple fix, use two power connectors from a single controller, probably where the horizontal meets the vertical part of your "T" in your first post. Your yard will have the greatest power loss but in a pinch you can hand shunt that bit and it sounds like you will have a PF locomotive to shunt anyway.

All of that said, this layout is pretty small and as long as your train is not that heavy, you quite probably will have zero problems even with a single controller with a single power drop. Still not sure? You should be able to quickly slap the main loop together at home to test it out.

The one thing I would do though is keep an eye on the temperature of the 9v motors. You don't want them to get too warm to the touch, if they do, power down and let them cool off. The heavier the train the more quickly the motors will heat up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi McWaffel! I can't say I can contribute anything useful to this thread, since electrics are not really my field - but I love your idea! :classic: :thumbup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your replies!
We decided to run some smaller trains for now and I tested 8 carriages fully loaded with candy and the portable speaker and the Santa Fe engine was pulling it effortlessly. So I think adding a second 9V for more traction would easily be enough through one transformer.

Here's a picture of the yard:

Xx9WKzx.jpg

 

There are more pictures here: https://imgur.com/a/44WA4 if you want to check them out. 
The pictures are of the yard because that's where most of the trains are. There's some of the MOC cars I've built. If you're interested I can take some pictures of the track across our desks tomorrow when I'm back in the office. 

As you can see, the Minifigs are hard at work with some railroad workers fixing things and shunting and shoveling coal to pre-heat the steam train boiler... While the Santa Fe is pulling the MOCs to supply us with music and candy once a minute when it passes by :D 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice.  Any issues with pieces falling into the heating/cooling grates?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7.11.2017 at 9:34 PM, ElectroDiva said:

Looking good :thumbup: - would be nice to see a video of it running

Thanks, I will upload a video and post it here soon. I just have to edit some stuff out first... Accidentally filmed parts of my computer screens so those have to go lol
 

On 8.11.2017 at 5:41 AM, dr_spock said:

Nice.  Any issues with pieces falling into the heating/cooling grates?

 

Luckly not yet! But even if, you can open those up. It's just very dusty down there lol. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, McWaffel said:

Thanks, I will upload a video and post it here soon. I just have to edit some stuff out first... Accidentally filmed parts of my computer screens so those have to go lol
 

 

That would be a tricky case of a data security leak to try and explain to your boss... Erm, I was filming a lego train video :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/11/2017 at 8:27 PM, McWaffel said:

Thanks for all your replies!
We decided to run some smaller trains for now and I tested 8 carriages fully loaded with candy and the portable speaker and the Santa Fe engine was pulling it effortlessly. So I think adding a second 9V for more traction would easily be enough through one transformer.

Here's a picture of the yard:

Xx9WKzx.jpg

 

There are more pictures here: https://imgur.com/a/44WA4 if you want to check them out. 
The pictures are of the yard because that's where most of the trains are. There's some of the MOC cars I've built. If you're interested I can take some pictures of the track across our desks tomorrow when I'm back in the office. 

As you can see, the Minifigs are hard at work with some railroad workers fixing things and shunting and shoveling coal to pre-heat the steam train boiler... While the Santa Fe is pulling the MOCs to supply us with music and candy once a minute when it passes by :D 

Great to see some (non-confidential!) pictures. Your colleagues are surely happy. If not for the train itself, then for the constant sweets supply. :wink: Charming idea! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Careful with Lego and Windows! I did something similar a while back, and I now have a half seafoam green half maersk blue train from Sun damage :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.