Rail Co

What to do when an Era ends?

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Hey Guys! I got into train by the first sight of the amazing Emerald Night, So I have never seen an "Era" of trains end. So I was wondering to everyone who has gone through the experience of a changing era, what to do when this happens.

So say the PF train era is about to end and being replaced by something else, what would you do?

-Is it a good idea to buy a lot of PF elements like Recievers, Bat. Boxes, train motors?

Just as I have noticed that around every 10-15-20 years, it changes to another "Era". So it is getting close to the 10 year mark since PF has been avaliable, so I want to make sure I know what the best thing to do (as either a money investment or spares/extras I can use later).

Thanks guys!

-RailCo

P.S. I hope other people like me can also learn from you guys too!

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I would say I dont think we will see another diffrent train design for a while. I dont think they will change the track or PF stuff for trains anyway.

Yes the past 2-3 years has shown a good amount of train sets out, but it still looks like they are ding as a selling point.

I still think 9v has always been the best due to not needing battrys so would be nice for them to go back

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It's true that TLG kept switching...12v, 9v, now PF, and I was very disappointed when they switched from 9V to PF, personally, as I think a lot of LEGO train fans were model train enthusiasts who saw 9V as a "serious" step for TLG to take, and actually felt like LEGO was a choice alongside N, O, HO, G, etc..

But they weren't making money. There wasn't enough of "us" to keep it going, and it was expensive for them to produce. Switching to PF accomplished many things - including having a singular power "system" across multiple lines. Since it's seen in trains, technic, and creator, I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. What I do see is improvements, additions to the system... perhaps gradual fading out of older tech for newer; new battery boxes, better IR (or... GASP! Actual RADIO control? Maybe bluetooth? Either one would be an improvement). We've seen the addition of newer motors, controllers, and (finally) a servo...

While things we produce our trains with now may phase out, I'm confident that the newer things phased in will be suitable replacements, perhaps even better (stronger, smaller... maybe both). Hopefully we'll get more that can be more easily fit into MOCs. I'd love to see S and XS motors, too.

But I'm thinking, except for some great leap in technology (wireless electricity?) that PF won't "go away."

The problem with 9V is it's not easy to adapt a 9V engine to PF because of the battery box and IR Receiver, but I believe new PF will be easy replacements for old.... and if they ever did go back to an electric rail system, converting to it from PF would be easier than going the other way; but I don't see that happening.

Edited by fred67

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PF is a good system and has made me start collecting again. When they replaced 9v with RC it was not a good time and RC was a horrible system with its big bulky bases, so much that I decided to part with my entire Train collection and then my city and technic also. PF does take up more space than 9v but can be incorporated into some smaller builds, like my recently posted diesel shunter. I also fitted PF into a Lone Ranger box car to power my LR train for my brick show display.

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I think the changes were to make it easier and safer for children to operate. With PF your kids don't have to plug in the power transformer into an AC outlet. You don't have to troubleshoot electrical contact problems with PF rails. Power Functions may not go away. It may morph from line of sight infrared to radio like bluetooth or 2.4 GHz receivers. It'll probably depend when component prices for bluetooth or wifi goes down to match infrared prices.

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I understand PF may not change for awhile, I was just asking if it did is it a good idea to stock up on parts?

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I understand PF may not change for awhile, I was just asking if it did is it a good idea to stock up on parts?

I don't know if to stock up is good idea or not, but I just do it, whenever buying some parts from Lego or BrickLink I always check on some additional motor/s, wires, lights, wheels, all those from PF and related to trains, and buy some of them, like I want to have some of my own small stock, so… :classic:

Edited by bjorkan

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To be fair, I only got into Lego trains this year, and it wasn't too hard to pick up all the 9v stuff I need, so unless the old stuff happened to be on reduced to clear, I don't think stocking up would have been particularly necessary.

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I've jumped into Train theme 3 years ago and collected my favourite trains from 12v, 9v and PF era (7740, 4558, 4564, 4551, 2126, Emerald, Maersk, Horizon). My experience is that it makes sense to stock up out of production train tracks and main electric parts if you want your trains running on their original tracks. I use 12v tracks for 12v trains and 9v train tracks for all my other trains on a separate circle. And old train tracks and old train motors (12v, 9v) are getting more and more expensive on the second hand market. On the other hand I don't think TLC will change PF system in the near future so if you like PF stuff in my opinion there is no need to begin stocking parts up now because these will be available for a long time on moderate prices.

Edited by Interceptor

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I don't think it is necessary to stock up on PF at this time. Some times having extra PF train motor, battery box and receiver around can be helpful if you're into building your own trains.

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I understand PF may not change for awhile, I was just asking if it did is it a good idea to stock up on parts?

I'm new here but there are plenty of PF parts for sale since they're still fabricating them and even if they stop, there will still be parts available. 9v has not been around for a long time (I wish LEGO would go back to 9v trains) and you can still find plenty of parts, even new 9v motors

Edited by nezz

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I don't think it is necessary to stock up on PF at this time. Some times having extra PF train motor, battery box and receiver around can be helpful if you're into building your own trains.

... I never have enough motors, battery boxes and receivers for all my trains. Currently, I think I need an extra 2 motors, 1 battery box (rechargeable) and 3 IR receivers. If I wanted to change all my AAA battery boxes to rechargeable, well, I'd be a lot poorer!

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PF isn't going anywhere. If you were concerned about it, you'd stock up on train motors. There will be vast numbers of receivers from Technic PF in the used market for years. The battery box and rotary remote are probably less widely produced, but they are unlikely to fail, again they will be widely available used for years.

But PF is not going away any time soon

- Lego recently released the L motor and servo, serious investments

- in the UK at least, trains are quite widely available in shops, doesn't mean they're selling, but shows TLG are serious about trains being available in channel

Also PF protocol is a published open standard, it's likely we'll see more community-originated hardware add-ons for it.

Edited by andythenorth

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As someone who wants to mostly MoC British Steam, and refuses point blank to rely on dummy locos with powered wagons behind them (I like to shunt) I pretty much have to stick to 9v until the receiver and battery packs become significantly smaller (unlikely in the near future).

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... I never have enough motors, battery boxes and receivers for all my trains. Currently, I think I need an extra 2 motors, 1 battery box (rechargeable) and 3 IR receivers. If I wanted to change all my AAA battery boxes to rechargeable, well, I'd be a lot poorer!

You would be poorer for about 2 months, then you would be ahead of the curve after the third recharging. If using regular batteries, you have to go with quality ones or they simply do not last. I am currently running Eneloops in all of my sons/mine battery boxes and they outlast the Duracell and Energizer regular batteries I started with. Myself and quite a few others here think they are worth every penny. I am slowly replacing all my batteries with them in everything since they are kind of pricey up front.

As far as PF stuff, zero use in stocking up now other than keeping stuff on hand for future builds or maybe a complete backup set of everything. PF is used across the line in Lego and will be around for a bit and we will probably see many more options become available for PF as well. Train specific PF stuff probably less so, but as they add new things I am sure there is a chance some improvements will come our way.

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I have a good back up of stock for both my 9 volt and PF trains. Regardless of whether it's going to be replaced by something new or not, you can never have too many spares!

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I am not concluding discussion, of course, but it seems that (a) Era will not end that soon and (b) real AFOLs will always have some stocks, independently of any real variable, that is why they are AFOLs :laugh:

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I understand PF may not change for awhile, I was just asking if it did is it a good idea to stock up on parts?

I think the last three transitions came with plenty of advanced warning and time to buy up parts of the old system, e.g., both 9v motors and RC motors were on clearance at S@H for several months. I wasn't paying attention in 1991 but I have seen several ads touting the backwards compatibility of the "new" 9v system.

That said, even without the end of an era, lego is always tweaking the parts. So about 10 years in, the 9v train wheel sets started to exhibit excessive drag because the updated mold for the wheel holder was just a hair to thick and would rub on the flanges (fixable with a hobby knife, but...). Likewise, the bands on the wheels for the RC/pf train motors have gone through 3 or 4 iterations. The oldest ones having very poor traction, while the newest (that I have seen) have very good traction. Meanwhile, we are now on the 3rd variant of the PF IR receiver. So if you have a MOC that depends on specific performance, maybe get a couple of backup copies. Just do not buy more than you think you will use in your lifetime.

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Hello, I am new to Eurobricks, this is my very first reply actually :) I was also thinking about what could follow PF in the future. I also think this system will last for quite a while, at least as long as 9V did, but probably more. The way of development could be however the use of radio control; bluetooth for example, as a Hungarian startup has just shown it could have a lot of potential in the future:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sbrick/sbrick-smart-way-to-control-all-your-lego-creation

Another improvement could be the use of smaller battery boxes, which will probably become reality as storage of energy develops with new, higher energy density battery types in the future (this is something that is very likely to happen, not in the next 2-3 years though). These two improvements could easily be integrated into Power Functions concept, and with minimizing size, I can even think of a train motor in let's say 10-15 years perspective, which even integrates both a rechargable power source and receiver in its casing. If that ever comes, that system will be a golden age for trains, as it will eliminate all the shortcomings of both internally and externally powered systems, current and previous. No more contact problems with track, no more limitations for locomotive size. I think that after 9V, there will be no externally powered system any more, as it will simply not be necessary. What do You think about it?

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I understand PF may not change for awhile, I was just asking if it did is it a good idea to stock up on parts?

There is really no need to do that. If PF were to be replaced, you'd hear about it long in advance, so you'd still have the option to stock up. Moreover, PF is not going to be replaced anyway. And even if it were, it'd still be easy to stock up. Even if LEGO sells out train PF, which really is not about to happen anyway, then prices still won't suddenly go up, they change slowly because there are plenty of used sets on eBay, and 90% of the time, the motors in there are as good as new. Most families are happy if they bought a trainset for $150 and can get $100 from eBay five years later. That train has been used a few times during Christmas and has been sitting in a box ever since, the motor is essentially brand new.

The other thing to consider is: Say you did stock up, and bought all the motors you'll ever need. Next thing you know, a great new train set comes out, and it of course includes PF parts that you don't need. In the long run you'll likely have more than what you need.

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As we've been surmising, I don't think anybody thinks that PF is going end... possibly ever; what it will do is morph into (hopefully) better technology that can be used to easily replace the old technology.... really.... drop in replacement, unlike going from 9V to PF, I expect going from PF to new PF will be quite easy. As hoeij said, there is no need to stock up any more than what you need.

I'd hate to buy a bunch of IR receivers and remotes, for example, and then bluetooth comes out next year.

Edited by fred67

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As someone who wants to mostly MoC British Steam, and refuses point blank to rely on dummy locos with powered wagons behind them (I like to shunt) I pretty much have to stick to 9v until the receiver and battery packs become significantly smaller (unlikely in the near future).

I've found the easiest thing to do is put the PF stuff in the tender. It's normally just about the right height, and is usually a big box anyway, so then you can concentrate on the detail of the loco.

You would be poorer for about 2 months, then you would be ahead of the curve after the third recharging.

Oh yes I realise that, which is why I now have 4 rechargable battery boxes. Should I decide to run a third loop at shows, I'll get another two, but for now I'm happy running two loops. :)

Meanwhile, we are now on the 3rd variant of the PF IR receiver.

3rd? I only know of two - the v1 and v2. What's the third?

Edited by Paperballpark

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I've found the easiest thing to do is put the PF stuff in the tender. It's normally just about the right height, and is usually a big box anyway, so then you can concentrate on the detail of the loco.

Oh, either way, it tends to be tender powered. Sticking the battery box in the tender is fine as long as the tender is big enough. So far I have built one generic loco which looked daft with a big tender (which is what sparked me into buying up 9v in the first place, the newer lower tender is a big improvement) and the one I'm currently working on is based on a real loco with a tender that is just plain too small.

Oh yes I realise that, which is why I now have 4 rechargable battery boxes. Should I decide to run a third loop at shows, I'll get another two, but for now I'm happy running two loops. :)

Really need to get one for my HE, as that tends to be run for long fast stints. The only other loco I have that uses a battery box can do without rechargeable for now.

3rd? I only know of two - the v1 and v2. What's the third?

I think he's referring to the first IR sets, which had a train frame with built in receiver stuff.

train-lego-setlego-city-train-starter-set-b7ymg2fb.jpg

and

7898_box_front-300x220.jpg

Edited by Redimus

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