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  1. Giottist

    4DBrix goes DIY

    Do you allow me an independent check of the bold claim, TrixBrix is nothing else than a copy cat? I for my own have contact with them and use their products since summer 2016 up to now. Let's have a look to my time line: In summer 2016 I was tired about the bad design of the original LEGO 7996 double crossing and looked for a 3rd party replacement and found the very first version of TrixBrix on Ebay. I bought two, the came promptly but were only little satisfying due to their weird skeleton design. Short after that the need for a better version with realistic sleepers raised in me. On August 29th 2016 I joined Bricklink but I did not search immediately there for custom made double crossings. In April 2017 4Dbrix started the Kickstarter campaign for their R40 double crossing and finished it in July 2017. I didn't notice it because I joined Eurobricks on August 19th 2018, more than a year later. (Source here), so I can't decide who was fist with this dedicated design. In September 2017 I sold the very first versions of the TrixBrix double crossings after discovering that a) TrixBrix has an own webshop and I can save a lot of Ebay fees and b) Brick Model Railroader started their Octrainber contest. I ordered two new versions 2.0 R40 types from TrixBrix on September 30th 2017 and integrated them into my setup for the contest. (Source here) Short after the Octraiber contest two things happened: TrixBrix started on their website a user poll what we requested to develop next, and the vast majority clicked on R104 switches and crossings. The second discovery was the incredible expensive 3D printed prototype of a R104 crossing by BrickTracks, offered by Shapeways for several 100 dollars. I know Shapeways from buying wheels designed by Nate Brill aka Shupp. Nearly on the same day, June 24th 2018, three things happened in parallel: First I met Holger Matthes with his impressive train designs at an exhibition in St. Augustin near Bonn in Germany. We had a short chat and I saw the BrickTrack rails and was immediately convinced by the outstanding quality. Holger, if you read this, I am very grateful for your nice explanations and advice, I've learned a lot about serious LEGO railroading from direct chat and your book! Second the Kickstarter campaign of BrickTracks started on June 18th to design and produce a R104 crossing. But third at the same day TrixBrix began to offer and deliver (!) the long time promised 3D printed R104 crossings and I ordered immediately two. I sold my R40 crossings on Ebay (Source here) How can it be to be only a copy cat, if a ready for shipment product is offered the same day a Kickstarter campaign for a comparable product just started ? It takes month to design the product, to program the 3D printing process and to test the geometry until no derailment occurs any more. (see LegoTownLinz and my upper postings) To prevent misunderstandings: The precision injection molded products offered by BrickTracks cannot be compared by any means with the somewhat rough 3D printed desings of TrixBrix, it's like the difference between a Tesla Model S and a simple Renault ZOE. They serve two different markets. But from the timing it is impossible that TrixBrix just picked up a foreign Kickstarter idea and can offer a ready product within in a couple of hours. Two month after that event I joined Eurobricks on August 19th 2018 and discovered the existence of 4Dbrix and checked their products immediately but did not found R104 products with the exception of the ultimate double crossing for the threefold price. After that I ordered in the upcoming months other R104 switches from TrixBrix because they were the only affordable supplieres of R104 parts since the Kickstarter campaign of BrickTracks failed (what a pity, it would be a marvelous contribution for the high end market). And I found several email exchanges with TrixBrix in my archive dealing about my notice the production quality of TrixBrix has increased in the last time. Long after that TrixBrix began to offer servo motors for their switches on Black Friday 2019. But to use them new designes 2.0 are needed. Sigh, I sold the first R104 versions again on Ebay and ordered the new versions 2.0. This happened just before the corona shutdown. That do not look like the behaviour of a pure copy cat: TrixBrix had found out by themselves that their first version of switches are not suitable for automatisation and they had to develop new versions which took again month of design, testing and production preparation. Conclusion: In consequence the claim "TrixBrix is only a copy cat which fires only stolen designs into the market only days after appearance of the original or just after announcing a Kickstarter campaign" cannot be indipendent confirmed. According to my own four year long, nearly continuous experience the opposite is true: TrixBrix works continuously at their product program, starts long lasting user polls to get informations about customer demands and invests a lot of time in product design, testing, quality improvment (a very hard and time consuming process, I could checked it by exchanging my own double crossings three times!) and production, as they can deliver their new products immerdiately (in words: Immediately) after announcement. This cannot performed in hours or days, the preparations take months. And they struggle up to now with (decreasing) quality issues like the occasional part separation. So please, throw only such bold claims into the public, if you are really sure that they can be confirmed by indipendent third party people. Sorry, I for myself was not able to do so. The pure time line talks for itself. As an addenum: I'm not convinced that everybody can perform a 3D print at the neccessary quality level. It needs a really usable 3D printer with matching dimensions, deep knowledge about the material and the 3D printing process and knowledge to meet the dark bluish grey colour. I can talk only for myself, I do not spent several thousands of Euros and month or even years of work becoming familiar with a high level 3D printing process just to get a couple of nice parts for my LEGO railway. So, Peace, and let's enjoy our LEGO railways without quarrel.
  2. Giottist

    4DBrix goes DIY

    Do you have personal experience with the geometry? I'm curious, because I've never observed any derailments or so with my numerous TrixBrix switches. All my trains, even the 60 stud long locos run smooth over them. And I expand my collection over three years, so a "lucky" sample can be excluded. The other point is true: I can observe some fragmentation too. But I fixed this with 1x2 plates in dark bluish grey. Ok, I run a garden railway and have no interest in ballsting. Ballasting can be an issue with TrixBrix products but I am not personally affected. In summary I can't detect severe quality flaws with TrixBrix products. Sorry. And I use them in great numbers and often. I'm married neither with TrixBrix nor with 4Dbrix. My decision for TrixBrix was only guided by the price tag (including transport, tax and custom charges as mentioned) and by the fact that 4Dbrix didn't offer R104 stuff when I demand for it.
  3. Giottist

    4DBrix goes DIY

    That's easy to explain: They just mirrored one design to the other to get both directions. It is obvious for everybody to do this. I can't see any problem in it, I would do exactly the same. And TrixBrix asked at least four month on their website if we need r104 stuff. Four month long. Let'sI explain the difference for european and american customers. Here in the EU we have to pay world level shipment charges together with custom and import charges (nothing else as our VAT) not only on the item itself but on the shipment charge too. This makes american products unattractive for us. It can rise the end price by 30% or more. And of course we know the difference between molded and 3D printed parts. Molded parts are much more expensive due to their production but the surfaces are nearly not distinguishable from original LEGO parts. For those who prefer the unbeatable surface quality the price tag including shipment, custom charges and tax is ok. But they are few in a small market. I assume the majority of us perfer the more economic solution of 3D prints including me. And 3D parts are at least 30% cheaper here in the EU but that's not a nastiness intended by TrixBrix but a consequence of market protection mechanisms between US and Europe. OK, in the past I compared frequently the prices for 4Dbrix and TrixBrix products if they are similar. I looked at both offers and compared them. 4Dbrix was slightly more expensive but this is only before adding shipment, tax and custom charges. The full price was up to 40% for the same, sometimes the double price including the customs hassle (a specific german problem). Keep in mind producing in the EU is expensive too, the wages in Poland are not the dirt cheap (and unfair) wages for chinese workers and the shipment costs are on common world level and not sponsored near to nothing by the chinese government. Poland is not comparable with China. So please, the argument TrixBrix underbids 4Dbrix is very US centric and tell only the half of the story. And I can imagine (I do not know) that shipment, tax and custom charges are added to EU products imported into the US which makes TrixBrix products expensive for the US customer and the final price for european parts is at least at the same level for US citizens. So for me 4Dbrix was not took out of business by product copies but by general protectionism and the fact that the market for 3D printed LEGO rail parts ist too small in the US to carry a company. What a pity.
  4. Giottist

    Trixbrix slip switches

    I had problems with ME tracks too. ME rails have a large foot which forms a step between original LEGO rails or actual TrixBrix products. From time to time the flanges of train wheels make a small jump if you are to fast. I had lots of derailments particular with long locos and wagons. The issue can moderated by grinding a ramp into the ME rail foots but not removed. The end of the story was selling all my ME stuff on Ebay.
  5. Giottist

    Trixbrix slip switches

    Yes, I have. I've discovered TrixBrix products short after appearing on the market. In the beginning there were several flaws cause by a rough 3D printing process but in the last two years they made large steps increasing quality. Now the quality is absolute ok for daily use. I used in 2017 two R40 cross switches for the Octrainber competition and my locos run without any flaw over the TrixBrix parts. Since then I sold all my R40 stuff and changed everything to R104. This stuff is really good, I did not experience any flaw. The only disadvantage are the click connectors aren't very strong so sometimes switch parts can separate if they are loaded too much. I fixed it with 2x2 or 1x2 blue greyish plates ... Immediately after market launch I bought two R104 slip switches, one left and one right type. They perform without any problem, I can run over them with full speed even with heavy multiple coupled steam locomotives (with your rods ) They look ultrarealistic! There is a minor disadvantage: If you want to equip with the new electric servos, two of them come to close to the neighbor tracks but this is unavoidable due to geometry. I can recommend the new slip switches like (more common) all R104 switches from TrixBrix coming from the new production. They have archieved a lot to increase quality.
  6. Let's consider the damage for us: ... Hmm, very little ... Ok, TLG has thrown out all 3D printed or modified parts without any comprehensive arguments ("Safety is not guaranteed" - what a nonsense). But all third party parts are now available from independent online stores, thanks Zephyr1934 and ChromeBlockCity. Other manufacturers are not present on BL at any time like BBB oder TrixBrix. The only disadvantage I see it is more difficult for beginners to discover the numerous but small independent online shops. Some people declared TGL as their enemy. That's not a good idea, we need BL as an indispensable source for figures, searched and rare parts or for bulk parts. And it is still a good idea to compare prices at Bricks & Pieces oder Pick A Brick at the LEGO online store. So we need both, please think about.
  7. Giottist

    Just discovered that Lego trains are beyond my reach

    I'm an European: Particular Give me A Brick is extremly expensive far from sanity even for rather common parts. If you look for yourself and do not rely on any algorithm, you will find them nealy allways at the top end of the price ladder. Nearly the same for Sta Laedla, sorry, they are one of the most expensive dealers at Germany. Instead look for yourself and keep always the shipping charges in mind. (additional with international dealers the custom charge). After a while you will recognize, that just a handful of dealers have a reasonable good relation between part numbers and price. And please habe a look at the pick A Brick Service at the LEGO online store and mor important the Bricks & Pieces service. At least in half the cases original LEGO Parts are the cheapest way to get new parts in numbers. Do not rely on the Bricklink algorithm: It does not sort the search results in economic order.
  8. Sigh. TLG demonstrates its power, nothing else. What do they gain? Reputation and respect? (I do not think so ...) Thank you for starting your own online shop. The first measure was to bookmark it and the second was deleting the old BL bookmark. Same for chromed parts. Ou man, TLG BTW, your rods are marvelous - I have still a couple large projects between drawing board and halfway to finish ...
  9. Hi Legopold, we have to thank you for sharing your idea It's a nice feeling to reproduce your results. I've bought my steel rods on Ebay but it seems it is the same source: My lot does not fit anyway and I do not know any usable method to grind them down to a matching diameter without removing the zinc plating. If I would do so the remaining cheap steel will rust away ... It seems there are large manufacturing tolerances, to big not to be a matter of risk. If we like to avoid any risk and do not hesitate to have some work, the steel 1.2210 aka 115CrV3 is the better choice since the rods made of this material have the tolerance h9, an international norm. I used the calm holidays to test all my axles and all yet existing rods made of 1.2210 fitted perfect with my ball bearings, most of the original LEGO rods did so (about 10% not!) and none of the plated chinese rods. It seems it is a matter of luck, which lot of the cheap plated chinese rod will fit or not.
  10. Merry Christmas to everybody! This morning I have the time to test Legopolds version of train axles with ball bearings. I'm using the type MR52ZZ from a chinese dealer on Ebay. I combine them with metal rods from steel type 1.2210 called "silver steel" which comes with low tolerances and fit without force to the ball bearings. Please do not use force or hammering or something else, ball bearings even from China are precision products and can fail by deforming them by unneccessary force. I have to fix the ball bearings with a tiny speck of two component glue to the axle holders and remove the central clips. The comparison with original steel axles on a shallow rail ramp is overwhelming: even lubricated the original axles performed 60% less the ball bearing axles. For the comparison test I used the rather massive hopper car from set 60051. Here the exact description: Testramp consisting of 20 straight rails (new) on the flat floor. The fist three rails have a gradient of 1 plate, so the start is at 1 brick height above the horizontal floor plane. 1) Axles with new style plastic wheels: The test car does not move after relase. 2) Original unlubricated metal axles: 34.5 cm (13.5 inches) 3) Metal axles lubricated with lithium grease: 54 cm (21.3 inches) 4) Ball bearing axles à la Legopold: 140,5 cm (55.3 inches) I am aware that the drastic differences are caused by the very low gradient of the start slope which overemphasize the tiny friction differences at very low drag levels. The next test will be a comparison of a real train comparable to the original LEGO test. Addenum I: Wheels 57878 and axle holders 2878 are still available at the LEGO bricks & pieces service, somewhat expensive but still ok. Addenum II: Do not buy ready made "silver steel" rods from chinese sources. They are zinc plated with too large diameter and do not fit to the ball bearings. Look instead for the steel type 1.2210 oder 115CrV3: Theese rods have a tolerance of h9 and fit perfectly to the ball bearings without any further machining. This material is too strong to be cutted with a saw but can be put to length with a long bolt cutter. Then you can grind the raw axle pieces to the exact length with a carborundum abrasive wheel.
  11. Please type "chromed" into the search function at the top of Bricklinks website and have a look ... There are still plenty of offers but how long ? It seems the first shops went voluntary to avoid useless struggles with TLG. In my opinion LEGOs restrictions for modified or custom printed parts are too tight. Theese parts are supplements to LEGO products. No business or copyright is harmed by them. The restrictions for clone parts or MOCs in conflict with a licence theme are clear in my eyes.
  12. Giottist

    New train wheels tested by LEGO

    Dear Coinoperator, Please do not distribute unchecked claims. The danger of throwing around fake news is very high: Lithium and cobalt for electric cars and other products do not use up rain forests. Lithium is gained from salt lakes using salt water unsusuable for drinking and irrigatring purposes. The actual protests at Bolivia are triggered by social unrests because a tiny minority takes all the money and gives nothing to the workers and general public. Here in Germany BMW and Volkswagen use cobalt only from certified producers mostly at Australia and definitely not from eastern Congo. Childwork is unknown there. I assume Tesla does the same. No orang utang or human child will suffer. Using sustainable resources is a big issue in modern chemistry. Several customers of mine process plant oil to make chemicals (Since decades, this is not a new idea btw.). Since only one or two percent of the oil production is used for synthetic material the usage of plants does not affect food production in a recognisable amount. And there are a lot of projects to use carbon dioxide as a raw material to make more complex substances. At the moment fossil crude oil ist still too cheap, but fossil oil is a limited resource. Renewable organic stuff is not. At the moment LEGO choose sugar cane to get polyethylene, but there are a lot of alternatives, using either organic waste or even carbon dioxide (Together with renewable energy) All in all it's a very nice idea from LEGO to introduce renewable raw materials to make the plastic for our parts. Sugar cane is the solution available now (but not the only one). But you can be sure there will be a lot of food neutral methods if they will become economic. So please check claims before publishing. Thank you. Another thought: The friction between ABS and polyethylene is higher than between metal and ABS but still rather low. The gigantic containment of the wrecked Tchernobyl reactor glides on polyethylene rails. 35000 metric tons would squeeze any wheel to junk but not theese PE rails which offers low friction even under this load. Lubricating the new wheels with a tiny speck of lithium grease will lower the friction to really low values usable for heavy and fast trains. This kind of grease do not affect both ABS and PE, there is no corrosion or wear. Best wishes, Giottist
  13. Giottist

    New train wheels tested by LEGO

    Please relax. I have the opportunity to test and compare the old axle type with the new one. The new is attractive to me because it offers red wheels. Since a couple of days they are offered by LEGO themself, you have not to rip a unbearable expensive disney train set. The test rig was a rather heavy hopper wagon from the 60098 set, one with the new axles, the other with the old ones: In original state the new axles show twice the friction as the unlubricated metal axles, but lubricated with a tiny speck of lithium grease the difference is nearly neglectable, even with lubricated steel axles. Ok, up to now I have no comparison with the ball bearing solution but at the moment I think the new wheels lubricated with lithium grease is clearly sufficient for daily use. (Of course I bought a heap of ball bearing MR52ZZ from China anyway ) Ah, please do not use something like silicon oil, this stuff is only a mess and an attractor for dirt, dust and fibres.