michaelgale

Eurobricks Vassals
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About michaelgale

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    Trains
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    Ninjago 71741

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    Electronics, software, photography, graphic design, running, and of course trains and LEGO!

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  1. Just saw this now. Its a great idea, look forward to seeing this develop!
  2. @Wimmer Your sentiments about waiting to see if other key products are "real" before willing to invest in metal track are definitely shared with many fellow hobbyists. I completely understand this position and it makes sense. At Fx Bricks we have always recognized that making metal track for a declining market of existing 9V Lego train fans does not make sense. A metal track system can not survive without "closing the loop" with other support products such as feeders, cable, power supplies, controllers, motor drives, etc. We did not invest significant resources into making track without an overall strategic product plan. Here are some overall points which I think will help folks understand us: 1. We have a plan The Fx Track system is the first of part of our product development strategy. It poses relatively lower technical risks and was quicker to design/tool/manufacture ready for market. It also offers us a modest revenue stream to offset on going investment in new products. Metal track is 1/3 of our plan. The other 2 components are power/control systems and motor drive systems. Without all 3x elements, our plan is not viable. 2. We can't predict availability / schedule I know its frustrating to not know when we might be releasing new products. Ironically, we share the frustration because we are at the mercy of many other supplier/manufacturing partners in terms of their capacity and availability. Some of the uncertainties are due to normal engineering process. That is, we design a product and its elements, we produce a small batch of prototype samples, and then perform testing and evaluation. Inevitably, there are things that will require correction/iteration/refinement etc. Sometimes these errors are made by us, but more often it is due to one or more of our manufacturing partners. This requires yet another round of tooling, production, and evaluation. We have to make sure its correct, because of massive risks of investing in a large scale production for 1000s of units. When we are satisfied with the design, we then "green light" production. Usually at this point, we open our store for pre-orders. 3. We're getting closer By now you have seen some evidence of our progress on several key products: a. P40 switch - Its tooled and we have pre-production samples. We have several changes to make to both plastic and metal components. This will take some time, but hopefully after these corrective actions, we'll be in a position to green-light production. Our best estimate is summer 2022. b. Track feeder - It is also tooled and we have samples. The manufacturer has to correct some mold issues, but the electrical design is good. c. Motor bogie - There is so much going on behind the scenes that I will share later. Suffice to say it is going to be well worth the wait! I hope by now we at Fx Bricks have earned enough of your trust and confidence that we are capable of developing and manufacturing high quality products with care, passion, and attention to detail. The scale and scope of work required to develop these products is massive. Yet, by now, you are seeing some hints and indications that they more than concept pictures or CAD renders, but actual physical items which have been tooled and produced. This should inspire enough confidence that the products WILL be coming, not IF. The WHEN part of the equation, we don't know yet, but suffice to say within the year. Another confidence factor is that we have not resorted to crowd-funding or pre-orders based on concepts/prototypes. We only take your money when the product is ready. We are incurring almost all the risk and hope that it will give you folks the confidence that we're in this for the long-game.
  3. @mark6399 Our rails (and also LEGO® brand 9V) are make from nickel plated copper beryllium (NiBeCu). This is a very common material for fabricating precision stamped metal components. NiBeCu is perfectly safe in its finished form. The safety concerns are related to machining/sanding/etc. NiBeCu and the inhalation of particles. This is a safety concern which relevant to any material which is machined and the use of masks is always recommended. Check out the comment section on my BrickNerd article for more info: https://bricknerd.com/home/this-old-track-maintaining-and-restoring-your-metal-9v-track-11-2-21 Re: Orange Feeders: These are 3D printed prototype enclosures. The real product as shown in other photos on my flickr page is injection molded ABS in dark bluish grey. Re: Bogie wobble: What you observe is a very light weight vehicle reacting normally to vertical deflections of the rail due to the gap in the frog. There are two main points to make: 1. The LEGO 9V motor bogie wheels are not rigidly mounted to the drive axle. Rather, they are "sprung" outwards so that the comically sized flange can make electrical contact with the rail. This loose and elastic wheel mount is less than ideal for smooth ride quality. Its difficult for a LEGO 9V motor bogie to maintain consistent vertical "ride height" since its wheels are constantly being "pinched" by the track and deflected slightly upwards due to its inherent sprung mounting. You can see this especially in tight curves where the gauge-narrowing increases the effect. When the bogie is mounted into a locomotive, the weight due to gravity of the locomotive helps resist these vertical forces and the effect is less apparent. 2. The Fx Bricks P40 switch is designed to be more like an actual railway switch. Firstly, it does not include any artificial filler segments in the flangeway to support the wheel flange over rail gaps or transitions. The principle of allowing weight transfer from the wheel tread to the wheel flange and using the wheel flange for vertical support is completely unacceptable. The role of the flange is strictly for lateral guidance. If weight transfer is constantly being exchanged between the flange and tread this can increase the probability of derailment and prevents the flange from performing its role of maintaining lateral guidance. All of the rails in the P40 switch have consistent cross-sectional profile along their entire length--even in the frog/crossing vee. This ensures proper guidance and smooth running along the entire switch. The gap in the frog is short enough that vertical deflection of the wheelset is subtle and brief. We have verified wheelset ride quality using every Lego train compatible wheel size/shape we can find, including the small "narrow gauge" wheels up to Big Ben XL.
  4. @McWaffel Generally, trains will not likely be able to force the switch to change route in a trailing movement in its current configuration. Even with reduced spring tension, the train would have to push the switch blades at least 3-4 mm to overcome the over-centre spring point and change the route position. We made this switch to have more in common with other model train switches and I guess more like the real thing too! @cptkent The R120 is definitely in the roadmap/pipeline. All the curve track elements are designed and ready to go. It's just a matter of manufacturing capacity, scheduling, priority, and managing our costs.
  5. @Duq The range of movement is 5 mm (a little over half a stud). This is basically the range of motion required to move the width of the rail plus flangeway clearance. One of the changes we're likely going to make is the spring tension in the switch bar. In our prototypes, we're finding that its a little too aggressive, i.e. it locks each route *too* well. We think that a more modest spring tension will perform much better. In our switch, this range of movement is a much more critical value than single-rail switches since it represents the symmetrical clearance required for both routes. Whereas a single blade switch only requires enough movement to clear the flangeway.
  6. @Matt Dawson We're still working on it! I've got working prototypes on my desk! Its a gorgeous item of track, but it is made out of a lot of parts and needs to be carefully assembled. That's what we're working on now: documenting an assembly procedure for our manufacturing partners to ensure reliable and efficient assembly. Furthermore, we're likely going to re-tool a couple of items to optimize the design in a few places. If this was a pure plastic switch, then it would have been job done months ago. However, a metal rail switch requires all sorts of metal components (which you don't see from the top) to ensure electrical continuity across the entire rail. The P40 switch also has 2x electrically live switch rails attached to the tie bar--in fact it is the ONLY Lego track switch with two switch rails. It is so gratifying to run a motor bogie slowly through each route of the switch with out stalling! Thanks all for pre-ordering the new R56 and R104 curve tracks! We're glad you guys continue to show your support and faith in our products--it's much appreciated! There's so much in the pipeline, and unimaginable mountains of work left to do. Everything from design, prototyping, product certifications, dealing with supply chains, customer support, etc. We appreciate your patience as we do our best to turn ideas into real products suitable for market!
  7. @Black Knight Oh...I guess our shop's business logic is trying protect EU customers from buying track from Canada! I'll have to see if I can untangle the R72 and permit sales to all regions. We have contract shipping with DHL so we could get track to Germany by Christmas--but it might be crazy expensive. @Black Knight + anyone else: if you urgently require R72 track, PM me directly -- it will be easier if I manually create a draft order in the shop with actual shipping costs including options to use DHL Worldwide Express (it looks like 1 box of track will cost approx. $45 CAD for DHL WPX to Germany--usually 3-4 days delivery)
  8. @Black Knight @Jeffinslaw Yes, the R72 is absolutely not end of life! :) JBS has run out of stock, but we do have inventory remaining in our Canadian store and in Hong Kong. For EU customers who urgently require R72 tracks, you can purchase them from our main store (https://shop.fxbricks.com); however, be advised that the shipping cost will be higher and you will likely have to pay VAT + customs flat rate handling fees when the product is imported. We are currently in discussion with JBS about their inventory requirements for next few months, so hopefully we will able to provide them with more R72 tracks soon. This will likely coincide with the availability of the R56 and R104 tracks since they will likely go into production (hopefully) next week; meaning that we may receive them as early as Jan 2022 for onward distribution in Feb/Mar 2022. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
  9. @Modeltrainman Yes, I can confirm that our new track power feeder product will be compatible with your LEGO brand 9V track. Our feeder product is designed to be a form-fit-function replacement of the original LEGO brand feeder element. It is designed to make side contact with the rail at the locations with a vertical relief channel and adjacent to notch cutouts in the rail for wire passthrough. Our track feeder element makes a few improvements over the LEGO brand product in the following ways: 1. Enhanced clearance - our feeder sits at/below rail height within 2 studs of the rail. This means steam train wheels, coupling rods, valve gear, cosmetic bogie elements, etc. will not interfere with the track power feeder. 2. Smaller footprint - our feeder occupies a 2x3 stud footprint rather than a 2x4 footprint. This will give an extra stud of clearance either side of the track right-of-way. 3. Better wire - we will be using high quality PVC stranded wire which will not be vulnerable to the disintegration observed with the rubberized wire coating of the LEGO brand power feeders I'm waiting to receive some fully assembled prototypes to verify performance and hopefully we will be able to green-light production very soon. The other critical item we need to verify is our new 9V compatible power connector element. This element forms the basis of our entirely new Fx Power System--more details about this new system will be released in future; suffice to say, the aim is to offer a complete system of electrical products, accessories, control systems, etc. All interconnection is designed to be achieved with the versatile 2x2 conductive/stacking connector. Not only will this support legacy LEGO 9V components, but also indirectly Power Functions components with the PF extension wire. More importantly, we want to give this simple, yet elegant and versatile electrical connector an opportunity to shine and live up to its full potential.
  10. @MellonHead Thanks for your great questions! Here are my responses using the best information I have at this time (Nov 30, 2021): 1. Bogie Colours - Clearly, black is the desired colour for the motor bogie so that it is consistent with the legacy of LEGO train motor products for the past 40 years. However, we are open to alternative mold colours for the motor bogie. We predict that Red, Light Bluish Grey, and Dark Bluish Grey would be welcomed by most fans. I haven't thought about Dark Red, but it is also a good suggestion--perhaps also Dark Brown since LEGO do produce a cosmetic sideframe element in this colour already. 2. Wheel Geometry - You are correct that our wheels will be rigidly mounted to their axles at the precise "back-to-back" gauge for L-Gauge. Power pickup is primarily through the wheel tread contact with the rail head top surface (reinforced by gravity) as well as occasional side contact with the flanges. There will be no rubber tires or other superfluous grip features since it is mostly not required, interferes with reliable electrical contact, contaminates the track, and doesn't look aesthetically pleasing. I have tried pure steel driven wheels on LEGO track and it works the same as other model train scales which almost all use direct metal wheel to metal track contact. You will get wheel slip if you apply too much acceleration--just like the real thing and other model train scales. Once you get the hang of driving trains "properly" with more discipline (i.e. no "foot-to-the-floor" drag races!), it will perform no different than "tire-assisted" wheelsets. 3. Fx Motor Bogie Wheels - The wheels for our motor bogie are NOT interchangeable. They are custom turned wheels with a precise profile. They are designed to mount semi-permanently to our axles at the precise back to back gauge and for optimal contact with phosphor-bronze electrical contact strips. If we were to allow user interchangeable wheels, this would likely lead to improper mounting at the wrong gauge and potentially damage the electrical contacts and internal gearing. Furthermore, there are no alternative wheels which are compatible with our motor bogie which a user could substitute anyway. Alternative/standalone wheelsets will come in the future, but only after we have established a reliable family of integrated motor drive products. 4. Prices - Sadly, it is not possible to release pricing for these products at this time. This is not because of competitive or intentional secrecy, it is simply because the two main components of our costs (manufacturing and shipping) are totally unpredictable and very likely to change by the time we're ready to put them into the shop. We have already seen alarming increases in both these areas over the last 8 months. When we ship manufactured product to both Germany and Canada, it would normally ship via sea container. However, sea container rates have spiked to 4x-6x over the last year with delivery commitments of many many months. As a result, we have sent some of our consignments via air freight at considerably higher rates. You will also notice that we have not adjusted our prices higher to compensate, rather we have absorbed the costs with the expectation that global shipping will eventually sort itself out. Therefore, any prediction we make on pricing now will likely not be valid by the time it is available retail. Rest assured, we do our best to price our products as best as we can and our prices do reflect the contribution of costs from all sources: materials, manufacturing, labour, quality assurance, packaging, documentation, certification, shipping, wholesale margins, etc. 5. P40 Details - These will come very very soon. I am waiting to receive several engineering samples from manufacturing any day now. My team in Hong Kong have already been evaluating the P40 switch and are routinely in contact with the manufacturers with feedback and changes. Based on what I have seen so far, the P40 switches are going to be well worth waiting for! They look gorgeous and their mechanical performance is outstanding. I'll be sure to take HD photos and video to showcase these switches both statically and in operation. Stay tuned!
  11. @M_slug357 It wasn't me having the fun this time on the video--it was one of my colleagues at the Hong Kong office!
  12. Simply stunning! I absolutely love this model.
  13. Hi guys! Some of your questions might be answered by this quick preview video showing some of the new track elements including the amazing P40 switch: @dtomsen I'm not very familiar enough with Stud.io to make custom elements for it. I'm hoping there are some helpful fans more knowledgable than us to create them! ;) I presume our LDraw files are a good starting point. @Ashi Valkoinen The good news is that the P40R/L switches are tooled and we're performing engineering test and evaluation. The next phase of development involves sequencing and documenting the assembly process for our manufacturers. As you know, each switch consists of 36x parts and needs to be assembled in a particular sequence, with proper tools, and can be easily tested after assembly. Also, the S1.6 and S3.2 straights are tooled and are good to go for production. As are the R56, R64P and R104 curves. The challenge is scheduling manufacturing time and staging production so that we can receive, inspect, package and then distribute these products. There's a lot of work behind the scenes and we're constantly having to adapt to challenges such as COVID (obviously) and the disruption to global logistics and Chinese manufacturing. @kieran The motor's are still coming along! Lots of work to do to, but we have a pretty good design concept that we're going start building engineering prototypes around. Sorry we can't get there faster--we're doing the best we can!
  14. I guess, that's sort of coming soon...read the conclusion of my latest BrickNerd article... https://bricknerd.com/home/this-old-track-maintaining-and-restoring-your-metal-9v-track-11-2-21
  15. Might as well confirm the form factor with a teaser image! ... p.s. the axles are not actually green on the final product! :)