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  1. Toastie

    LEGO train bridges

    Dear All, my train layout is built “into/around” my home office, which is located in the attic. With the pitched roof area beginning at a height of about 60 cm (2,0 feet), there are not that many options for placing longer runs of LEGO track, as close to the walls in about 40 cm (1,3 feet) height. The floor area is 4,2 x 6,3 m2 (26,5 m2 = 285 square feet), whereas at 2 m height (6,6 feet) there is only a 40 cm (1,3 feet) width section … so beware of your head! Figure 1: Schematic views of my home office. Top: Room cross section. Bottom: Floor plan. All numbers in meters. [The most important question of course is: 2,3 feet? I simply used an online tool for the conversion – I am wondering, is the “,3” bit in the decimal system? Which would mean: 1 foot and 3 tens of a foot. That does not make much sense as there are 12 inches in one foot … and 2,54 cm in an inch. There are 30,5 cm in one foot (rounded) – so we have 3/10*30,5 + 30,5 cm = 39,7 cm which is close enough to 40 cm.] OK, I am just kidding – I lived for 4 years in the US – changed/added a good deal of things around and to the house and - it is absolutely no problem to adjust to the yard – feet – inch world. None what so ever. Because you have to; there are simply no “cm” or “m” in the US … Uhmmm – what did I want to show … sorry: Yes, bridges. When you live in an attic, there may be holes in the floor to get there via stairs. And maybe doors opening to another room. And furniture; certainly not only 60 cm high (I leave it in the metric world) … so you need to mount your track to the walls behind or even “through” furniture, under desks, and you need bridges – many. Essentially it is one large bridge - this post is about the brick- or semi-brick built sections on my train layout. Figure 2: Floorplan and track layout. Left: “Principal” track arrangement: Two main outer loops, two smaller independent loops around the chimney on the left and on the right. Right: Actual BlueBrick track layout. Note that there are two track levels. Red rectangles indicate bridges as referenced below. With respect to Figure 2, left: This was the principal idea: Two parallel main track sections going around the entire room (outer two red lines). Then one circle on the right and one around the chimney on the left. There are possible track levels, as indicated by the two stacked red lines in Figure 2, top left. Problem #1: The stairs (shown in green, top) to get up to my office; here only one section of track fits in between outer wall and hole in the floor. Solution #1: A long incline eventually allowing the two track sections to run “stacked”. Problem #2: The door (also in green, bottom) giving way to the next room stuffed with stuff that we regularly look for. Solution #2: A draw bridge, which is always in the “up” position when I am not playing. On the same image on the right, a BlueBrick generated track layout is overlaid. It actually consist of two “layers” – there is a good section of elevated track under my desk on the left and also behind some book shelves on the right. This is why the layout looks pretty congested in some areas. Most of the track running close to the walls is not visible (or is behind furniture) and is mounted on wooden supports which in turn are mounted to the wall. Some of these areas are rather complex modular constructions, as I need to get there from time to time. Then there are some regions covered with low-level “table” type areas (IKEA is your friend) – as well as supports mounted to furniture. The same is true for “tunnels” – they are all over the place as I have to run some track sections “through furniture”. Coming back to bridges: The red rectangles in Figure 2 on the right indicate the LEGO built bridge sections. I used all sorts of LEGO bricks: DUPLOs from my daughters (now 20 and 22 years old; asked for permission of course!) to swiftly gain elevation, combined with System bricks and plates to adjust to required heights/widths. And Technic stuff to secure things. Oh well and Monorail track … I guess Monorail enthusiast will not like that … BUT: This stuff is fantastic to structurally support bridges!!! Bridge 1 This one is lame – uses the Monorail straight tracks as main structural support – and DUPLO bricks mixed with System bricks and plates for the end-sections. Figure 3a: Bridge 1, location on layout cf. Figure 2. Figure 3b: Bridge 1. Bridge 2 This one is a little more complex. It is a fully automated draw bridge integrated into my PBrick control scheme (and here). The PBrick operating that thing is a Scout. It has its own ID address and understands 4 commands: “Up”, “Down”, “Stop”, and “Status”. Manual control is also possible; the switch to toggle the mode from “remote” to “manual” control is the light brick in combination with the built-in light sensor of the Scout. Further, there are two touch sensors to ensure that the Scout knows the status of the bridge. One detects the fully “up” and the other the fully “down” position. When both sensors are open, the bridge is somewhere in between. To make things a little more appealing, a slightly modified/extended #42042 crane is used as power source. I needed to extend and fix the boom to the ceiling as the load is fairly heavy. Furthermore, I used a pulley system apparently called “threefold purchase” (according to Fig. 6-21 on page 64 in Sariel’s extremely helpful “The unofficial technic builder’s guide” book ( to get a mechanical pulling power advantage of 6. This way the PF M motor used in #42042 manages to draw the bridge up from the fully down position, which requires the biggest drawing momentum, without hassle. Figure 4a: Bridge 2, location on layout cf. Figure 2. Figure 4b: Bridge 2, entire structure, “down” position. Top: Top view showing the track. Bottom: Side view with a “track lift” on the left, LEGO storage shelves on the right, and a door to the storage room, which remains clear in the “up” position. Figure 4c: Bridge 2, details of the sensor mounts (“up” sensor mounted to the book shelf, “down” sensor mounted to the underside of the bridge) and the pair of guide rollers. Figure 4d: Bridge 2, details of the Scout PBrick, the #42042 crane, and the pulley mechanism providing a mechanical advantage of 6 when drawing/releasing the bridge. This video shows a little more … Bridge 3 This bridge is fully LEGO brick-built and spans my entire “City” area. It also connects to the next bridge via a curved elevated segment, which was quite challenging (for me …) to give the supporting structure a “solid” appearance. Figure 5a: Bridge 3, location on the layout cf. Figure 2. Figure 5b: Bridge 3. Top: From the wooden shelf track support on the left an elevated two track segment travels behind the City buildings. Bottom: The two elevated tracks merge into a curved one-track segment. Figure 5c: Bridge 3. Bottom left: The curved one-track segment. Bottom right: There is a small pedestrian bridge providing access to the light house. Top: The curved segment continues with a longer straight stretch. A largely modified #10027 train shed (with an additional structure on top) serves (also) as track support. There is a small grating type secured elevated path, which allows the City train personnel to survey the City traffic situation and act properly … Bridge 4 This bridge is a semi-brick-built structure; however, as it spans the opening for the stairs to the story below my office, I wanted to be sure. There is a wall mounted main support which is “decorated” with a supporting structure consisting of Monorail curved track segments; on top though the long incline in the back as well as the elevated track segment connecting to Bridge 3 is entirely brick-built and self-supporting. Again with System and DUPLO bricks – there is even some DUPLO SNOT. With the addition of Technic beams, the pylons have become quite sturdy, so I may even replace the wooden “floor” sections with actual LEGO bricks and plates but that has to wait for a longer time, I guess … Figure 6a: Bridge 4, location on the layout cf. Figure 2. Figure 6b: Bridge 4. Bottom: Entire view of the bridge structure; on the right, the City bridge structure merges with the level 2 section of the outer loop (cf. Figure 2). Top left: In the front (barely noticeable) the inner main loop at level 1; in the back the long incline (sloped at 2 plates/ 9V track piece) of the outer loop main loop. The arrow points to the incline on both pictures. Top right: Last bridge section leading to a long stretch of track behind book shelves. Figure 6c: Bridge 4. View from the stairs giving access to the attic (cf. Figure 2), showing the curved Monorail tracks as supports along with the Technic cross bars. Figure 6d: Bridge 4. Some details of the Duplo-, Technic-, and System-bricks used for the support structure. Figure 6e: Bridge 4. Details of the last bridge section leading behind some book shelves using straight mono rail tracks and bridge support parts (#55767) as main structural elements. The pylons are made from Duplo and System bricks. Bottom right: Some Duplo SNOT on the main pylon. There are some more images on BrickShelf (, just navigate to the “bridges” folder. These are pretty large in size though. Best regards, Thorsten