Help modifying Horizon Express for 9V

Hi everyone! First time poster here.

I'm just at the start of creating a large LEGO layout. I intend to run 2x Horizon Express trains (6 cars in one train). The train will go through a fairly long tunnel. It sounds like the current available RF system won't work with a tunnel in the layout. So I'm thinking I'm forced to use the older 9V system and I've got some questions that I'm hoping you kind folks could help to answer.

1. Will I need one or two 9V motors to run the 6-car train?

2. I'd like lights in the front and back engines. What's more, I'd like them to be able to light up whether the train is moving or not. I'm not sure that the old 9V controllers can light the train without it moving. I've heard some people rig up the remote power function just for the lights, so I'm not opposed to that option. But can that be done if I have two 9V motors? What would you guys suggest?

3. Can anyone recommend a good 9V controller? Part number, please!

4. Besides the lights, 9V motor(s), 9V track, and controller, what else will I need?

5. Can anyone link some instructions for adding these components to the train?

Thanks in advance!


  • GoldfreekGoldfreek USA, California, SacramentoMember Posts: 96
    I cant answer your question about 9V but I am curious to know why Power Functions wont work in a tunnel? Are you wanting to stop the train or reverse it while in the tunnel?
  • Ivo_tjeIvo_tje Member Posts: 12
    Try an infrared repeater like the ones used in audio/video cabinets.... Repeat signal in tunnel and done! ;) and no modifications in the Lego needed... ;)
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,449
    The PF will work in the tunnel, you're just unlikely to be able to change the speed or stop it while it's in there. It'll just carry on going at whatever speed it was going at before it entered the tunnel.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited December 2013
    ^ That said, you'd be surprised how pervasive that PF IR beam is. I've had that thing control a train when I thought there's no way the train could see it. It catches reflections, bounces off walls, shines through thinner material, etc.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,449
    I know, that's why I said 'unlikely'. I've had it work when the IR receiver has been hidden from view. I think the beam bounces off the bricks...
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
    Yeah, I don't think you will have a problem unless you have already tried and failed. I have a ton of 9V track, but I'm currently using Power Functions.

    The 9V motor and current Power Functions are different. The 9V motor is taller than the current system I believe.
  • ChumleyChumley Member Posts: 4
    I'm fine with it not stopping or changing speed in the tunnel. But other things I've read and seen on YouTube have indicated that it won't work in areas where it doesn't have at least some exposure to the signal.

    The tunnel I have in mind will be about 9 feet long around a 45 degree curve, completely enclosed by thick paper mâché. This layout is going to be more like a traditional model railroad layout than your average LEGO layout.

    Honestly, I'd love to use the RF system. It's cheaper, faster, and requires less maintenance. I'm just concerned that it won't work. I suppose I'm open to trying it with the infrared repeater.

    Say I were to take a chance on it -- would one motor be powerful enough to run a six-car Horizon Express train?
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
    So, you want to pull 6 cars and have 2 engines or are you buying two HE's to run?
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited December 2013
    With regards to the PF "not working" without exposure, like was mentioned earlier, only changes to the engine won't take effect, i.e. you might nit be able to start/stop/change speed. Basically, whatever speed the engine entered the tunnel with will be the speed it has when it exits.

    As for PF motor load, if you're talking about one engine and 6 cars, one motor probably won't be able to handle that. A lot has to do with weight over the actual motor, so if you beef that up a bit somehow, you can squeeze more traction from a motor.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
    edited December 2013
    Yeah, the IR is not a constant. The train won't shut off when it is in the tunnel. I think that us not what he is getting. A "repeater" is not necessary. The IR is not like a Wi-Fi signal and even then you have buffered information even if the modem is unplugged.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,449
    Yeah, it's just like a remote control for a TV. if you turn the TV on with it, it won't turn off if you hide the remote down the sofa. You won't be able to change channels or the volume or anything like that, but the TV will keep on working with the channel and volume settings it had before you hid the remote.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    What if you hide it in your pants?
  • ColoradoBricksColoradoBricks Denver, CO, USAMember Posts: 1,640
    ^ with enough skills, you can change the channel "hand free" ;-)
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,449
    Is that the remote control in your pocket, or did you just look at the photos of the Parisian Restaurant again?
  • ChumleyChumley Member Posts: 4
    Thanks everyone -- very helpful. I'll go with the remote system and that ought to do just fine.
  • ChumleyChumley Member Posts: 4
    One more question: So with 2x HE trains connected into a single 6-car train, I need to get:

    - 2 motors
    - 2 sets of lights
    - 2 battery boxes
    - 1 remote

    Plus an IR receiver -- but will I need one or two of those? I'm thinking just one, right?

    And will I need anything else? Any other cords or extensions?

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
    We need to know if you have (2) Horizon Express as pictured on the back of the box or are you pulling 6 cars with one engine? (2) Engines and (4) cars only require (1) motor. (1) Engine and (6) train cars may or may not require an additional motor.To save weight, you could "gut" each car and leave them empty.

    The reason I'm asking about your train configuration is because you mentioned in your last comment about needing another set of lights. This would mean that you have (2) train Engines you wish to illuminate. If you have a single engine, you wouldn't need another set of lights.

    I'm also wondering if you could "piggyback" from only one battery box and one IR unit? This will save you weight and two motors will run from same power source.
  • Ivo_tjeIvo_tje Member Posts: 12
    If you have 1 reciever, you also have 1 batterybox. But then you should wire trough all the cars...
    Guess that 2 recievers, both on the same same channel & color will be beter.
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