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Designing train layouts

Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
edited January 2012 in Building and Techniques
Some useful tools Ive found for designing train layouts;

Official Lego track designer - super quick and easy, but no crossovers.

Some others;

And a nice photo of the double level layout which I like the look of


  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    That's a fricken awesome layout! I want bridges!!! will have a look at the tools. Thanks Si.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,432
    edited July 2011
    Nice resources - thanks, Si !

    I've already designed and started to build a layout with a lower enclosed loop and an upper surface loop. Seeing that picture has however got me wondering about whether it might be cool to join the lower and upper loops together with a gradual inclined section. So thanks again but also curse you for sowing seeds of doubt in my mind !
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited July 2011
    Go for it... gradients are fantastic, especially going down them! I used this guide
    ... then ignored it completely, because with a light PF train you can get up to that height in about 2/3 of the horizontal distance recommended, especially if you use the old blue grippy rails.

    Also heres something for those who think they dont have room for trains!

  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited July 2011
    Another inspiring train layout video

  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,432
    edited July 2011
    ^^ OK, I like the idea of linking the upper and lower loops so I'll look into this, although perhaps as a major mod after I've finished version 1 rather than start from scratch now....

    I'd have to elevate the track by about 14 or 15 bricks in height over a distance of around 2 meters I think, so a little experiment is probably in order....
  • kylejohnson11kylejohnson11 Member Posts: 508
    @Si_Dorking_Surrey_UK great link for building the inclines/declines! I'm excited to try it out!
  • war44lockwar44lock Member Posts: 75
    I never went for trains before but that second video got my son giggling with the camera mounted on the train he thought it was great racing round the house like that, got a smile out of me too. Very cool, thanks Si.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,642
    We (the GWLTS) have done inclines at displays before and you do need a lot of space. Realistically, you can only climb one plate per track length so to rise by 12 bricks or so needs 36 lengths which is quite a distance.
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    To build on the OP, I'd definitely recommend BlueBrick. It's easily extensible you will soon learn to appreciate its support for layers,l allowing you to separate tables, baseplates, track, monorail and annotation. It's also really easy to add new parts; I added the standard tables we use and public shows as ours are custom sizes.

    As for inclines, I'm sure lighter trains can haul themselves over steeper inclines but I'm not about to start challenging my precious 9v motors like that!
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    ...and Technoandrew (the garden trains video) is another Brickish member. Not sure if he's on here though.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,432
    edited July 2011
    Cheers for the advice on inclines, guys. Assuming the 'one plate per track section' rule applies to curves as well as straights then it's certainly feasible, although it'd require some significant remodelling of the layout, particularly the foundations....

    I'll be using PF - any idea whether this'd make scaling inclines easier or harder ? Guess it'll partly depend on how charged the battery is.....
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I worked out the inclines which worked for me by setting up a test slope. Theres probably not a one size fits all solution, as itll depend on number of carriages, (more= heavier), track type (grips or not/ possibly metal is slippier) and power source (no idea about 9v, but for PF i recommend eneloop batteries for max power ..) . Also wonder if more worn wheels might be slippier, certainly seem to be.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,504
    I also did a test incline. I had to climb 15 bricks. I ignored other advise and tried to go 2 plates per section to save space and Legos. It seemed to work fine with my Maersk train powered by a 9v motor hauling 2 stock cars with 4 stock empty containers. I then tried 8 stock empty containers and that slowed the train considerably. I then put on another Maersk 9v powered engine and it did well. All of this from a standing start to full power pretty quickly.

    After all of this I tried a stock 7938 Passenger train which ran right up the slope but, the end car would always de-couple itself near the top. Has anyone else had this same problem? The magnets seem to be weaker on this particular train than any other train I have. I don't have a lot of experience with the PF trains but one thing I have noticed is that the receiver on the train is almost blind to the remote so that you have to be in front of it for it to work. Has anyone experienced that as well?

    So after all of that I did rebuild the incline with 1 plate per section and obviously that made things much easier. Next I think I'll try doing it all with a 12v train. The trains in the Lego idea book 7777 seem to climb 1 brick per section. I've also seen this in most of the 12v train videos on youtube that have inclines.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Has anyone else had this same problem? The magnets seem to be weaker on this particular train
    Dont know about that specific train, but I've been using ball and socket joints instead of magnets on my PF tram and they work fine at includes up to 3 or 4 plates per section, so I suggest using those.
    the receiver on the train is almost blind to the remote so that you have to be in front of it for it to work. Has anyone experienced that as well?
    Dont know about that particular train, but in general, no. Try clearning the reciever glass and changing the remote batteries.

  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,432
    Thanks, guys - as soon as my current Star Wars UCS building frenzy is done I will start to experiment with gradients on my layout. Really looking forward to having a play with this !
  • LegoChiefLegoChief Member Posts: 21
    edited January 2012
    I finally got my Yellow Cargo Train and I love it! This is my 3rd train, but first motorized one (already have Hogwarts Express and Toy Story Western Train Chase). I'm thinking about ordering some supplies to expand my track and possibly motorize the other trains. I'm looking at the Train Station 7937 and Level Crossing 7936. How many Level Crossings should I get, one or more?

    The Yellow Cargo Train already came with 2 Switching Tracks, which I set up like the instructions show (kinda boring). But if I change the layout, would I need more of the Switching Tracks than the 2 it came with, just wondering if I need to order another Switching Tracks 7895 too.

    Any idea of where I can find pictures of track layout designs? I have no idea how to redesign a track layout or what I'll need. How do I figure out how many straight or curved tracks I would need to make a better track layout?
  • ljames28ljames28 Member Posts: 88
    Some basic layouts here in the instructions for switchpoints:
  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 850
    Download bluebrick (a quick google search will help) - it is pretty good for designing track layouts and how they merge with your town :)
  • tk79tk79 Member Posts: 329
    edited January 2012
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    Bluebrick is definitely the way to go. It's got some great features and is supported, most of the others (Track Designer, Track Draw are not).
  • CoolsplashCoolsplash Member Posts: 935
    @mr_benn, thank you so much for the information on Bluebrick.

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