Special Features / Compatibility
Scale: 9V Trains, Mini-Figures
Errors: No problems. One switch had it's toggle attached, one didn't.
It has the dark grey colour scheme of all other 9V track, with the shiny metal "capping" on top. Unlike the 4.5V models, only a small inch long segment near the front moves, this shunts the train through or off to the branch. The mechanism is controlled via a small yellow toggle, which with lever action, moves the inch long "finger" back and forth. It locks in both positions, so, unlike the 4.5V switches it won't revert to previous position. It allows trains coming from the other direction through the branch track to rejoin the main line by a small spring which releases the finger for those situations. Quite ingenious. There is a gap in the X part of the switch, but at all speeds, the train moves through perfectly.
I'm a bit worried about the strength of the lever toggle mechanism-it feels a bit flimsy, and while after about twenty or thirty switches, it still works fine, I'm still not too confident about it. The toggle, btw is at minifig heigh and looks like it was intended for them to pose with, as there is a little handle for them. The branch track on each switch is a departure from previous switch designs in the 12V and 4.5V systems. Instead of being parallel, right next to the main track, the new switches branch far out and require a curved section to bring them inline with the main track. By adding the included curve piece to a switch, the two paths are in parallel after three straight segments, with a 8 dot gap between them. Why Lego has chosen this method, I'm not sure. It looks better for one, but is more of a challenge in building railside structures and in layout. One good aspect is that you can build a passenger or loading platform between two tracks easily, that usage of the middle space is inherent in this design. However, the question of one gets access to the platform, if you have a pair of switches creating a secondary track that rejoins the main later, arises. My current plan in building a train station with two tracks with a centre platform involves a bridge over the track onto the "island". I have yet to test the switches in a multi train situation, nor have I tested them in a multi controller situation. All I can say is, wire your controller to the main loop, and read the diagram in your train instruction manual. I would eventually like to be able to setup a cab control, powering sections of a multi segment layout by a network of toggle DPDTs or something. How the switches interact and short :) is unknown.
But there was only one of them left at the store, it was beaten up and dirty, and they gave me a 25% discount on it, plus $10 Bay Card dollars burning a hole in my mom's pocket, well...I jumped for it, and I don't look back on it. Good set.
The only nag I have about it is the flimsy toggle.
It's good for kids, because running around in a loop can get boring, and it's good for adults/enthusiasts, who often enjoy modelling sidings for coal mines and factories, adding to the realism of the layout.
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I buy LEGO sets very much for the "integration factor" into my Town/Train layout.
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