Bring back the Lego 12v model railway
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Bring back the original 12V Lego railway system!
In 1980, Lego released the 12V ('grey era') railway system which many will agree is the best system to date. This used a conducting rail which was placed in the centre of the track (also used for the battery powered 4.5 volt system). The 12v system was powered by a transformer.
There was a lot of fun to be had because you could build and add many features to the electrified track, such as remote controlled points (Set numbers 7858, 7859), Remote controlled signals (7860), Remote decoupling (7862), Remote level crossing (7866) aswell as many other features. The track design allowed tracks to be ran next to each other creating a better way of saving space. The modern track system does not allow for this and some of the newer trains have too much overhang which may cause a collision (which can be overcome with small modifications). Whilst the track segments were somewhat limited, it would not be too difficult to create extra elements to add to layout ideas (Half length 7850/7854 pieces would be very useful!) - Plus crossover sections and many other elements could be manufactured.
One very important aspect of the 12v system taught children as young as 8 the basics of electrical circuits on a system which is very safe. For me personally this helped my path to becoming a fully qualified electrical engineer as it made understanding electricity quite interesting from an early age. This is crucial to a child's development. Here are just some of the fundamentals which the Lego 12v system teaches:
1. Circuit continuity. The need to connect both positive and negative cables from the transformer to the track to make a complete circuit through the motor.
2. Polarity. Swapping the cables reverses the train direction (also teaches about LED polarity on the 7860 signal brick as they are wired in reverse to each other)
3. Isolation. With the 7860 the ability to isolate a section of track and see how you can switch it on or off.
4. Avoiding short circuits. There are a few track layouts (some shown on the included leaflets) which like all analogue model railways, would cause a short circuit to happen. This allowed for certain types of thinking and planning to avoid this.
Whilst The LEGO Group thought it may be safer to move to a battery powered system, this came with restrictions, such as no track automation. The only advantage is having independent control of trains, however this was also possible on the 12v system with a little imagination and use of a few 7860 signals.
Regarding electrical safety, for me personally looking at the grey era 12v transformers (7864), I can confirm in my professional capacity that these are very safe, in fact a lot safer than USB chargers. I have never heard of any incidents regarding electrical safety from the use of these double insulated 12v transformers considering that many household wiring systems were not RCD protected during the 1980's. The build quality of these transformers is extremely good and robust. Therefore the decision to move to a battery powered system based on electrical safety holds no merit in this case.
So please, bring back the 12V system using the original part numbers (785x and 786x series) and lets make the Lego railway system much more fun whilst also educational.
Richard Talmage, LCGI EngTech TMIET
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