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Microscale Trains

Page history last edited by Zonker Harris 1 year, 1 month ago

Early in 2017, I thought about making trains for Micropolis. I'm sure I'm not the first, but I was thinking about it often, and I just didn't do much more than make sketches. I played with 1x2 grill tiles, but I didn't know what to do for wheels. When the Custom Minifigs came out with roller skate, I thought I had found my wheels... but skates were hard to come by.  After Bricks by the bay 2018, I *almost* made a Bricklink order to get some skates, but shied away from the minimum order...


Finally, I found some skates while sifting through used bricks at Bricks by the Bay 2019! I started grabbing other bricks and plates, in order to test those old ideas, and they looked GREAT! I only found 9 roller skates that day, but that's when I knew I would need more than 100 skates, and it was time for my first Bricklink order! I made many Auto Carriers, some Tank Cars, Box Cars, Flat Cars, and a piggy-back (trailer-on-flat car, TOFC), as well as a few cabeese. Next I went on to coaches, using dark bley and red as my "Southern Pacific 'Lark' livery" color scheme.


As I developed many models, and fussed with the scale, I decided that a 1x1 plate would be about 10' x 10' scale for the trains. This makes them a bit smaller than scale for cars, but what would you do instead? Most railroad rolling stock comes in (roughly) 10' increments... and it's hard to get 1x___ plates in many colors if they are longer than 1x8.

Cabeese are 30'- 40'

Boxcars are 40' - 60' 

Combine Cars are 40', 50', 60'

Coaches are 60' - 80'

Auto Carriers and Bulkhead flatcars are 80'

Intermodal Containers are 20', 40', ~50'


As I built the rolling stock, I thought about making a passenger station, to go with my bus transit station. Bill Ward made a big BART-like metro transit station, using the 1x2 grill tiles. It looked good in Micropolis! Could I make a freight yard? How much track would I need? More thinking, more sketching....


In February 2020, at the very last minute, I was able to take time off work, and go to Bricks Cascade for the first time. It was an amazingly LARGE hall, making it easy to move around and see all of the displays. There was a great Micropolis build, but no trains. Or so I thought! On the second day, as I looked closer at all of the theme areas, in one corner of the large Train displays, was some microscale trains!  I would learn Later that Brian Dag had inspired Patrick to work on trains in 2019 for Bricks Cascade! He had a small yard, a metro train, a steam train, a local rail-served warehouse with trailers being loaded, some freight cars, and a big Railroad Museum! I was agog! I looked close from many angles, took some photo but I couldn't find out who had built them. I only got the name "Patrick", but nobody had seen him that day. On closing Sunday, we went straight from the closing ceremony to PDX for our flight home.


I was *INSPIRED* (including the bold font and the asterisks!) As Gene Wilder said (shouted) in Young Frankenstein, "IT. COULD. WORK!" (Cue the thunder!). I would design and build a modular 2-track main line to border a large Micropolis display. I would make a modular yard as well, to show off the rolling stock. I'd try to build a 2-track curve module (it, too, would have to be modular, to fit into a storage tub), and maybe some small Industry buildings. This became an obsession, and kicked off (6) more Bricklink orders (which take longer than I expected, no doubt due to the pandemic...


After making some progress to bring these ideas into reality, I posted them on the FB Micropolis page, asking to find "Patrick". Brian Dag commented that my models looked alot like one's he had done a year earlier. (Working at 1-stud wide reduces some of the variety you'll find in larger models. ;-) AND, I got connected to Patrick! The three of us brainstormed a bit on the ideas.


I was trying to complete all of these models in time for Bricks by the Bay in JUL 2020, but it was finally announced that we'd have a virtual conference. No large Micropolis collaboration to wrap my trains around. But I'll be presenting the ideas, pictures, and videos for the online crowd. (This page was started to be a resource, and a placeholder for the pictures and URLs to come. :-)


By the week before the conference, I had built ;

 -  Left Yard, Mid-Yard, Right Yard modules

 -  5 Mainline Modules with road, 2 Mainline modules without road, and three Mainline modules with passing siding

 -  The corner module

 -  A quarter-block firehouse (lit, Micropolis2)

 -  23 feet of rolling stock on the tracks! 


   Play well! 



 Zonker's Bricks by the Bay 2020 Micropolis, Micropolis2 and Micropolis Trains

  -   BbtB-2020-MicropolisTrains-notes.pdf    (1 MB)   includes speakers notes...)

   -  BbtB-2020-MicropolisTrains-slides.pdf   (6 MB)  Slides only, good images

  -  Studio2 Instruction files

        -  Studio2-AutoRack.io  

        -  Studio2-TTX-2WellCar.io  

        -  Studio2-Yard-module.io  

        -  Studio2-SuperChiefA.io  

        -  Studio2-TankCar.io

        -  Studio2-MainlineWithRoad.io

 There IS a recording of the session, but I don't know if others can download it (It's about 200 MB);



2023-January update:  This standard has passed a short test of time (used in public displays, without significant design changes). and I'll be adding some instructions how to build the modules (I'll probably continue in Stud.io... unless it's now losing popularity, and and then I'll try again with the new favorite LEGO CAD tool.



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