If you have the recently released #71044 LEGO Disney Train & Station set and some of the previously released trains, you probably noticed that the system for building the train cars have changed. The older system used plastic train wheels connected with thin metal axles through the slots of the train wheel holder. In the new system, the plastic train wheels have been redesigned to include short axles that can independently connect to the also redesigned train wheel holder.
There are plusses and minuses to these changes that the LEGO train fan community has been testing and discussing since the release of the Disney Train. To respond to some of the questions, comments, and concerns, the project team behind the change of the train wheels shared a video explaining why the changes were made. You can watch the video below.
As explained in the video, one of the plusses about the new wheel system is that the train wheel holders now have better clutch power on top, and they can connect at the bottom as well via standard tubes. This makes the wheel holders fit a lot better into the standard LEGO building system. Another positive change is that instead of having to fiddle with small metal axles, the new wheels just snap into the train wheel holders. And because the wheels turn independently, they can handle curves better. Not having to use metal axles also reduces cost, and is environmentally friendlier. (Picture below, old wheels on the left, new wheels on the right.)
On the negative side, plastic on plastic wears down quicker than metal on plastic. This wouldn’t effect home applications as much, but can cause significant wear and tear on trains running at train shows. In addition, the plastic axle wheels have more friction and thus roll with less freedom. Below are a couple of videos comparing the old and new train wheel assemblies.
In summary, the new LEGO train wheel assemblies fit better with the LEGO building system, but this is at an expense of their efficiency. Most LEGO fans should not notice any issues, but if you are running your trains 24/7, you would want to keep an eye on any signs of wearing on the all-plastic wheel assemblies, or maybe even stay with the older system with metal axles. So far, the new train wheel assembly is only available in two sets; the #71044 LEGO Disney Train & Station, and the #70424 LEGO Hidden Side Ghost Train Express. If you don’t have them already, you can check them out at the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? Do you prefer the previous train wheel assembly or the new one? Have you had a chance to try them both and compare them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below! And if you have any questions for the LEGO train project team, feel free to post them as well. I will forward them via the LEGO Ambassador Network. They will be taking questions until mid-January.
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