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Changes to LEGO Train Wheels Discussion

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.

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Martin December 20, 2019, 11:39 AM

    Others may not share my opinion, but I like the new train wheels and holders. They fit into the Lego system better and I could see them being used in interesting ways.

  • The Other Mark December 20, 2019, 12:05 PM

    The changes don’t bother me much. But I don’t run my trains for very long. I could see it being a problem at train shows though.

  • TomTom December 20, 2019, 12:19 PM

    They are probably doing this to save money. As long as the trains still work, and they keep making more trains, I don’t mind too much. I have enough old train wheels that I can swap them out for trains I plan to run longer.

  • Peter December 20, 2019, 4:41 PM

    I don’t care which wheels they use, just please give us more trains! We haven’t had a good expert level builder train for a while now.

  • Tom December 22, 2019, 3:46 PM

    Having just gotten into Lego trains in a big way (who knew that 9v and 12v were quite so expensive?) It seems the new PuP solution is the only cost effective way forward. This change worries me as it’s clear that Lego is focusing on cost. Although I will continue to use the standard metal wheels it means I’ll need to buy a lot of spares now for efficiency/cost save as I imagine the price will jump after they are available.

    I won’t be doing display/show style setups any time soon but this is worrying. I do understand it’s a kids toy but with changes like this it makes me wonder what the long term future for Lego trains are as an AFOL.

    • admin December 22, 2019, 9:44 PM

      Tom, those are concerns other AFOLs share too. We all hope that LEGO will get back into trains (and pirate ships, and castles, and non-Star Wars spaceships, and monorail…). Sigh… we can dream! 🙄

      • Tom December 23, 2019, 5:55 AM

        I actually have 3 or 4 part complete monorail sets as well as some 12v trains an awful lot of the pirate/castle stuff. As a kid in the 80s I always wanted them and as I have been lucky in the few last year’s I’ve had the money to acquire them

        However for trains it really does worry me. I’m happy to stick with PuP but it would be nice for Lego to add further capabilities to the lineup similar to what we had for 9 and 12v.

        I don’t have the time or patience to do some of the amazing solutions the community has come up with to get round the limitations but they do seem relatively straightforward for TLG to do themselves.

        Obviously Lego train people are a tiny minority of the customer base (let’s face it parents buy kids the train sets and that’s it really) but I’d like to see a wider range of sets where possible across all themes. A new castle/pirates/monorail theme would be awesome. I can see castle and maybe pirates coming but not the rest any time soon sadly.

        • admin December 23, 2019, 3:41 PM

          Tom, the LEGO Ideas Pirate Bay set is coming out next year, so that’s sort of a revival of LEGO Pirates. Castle, I’m not sure, and they repeatedly said they won’t bring back the monorail (not sure why though). PUP for trains is actually not that bad. I like that it has both app control and standard remote control. I also like that we no longer need the IR receiver and thus saving space. I was pleasantly surprised with my first PUP train. But the components are so much more expensive than for PF, even though they are basically the same thing. 🙁

          • Tom December 24, 2019, 9:20 AM

            I’d completely missed the new pirate bay set! It looks amazing so I’ll probably end up grabbing 3 or 4.

            PuP I’m impressed with so far. Compared to 12v it’s a lot cheaper to maintain and parts far more easily available at sensible prices.

            I’ve high hopes for the future of the PuP system as the new capabilities suggest it can be easily modded to do points and so on like the old 12v setups.

            Monorail I’d love to see come back but yes TLG have repeatedly said it won’t. Still I can at least buy 3d printed track for 1/3 the price of official stuff.

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