Lone Ranger Lego...
Just wanted to let those three little words sink in for a second. Most on this site would agree that this line, with a couple exceptions, is not among the best of choices to place your investment dollars. I tend to agree with that sentiment. I am also a fan of building sets and as such this line is pure gold. The sets are reasonably priced, have great builds, and come together as a group nicely. For the record I have grabbed a few of these sets at an extreme markdown just in case people forget about the "Lone Ranger" aspect and see them for what they are, excellent Western themed sets.
The best investment potential in this line is undoubtedly 79111 Constitution Train Chase, but, it also suffers from having "Lone Ranger" as part of its name which makes very reasonably priced among Lego trains. As of early March of 2014 it is still available for under $100. For that you get a 37 " x 22" oval track and an excellent western style engine and tender. The rest of the set is nice, but not to the same standard as the engine. My only true complaint about this train is the lack of power functions, or even the ability to easily add power to the set. What's a Lego builder to do... MOC it.
You may have guessed by now that this blog is less about investing and more about how to add power to a train set. Although, a brief eBay check did bring up several sellers with listings for instructions only in the $30 range and one seller with a powered coal tender MOC for $109. So if you think outside the Lego box, there is money to be made here;)
My intention was to add power while still having the set look as close to its original design as possible. With this set there is simply no way to add power to the engine without drastically changing its appearance so my first thought was to use the coal tender but decided against it. Again it would have to be modified to the point of no longer looking like the same car and I simply had no extra pieces of the dark green color so I couldn't enlarge it if I wanted to. The flat car was also out for obvious reasons. Luckily the prison car lends itself nicely, it's a large open box, perfect to hold a battery box.
The above shots shot the car in its original state, the "box" portion rests on a 6x14 plate with the wheels attached underneath. I started with a completed car and removed the 6x14 and everything underneath it. I then took a pair of 4x4 black plates and added two 1x4 tiles to them along the outer edges. I added both to opposite sides of the train motor, but it looked "empty" so I also added a 2x4 brick to each side. When I was done it looked like this.
I then added the magnetic couplers and a 4x6 plate to each side to hold the top portion of the car.
Now for the battery box.
I then placed the box over the battery box and decided to add a 1x6 to each side to make it look like the original 6x14 was still in place. This is the finished product.
The result looks about as good as I had hoped, while the internal jail door had to be removed the functionality of blowing of the back of the car still works fine. What I was unprepared for was the speed default on Lego train motors, turns out that if you don't have a speed controller they are set to around Mach 5 and will send a small train such as this flying off the tracks, much to the delight of my seven year old. Looks like I'll be getting the IR sensor and remote after all. There is room inside the car to add it and the wire can run through the existing hole where the lever is.
I hope y'all enjoyed this little tutorial and who knows there may even be money to be made adding power to sets like this and flipping them, if anyone tries that let me know how it goes.