Train set in tray
The standard set in the tray complete with the track provided.
Instructions on Box
Being very simple the instructions are printed on the box. Not all sets have switches.
The oval laid out with two switchs.
A pair of chassis with simple card narrow gauge bodies
A train running into the inner curve via the switch. This is not the seasonal set.
Chassis and Body
A chassis with a card body. In this instance on Triang TT Track
Three set. top basic circle for £1. Other two are similar except one is sold as a Christmas Train Set
The train from the Christmas Train Set
Use of coloured and black track
Very cheap TT train sets
£1 for a train set. I am not sure if even Poundland will manage that today, but a few years ago I bought a train set, the Safari Express.
A loco and two wagons, the first supposedly a tender make the train. Today you could buy something similar for around £10. A Train in a Tin is one that I have seen. Try a budget store, or possibly a stall in a market and you might pick something similar for less than a fiver. In this case an extra wagon and an oval with points.
After my introduction to the world of cheap plastic battery powered toy train sets via a plate way set my next acquisition was a Christmas set. £1.99 and before I acquired the £1 Safari set from Works, the budget book, crafts, toys and games store was the source. Later something similar came from Home Bargains, a food and general goods budget store. Same train, different labels and packaging
Mechanically these train set locos all have the same chassis. A three axle arrangement, one axle driven and the centre axle wheels flange less. No connection between wheels via the con rod, a common feature of cheap trains. Power is via a vertical motor driving an axle at one end. Energy is via a single AA battery with a simple switch over the driven axle. Demonstrating the use of various shows a loco from my sets, an odd body I acquired when I realised what chassis it would fit and a chassis without a body. Practically only two axles are needed so for a non steam loco outline the middle axle can be left out.
Mechanically it is a simple direct worm and wheel drive. Imagine my surprise though when I discovered that my cheap Safari set locos had brass worms and wheels rather than the more common nylon. Driving wheels have a basic traction tyre.
Track supplied is moulded plastic. The larger sets had full half circle curves, with the points moulded directly onto the curve. One set had four straights while the other two. The Safari sets each had a circle of six 60 degree curves. One set of points is switchable but the other works one way only so a choice of routes is only possible with the train running in a clockwise direction.
Track connection is a click mechanism which needs to be carefully applied otherwise the track is not flat. One thing these trains needs is nice flat level track otherwise derailments are vey frequent. Generally the locos run well without an added wagon train. Coupling of the simple pin and loop variety are often loose and can catch on the track causing problems. Points included with the curve as shown.
Being so cheap I have bought more than one set so that I might experiment using the chassis. The height of the motor box at one end rather dictates the style of loco. In practise to ‘look right’ a narrow gauge outline makes sense. Locos bodies seem to be much to large for the bodies which seem to be nearer standard gauge at TT scale of around 1:120.
Following the narrow gauge route I determined that 1/64 or S scale is around 2’ 6” using 12mm track so I made up a couple of card bodies representing a typical narrow gauge diesel loco. The outline is based on a narrow gauge Hunslet diesel loco seen a few years ago on holiday in France.
Finally the packaging for these sets reckons they are suitable for age 3 and above. There must be some clever 3 year olds they test on as with many cheap products setting them up to get the best out of them is not always easy. Battery installation requires a good squeeze of the body. Track laying can be tricky and needs a good flat surface. Couplings are crude and loose and are the main source of running problems when drooping and catch the track. Goodness knows how many end up binned in frustration. Of course the upside is they are so cheap does it really matter. This though is more an ethical eco question and I am going to pass.
Gallery of pictures of the sets and locos
Train running on Triang 12mm TT track.