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The Official site detailed page states that:

Motorize your Maersk train by adding LEGO Power Functions #8878 Rechargeable Battery Box, #8887 Transformer 10V DC, #8884 IR Receiver, #8879 IR Speed Remote Control and #88002 Train Motor!

So:

8878
8887
8884
8879
88002

Is it true that I need all of them (costs ~$150) to motorize the train, or can I omit some?

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@Zhaph: Why set-modification? I don't modify anything. Just motorize a train, I'm sure it's not a modification, or this is a subject to discuss on meta, isn't it? –  abatishchev Dec 18 '11 at 8:46
    
Seems to be the preferred use; from the wiki for the tag: "Set Modification questions are about modifying sets produced by LEGO. Modifications include Motorising existing sets" but yes happy to discuss on meta –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Dec 18 '11 at 11:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The strict minimum you need for PF motorization is:

Now, as oezi says, it's a bit senseless to have a train which you can't control. Well, you can control it, but it's limited to switching it on and off (if you can catch it). Yet, it's a start.

Now, as far as limited control goes, don't neglect the polarity switch! If you place it intelligently, it will be easier to stop your train. Or you could even mimic the old 4,5v system and have your train switch direction automatically at both ends of a track. Just a thought.

Of course, for more serious control, yes, you'll need:

Note that all these elements (tracks, motor, battery box, IR receiver and remote) are also present in these trains:

So it may be worth to do the math and see if you're not better off just buying one of these. Sets are usually cheaper than standalone elements, and considering the extra parts you'll get, it may be a wiser investment. Not to mention that they may be easier to find in regular shops, which means maybe Christmas discounts and the like. And the design of these trains is quite good too.

Of course, batteries are going to be a problem, so if you don't want to sink too much money in them you'd better use rechargeable batteries as fast as possible, or yes, switch to:

As you can see, it can be a costly investment in the long run, but nothing forces you to buy it all in one step, especially the rechargeable battery and charger which are far from cheap.

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1  
I did this mod last night. The train motor is about $14, the battery box $13, the IR receiver $15. Assuming you have a remote control ($13) and batteries, you're good to go. –  AndrewS Feb 17 '12 at 22:31

The transformer can be omitted, if you find a suitable, cheaper one. Take a look at this question for more information about the exact requirements.

I don't think the other parts can be omitted, as...

  • A motor clearly is required to motorize something (#88002)
  • A motor won't work without a battery (#8878)
  • Something motorized that can't be controlled is senseless (#8879 & #8884)

In addition, you could try to buy these 4 parts on Bricklink, which is a bit cheaper, so you end at ~$105 (+ ~$10 for a third party transformer) - this should save you $35 (~25%).

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You don't need the rechargeable battery box and that's the most expensive part. Get the AAA battery box and use your own rechargeable batteries.

  • $13 88000 AAA Battery box
  • $14 88002 Train Motor
  • $13 8879 IR Speed Remote
  • $15 8884 IR Receiver

    That's about $55. Not cheap but not over the top. You'll also need tracks but even on a set you're going to need to spring for more tracks if you want it to be awesome.

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    Really coo! Thanks. –  abatishchev Dec 15 '11 at 10:27

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