Frequently Asked Questions

Where is your club based?

Unlike some model railroad clubs, NILTC does not have a permanent display anywhere. Our members are spread out over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin making it hard to have any singly located display. The Club tries to meet once a quarter at Club members houses in varying locations throughout the western suburbs of Chicago.

How do I join?

The Northern Illinois LEGO® Train Club is an adult club of LEGO® enthusiasts. To be considered for membership you need to be:

• 18 years of age, or older
• Have reliable transportation
• Have a reasonable source of income (this is an expensive hobby!)

See more information on our Membership page.

Is this ALL made out of LEGO®?

Yes, for all practical purposes. The vast majority of what we build is from LEGO® bricks and parts. Some members also make custom decals, or stickers for their creations to add realism. Some members also use custom lighting to get effects. The models themselves are all LEGO® and you can get the parts in any LEGO® Store, or at . . . LEGO’s online store.

Where did you get all this LEGO®?

The entire display is all made up from private LEGO® collections. Most of us have been collecting for a long time!

Does LEGO® sponsor you?

Nope. LEGO® has been slow to embrace the community in a helping manner, but they are making positive steps to do so. In the last few years, the LEGO® Company has created some special programs for AFOL’s (Adult Fans of LEGO®), especially those that are involved in club that are out promoting their product for them.
Mostly though, everything you see at our shows is either privately owned LEGO®, or material that has been purchased by the club.

Did you design all of this, or are these kits?

95% of what you see on the display has been designed, or created by a club member. There are no instructions, no step-by-step processes, just a lot of imagination and hard work. Most members work either from reference material, a picture, or just use their imagination to create their MOC – My Own Creation. LEGO® has made some really great sets though, and you will find those sprinkled throughout the display, mostly vehicles and some of the trains.

Is the train battery powered or does it have a track pickup?

When the club started, LEGO® was using a 9-volt system similar to a Lionel train in that it picks the power up off the track. LEGO® discontinued this system in the early 2000s. Thankfully, the track standard did not change and the old track still works with the new.

Now, all of the club trains are battery powered. LEGO® produces train motors, batteries, remote controls, and track. Unfortunately, LEGO® has limited track elements and only a single curve with a very tight radius (R40). Thankfully, third-parties filled the void that LEGO® left and they produce a number of different track elements that give us the flexibility to be more like a traditional model train layout. Our layout utilizes larger radii curves which allows us to build bigger and more detailed trains. The NILTC curves are now R120 for the outer curve and R104 for the inner curve. More information about LEGO® track can be found on

How do I get LEGO trains? I haven’t seen them in stores.

For the latest line of LEGO® trains, extra track, train accessories . . . your best bet is to buy directly from LEGO®, either in store or online at