In the LEGO hobby, people are sometimes divided over the issue of modifying parts. Whether you do or don’t, as long as you are having fun that is what it is all about.
However, for Halloween I decided to pick a scary LEGO train mod from LEGO’s past advertising. This ad dates from 1988. On the surface, it would appear to have nothing to do with trains. Can you spot the train mod?
Today is October 30th, wich means just one more day and OcTRAINber is over! For everybody that didn’t enter their entries yet, this post is a friendly reminder that now is the time to add those last pieces, render those last files, snap your last pictures and upload everything to the BMR Flickr page!
We have already seen a lot of great entries and we hope to welcome even more in the coming hours. We are truely overwhelmed by the response to our first ever contest and we are glad that this contest seems to have struck a chord with our community.
EDIT2: Aaand this concludes OcTRAINber! Thanks all for your entries, much appreciated! We are truely astonished by all the great entries, and we know for sure this is going to be a difficult one to judge! In the next days we will communicate more about the scoring and the prizes. But untill then we thank all contestants and hope you all had a great OcTRAINber!
My first encounter with the Blue Comet was at the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg Pennsylvania. It was an O scale model of the train made by MTH, sitting on a display shelf in the main display room. I fell in love with the train almost immediately. It was a very striking train, with the locomotive painted in an eye catching blue with gold pin striping, and nickel plated accents. The passenger cars also blue, with an attractive band of white running down the windows. It was beautiful train from a different time, a time when rail travel was king, and a journey on a train was something special. The Blue Comet had caught my imagination like so many before. I knew that I was going to be the one to bring this train to life again in LEGO.
First off, if you didn’t get our American Car & Foundry Tank Car Premium Instructions today, don’t panic. You didn’t miss out, but you will have to wait a little longer. We do we have some USRA 55-Ton Hoppers, and Pullman PS-1 Boxcars left in case you missed them the first time.
Our fastest selling kit yet!
Today was crazy! The first run of BMR Tank Car premium instructions sold out in just over 9 hours. I can not believe what just happened. 50 kits gone in less than 1/2 a day. That blows my mind. It outsold our previous USRA hopper car by 24 hours. You, our fans, are amazing. We’ll be playing some serious catch up for the next two weeks.
I have to give it to our own Glenn Holland, he designed a great model. I’m sure if we could have stocked more, we could have sold a hundred. And don’t worry, we will be stocking more. But first we have to ship out the first run of 50 tank car orders.
For those who missed out on this first run, fear not. You will be able to order, you’l just have wait a little longer. More ACF Tank Cars are will be available in November along with our next kit, the AAR 53ft Flat Car with yet to be revealed load. And we’re working on ways to increase our production runs so can stock more kits from the start. The BMR model team is just two guys working out of my house. We’re still learning, but we’re doing our best to get better. We thank you for your patience.
We still have some USRA 55-Ton Hoppers, and Pullman PS-1 Boxcars from our restock available, as well as decals and wheel sets. So if you didn’t get those, take the plunge. They’re great models you’ll have fun with until we can release more tank cars.
The Type 27 tank car was built by the American Car & Foundry Co. from 1927 into the late 1940’s. The Type 27 was available in capacities from 4,000 gallons up to 12,000 gallons, and could be ordered with multiple compartments (each with its own dome) for hauling separate liquids in the same car. Model designed by Glenn Holland, our instructions can model 6 different versions. The two most popular tank sizes, 8,000 gallon and 10,000 gallon, each with one, two, or three domes.
As with all premium instructions, we will include the custom elements needed to build the model. All you need to do is gather the standard Lego parts from your own collection and you’ll be on your way to a great tank car model.
You can build the car in the color of your choice, or you can purchase decals to build the car in one of the following authentic railroad paint schemes bellow.
In addition to releasing the tank cars, we will also have more of our original premium instruction kits, the Pullman PS-1 40′ boxcar and USRA 55-TON Hopper Car. We still have decals available for these cars too.
And, of course, we will have extra wheel sets available for purchase for those wanting to build more than one car. All of the products mentioned above; the hopper and boxcar premium instructions, decals, and wheel sets will be available in our online store.
We hope everyone is having fun building their entries for our first build competition, OcTRAINber! Be sure to read the rules if you have any questions, as well as this one, and check out this article for a description of the AWESOME prizes we have to offer for the winners! I’m enjoying seeing the entries so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what else is entered as the competition draws to a close in a couple weeks. remember, entries are only eligible for prizes if they are submitted to the Brick Model Railroader Flickr group.
This week’s “blast from the past” comes to us from Germany in 1989. In this comic book/magazine advertisement, an SUV narrowly escapes what would have been a deadly collision with the High-Speed City Express (#7745). This train set debuted in 1985 but still would have been available for purchase in 1989. #7745 had appeared in various pieces of advertising up until this point, but this was perhaps the most unique scenario within which it was placed.
Now that OcTRAINber is in full swing and the first entries are coming in (a first recap of the contest will follow in the end of this week!) we would like to take this opportunity to at least show you all the prizes you are contesting for. We are very glad to announce that two of our favorite brands have decided to sponsor us, meaning we have some pretty awesome stuff to give away.
Next to that, our friends over at BrickTracks have decided to sponsor the contest with their newly released large radii tracks. More specifically, we received both a full circle of their R104 curves and a full circle of their R120 curves! This means that at least two of our contestants will not have to go through the pain of running their trains in R44 curves anymore!
There have been some questions asked over at the Eurobricks Train Tech forums OcTRAINber thread regarding the contest, which we have tried to answer the best as we could. For completeness, we have decided to post some clarification on the rules here as well.
For us here at BMR, we normally use the same way of measuring as other scale modellers do, meaning:
US: Over the couplers
EU: Over the buffers
It’s a rule of thumb, so all trains that have buffers are measured like the EU, and all trains that just have automatic couplers are measured over the couplers.
Also, there is no limit on the width of the entry.
Entering old entries in the contest
OcTRAINber is a building contest, meaning that you have to submit a new model specifically build for the contest. To keep in mind: We have set up this contest to inspire people to actually build, so please no old models that have been posted already!
(If it wasn’t put online before, we would be willing to consider it. In the end, the pre-announcement did state that we encourage finally finishing those previously half-failed ideas for something long.)
Third party parts
BMR has always been positive towards third-party parts, as long as they have any way of added value to the hobby. So the rule of thumb is simple:
Third Party parts: Yes
All entries have to be posted on our BMR Flickr. For this you need your own Flickr account, but trust us, there is an awesome community out there you can be part of!
There were some questions about how the swoosh should look like. We didn’t state any rules for this so that’s up to your own imagination!
Types of consists
Lastly, there were some questions on what type of units you can send in. To give some clarification on this: Everything that has train wheels underneath it is allowed. So think locomotive, passenger carriage, goods wagon, etc. For semi-permanently coupled units you can think about trams, rescue trains (think SBB in the alpes), MOW equipment, Truck-Train combos like Hupac, the Eurotunnel LeShuttle, etc etc.
Good luck with building and enjoy your OcTRAINber!
No Starch Press reached out to Brick Model Railroader recently and offered an advance copy of The Lego Trains Book by Holger Matthes. We graciously accepted the offer, and have decided to write and share some of our thoughts on it.
Before even opening the book, I’m reminded of the (former?) comprehensive resource book for those looking to get started in the hobby. Perhaps some of the older train builders are familiar with “Getting Started with Lego Trains” by Jake McKee, also published by No Starch Press, as far back as 2004. I remember buying that book online and reading it cover to cover more times than I can count. This book predates the end of the 9-volt era, so a new book for Lego trains has been long overdue, and there were certainly some big shoes to fill.
The Getting Stated book included a solid introduction and a great review of the current market for Lego trains. At that time, the Santa Fe, My Own Train line, and more was available. There was also plenty of information on effective use and operating tips for the old 9 volt system, as well as a comprehensive list of equipment needed to start running a 9 volt layout.
There were also some instructions for those looking for an instant way to jump into 6-wide 9 volt building. While I never actually built any of the models, I definitely wanted to. They were good models because they were appealing to look at, easy enough for a beginner but complex enough to learn real techniques.
As I’m writing the introduction and background information about Jake McKee’s book, I haven’t looked through the book, save for a relatively brief skim and a glance at the instructions included. So without much more delay, let’s dive right in.
First off, I have to say the photography quality is amazing, so big points to photographer Andy Bahler. Following acknowledgements, Michael Gale (of the PFx Brick team) offers a well-written foreword, briefly discussing his lifelong fascination with trains, and growing more and more into modeling them in Lego. The introduction is also very well-laid out, allowing the reader to become familiar with the official Lego website, as well as Bricklink and Brickset. Nomenclature (set numbers, part numbers according to Bricklink, etc.) is also discussed before moving into the real content.
Holger does an amazing job describing the history of Lego trains in vivid detail, from #182 to #10233 Horizon Express, and everything in between. Train operation, track availability, parts, wheels, and more are covered for each train system. I feel the Getting Started book did not do enough of this. Holger certainly has not missed a detail, even including a summary and a look at each system from a current perspective.
Moving into the Power Functions era (current), each component which may be used in train building is laid out and described, even shortly describing the possibilities of building your own drive trains. Monorail and even narrow gauge is covered. In all, awesome history.
Next is a section titled “Basic Principles.” I love this section, as it contains a lot of information I wish I had several years ago. Holger describes basic part naming and shows numerous examples of each type, and also describes the studs and anti-studs system (which gives Lego the clutch power, for those unaware). He also details technic connections, and legal vs. illegal connections. SNOT techniques are covered with convenient color-coded diagrams. All of this information gives the reader a great foundation for diving right into building their own MOCs. Other cool techniques demonstrated in this section include brick-built striping and using parts to simulate different textures.
The next section is titled “Designing Your Own Models,” and gives plenty of thoughtful content regarding various building scales, including the old 6 wide – 8 wide debate (as well as 7 wide, to make Andy Mollmann happy), and designing locomotives and cars to run on the track geometries on the current market.
This section also includes some hardcore Lego train engineering practices, such as trucks, couplings, pivot points, and more. There is also information regarding effective steam locomotive techniques! For those of you who have been pulling your hair out with failed steam locomotives, I recommend this section. I often describe building steam as a dark art, and it sure can be sometimes, but Holger has done a great job making a lot of potentially difficult information easy to read. Concepts like wheel quartering and basic steam locomotive components are covered here. One of the things I particularly like about the steam locomotive section is that Holger lists a few key design points to consider before or while building.
Power Functions drive train basics, along with use of train motors, is included here as well. From there, the Holger moves into modeling details and key features of a particular prototype, such as colors, doors, windows, roof design, and more. Further still, track and layout design is discussed, explaining the differences in curve radius, and BlueBrick (a Lego track software).
The next section dives into case studies with very specific techniques and features. Those of you interested in reverse-engineering Holger’s Vectron electric locomotive, this section is for you. The BR10 model is also discussed in detail, and there is a link to Holger’s website for instructions.
Speaking of instructions, that’s the final section! There are instructions for five of Holger’s AWESOME models, with links to his website for his BR80 locomotive. Sorry North American builders, nothing on our side of the pond in this book. (Maybe Cale and I can fill the void sometime…?)
In all, I have to give this book a 10/10 score. There was not a detail that was skipped over. This is certainly the new Getting Started With LGEO Trains, without any doubt. The instructions may be for foreign (to me) models, but they offer a lot, not to mention the countless other photos and well-written paragraphs full of useful stuff. I would recommend this book to anyone, even myself. There’s plenty in here I haven’t even thought of.
Well done, Holger. Thank you for your amazing new contribution to the amazing LEGO train hobby. I’m confident this will be the go-to book for a long time.