All posts by Glenn Holland

BMR Staff/Contributor I enjoy building steam locomotives and streamliners. You can check out my work on the following sites: Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPPuieIdMz4TwY1ard1bCzw

Year-End Updates

Hello again to all of our awesome fans and supporters!

Christmas and the holidays are now past us and we find ourselves looking ahead to 2018. We have just a few things we wanted to cover in this article, which will likely be the last general article of the year. We have a year-in-review planned to go up soon, so be sure to check in later for that article.

Brick Model Railroader Is Going To The Train Show

First off, we’d like to announce that Brick Model Railroader will be present at the World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour train show in Monroeville, Pennsylvania on January 6th and 7th. We’ll be there as part of the PennLUG layout once again (Cale and Glenn are in PennLUG).

Worlds Greatest Hobby on Tour Monroeville PA

Instructions For Sale

Next, some information about our premium instructions.  We still have some premium instructions available fore the USRA 55 ton hopper and AAR 53′ flat car ad D4 crawler. You can find these available in our online store.

BMR Store

We have had a resounding success with our first four kits, and we plan to continue offering more in the near future. However, we can’t keep producing the same four kits forever. We need to make room for more new stuff, so here’s our plan:

We’ll be offering all our our first four premium instructions for a limited time. They will be available as pre-order only, meaning that we will fill as many orders as we get. After the order period, we won’t be making any more. We’ll announce the pre-order dates at a later time.

We’re Finally Making A Caboose

We’re also planning ahead for our fifth premium instruction kit, which will be the North Eastern caboose. We’ve had a lot of requests for a caboose for some design, so we’ve finally decided to answer those prayers! One of the problems we ran into is that a lot of caboose designs are specific to one or a small handful of railroads. We chose the north eastern caboose because it spanned dozens of railroads in the United States, and this will allow us to produce several decals to be used with the kit. We’ll have more information on the north eastern caboose later.

North Eastern style caboose in Reading RR paint.

PDF?

We’ve also been getting more questions about selling PDF copies  of our premium instructions. We have deliberately decided NOT to sell PDF versions. There are a couple reasons for this:

  • It would not be fair to those who have already purchased the premium instructions of that car.
  • PDFs are easier to duplicate or resell.
  • There is no convenient way to package the wheel sets separately.
  • When we decided to start selling instructions, we wanted them to be a premium product. We wanted them to be special and to feel like you got something of value. You just can’t beat a physical product for that. We want you to be able to pull our Instructions off the book shelf long after you’ve built the model and still find them worthwhile

Our First Locomotive Kit

A very early WIP photo from the first BMR Locomotive kit.

We’ve also been making serious progress with our locomotive. On December 28, we (Cale and Glenn) had one of our last major work sessions on the locomotive, and we seem to have solved every operational issue that we’ve come across. Our drive train is robust and reliable, and the rods move properly. Seeing the model run circles around the living room floor was amazing!

We’ve also confirmed that it WILL negotiate R40 curves if the tender drawbar is extended by one stud. This is a concession we had to make, but we had to make the locomotive work on R40s. It’s the principle of the thing. HOWEVER, the locomotive cannot navigate through a standard LEGO turnout (switch). This is pretty unfortunate, but it’s an unfortunate reality. It should also be made clear that this is not a problem with the locomotive, but rather a problem with the design of the switch. The flanges of the driver will always ride ps on part of the rails and derail the locomotive. But seriously, who cares about standard switches anymore?

Regardless, we’ve been quite happy with the locomotive thus far. We’re still hoping to announce the locomotive in January 2018 with an announcement of our sale plan following that.

So that’s all we have this week. Look for our 1 year Anniversary Article soon. And thank you for supporting us. We love this LEGO Train Hobby, and we love sharing it with you.

The BMR Team

4DBrix Announces a Game Changer

Tom Lowa at 4DBrix has worked continuously to bring new innovations to the Lego train hobby for some time now. Using their own on-site 3D printer, they’ve been making things like remote switch mechanisms and modular switch tracks, as well as a lot of monorail components, if you’re into that kind of thing. More recently, however, there has been two new additions to the 4DBrix online store that really gives them some good reputation.

If you missed it or haven’t seen it yet, I don’t blame you. It hasn’t been “officially” announced by 4DBrix yet, but rest assured it IS listed on their site. Enter the “Ultimate Railroader” series. Aside from a clever name, this is 4DBrix’s play at getting into a more serious scale Lego railroading market. Currently, the only two products in this line are nearly the same, but different enough to make someone want one of each (or more). Tom has listed R148 crossovers, in both right-hand single crossover and double crossover configurations, on his website. He was also kind enough to send us a set of the double crossover to review, which will be the main point of this article.

Continue reading 4DBrix Announces a Game Changer

BMR’s New Premium Instructions, Restocks, Locomotive, and More!

Hello everybody again, and Happy OcTRAINber!

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.

The back of the tank car premium instructions box.

Continue reading BMR’s New Premium Instructions, Restocks, Locomotive, and More!

The Lego Trains Book by Holger Matthes: A Review

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.

A very attractive book cover.

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.

My own tattered copy of Jake McKee’s Getting Started With LEGO Trains.

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.

An example of the Blue Rail era history.

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.

There’s even a Reverse Engineering Challenge!

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.

Showing the custom rods from TrainedBricks, and some good points to consider when building a steam locomotive.

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.

Announcing the USRA 55 Ton Hopper Premium Instructions

We’re finally back with our second premium instructions kit!

Announcing the Brick Model Railroader USRA 55 ton hopper premium instructions.

USRA Hopper Box Cover

First constructed by our own Cale Leiphart, we decided to pass this model on to the community in the form of premium instructions. As with all premium instructions, we will include the custom elements needed to build the model. In this case, that will only include the ball bearing-equipped wheel sets which are used in the trucks. 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 hopper model.

You can watch our full review of the hopper instructions by following this link.

Continue reading Announcing the USRA 55 Ton Hopper Premium Instructions

Building Up Prussian Steam

Today we’re looking at something with a high cool factor.

Meet Falk Schulz, or “bricknerd” on Flickr, a very talented builder from Germany. He’s certainly no stranger to Brick Model Railroader, having been featured in a past article highlighting some his Prussian electric models. Falk is known for his amazing work with diesel locomotives, having built several North American models. My favorite is probably his Rio Grande SD   40T-2.

Falk’s Rio Grande diesel. 7 studs wide and all the right details. I particularly like the brick-built logo.

However, as can be seen by the title, we’re not focusing on his diesels today. Instead, we’re looking at a steam locomotive. A small one, too.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zeist_bouwplaten/6897683145

Continue reading Building Up Prussian Steam

Magnets and Electricity.. That’s a Power Couple

Today I’m bringing you some sweet new prototype technology from our good friends at 4DBrix. Tom Lowa was at Brickworld recently to show off something he’s been cooking up, and I have to say, it’s a pretty sweet idea. I’ve been emailing Tom about the concept and here is the information they gave me.

4DBrix has engineered a way to transmit power via the magnetic couplings on train cars. A short video is posted below:

It’s a pretty ingenious idea. For those that enjoy building passenger trains with detailed interiors (and lights) this is a great way to eliminate those ugly wires between the ends of cars. It also eliminates the need for bulky connectors between cars, which can be difficult to plug in and are also unsightly.

Continue reading Magnets and Electricity.. That’s a Power Couple

Throwback: RAILBRICKS Kits

We posted these few photos on the BMR Facebook and Instagram pages on Sunday, and I felt they’d be fitting to throw in this article.

For those that don’t already know, Brick Model Railroader came into existence after the previous Lego train community hub, the online publication RAILBRICKS, fell apart. Many of the contributors and staff members got busy with other aspects of their lives, and so could not channel energy into RAILBRICKS.

The creator and original editor of RAILBRICKS is a gentleman by the name of Jeramy Spurgeon. Before stepping down from the Editor position, he managed to sell a couple limited edition kits. Both of these kits are 6 stud wide models but are still packed with detail.

Continue reading Throwback: RAILBRICKS Kits

We’re Rolling Out!

It’s Friday, June 16 at 3 PM EST, and that means that the Brick Model Railroader Store is open for business!

Please read the following post for some important information.

Shipping (for premium instructions ONLY)

Shipping inside the United States will be $13.60 via flat rate box. This price was determined by the USPS website, and is comparable to a Brickmania kit of similar size.

Orders with multiple copies of premium instructions will be sent via larger box. Email glenn@brickmodelrailroader.com for more information.

Shipping for other items

Decals and stickers will be mailed via envelope  with $1.50.

Components such as wheel assemblies will be mailed via padded envelope for $2.50.

For international shipping inquires, please email glenn@brickmodelrailroader.com for assistance.

Shipping for combined orders will be determined by the largest item ordered. For example, if you order the premium instructions and the decals, we’ll only charge you shipping for the boxcar. If you order wheelsets and decals, we’ll only charge for the wheelsets.

I would like to make everyone aware of the following disclaimer about our premium instructions:

By purchasing these instructions, you agree not to sell,  reproduce, or distribute these instructions. You also agree not to sell or distribute the model made from these instructions.

My partner in crime Cale is at Brickworld as I write, and I know that several people there have expressed interest in buying premium instructions, so I expect them to go fast. Grab one while you can!

If not, no worries! We’ll be accepting back-orders for our next run. Once we run out, the store should automatically go into “back-order mode,” and you should receive a notification of some sort stating that the product you have requested is on back order. We’ll work on fulfilling those sometime after Brickworld is over.

Pen-ultimately, I would like to ask the community and fans to bear with us – we’re really figuring this out as we go along. Please keep in mind that the premium instructions and store are facilitated by two people who have little experience with running a store, but are trying their best. We’re really grateful to be a part of such an understanding an awesome community.

We’re finally moving with these instructions, and Cale and I are both extremely happy to be able to do this. It represents a long period of thought and effort on both our parts, and we think you’ll be really happy with the result.

Glenn