The Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” is one of the most recognizable locomotives in the world, and one of the most often built n LEGO. In spite of this, skilled builders are still finding ways to make a better version of this iconic engine. Nate Flood is one such builder.
His Big Boy, his second version of it, as he states, is wonderfully detailed. I am especially taken by the work he did on the pony truck and tender trucks.
This picture also shows one of my other favorite details; the use of chain links for the tender side ladders. Making ladders and steps for locomotives is really difficult in LEGO. The real things were usually much narrower and made of thinner pieces than most LEGO ladder options.
Continue reading Big Power for the Wasatch Hill
This is the third installment of a continuing series detailing my progress on modelling the Union Pacific’s 9000 class locomotive in LEGO.
In this installment, we will discuss the scale my model will use, and why I use it, as well as custom and aftermarket steam locomotive parts.
First, the issue of scale. Model train hobbyists tend to consider scale before anything else because, in general, scale is rigidly established for most model railroads. Most people are familiar with the common model railroad scales, such as HO, O or N. There are countless others, but they generally have one thing in common – their scale is fixed based upon the track gauge. That is, the distance between the inside edges of the top of the rails. In the LEGO train world, that scale is not so rigidly fixed. LEGO never intended their trains to be part of a model railroad system, so they did not design their track and trains to be in the same scale. The first LEGO train system (not considering earlier wooden and plastic trains without a track system or power) was introduced in 1966. The rails were blue, and the ties white, but the gauge has remained the same in all subsequent LEGO train systems, roughly 38mm. between the inside of the rails. The locomotives and rolling stock were 6 studs wide, roughly 6 feet wide if we considered the rails to be standard gauge. That is obviously not a realistic scale for width but that does not make it somehow ‘wrong’ of course. Many locomotives in the real world are more like 11 feet in width, about 11 studs in LEGO in a strict track gauge equation. There are many excellent models out there in this scale, but it is not typical for a LEGO train layout, and it is not the scale we use in my club.
Continue reading Building a Steam Locomotive in LEGO Part 3 – Scale and Non-LEGO Elements
In my previous previous article I introduced the topic of this series – my process for building a LEGO steam locomotive, and discussed researching and choosing a prototype. In this article, I will discuss choosing motors for a steam locomotive, options for batteries and receivers, as well as how to integrate other electronics into a LEGO train, such as lights and sound.
In past projects, after completing my research, I would typically start building up the frame of my steam locomotive. I would focus on articulation between driving wheels, pilot truck, pony truck, and tender and make sure my design could handle standard LEGO track geometry. This time, however, I wanted to build more electronics into my locomotive than just a motor, so I needed to sort out all of the electronic issues before doing any building. Still, I began with choosing a motor.
Continue reading Building a Steam Locomotive in LEGO Part 2 – Motorization and Electronics
I began building LEGO trains in a serious way in about 2008. At the time, I had no clue where to start with building something like a steam locomotive, so I looked for ideas and techniques online at places like MOCpages and Brickshelf. There were plenty of people building LEGO trains then, but a few models really stood out. Richard Lemeiter’s 141 R Mikado #840 was one of these.
Continue reading Richard Lemeiter’s 141 R Mikado – A Look Back at a Great Model
This will be the first in a series of articles about my process of building a LEGO steam locomotive. I intend to cover a variety of topics in this series including research, the use of custom elements, aftermarket electrical devices, and building techniques. While I will focus on a specific locomotive project I am currently working on, this series will not include a full set of step-by-step instructions to that locomotive. My intention is to share some experiences and techniques that I hope people can apply to any steam locomotive project, and perhaps other types of LEGO models as well. At any rate, my designs are usually pretty fragile and don’t really lend themselves to redistribution via instructions. Instead, I will lay out my approach to building a steam locomotive and why I think it is effective. I hope that this will help people who are struggling with what I think is a particularly difficult type of model to build or, at least, be of some interest to the readers of this site.
Continue reading The Union Pacific Type – Building a Steam Locomotive in LEGO