For several years, train builders had been using the standard train wheels in those chunky, unrealistic encasings. Then some people came along and changed things for the better.
Much like Elroy, a scant 50 miles from me on the other side of the green mountains, I’m a huge fan of incorporating realistic railroad operations in minimal space with my Lego trains. Our influences are the same, Model Railroader and the old Railroad Model Craftsman magazines, the late Carl Arendt’s micro layouts website, and the Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan in S Scale blog. I’ve built a number of L-Gauge operating layouts over the years such as my freelanced Port Lego – North Bay, an Inglenook based on the BR Railfreight Distribution of the 80s, and even a tiny switching layout based on modern Claremont and Concord Railway operations in Claremont, NH.
After Elroy followed up on my article about scaled Lego Trains within an already scaled L-gauge environment, this time around with a moving example, I had to follow-up on that one again. For good reasons though. Just check out the video and see it for yourself.
Of course all credits go to its builder, Alexander.
It’s time for part 2 of my Finding Inspiration in Strasburg Pennsylvania. In part 1 I introduced the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the models I’ve built, that have been inspired from there. That article can be found here. Now it’s time to take a stroll across the street, literally, to the Strasburg Rail Road.
The Road to Paradise
On the last installment of the Matson’s Landing in L-Gauge series, Mike Pianta asked what scale the locomotive will be if I build it as an 8-wide model. Fortunately, that’s just the topic I had planned to cover in this post.
Generally LEGO® train builders fall into two camps: 6-wide and 8-wide. Traditionally, official LEGO train designs have been built to a “scale” of 6 studs wide. Since the LEGO Group’s trains aren’t really scale models, the width of the design is less important than the playability of the set. Builders wishing to add more realism to their models tend toward the 8-wide “scale” (roughly 1:48) which is a good match to the scale height of a minifig.
For the Matson’s Landing layout, I had originally decided to go with an 8-wide, 1:48 scale. This would allow me to quickly convert real life measurements into studs (real measurement, divided by 1.25, equals number of studs). However, as I began researching logging locomotives to build, I had a realization.
Logging locomotives are really small.
As I wrote in my last post, I’ve settled on building a Climax locomotive. While researching, I found that Climax Manufacturing Company, in their catalog, offered three different models of geared locomotive. The Climax “A” style locomotive is most like the Clishay locomotive that I wrote about before, with an upright or T-style boiler on a basic flat frame. The Climax “B” style is a more traditional looking machine, though the angled side-mounted pistons drive gears beneath the locomotive, instead of directly moving the driving wheels. Their “C” style locomotive is basically a style “B” with an additional tender and more wheels. After reading through the Climax catalog, I really liked the look of the Climax “B”. The gearing is more involved than what I had originally planned, but a challenge while building is always a good thing.
With a definite prototype model picked out, my next step was to research measurements. I took to the Internet in search of articles, photos, and builder’s drawings. I was fortunate to find a mention of scale drawings of a Climax “B” in the February 1985 issue of the magazine Railroad Model Craftsman. I was even more fortunate to find that I had a copy of that issue in my personal magazine collection. I quickly found the issue and read about the Cario & Kanawha Climax No. 5.
(Tip: If a model railroader in his 80s offers to sell you 30 years worth of modeling magazines, especially Model Railroad Craftsman, buy them).
While the article on C&K No. 5 was interesting, what I was really after were the scale line drawings by Ed Gebhart. The basic dimensions shown on the drawings where close to what I had read in the Climax catalog, so I felt fairly certain that any other dimensions would be correct. I scanned the drawings and loaded them into LEGO Model Scaler, an online tool by Paul Kmiec, a.k.a Sariel, of Poland.
LEGO Model Scaler is an awesome tool. Upload an image from the web, draw a known dimension over top of it, enter how many studs that dimension should be, and hit the calculate button. From there on out, any other dimensions you draw over your image will be shown in studs. Incredibly handy for building truly scale models. The other nice thing about the tool is that if you enter your dimensions at a 1:1 scale, you can quickly find dimensions that aren’t listed on the drawings. For instance, on the C&K No. 5 drawing, the narrow gauge track is dimensioned at 3 feet wide. Entering 3 as my base dimension in Scaler, I can quickly see that a Climax “B” locomotive was only 7.5 feet wide. At my target 1:48 scale, this would only be 6 studs wide. While this does fit the scale, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the PF components (battery box, IR sensor, and motor) needed to run the locomotive.
With this in mind, I thought about a few options. I could keep the original scale that I had settled on, and put the PF battery box, and possibly more, in a separate car that would always be attached to the locomotive. Stephen Pakbaz did this very successfully with his Shay Engine. I see the Matson’s Landing layout as a switching layout, however, so I really want the locomotive to be independent of any other cars.
Another option would be to build the locomotive in scale with the track. Climax locomotives were offered in both standard and narrow gauge. Narrow gauge would give me lots of room for electrical components and details, but the model, and therefore the layout, would be huge.
A third option, which I’ve decided to go with, was to base the locomotive scale on the size of the driving wheels. Measuring the standard LEGO train wheel, which I’m planning on using for the drivers, I found them to be about 2.5 studs wide. Looking at the wheel diameter listed in the Climax catalog, I found that the prototype wheels were, on average, 28 to 30 inches. Using these dimensions, and LEGO Model Scaler, I found that I could build my locomotive at roughly 1:33 scale. This should allow me enough space to keep all of the PF parts on board the locomotive, but still be small enough to have a workable layout in the end. Oddly enough, I found that the Climax, at 1:33 scale, turns out to be 8 studs wide. So, while the scale isn’t originally what I had planned, the dimensions are.
In the next post, I’ll go over the start of the locomotive build, and my iterative process for building a (hopefully) functioning model.
We as Model Railroaders have a tendency to love locomotives. This is pretty understandable, seeing that without loco’s, our trains would just be big pieces of metal rusting on tracks. However, we should not neglect our carriages, because they deserve our unconditioned love as well. Thankfully Leuchtstein at 1000steine has understood this as no other and has build the iconic Einheitswagen I from the Rhätische Bahn, the well-known narrow gauge railway in Switzerland.
This past week, I watched an episode of James May: The Reassembler. In the opening episode of season two, May walks through the reassembly of his first ever toy train set, a Hornby Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sound, which he received one year as a Christmas gift. Quite ironically, a week before, I had begun exactly the same endeavor, rebuilding my first ever LEGO train set.
The 9-volt era had several diamond sets: the Metroliner and Santa Fe Super Chief among them. There were also several oddball sets, with no real prototype counterpart. Set 4561 Railway Express, which I received on Christmas morning around the year 2001, was one such set. But this didn’t stop me from enjoying the set. I built it with the aid of my father and we watched it run around the simple oval track for hours, loading and unloading the wagons countless times. Then, after I got bored of the set, I tore it apart and begun making my first rudimentary train MOCs.
There are a lot of divisions within the Model Railways community. They can be about scale (our own L-Gauge, 0, h0, N, TT, Spur 1, G), but also about era (Epoche I-VI), type of railway (continuous vs. point-to-point). Or, more specifically for our hobby: Stickers, Glueing, 6/7/8/9-wide and cutting.
There is however one division which is easily neglected: Geography. Or, more precise: The division between modelling European or American railroads. Seeing BMR is supposed to be blog about all Lego trainheads, I thought it would be a good idea to explore ways how to bring the two continents a bit closer together. Therefore, this will be a series of articles which will try to bridge this gap. The emphasis will not only be on prototypes, but will also showcase some models that already have been build, for even more inspiration! Continue reading Bridging the Gap part 1: How the US met Europe
With Elroy’s articles on Matson’s Landing, and the A/D Track concept, as well as the the Track Geometry article, it seems we have a bit of a theme running right now with train layout design. I too am working on some layout planning, but unlike Elroy’s smaller, personal layout, I’m working on layout designs for my club, PennLUG. And since this is a different kind of beast from a home layout, I thought it would be great to illustrate all the planing that goes into a train layout like ours.
Planning the PennLUG Lines
Some of you may be familiar with PennLUG’s style of LEGO® train layouts. But for the benefit of those new to us, I will give a bit of background. Continue reading The PennLUG Lines: Planning a LEGO Train, Club Layout
Nate Brill of PennLUG has been very busy recently. Rather than go on about his work, I’ll let him tell you himself:
“Several members of my club have discussed the need/desire for larger and different sized train wheels, and the possibility of 3d printing them. Earlier this year, I was down with a back injury for a while, so I used the time to figure out some 3d design fundamentals and make my own. I don’t have any 3d printing equipment so I put them on shapeways for my own use.
I have had a couple requests for these since word got out that I made them, so I set up a shapeways store:
Here are some sample images:
I have made XXL sized (the next size up from Ben Fleskes’ XL sized), a size between medium and large, and a medium diameter train wheel i.e. not a steam driver, just a thin train wheel but with a larger diameter.
These are being offered at cost (I make no money) because I cannot guarantee the fit of the pin and axle holes and other aspects of the production which are out of my control, nor can I make any easy changes that would solve the problem. Anyway, I hope they work for anyone who tries them. Feel free to let me know.”
New driver sizes are always welcome and much appreciated in the community. Head to Nate’s Shapeways shop if you want to get a set of some sweet wheels!