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.
This past weekend was crazy for myself and Glenn here at Brick Model Railroader. In short, we sold out of our first run of hopper instructions way faster than anticipated, visited a cathedral of steam, took a ride with one of the most impressive machines on rails, and got some work done on two of our future Premium Instructions. It was a crazy weekend.
Our first run of USRA Hopper Premium Instructions has sold out!
We’re finally back with our second premium instructions kit!
Announcing the Brick Model Railroader USRA 55 ton hopper premium instructions.
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.
Brick Model Railroader will be at BrickFair in Chantilly, Virginia, August 2nd to 6th. I’ll be there with my club PennLUG and our train layout for the weekend. I will also have 10 of our Pullman PS-1 Premium Instructions for sale at the yard sale Thursday and Saturday nights, as well as decal sets, and stickers. So stop by, talk trains, buy some stuff to support BMR and enjoy the event.
Brick Model Railroader is in issue 46 of BrickJournal magazine.
For those of you not familiar with BrickJournal, BrickJournal magazine is the ultimate resource for LEGO® enthusiasts of all ages. It spotlights all aspects of the building community, showcasing events, people, and models in every issue, with contributions and how-to articles by top builders worldwide, new product intros, and more!
For issue 46 myself and BMR contributors Glenn Holland, and Matt Hocker team up to write several articles for this LEGO train themed issue. Inside you’ll find articles on the creation of BMR, PennLUG’s train layouts, the story behind my building of Norfolk & Western steam locomotives, adding sound to your trains, and a history of LEGO train advertising. Also you’ll find instructions for building a small RR hand car. You can purchase the issue, in print or digital download, through TwoMorrows Publishing or better yet, subscribe and get all the great LEGO fan content that BrickJournal provides, delivered to your door bimonthly.
While your buying BrickJournal issue 46, you can also still pick up issue 24. BrickJournal 24 is also a LEGO train themed issue. And though it predates the birth of Brick Model Railroader, a few us here at BMR, including myself, can be found within either authoring articles, or the subject of them.
It’s been some time since you last heard an update on the BMR Boxcar Instructions. We do have some news, and I wanted to share that with you and, also talk about about future kits we are considering.
The BMR Boxcar
For those new here, we’ve been working on producing instructions for the Pullman Standard PS-1 boxcar that we adopted to carry our Brick Model Railroader logo. The boxcar got a lot of positive response, with several of you asking for instructions. So we decided to do it.
Today, January 6th 2017, marks our first official week at Brick Model Railroader. And we have to say that the response so far has been awesome! We can’t thank you readers enough. It is for you and the LEGO® train community that we wanted to start BMR. You have all been wonderfully supportive of us as we get this project off the ground.
In our first week of BMR being online we’ve had 5,500 views to our site, 64 registered users, 15 published articles, and 275 likes to our Facebook page. And this is only just the start. We look forward to growing and serving the LEGO train hobby for a long time to come. But in the meantime, to celebrate our first week we have something special for you, our readers.