Many have been asking when we will be restocking our first four Premium Instruction Kits, and we’ve been listening. Previously, we’ve made a batch of kits to sell, and when they’ve sold out, you would have to wait until we could restock again. We’re going to do things a little different this time though. Since it’s hard for us to gauge demand for each kit, this time we are going to do a pre-order run. So we are opening up pre-orders today, February 5th and will keep it open until March 5th, and how ever many orders we have for each kit is how many we will produce. Once orders are closed, we will need a little time to get the instruction books in from the printer, parts for the wheel sets, and assemble kits. We hope to start shipping orders in mid to late March.
We are doing this for two reasons. Firstly, we hope by doing this that every one who has not had a chance to buy one or all of the cars yet will be able to get them. Second, as we are looking to produce new Premium Instructions for 2018, we want to focus most of our energy toward those new projects, so we are hoping we can do one last big run of the four original cars before diving headlong into new ones. Don’t worry, the original four won’t be gone for good by any means. We hope you’ll agree with us when we want to offer more exciting and new stuff, ideas for which are more than plentiful.
Lately on Social Media platforms, there has been an uptick in “Can I have building instructions for…” type requests. While some of these requests are very specific, and the answer from other builders is usually “You’ll have to design it yourself,” there are sources available for a number of train related building instructions.
Following other designer’s instructions is a great way to learn different building techniques and trends. While it’s sometimes frustrating to see an amazing build and immediately want to build one yourself, it’s often better to step back, assess your skills, and start small. I’d wager to guess that most of us who currently design our own models started by following official LEGO instructions. After a while, we would modify those builds, adding our own touches (my first “designed” train was a modification of the My Own Train line from back in 2001). After modifying official models for a bit, we’d start experimenting with the techniques we’d learned, and we’d begin designing our own builds.
The following are some sources (other than buying sets) of train related building instructions that may help builders get started. Some of these are older resources, but the techniques displayed are as valid today as they were when they were originally assembled.
First, of course, is our own Brick Model Railroader Premium Instructions. Designed by Cale Leiphart and Glenn Holland, these models are in the 8-wide scale, designed specifically for builders looking for prototype realism in their models. Instructions are printed in book form, and include any custom parts needed for the builds.
Next, The LEGO Group, on their Customer Service website, offer Downloadable Instructions for official sets. Not all sets are available, but this is a great resource if you are looking for just the instructions for current or recently retired sets. Some older sets are also available, but again, not everything is there. Instructions are provided as downloadable PDF files.
Two other sites also offer instructions of official LEGO models. These sites include some of the company’s older sets, which may be of interest to builders wishing to delve into the history of LEGO trains and building techniques. Brick Instructions.com includes downloadable PDF files of instructions, or onscreen image files that a builder can scroll through.
The second site, Peeron.com has scans of instructions from as far back as 1955. Peeron was THE fan-created database of LEGO sets twenty years ago, and still contains a huge amount of information, including set inventories and catalog scans.
On the fan side of things, there are a number of resources for building instructions.
Back in 2004, Jake McKee, who used to liaison between the LEGO Group and the fan community, wrote Getting Started with LEGO Trains. Published by No Starch Press, the book included a history of LEGO Trains, as well as building instructions for a diesel locomotive and a number of freight cars. Though out of print, Getting Started with LEGO Trains can still be found at a number of used booksellers.
No Starch Press also publishes a number of other LEGO related books, including the new The LEGO Trains Book by Holger Matthes. Available in both print and PDF form, the book includes tips for different building techniques, as well as some step-by-step instructions. Glenn Holland reviewed the book for Brick Model Railroader back in October.
A third publication, this time in magazine form, was started back in 2007 by Jeremy Spurgeon. RAILBRICKS published 6 issues, in PDF and Print On Demand format, through August of 2009. In 2010 the magazine was revived with Jeremy passing editorial duties to Elroy Davis. The volunteer team of authors and content creators that made up the RAILBRICKS team published another 9 issues, ending publication in July of 2014. Each issue of the magazine included building instructions for things like locomotives, rolling stock, or scenery. An archive of the RAILBRICKS magazines is available here on the BMR website where each issue can be downloaded in PDF format. Print issues of the magazine can also still be purchased from MagCloud.
In addition to publications, a number of builders offer instructions of their designs via their BrickLink shops.
A search for “Custom Instructions” on BrickLink turned up shops selling instructions for locomotives, rolling stock, scenery, and modular buildings.
One of the largest offerings of instructions is Anthony Sava’s SRW Locomotive Works. His designs includes steam and diesel locomotives, as well as passenger and freight cars. I just recently finished building his Light Mikado, and can recommend his instructions as clear and easy to follow.
Bricks Northwest offers a number of diesel locomotives, including CSX, Canadian National, and Conrail liveries.
For the fans of the Emerald Night set, Zac’s Brick Place sells instruction sets for custom coaches in the Emerald Night color scheme.
For those who like high speed rail, LT12V in Italy sells instructions for three different passenger trains.
Next, Brick City Depot has a nice offering of rail buildings, trains, and maintenance of way equipment.
The BrickLink shops listed above are by no means the complete list. They are just a few of the instructions available from fans that I found with a little searching.
Finally, there are a number of fan sites out there that offer instructions as well.
One of my favorites is the L-Guage wiki. Instructions for ballasted track, roads, viaducts and more are available as downloadable PDF files.
A similarly named site, LGauge, offers a large amount of instructions for freight cars, as well as few diesel locomotives and small scenery pieces. The instructions can be followed online in HTML format, or downloaded as PDF files.
Michael Gale, of the L-Guage wiki, also has custom instructions for sale on his Brick Dimensions website. These include both passenger and freight models.
Like BrickLink, this small list of sites was found with just a quick search on Google. I’m sure there are other sites out there with similar offerings
Instructions are awesome, and while there are many available, nothing really beats just sitting down and experimenting. Don’t be discouraged if your initial builds don’t work out they way you think they should, and don’t compare yourself to builders who have a couple of decades of experience. Remember that we all started at the same point. Follow the instructions for a while, then have fun striking out on your own design path!
Did you receive set 40235 (24-in-1 Holiday Countdown Set) this year? The set comes with instructions for building 24 different models (one for each day leading up to Christmas). Bill Ward has been doing each day’s build, while also making a MOC with leftover parts each day. Day 13 was this cute micro steam engine. His use of the white croissant for smoke is both well-played and deliciously adorable.
Bill has been kind enough to post instructions so you can build your own. You can access them here: page 1 and page 2. To see what other builds he comes up, be sure to follow his blog, Bill Ward’s Brickpile!
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.
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.
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.
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.