The LEGO company is sponsoring a new contest, BE AN EXPERT REBUILDER. Each contest participant must create a short 15 to 30 second stop-motion film, featuring an original model built using parts from the Creator Expert Modular, Holiday, or Fairgrounds sets.
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.
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.
The LEGO Group released an announcement today that should please fans of official LEGO train sets. As an addition to the popular Winter Village series, the Winter Village Station will be available October 1st!The set looks like it will have tons of playability, especially when combined with the Winter Holiday Train (10254).
10259 Winter Village Station Ages 12+. 902 pieces.
US $79.99 – CA $99.99 – DE 69.99€ – UK £74.99 – DK 649.00 DKK
*Euro pricing varies by country. Please visit shop.LEGO.com for regional pricing.
Head home for the holidays with the Winter Village Station!
Head for home with the festive Winter Village Station holiday set, featuring a snowy railroad station with wreath adorned lampposts and clock tower, platform, mailbox, green trees, snowy grade crossing with twin barriers and lights, and a beautiful, festively decorated bus with opening doors and a luggage rack with removable luggage and gift wrapped packages. This LEGO® Creator Expert model also includes a ticket counter with a timetable and a transaction counter window with room for sliding out tickets to travelers, plus a coffee shop with a serving hatch and a detailed interior with an espresso machine, cups, cash register and a menu. Includes 5 minifigures.
• Includes 5 minifigures: a bus driver, barista, grandmother, child and a ticket agent.
• The festively adorned Winter Village Station features a snowy train station with a clock tower, platform, coffee shop, ticket counter, grade crossing with twin barriers and lights, lampposts, mailbox and green trees, plus a bus.
• Ticket counter features a timetable and a transaction counter window with room for sliding out tickets.
• Coffee shop features a serving hatch and a detailed interior with espresso machine, cups, cash register and a menu.
• Bus features festive decoration, opening doors, luggage rack with removable luggage and gift wrapped packages, and a removable roof for accessing the detailed interior.
• Drive the happy passengers to the station.
• Raise the barriers to cross the track.
• Grab a newspaper and relax with a warm espresso from the cozy coffee shop.
• Man the ticket booth, serve the travelers and slide the tickets under the serving window.
• Gather the family for some festive LEGO® building!
• Accessories elements include buildable wreaths and wrapped gifts, plus 2 mugs, ticket, newspaper and an envelope.
• Special elements include new 1×1 round plate with horizontal shaft, 4×6 roof element in dark blue, gray microphone element, printed ticket element and shield elements with printed clock-faces.
• Includes 4 straight track pieces to connect with the LEGO® Creator Expert 10254 Winter Holiday Train.
• Winter Village Station measures over 7” (19cm) high, 11” (28cm) wide and 5” (14cm) deep.
• Grade Crossing when closed measures over 2” (6cm) high, 5” (13cm) wide and 5” (14cm) deep.
• Bus measures over 3” (9cm) high, 5” (15cm) long and 2” (7cm) wide.
Available for sale directly through LEGO® beginning October 1, 2017 via shop.LEGO.com, LEGO® Stores or via phone:
I was recently contacted by a newer member of the LEGO Train community asking for information on the various types of curve tracks used in PennLUG. My response was a lengthy email, which has been adapted to fit an article format, and will be the content of this article.
Before I begin, I should briefly touch on some of the standards for LEGO track configurations. More information can be found on Michael Gale’s L-Gauge.org. Standard spacing practices for most layouts (including my own PennLUG) use a 16-stud spacing between the centerlines of two parallel tracks. There are two main reasons for this standard. One, it was set by LEGO, when they produced the 9-volt switch tracks. Using a turnout, a return curve, and an extra length of straight track, you get two even and parallel tracks. Two, this yields a convenient way to build track: two lines evenly spaced on one baseplate.
Every LEGO train enthusiast has probably, at some point, owned a loop of standard LEGO track. Any number of straight sections closed off by the small curve tracks you’d find in any 9-volt of Power Functions set. These tracks are known as “R40”, as they have a radius of 40 studs.
Last time, I spoke about how to start modeling a typical European style goods railcar. I have been speaking at length about all kind of fancy ways of making sure you understand your prototype. I hope you have been making notes because today we will immediately dive into the fun part: Building! Let’s just take off where we left now, shall we?
Step 4. Choosing your materials
After the scale has been set, it’s time to decide which part will be essential for your design. This might sound silly, but in my opinion every train model has 1 defining part (or technique, meaning several parts combined) around which the whole model is being build. In this case, I settled on the Lego Chair in brown, since I had a lot of them and wanted to get rid of them without selling. Also, the idea was that brown would nicely mimick the rust on the prototype (And trust me, some of them were far worse off than the one you just saw). Turning them into a railcar seemed to be the right solution. It didn’t work out as planned however…
As I already said in an earlier post, I’m a big fan of railcars and I do believe they should get more attention. Locomotives are nice, but when they can’t haul a big rake of railcars, they just look silly, if you ask me. In the end, a locomotive is meant to pull railcars, not run around looking all nice and shiny.
However, I know it’s difficult to pull off a nice railcar, because in the end, they are all quite boring, definitely when it comes to goods railcars. By accident, I have been documenting my last railcar build pretty well, so I thought it could be interesting to share. This will be a three-parter with three easy topics: 1. The Prototype, 2. The Build and 3. The Bragging. However, let’s start at square one, OK?