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!
Every year late in January or early in February, the Amherst Railway Society holds its Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (The home of The Big E) in West Springfield Massachusetts. More than 22,500 railfans and public attended the Show each of the past five years.
PennLUG, and Brick Model Railroader visited the World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour’s first stop of 2018 this past weekend in Monroeville, just outside of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Both myself and Glenn Holland were filling dual roles supporting our club, PennLUG’s, LEGO® train layout, and representing BMR at it’s first show in 2018.
In the brick-built train hobby, one of the often asked questions revolves around how or where to create custom decals for decorating our models with our favorite railroad liveries. Many options exist, including using traditional O scale decals, printing your own on decal paper using a home ink-jet printer, or, like we do for the BMR Premium Instruction sets, use a 3rd party printer like OKBrickWorks.
One difficulty that I’ve had over the years is finding proper decals with white lettering for the cars that I build. I’m a fan of the fallen-flag Rutland Railroad, which operated in Vermont and New York until the early 1960s. Many of their cars, and almost all of their steam locomotives, were lettered in silver or white paint on black backgrounds. While modeling decals for the locomotives are commercially available in compatible sizes for my LEGO trains, I’ve always had trouble finding decent freight car decals.
A few weeks ago, I came across the website StickyLife.com. StickyLife allows you to create a variety of customized items, including bumper stickers, magnets, and vinyl decals. Originally I had thought to use the site to create lettering for my 1:8 scale Live Steam flatcar, but then I wondered if it would be possible to create decals for my LEGO cars as well.
The following is a walk through of the process, and a review of the final product.
After a great and exciting month that we dubbed OcTRAINber, the difficult part for us judges had only just begon. However, we have managed to finally decide on the winners, which will be announced in this post!
First of all, let us say that we are pleasantly surprised by all the high quality entries and the great Swoosh-videos. We were very glad to see so many great ideas and prototypes being build, both digital and in real life. In fact, the reason that it took us so long to judge is because of the high quality of all of the entries. Therefore, we would like to thank all our contestants, because without you, OcTRAINber wouldn’t have been the succes it has been!
If you you’ve been following the LEGO Train Fan Club Facebook group recently you probably have seen the ongoing discussion on Mike Moon’s 3D printed car bodies for LEGO trains. If you haven’t, take a read through here.
Mike’s original post presented his 3D printed trolley car body designed to fit on a LEGO brick built train base. It has since ignited a discussion about what is and is not a LEGO train, and what techniques are acceptable to the community and what ones are a step too far.
My first encounter with the Blue Comet was at the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg Pennsylvania. It was an O scale model of the train made by MTH, sitting on a display shelf in the main display room. I fell in love with the train almost immediately. It was a very striking train, with the locomotive painted in an eye catching blue with gold pin striping, and nickel plated accents. The passenger cars also blue, with an attractive band of white running down the windows. It was beautiful train from a different time, a time when rail travel was king, and a journey on a train was something special. The Blue Comet had caught my imagination like so many before. I knew that I was going to be the one to bring this train to life again in LEGO.