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.
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.
This year, the show was held on Saturday January 27th & Sunday 28th. The New England LEGO Users Group was there displaying their amazing Lego train/city layout, and I traveled up to see it, represent Brick Model Railroader, and experience the show.
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.
The Wrecker, or railroad wreck crane/derrick was once a common part of a railroad’s Maintenance of Way fleet in North America. They we’re kept at the ready in railroad yards in a wreck train waiting for the call to service any time the railroad had a derailment or wreck needing cleaned up. Today most railroads subcontract wreck cleanup to outside companies, but a few railroads still hang on to a wrecker or two for emergencies, and many vintage wreckers can be found in railroad museums today. The wrecker is a fascinating machine to model, even sitting idle in a yard it can provide much interest to any one’s model railroad.
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.
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.