Tag Archives: Railroad

Our AAR 53′ 70 Ton Flat Car Premium Instructions are now on sale, plus Restocks!

Our fourth premium instructions, for the AAR 53′ 70 Ton Flat Car are now available for purchase in our store!

See our video review here

Continue reading Our AAR 53′ 70 Ton Flat Car Premium Instructions are now on sale, plus Restocks!

OcTRAINber: The Results

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!

Now, let’s move on to the award ceremony!

Continue reading OcTRAINber: The Results

When is a LEGO® Train Not A LEGO® Train Anymore?

Crossing The Purity Line.

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.

Brick Model Railroader’s own ball bearing equipped wheel sets, are certainly not pure LEGO. But are they acceptable in the LEGO train hobby?

Continue reading When is a LEGO® Train Not A LEGO® Train Anymore?

A Tail Of The Blue Comet: The Seashore’s Finest Train In LEGO by Cale Leiphart

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.

My LEGO model of the Blue Comet train set.
Advertisement for the Blue Comet from the period.

The Central Railroad of New Jersey’s Blue Comet

“A Deluxe Class Train, for a Coach Class Fare”
Continue reading A Tail Of The Blue Comet: The Seashore’s Finest Train In LEGO by Cale Leiphart

The Lego Trains Book by Holger Matthes: A Review

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.

A very attractive book cover.

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.

My own tattered copy of Jake McKee’s Getting Started With LEGO Trains.

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.

An example of the Blue Rail era history.

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.

There’s even a Reverse Engineering Challenge!

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.

Showing the custom rods from TrainedBricks, and some good points to consider when building a steam locomotive.

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.

Selling Hoppers and Chasing Trains: Things we did this weekend

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.

Nickel Plate 765

Our first run of USRA Hopper Premium Instructions has sold out!

USRA Hopper Box Cover

Continue reading Selling Hoppers and Chasing Trains: Things we did this weekend

Steam Giants of the Norfolk & Western Railway

I hope you, our dear readers, will allow me to indulge myself once again as write about my own LEGO® train building. Today I finally bring you my two most recent articulated steam locomotive models, the Norfolk & Western A class and Y6b. Those of you who have seen a PennLUG display in person over the past year, or read issue 46 of Brickjournal have probably already seen these, but it’s taken me a little while to finally upload photos and write an article on them for Brick Model Railroader. In my defense, I’ve been busy.

The Last Great Steam Railroad in America: Modeling its Finest Work Horses

My A class and Y6b milling about in PennLUG’s rail yard.

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BrickFair Virginia 2017

BrickFair Virginia 2017 was the last of the big AFOL convention I was planing to attend this year. Taking place last weekend, August 2nd to 6th, it was an awesome event filled with trains and fun. Though BrickFair may sometimes seem a little less prestigious compared to Brickworld when it comes to LEGO trains, BrickFair can no doubt draw a wonderful and diverse train presence with no less than seven clubs displaying train and monorail layouts, as well as  numerous models from individual builders. BrickFair was also host to a Train Olympics competition, run by Adny Mollmann and Nick O’Donell from OKILUG. And there were a few fan voted trains awards given out too. So let’s recap the fun.

Doug Forman’s, Vincent Hills Medical Center on the WamaLTC train layout.

Continue reading BrickFair Virginia 2017

Trains in BrickJournal Magazine

Brick Model Railroader is in issue 46 of BrickJournal magazine.

Issue 46 cover of BrickJournal. Cover photo by Cale Leiphart.

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.

Buy BrickJournal issue 46 here

BrickJournal issue 24. Cover photo by Cale Leiphart.

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.

Buy BrickJournal issue 24 here.

It’s 1976 All Over Again

Every year on July 4th, we here in the United States celebrate the birth of our nation. But in 1976, upon the 200th Anniversary, we threw one heck of big a party. For the US Bicentennial every one in the nation was getting into the spirit. Everything, and we do mean everything, was getting a patriotic Red, White, and Blue treatment. The US railroads were no exception. Railroads across the US were painting locomotives and other equipment in celebration of our country’s 200th birthday. Our Canadian railroad neighbors even got into the spirit. The result of all this stars and stripes hoopla was some of the most interesting and colorful railroad equipment ever seen in North America.

As we all know, model railroad hobbyists, even us LEGO® variety, gravitate toward modeling the interesting and rare. The Bicentennial RR locomotives and rolling stock has been a popular modeling subject ever since that great celebration in 1976. So today, on this July 4th, we’re going to take a look at some Bicentennial models created in LEGO

Bicentennial locomotives from several railroads on display.

Continue reading It’s 1976 All Over Again