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.
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.
There have been some questions asked over at the Eurobricks Train Tech forums OcTRAINber thread regarding the contest, which we have tried to answer the best as we could. For completeness, we have decided to post some clarification on the rules here as well.
For us here at BMR, we normally use the same way of measuring as other scale modellers do, meaning:
US: Over the couplers
EU: Over the buffers
It’s a rule of thumb, so all trains that have buffers are measured like the EU, and all trains that just have automatic couplers are measured over the couplers.
Also, there is no limit on the width of the entry.
Entering old entries in the contest
OcTRAINber is a building contest, meaning that you have to submit a new model specifically build for the contest. To keep in mind: We have set up this contest to inspire people to actually build, so please no old models that have been posted already!
(If it wasn’t put online before, we would be willing to consider it. In the end, the pre-announcement did state that we encourage finally finishing those previously half-failed ideas for something long.)
Third party parts
BMR has always been positive towards third-party parts, as long as they have any way of added value to the hobby. So the rule of thumb is simple:
Third Party parts: Yes
All entries have to be posted on our BMR Flickr. For this you need your own Flickr account, but trust us, there is an awesome community out there you can be part of!
There were some questions about how the swoosh should look like. We didn’t state any rules for this so that’s up to your own imagination!
Types of consists
Lastly, there were some questions on what type of units you can send in. To give some clarification on this: Everything that has train wheels underneath it is allowed. So think locomotive, passenger carriage, goods wagon, etc. For semi-permanently coupled units you can think about trams, rescue trains (think SBB in the alpes), MOW equipment, Truck-Train combos like Hupac, the Eurotunnel LeShuttle, etc etc.
Good luck with building and enjoy your OcTRAINber!
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.
As you might have seen and read in our previous post, this October (meaning from tomorrow on) BMR will run our first ever contest! So, without further ado, we would like to introduce this contest to you.
First of all, the name. It’s called OcTRAINber, if somebody had not noticed yet. Why OcTRAINber? Well, because it’s a great intermediate month between SHIPtember and Novvember. Also, TRAINS.
The rules are simple. Build something with train wheels attached to it that is long enough to look absolutely silly to go through a R40 curve, better known as the Regular Lego Train Curved Rail. To make sure “silly” is an objective term, we have made a minimum size requirement: 60+ studs for any single item (can be a carriage, a locomotive, a crane, you name it) and 70+ for a combined (and permanently coupled!) consist. This means we are accepting anything from a steam engine + tender to a diesel loco + slug, or maybe even semi-permanently coupled freigh carriages or EMU’s. However, this also means we will not allow a consist of loco + carriage. It has to be semi-permanently coupled!
Both Real Life and Ditigal builds are allowed and both will have their own category. Since BMR is a weblog that emphasises and supports building Real Life models, the prices in the Real Life category will however be bigger and better (if you ask us at least!) then the ones in the Digital category.
Please keep in mind that this is a building contest, meaning that only new or unpublished builds are allowed.
Points will be awarded for 3 things: Length, credibility of the prototype and “The Swoosh”.
First of all, length. This is a short one; The longer, the better. Simply put: any studs over 60/70 (depending on if you build a single or a semi-permanently coupled unit) gives you pluspoints.
Second, credibility of the prototype. This means we will be looking at how much the build represents the real life prototype. This means the quality of the build, but potential scale etc. If you are sending in a fantasy model, we will look at how credible the build is; would it fit in, does the backstory make sense?
Thirdly, The Swoosh. What is The Swoosh, you ask? Well, thats pretty simple: it’s a video of your train running through a R40 curve. It’s the same as The Swoosh as the Spacers know it, but even more awesome, because it uses a train and track. Please keep in mind that only R40 curves are allowed for The Swoosh!
This contest will have four judges. Why four? Well, because it’s more than three, and, as you now should now, we are a fan of ‘more and longer’. The judges will be, in no particular order:
All four have a history in building trains that look absolutely silly when going through curves and are thus the perfect people to judge!
Since this is OcTRAINber, entries will be accepted from October 1st to October 31st.
Entries are to be send in via our own BMR Flickr! There are two discussions; one for the Real Life entries and one for the Digital entries. Next to that, please also add your pictures in the pool!
No contest without prizes! We are very happy to tell you that The Lego Company was generous enough to donate four sets which we will be giving away as prizes. Next to that, we are at least equally happy that BrickTracks has donated some of their new curves as well. Which prizes specifically will be made public as soon as possible, so to keep the hype train running for a little bit longer!
We here over at BMR are very, very excited about this first contest and we are looking forward to all those entries. We are really looking forward to see what the community has to offer in terms of creativity and we hope that all of you will be stimulated by this contest to finally build that one beast of a train / loco / waggon that you always wanted to build, but never did.
During the contest, we will regularly post updates about the entries that have entered the contest here at BMR.
By the way, if there are any things that aren’t fully clear, you can always reach out to us by posting your message below.
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
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.
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.