International FTTS


It has been a little quiet in Thirdwiggville for the last month.  I have been working on a project that is taking a lot of time and resources, so my posts have slowed, even though my building has not.  But just wait, it’s going to be awesome.

Last summer I wanted to do another Trial Truck that would utilized some features I have never used before.  I wanted something complicated to see how it would work.  I wanted a model that would use four wheels steering, independent suspension, and have a simple two speed gearbox while being low to the ground.  After spending some time at the Chicago Autoshow, I saw a FTTS concept, so I thought this would be a great vehicle to model for this next truck.

This model would be built around an independent suspension.  After seeing it used so effectively in a truck by ATRX, I wanted to give it a try.  Each of the four wheels would use a simple double a-arm set-up with a wheel mount attached at the outside.  The wheel mount would house the portal axle and connect the steering linkage.  After a couple of different designs, I also decided the wheel mount would also connect the the shock absorbers.  This was a little unorthodox, as most independent designs mount the shock absorbers directly from the frame to the a-arms.  I did this for two reasons.  First, the model would be heavy, and I could not get the support I needed when the shocks were connected to the a-arms.  Second, and most importantly, I noticed too much suspension flex when the shocks were mounted to the a-arms.  The force applied to the wheel would go up the wheel, to the wheel mount, through the pivot, halfway down the lower a-arm to the shock.  LEGO is relatively stiff, but all these steps complied too much flex.  I would not have it.  I mounted the shocks on the wheel mount, and created a simple MacPherson strut set-up.  This worked well, as it allowed for full steering movement, long suspension travel, and adequate support of the truck.

The front and rear suspension axles both had a PF-M motor driving the steering.  Each were on independent PF channels connected to a single 8878 Battery Box to allow for individual steering, crab steering, and to solve steering drift commonly problematic with four wheels steering vehicles.  Both axles were connected with dual drive shafts running the length of the truck.  One drive shaft would then connect through a simple two speed gearbox to the PF-XL motor.  The final gearing was 1:6.2 and 1:10 for the truck.  This gave the truck sufficient top speed, with an effective crawler gear.  The Battery Box used for the drive motor and the gear shift motor was placed directly behind the front suspension, and in front of the drive motor.  This placement was perfect for stability.  It helped give great traction to the front wheels, kept the center of mass low and to the center with a slight forward bias.

I then finalized the model with a simple removable body built on a Technic frame.  While the hood was little high, and the rear body a little too short, it looked pretty close to the rear FTTS.  Fans seems to like the look, as it is still one of my more popular model.  See the full gallery here and the Work in Progress gallery here.

The model was a lot of fun to drive, and due to its squat design, it was very well planted.  The truck did not want to role over.  I think it could have used a little more suspension travel, and having four wheel steering was crucial to give it some maneuverability that was lost due to the suspension design.  The gearbox was flawless.  The truck did have some trouble skipping gears at the portal axle.  It seemed to happen when a single wheel was over-stressed as the driveshaft could have used stronger bracing in each suspension unit.  This placed a lot of strain on the particular wheel.  So would I do the independent suspension again.  Maybe, but it would need some strengthening and redesign.  Maybe it’s time for another truck like this.

Thanks for reading.  Something big is coming.

CAT D5K


Construction equipment was pretty much designed for LEGO Technic.  I learned this while designing my MB Axor Refuse Truck.  Yellow bricks are pretty popular and accessible, the equipment usually has many functions which can be replicated, and working models with power functions can be made to reenact various construction projects for great playablility.  After finally getting some large track links, I figured it was time for me to do a bulldozer.

I wanted to model the CAT D5K for a couple of reasons.  First, it used a two wheel track for each side rather than a three wheel track for each side.  Second, I wanted to do something by CAT.  Third, I decided on the D5K because for dozers of this size I think it looked the best due to its stance and overall balance.  Plus, when I started looking at the scale of the dozer I was to model, I learned the D5K would work best with the parts needed such as the tracks and blade, and work with the internal space allowed.

The base D5K really only has three functions: drive, blade lift, and blade angle.  I had no intention to add a ripper, because, frankly, I ran out of space.  Space became an issue very early.  I had 9 studs to work with between the tracks, and I needed to add four motors, a dummy motor, a battery box, and two receivers, all while retaining the appropriate look.  All the gearing had to be compact, and the linear actuators needed to be placed efficiently.  The real D5K has a manual adjustment for the blade pitch, but all of my designs left something more to be desired, so I took it out.

Both tracks would have their own motor, and I wanted to link them to a dummy engine, which required a differential.  I connected the motors directly to a worm gear which drove a 8z gear.  This gear was on the axle for the rear drive wheel, and connected on the other end to a differential which connected both drive wheels.  This differential functioned as a power take off for the dummy motor in the front of the bulldozer.

Two more motors were placed under the dummy motor.  One connected though a 12z/20z gear reduction for the blade angle.  It proved difficult to supply power for the blade angle function through the blade tilt pivot without taking up too much space.  The second motor was used to adjust the blade height.  After a simple reduction, two mini linear actuators were used to move the blade up and down.  It worked well, and was plenty strong.

I added the battery box under the driver’s seat, and placed the two IR receivers in the top of the cab.  It was not optimal aesthetically, but it seemed to work well for control.  And again, I just ran out of space.  I worked on the body, gave the model a working hood, and built a cabin.

The model worked well, but building with tracks is always a little bit frustrating.  Like it or not, LEGO plastic will never be fully smooth, and this is compounded with the track system.  Also, I found that the dummy motor would lose its connection to the drive wheels, as the axles connecting to the differential would slip out every once and a while.  This seems to be a commom problem with Technic builders, so we will see if the new axles will help.  I liked the size of this model, and it had a good amount of functions.  Now I need to use the tracks for something else.

Maybe another tank.

The full gallery may be found here.

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