The Sod Farm


During two summers when I was in college, I worked on a Sod Farm. It was, let’s say, a developmental experience. The days were hot, long, and often included nothing more than sitting on a tractor listening to the diesel drone as I would slowly mow the sod at 1.8 mph (2.9 kph).

While I would often  recite the dialogue of Sgt. Bilko in my head to pass the time, I did manage to develop a deep fascination for the machinery used. Two months ago, Eurobricks decided to hold a contest to create three Technic creations that would work together. After some thought about the rules, the parts I had, I thought I could create an entry, and offer something a little unique.

The full gallery may be found here, and instructions here.

The Sod Farm

The contest required three models that would work together in a particular setting. Each must have a part count that did not exceed 500 parts, and each had to be unique. While trailers were acceptable, I somehow felt offering an entry with a trailer did not allow for enough creativity. As my thoughts wondered on a bike ride, I decided I would create a small truck, a little forklift, and a sod harvester. My design would harken back to those days on the sod farm. Rather than the Freightliner Columbia and Piggyback Forklift we used, I designed a MAN TGS and a JCB 150T to have little more international flair, and frankly, to have a little more color. We used a Brouwer SH 1576 to harvest the sod, so I thought I should keep that machine.

The MAN TGS went through a number of revisions. Each was done to reach the part limit. The final MOC ended with a three function knuckleboom crane and a simple bed. In addition to the steering and the working doors, the crane is fully functional. The rotation is handled by a wheel on the right of the truck, and the main lift is handled by a wheel in the rear of the truck. The second stage lift and boom extension is handled by a small wheel at the top of the crane.

The JCB 150T was a simple and straightforward build. Recreating a MOC with a single arm lift created some additional challenges. A single mini linear actuator was used to lift the boom, and a worm gear system was used to adjust the tilt of the forks. The offset cabin caused some frustration, but I eventually figured it out.

Finally, the Brouwer SH 1576 was the purpose of this project. After a little research, I determined the scale of the project. I then started building. I usually add too many features to a MOC, and this harvester was no exception. The rear wheels spun a single differential, which ran straight to the front to power a two cylinder motor. Off the driveline was a PTO between the motor and the differential which would run the harvesting arm. The harvesting arm has a track system to drive the pieces of sod up to the back of the harvester to load the sod on the pallets. A simple cutting head was added to the front which had a cutter to cut the sod off the ground, and a timed cutter on the top to make sure each piece of sod was the correct size. After some work I added a simple steering system controlled by the smoke stack. Finally, I added a forklift system to hold and drop the pallets of sod off the back, and a small standing pad for the pallet worker.

This was the first LEGO contest I have entered since 1994. I hope you enjoy my entry. Thanks to Eurobricks.com for the contest. I appreciate your vote at eurobricks.com. In addition, instructions for the models can be found here.

For those counting (me), the number of parts needed for each MOC are: MAN TGS- 557, JCB 150T- 287 (inc 58 tracks), Brouwer 1576- 484 (inc 43 tracks)

T-72 Instructions


It’s going to be a busy week in thirdwiggville. Before everything goes live, I thought it would be fun to let everyone know I have completed instructions for my T-72. I don’t know what took me so long. If you want to make a copy for yourself, you can for $5.   Buy Now Button

T-72

Otherwise, stay tuned.

Bedford MWD


I have said it before, but my favorite things to build are Trial Trucks.  The combination of the driveline construction, forces on the truck, diversity of body style, and various propulsion systems offered by LEGO combine for a great building experience.  Because of this, I usually am building a Trial Truck, or have one built at all times.  But for some reason, this truck seemed to sit for a long time unfinished.  I struggle with deciding if a truck will be a model of something, or something fictional.  This decision is often made too late in the construction process.  After toying with a Daimler Scout body, I decided I needed to finish this project and the Bedford MWD body was chosen.

The full gallery may be seen here.

01

After some some experience with various designs, I decided to construct a truck around a simple locking differential idea I had recently designed.  Because I would need an extra IR Receiver for the locking function, I decided a simple two speed gearbox (1:6 and 1:10) could use the other IR channel.  I placed all the controls in the middle of the chassis.  The driveline and the steering axle would run through the middle.  On the left side was the Battery Box and the motor for the gear change, and on the right side was the XL drive motor, the gear box, and the motor for the locking differential mechanism.  The steering motor would hang out the back of the chassis over the rear pendular suspension unit.  Both axle were connected by my favorite linked suspension system.

zbedford

Each axle took a little bit of work.  I selected a simple design for the locking differential.  Basically, it is a 24 tooth differential placed directly next to a 24 tooth gear.  A pair of sliding 12 tooth double bevel gears slide back and forth one stud to connect only with the differential, or with both the differential and the neighboring gear locking out the differential.  After toying with some old flex cable, and some pneumatics, I figured I was making it too complicated.  I added a small pivot with a Small Technic Steering Arm, and connected it to a 9L link.  This way both axles could be connected, the suspension and lock could keep operating unaffected by each other, and it all could be controlled by a mini Linear Actuator.

Initial tests were positive, so I then decided to figure out a body for the design.  I worked for too long on a Daimler Scout body.  I had the structure made, but the paneling was just not happening.  After sitting on the project for 5 months, I decided it was time to make something new.  The Bedford design worked well, and helped my get excited again in the project.

Now, once I got outside to drive the truck a glaring problem occurred.  The bevel connection in each axle that transmits the longitudinal drive forces to transversal drive forces kept slipping.  You can hear it in the video.  Because of this, it did not matter if it had locking differentials, or if it had a two speed gearbox, or if it had working suspension.  Anything could stop it.  I though about reworking the axles, but then, I have been working on this for 11 months, it was time to be done.  I’ll use the locking mechanism again.  That worked great.

Thanks for reading.

CAT 573C Feller


LEGO takes up space.  We all know this, and yet we still seem to try to cram as many working functions into a MOC as we can.  Sometimes it works out well.  Sometimes we have to scrap a few functions.  Other times, the functions are so dense you really cannot believe you got it to work.  This is the story of my wheeled feller.

The full Gallery may be found here. Instructions may be purchased for $5 USD.  Buy Now Button

CAT 573c Feller

I have been thinking about making a feller for about two years now.  It is a project I have never seen done before, with the exception of two tracked fellers (OK, and my other one).  Over this time, I have been planning, acquiring parts, and making plans, and over the last four months I have been building.  Nothing I have made has been so complicated or so dense.  There is no space left.

As I always do, I stared with the dimensions of the vehicle.  The schematics for the CAT 573C were easily available, so I stared with the chassis.  I knew space would be an issues, so the driveline had to be simple and compact.  The Power Functions XL motor would be geared down 3:1 and mounted just behind the rear axle.  A drive shaft would move through the steering pivot to the front axle.  The rear axle would have simple pendular suspension.  The steering would be completed by two linear actuators placed on either side of the pivot with a PF M motor on top.  Simple enough.

From here, things got complicated quickly.  The MOC would have four remaining functions.  The feller saw, the grapple arms, the feller tilt, and the feller lift.  Since trees are rather heavy, fellers are designed with as many of the system mechanics behind the rear axle.  As such, all of the functions I would add would need to be in the rear, as the front would not have any space.  I quickly learned this would not work.

Eventually, I found what would fit.  The IR Receivers would make up the rear bumper, and the battery box would be directly over them, off to the left.  Two PF Ms would be on the right and would drive two mini Linear Actuators.  These would move two pneumatic valves. These pneumatics would move the lift function and the grapple arms function.  An air tank would supply the pressure from a pneumatic pump placed on the driveline.  Another PF M would be placed over the front axle to give the feller head the tilt functions (it should be noted, 7 designs, and five weeks were spent on this feature alone).  The final PF M was in the feller head, and would drive the feller saw.

After packing, repacking, and packing again, all the features we set.  Then all the cabling and hosing were placed.  No easy task, as I was running out of space, and 25 or so hoses, and 10 cables take up a lot of room.  I added some comfort features to the cable, including a (half) chair and a roll cage.  And so Mr. Technic could get in, a little step.  Then a lot of paneling for the rear, including some access doors on the rear, and the model was done.  Here it is in action.

As you can see in the video, the MOC worked well, but some of the functions did not work as clean as I would have liked.  The drive and steering were fine, with an easy drivability.  There was a lot of mass in the back, so sometimes the torque from the drive motor would cause the back to tip.  The saw worked well enough, and for the most part so did the tilt, but the pneumatic lift struggled.  It was a little overloaded because the saw unit was too heavy.  The grapple arm worked well, but for both pneumatic rams were hard to control.  As always with LEGO pneumatics, they too often are off or on.

Until the next MOC, happy building.

Cargomaster Crane


We all have our favorite LEGO sets.  Then we also have sets that we think were pretty cool.  Set 6352 from 1991, the Cargomaster Crane was one of these sets for me.  It was a set simple set, it was perfect for a growing child.  Small, playable, yellow, and it could lift things.

Recently, I decided I wanted to make a little Technic crane.  I researched a number of designs, none of which really struck me as something I wanted to pursue.  I kept coming back to 6352. Why not make a crane like that?  Perfect.  I wanted it to be a nice homage to this classic set.  I was going to make is just like 6352.  Double the size, same shape, complete with container and tractor, and of course a driver.  The full gallery may be found here, and instructions can be found here.

6352 Technic

I stared with a simple frame built for the outriggers at both ends.  I knew I was not going to be able to add a more complex outrigger system at this scale that would reflect the original crane, so I made manual outrigigers just like the original.  I added two steering axles so the crane could drive to and from the site, then I placed a turntable right on top of the chassis.

As I started the superstructure, it become very clear very early, that having an offset crane boom like the original model, was not going to be a good idea.  My model was going to look off, and the balance of the offset boom was going to make stability, both for the superstructure, and the crane as a whole, a problem.  I knew the size of the boom, and decided to place it in the center of the crane.  I then placed the cabin, and set it up for the little technic figure.

The boom was relatively simple; two stage, and 23 studs long.  The outside was simple and straightforward, meant to be sturdy and strong.  The pivot was at the rear on top of the winch, and the elevation ram was connected forward under the front of the boom.  There was a simple worm gear under the front that would drive a set of gear racks, to drive the inner boom.  The inner boom would hold the final boom which was only a series of plates.  Each stage was connect by a two cables to make sure all the booms moved together in unison.  It worked well, even under load, as you can see in the video.

The model worked well, and had perfect balance.  The simple boom extension worked well, as did the winch.  The outriggers gave appropriate stability through all positions.  And it looked very similar to the original model, even with the little tractor.

Talon Track


Every once and a while I see something so creative I have to build something like it.  I happened with my HH-65.  It happened with my Zil 132.  And to some extent it happened with my Spitfire.  But when I saw the Urban Buggy from Chrismo, I though I have to make something like it.  It was such a fresh and creative design.  It had such great lines, a perfect stance, and a unique driveline setup.  But while imitation and outright plagiarism are the most sincere forms of flattery, I thought something of my own design would be a better contribution to the LEGO community.  I present my Talon Track Car.

You may find the full gallery here, and the instructions here.

I designed this car to be fast and stable, just like a track car.  I started with a drivetrain that would be reliable and effective.  A PF XL for drive, and a PF M for the steering.  I placed the PF M in the front mounted directly on the suspension unit, with a return to center spring in the middle of the mount.  The system is set up differently than in my Rumble Bee, but uses the same return part.  Each suspension arm would have a single shock absorber.  Directly behind the steering motor was the XL for the drive.  It was geared up with a 20z/12z ratio, with the driveshaft connecting directly to the 20z gear that turned the differential.  The rear suspension used an independent setup that was developed a long time ago for my Red Car Bigger (great name, huh).  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  The suspension was planted.  I placed the rechargeable battery box and the IR receiver behind the rear axle.

The car was quick, and didn’t have any problems, but faster would have been cool.  The return to center system worked well, especially for the quickness of the car, and the quickness of the steering.  It was easy to control.  The car was robust, and crashed well.  So go ahead and build your own.  Enjoy.

Spitfire Mk IIa


I am not a very ambitious person.  Sure I made it through college and graduate school, and have managed to work well in job for a while now, but for me to do something challenging, takes a lot of convincing.  It doesn’t happen often.  This project was a little bigger than it should have been, and I got in over my head.  This is not the first time this has happened (1, 2).  The project was interesting enough for me to keep moving forward, even after six months.  I present my 1:12 scale Spitfire Mk IIa.  I hope you enjoy the work.

View the full gallery here, and the work in progress gallery here.  Flickr set is here.

Spitfire 3/4

First, the whole reason I did this project was because of the excellent Baby Twin Otter of Cpt. Postma completed two years ago.  If you have not yet seen this creation, take a look at the above link.  When I first saw this model, I went home a made his variable pitch propeller   This was the first step to my Spitfire, though at the time I did not know it.

I chose to do the Mk IIa version Spitfire for a couple of reasons.  First, the model had to have a three blade prop, because I wanted to use Cpt. Postma’s design.  Spitfires stopped using a three blade prop somewhere in the middle of the MkV series.  Second, I wanted to model a eight gun variant, rather than the cannon variant because I think it has a cleaner look, and I love the red and yellow leading edges on the eight gun variants.  Finally, while it would have been great to do a early model Spitfire with the dark tan camouflage  adding both the dark green and dark tan would have been too expensive, and even more ambitious.  I found a number of pictures of a certain MkIIa with all the features I wanted.  I chose a Spitfire flown by Lt. Tomas Vybiral, who was a Czech pilot with the French Air Force.  The plane was Spitfire P8081 when he flew for the British in Squadron No. 312.  It had simple markings for me to recreate, a camouflage pattern I would be able to do (read afford), and I found some good documents to help my modeling.

Next came the internal planning.  The Spitfire would have working ailerons  flaps, rudder, and elevators (with correlating pilot controls), prop, prop pitch, V-12 engine, and retracting landing gear, all within the 1:12 scale.  Once I had the dimensions calculated, I started placing things in a simple “placeholder” model on my floor.  I constructed the engine, the propeller spinner, pedal/joystick assembly and placed them in the placeholder.  Then I made the placeholder 3D.

It took two months to get the rest of the internals all set.  The required moving various parts of the 3D placeholder, and adding additional parts.  The joystick is connected through various liftarms to the rear elevator, and by axles to the ailerons   The pedals connected though a shaft to the rear rudder.  You can see the gears on the rudder.  The flaps have a simple lever in bottom left side of the cockpit.

The rest of the functions are controlled via Power Functions.  The small 8878 battery box is placed behind the cockpit, as is the IR receiver.  A PF M is housed under the V-12 and drives four mini linear actuators for the landing gear.  It is strong and simple, and works well.  It does not have the correct Spitfire landing gear geometry, but if someone can figure out a way to do it at this scale…well, I can’t figure it out.  A second PF M is used to power the propeller   It is placed directly behind the V-12.  Finally, a third PF M is placed behind the V-12, and works through a system of gears to power two mini linear actuators to move the pitch of the prop.  It’s messy inside, but it has everything I wanted.

After the internals, I had no idea how hard the rest of the Spitfire would be.  LEGO, you need to make more parts in Dark Green.  I know how selfish that sounds, but it would have been more helpful.  Thank to some newer sets, like the 10226 Sopwith Camel, and the  21016 Sungnyemun, it made it much more possible, but still limited me in many places.  I spent the next four months acquiring parts, and placing small plates over the rest of the plane.  With some help on the roundels from Dieterr89, it eventually came together.   The bodywork took a long time.  Too long.  And the lack of some parts in Dark Green forced me to make some concessions.  The canopy frame should be all Dark Green, but it was not going to happen with what is available.  The camouflage is not as clean as I would have liked, and there are some abrupt steps where some plate limitations made the transition for one part to another not smooth enough, such as on the rear fuselage.  Also, try as I might, I could not get the leading edge of the wing to be perfect.  The dihedral did not help either, nor did the yellow leading edge.  Also, the gaps between the control surfaces and the fixed part of the wing and stabilizer was more than I would have liked.  But this has happened before.

I am please with how it turned out, but there are some parts that I wish would be better.  I never seem to remember this when I start a project in this scale, but free moving functions just do not operate well as you hope when you keep adding parts.  The control surfaces work, but they could be smoother and lighter.  The powered functions worked flawlessly. I was very please with the way the markings turned out.  They are not as flush with the plane as painting would cause you to believe, but they make the Spitfire clearly identifiable.

My father would always tell me “never say never,” but it may be a long time before I do another large plane.  But I guess I said that back in 2008.

I hope you enjoy.  Thanks for reading.

3 Speed Sequential Transmission with Changeover


A couple of years ago, I was building a MAN LE with the sole intention of creating a new gearbox.  The tried and true changeover with clutch gears is a great system, and works well in a lot of situations, but I had been disappointed with how it functioned in trucks.  Particularly with the neutral.  I could not have my trucks roll backward.  There had to be a better system.  There were four things I wanted to address:

First, each gear-change had to move seamlessly from one gear to the next.  No neutral.

Second, it had to be easily controllable with power functions.

Third, it had to be sequential.  No first to third gear shifts.

Fourth, it had to work.  Every time.  With no slipping.

The first goal was easy to address.  I came up with a simple sequential gear box, that would move between three ratios all spaced one stud apart.  In order to get to gear three, you had to go through gear two.  To make sure the gears would slip into sync every time, I chose the double bevel gears as the change over gears.  You can see in the video how they slide into gears pretty easily.

The second goal was the most difficult.  I have stuggeled with finding a solution that would allow a motor to move from one great to the next without “overshifting.”  To many designs require you to stop the motor so the gears are perfectly meshed.  After looking at a design from ATRX, I had an idea.  I needed to use the pulley wheels to move the gearbox in three steps.  So, how could I get the pulley wheels to stop at three spots around a half a rotation.  The pulley wheels would be connected via a 24z gear to a differential.  Each side would have M motor, with stops for half a rotation.  One motor would move a half a rotation, transmit the rotation through the differential which would turn it into a quarter rotation, moving the pulley wheels a quarter rotation as well.  One motor would shift from gear 1 to gear 2, then the other motor would shift from gear 2 to gear 3.  It was sequential, and it would only allow you to shift to the adjacent gear.

Finally, it worked.  Every time.  No missed shifts.  I have made a couple of modifications to the gearing and structure to make it a little more compact and with better ratios, but if your looking for a new gear box to use for your next MOC, this might be the ticket.

See the full gallery here.

Used in my Freightliner M2, MAN LE, and ZIL 132.

Mini Skidder


My Mini Feller started after I made this MOC.  I wanted to do a small little project, and I wanted to do something fun and simple, and I thought the Mini Feller would be a great partner to the Mini Skidder.  The skidder is a simple design, that uses simple construction techniques, unlike the Feller.  Also, you can build your own.  Feel free to check out the instructions here.

I started with the rear grabber.  I added a simple worm gear to 8z connection that moved one of the arms, and connected it to the other arm with a 16z to 16z connection.  The axle that connected to the worm gear would exit out of the top of the grabber and allow for movement with your hand.  I attached it to an arm that would attach to the MOC.  The arm would be connected by two arms on each side of different lengths, so the grabber would move in an arc, and connected to the chassis.  On the chassis I connected the rear arm to a 24z gear, and placed a worm gear above it.

I connected the rear part of the skidder to the front part with the new small turntable.  This allowed for simple gear connection with a 20z gear to the Hand-Of-God steering.  This worked well, and kept the model simple.  Just in front of the steering mechanism, I added another 24z gear for the plow.  Taking a cue from set 8069, I set the worm gear vertically, and connected it to the exhaust stack; simple and pretty.  I then filled in the space.  A simple body was added, as was the plow, and wheels, though not in the cleanest of ways.

It was fun little design with simple solutions for the functions.  It’s not as complicated or compromised as my Feller, but still a playable MOC.  Also, its easier to build should you feel the need.

The full gallery may be found here.

Thanks for reading.

Mini Feller


Building with Lego is a continuous formation of compromise.  While my ideal of what my Mini Feller would include was significant, what I could actually accomplish was a compromise of space, function, realism, and frankly the amount of frustration I was willing to tolerate.  So while the final result is a watered down version of what I would have liked, it was the result of me compromising amidst the situation.

Instructions can be found here.

I wanted to make a small model go with my Mini Skidder.  The MOC had to be the same scale, have a decent level of fuctions, and work with my Skidder.  A feller seemed like a good option.  As I looked at what function this MOC would have, I ambitiously stated it must have a working blade, working steering, working grapper, and a working tilt function.  All these functions would be controllable on the back or on top of the cab.

The steering was simple enough.  I added a small turntable at the bottom of the chassis to give the frame some support.  The HOG steering axle would come out at the top of the cab, and join the front and the rear with a small link arm.  Simple enough.  Likewise, I added a differential in the rear part of the chassis, geared up the rotation, sent it though a couple of universal joints to the front of the Feller, connected it through a pair of 12z bevel gears, and attached a saw blade.  Again, simple enough I had steering and a working blade.

It got complicated as I tried to add the arm features.  The lifting of the arm would be done with a 8z gear with a worm gear.  Because there was a driveshaft to the front blade, the 8z gear needed to be placed on the axis of the arm, but out of the way of the driveshaft.  The required a 1 stud offset that also needed to be directed back through the steering axis to the rear of the Feller.  I used a CV joint to allow the axle to slip as the feller would steer.

The tilt feature would require a parallel control that would allow the elevation happen while keeping the feller blade parallel to the ground.  This would require another 8z worm gear connection at the lower rear pivot point of the arms.  I was running out of space.  Of the 7 studs to work with, one was used for the universal joint, one was used for the lifting gear, one for the mounting liftarm, and one for the lifting arm.  I could not add another worm gear system, while being able to actually lift the feller blade.  Additionally, adding a link for the gathering arms would also have to work through this pivot point if I wanted to isolate the movement from the lifting and tilting feature.  I had to give.  A compromise was necessary.  I felt the stability of the feller blade had to be paramount, so I added another support arm.  I also felt gathering arms must remain as they are essential to a feller.  Sorry, but the tilt feature got the ax.  It was the correct decision, but it still tasted a little sour.

It was a great little MOC, and I had a good time creating it.  I hope you enjoy building your own.  The full gallery can be viewed here and the instructions can be viewed here.

Thanks for reading.

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