2C Sports Car


3T Sports Sedan was the inaugural car for startup Thirdwigg Motors, and the market requested another, smaller, sportier offering. The board of directors approved development of the 2C to fill this need.

Full gallery including instructions may be found here.

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I wanted to keep the scale and keep many of the best parts of the 3T in this design but change the body style and add a couple of features. Very early I decided on a two door with a mid or rear engine. I wanted to get a better transmission, so with this, I set of to work. I scaled the car to the Porsche Cayman, and started fitting in parts. I used the same suspension from the 3T in both the front and rear, which constrained how the driveline would have to be routed.

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It was at this point that the interior setup got a little complicated. When I started this car, the new Wave Selector was just release which optioned a lot of gearbox options. After seeing this great little transmission, I knew I had what I wanted: a four speed sequential transmission. After playing with some options, I place it in the middle of the car. I toyed with having the engine behind the rear axle, but settled on a mid placement. Nothing larger than a Flat 4 was ever considered. The four speed gearbox worked and a changeover axle ran to the front under the suspension where a simple rotation limiter was placed. The steering HOG and steering wheel had all of their mechanics in front of the transmission, so everything fit.

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I had intentions of having a ratcheting gear selector to work with the slick sequential  transmission. But I was running out of space. The center of the car was taken up with the transmission, suspension at each end, and placing one in the rear did not give a way to connect to the transmission. So the only place left was under the front hood. There were a number of great change over options that work well. I tried each. Some fit, some worked great, but each had the same problem: there was not good way to seamlessly integrate the “button” into the bodywork. I had visions of pushing on a grill to actuate the mechanism, but the grill was not very big, and required even more space than I was already using. In the end I decided to scrap the idea of a changeover, and use a simple rotary selector. It is not fancy, but it works well, and keeps the bodywork clean.

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Through out this process I was toying with ideas for the body work. Generally, I add parts as I like them, and when everything is placed, I rebuild the whole car with structures in place for all the final placements of critical internal and external parts. But this car had a large transmission in the middle which meant there was no frame running from the front to the rear. I added a structural frame under each door, and tried to build up the frame under the transmission as best as I could. It works, but there is still a little car flex under heavy center load.

First, the bodywork on this car works better for my eyes than the 3T, even though I tend to like sedans a little better. Second, the gearbox worked flawlessly. It was smooth, and even though I had the open the hood the change gears, the smoothness was worth it. Finally, the suspension worked great as it had proved itself in the 3T. It now adorns the desk at my work. Hopefully you enjoy it too.

Don’t worry, Thirdwigg Motors is already hard at work on the next car.

Happy Building.

8081 110


I have made it clear on a number of occations that I love LEGO set 8081. To celebrate this little unloved set, I created another MOD of this set.

Full gallery may be found here.

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A couple of years ago I did my first MOD of 8081, the 8081 4×4. It was the same bodywork of 8081, but I added 4 wheel drive, a front mounted V-8, and rear seats. It was a substantive change to the set. Likewise this MOD is so different from the first set, I am not sure if this is a MOD, or a MOC. I keep the design features of 8081, but not much from the original set still remains.

I took from front end of the 8081 4×4 which mounted the V-8, and the front bumper. Then I lengthened the chassis to accommodate a 4 stud longer wheelbase. The rear axle is the same, but the front axle needed to be modified to handle the increased weight of the truck. The center differential powers the V-8.

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Both axles are live axles that are suspended with a hard spring at each corner. Each axle has two stabilizing links on the bottom, and a Panhard rod for each. Steering is on the front axle. Combined with the Fischertechnik tires, the truck has significant suspension articulation.

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I added the bodywork last, but this did not take long as much of the design work followed themes determined by set 8081, though the pickup body style was planned from the beginning. The truck looked too big and black when I was done, so I added the roof rack/roll cage, the running boards, and a bull bar (though its little clunky).

The truck works well, and looks pretty tough. The suspension works much better than the first 8081 4×4. The new wheel hubs help the front a lot. Also the front suspension is better supported laterally than the first iteration. The Fischertechnik tires work great on this model, and while not LEGO parts, they are quickly becoming a favorite addition to my builds.

Throughout the whole project I kept asking myself, when is a build a MOD, and when is it a MOC. This project felt a lot like the later, but still connects to 8081.

Happy Building.

Porsche 911RS


There is a part of me that finds LEGO 42098 a little gimmicky: buy this truck that fits 5 cars but comes with 1 so you you build or buy more to fill the truck. But, these wheel arches are so awesome that I am going to do just that.

Full gallery including instructions may found here.

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After a rough first draft it was clear I was going to be able to steering and a Flat 6 into the car at a scale that would work for 42098, so most of the early work was on figuring out the shape of the car. I knew the car was going to be orange, and I wanted the little ducktail spoiler, so I modeled the car after the 964 version of the Porsche 911. The rear differential is placed two studs in front of the rear axle to allow for more room for the rear engine. I kept the normal LEGO engine parts rather than an axle engine like in 42098. The steering is simple in all in front of the driveline.

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The body work continued to take the most time. I used a great 911 MOC from Paave for many ideas including the seats and the front hood. Eventually, it all came together, after a lot of work on the doors, the roof, and the rear deck. The 911 is a beautiful car and getting all the details is so tricky. I almost feel bad for how critical I was of LEGO 42056. Almost…

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One thing you will notice is my use of both the 43mm and the 49mm tires for the rear of the car. I go back and forth on which ones I like best. Also, there was no way is was going to use the skinny 43mm tires for the front. They look silly.

This little car worked great, and functioned as intended. The shaping was off a little particularly with the rear quarter panels, the roofline, and the front headlights. But the shape of the 911 is so iconic that get all the details that have been refine over 50ish years is tricky. Either way if fits on the back of 42098.

Happy building.

LEGO 42098 Car MOD


I do not buy many sets these days, mostly due to the fact that the space required for a gazillion new parts every year is not priority I am willing to resource. But some sets are a fun opportunities to MOD.

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The little car from 42098 caught my eye. While the truck was neat, it was not what I was interest in, so after a query of my own part collection, and a quick order from LEGO, I got the parts I needed. Upon completion, there were a couple parts of the car that bothered me, and a couple of parts I thought I could improve. So I started taking apart the car to see what I could do.

First, I made a mock-up of the side of the car to see if opening doors could work without lengthening the car. Turns out by moving the curved panel forward one stud, it works easily.

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Next, I was off to the rear axle. It was easy enough to design a simple live axle and connect it to the V-8. What become tricky was mounting the shocks. 42098 has low rear deck, and I do not like how the rear wheels are pushed down away from the wheel wells; it make the car look tilted forward. So finding an appropriate ride height to lower the rear while mounting the shocks in the limited space available took the rest of the time. Once this was in, I added the bodywork back on with a couple of changes to the 1950s rear and the side sills and the car was done.

The car worked well enough, though any live axle setup is a little silly when there is not suspension on the front. The engine still worked smoothly. The steering HOG on the back is still not optimal, but adding one on the roof would take away from the fantastic roof-line. Another round of edits may be needed to add back in the nominal opening hood. It is a pretty basic feature in the original car, but since opening doors were added in this MOD, the opening hood is missed. We’ll see what I end up MODing next time.

Happy building.

3T Sports Sedan


The sport sedan is my favorite kind of car. You can have your McLaren, if I can have four doors and a long hood. One with the proportions of a C-class, the suspension of the ATS, the engine of a Mazda 6, the suede interior of the M3, and the value of the G70. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be set. But there are few good sedans in LEGO, and even fewer smaller ones. Let’s change that.

Instructions may be downloaded here.

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When I set out to make a sedan, I wanted it to be smaller. What were the features I could add in a smaller LEGO car? It had to have some style, suspension, a gutsy engine, steering, and a transmission. Finally, it had to be strong. So I got to work. The scale was set on a 3 Series that was a little wide, so I set the hardpoints and set off to work.

I first set the two axles and suspension. I have built a couple cars with a floating rear differential, and this setup has worked well in the past, so it would work well for this car. Each side had a dual arm independent setup with two shock absorbers. The front suspension used a dual A-arm setup and a wheel hub with only one hard shock absorber.  Before adding the steering, the driveline would need to be finalized.

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I played around with a number of transmissions, but settled on a simple two speed design for a number of reasons. First, it was smallest as something else would take a lot of space from the interior. Second, something better would take away from the rigidity of the model. Sedans need a lot of support through the transmission tunnel as you lose a lot of rigidity near the doors. Finally, anything more complicated than 2 speeds would be tricky to manually operate (play with) in this scale. About half way through my work on this project, some fun new gears came out which improved the design.

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Next, I moved on to the bodywork. This is the part that causes me the most problems in my car builds, and this car was no exception. I set the doors first as I wanted to use two panels for each side. Then I worked on the front and rear bumpers. The rear came together quickly, but the front took a little more time. I wanted something that was sporty, and with a simple grill. I think it worked out well. Finally was the roof and the rear quarter panels. This part took a long time, as I wanted something strong and stylish. The result is strong and has the C pillar split into a D pillar. It is not perfect, but it is stronger than all the panel ideas I tried.

After the bodywork was set I did something I have never done before, I rebuilt a second whole car. This time, I knew all the final features, and where all the body work would attach so I could focus on creating a strong frame that would best support the whole design. I am happy I did this, as it cleaned up the inside, found some new solutions, and made the whole car stronger. Building this way also helped me think through how clear instructions could be made.

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In the end, I was pleased with the final design. It accomplished all the goals I wanted, and it is an accessible design for others to recreate. I love building in this scale, and cars are a lot of fun, so I will need to do another small car design again.

Until the next time, happy building.

The Toaster


When I was in high school, we had a little bus; we called it “The Toaster.” We had big buses for the large football team and various student “schlepping,” but the Toaster was the perfect size for a cross country or soccer team. But, boy was it hot; the short wheelbase and many windows fused shut allowed for virtually no air movement in travel, and it would spend all day baking in the hot Arizona desert. Hence the name.

When when the Eurobricks Technic Challenge 12-Wacky Racers was announced, I figured this subject would be a good basis for an entry.  Maybe I could visualize my fantasies of the ultimate racing bus. What would it be like to give the bus a stupid big engine, and some sport tires, and make it visually hot?

The contest required wheels or tracks and, steering. No problem. It also required a wacky feature to gain an advantage in a race. I’m not very violent, so I immediately thought of a bus that would toss out its seats to make it harder to follow in race. I built a chassis, added a V12 and I was off.

Very early, I had the idea of an attacking sill as well. I gave the bus a lowered look, and this gave a lot of internal space under the drivetrain. I created a side panel that would spring out to attach a racer to the left of the bus. You can see it work here. It was a fun addition to my plans. Then I started working on the seat toss feature. Five seats would be mounted on a 32l axle on both sides of the bus. The seats would slide out the back, driven by two chains with controls on the roof.

I added some visual excitement such as the exhaust pipes, the engine intakes, a stop sign (I know, I know, I need a sticker), and and internal roll cage. I built a simple working bus door, and closed up the body work. Visually, it could have used a little more excitement, but I liked how it turned out.

All the functions of the bus worked mostly well. Sometimes, some of the seats would get stuck as they were being thrown out the back. The attacking sill worked flawlessly each and everytime. It was a fun feature. I wish the bus has a little more creative styling. Next time.

Until then, happy building.

BMW R nine E


As a LEGO Technic builder, form generally follows function. Sure, I make most of my MOCs aesthetically pleasing, but the joy and the priority of my builds, is what they can do. But every once and while, I flip this. I set out to make a motorcycle that looked a certain way, and adding in as many features as I could.

The full gallery can be found on Flickr and Brickshelf.

I have been planning to build a motorcycle for some time, and the 2017 Rebrick contest was a good impetus to finally make good on that claim. The contest theme was to build a BMW motorcycle for the future. So while keeping a couple design themes in mind, I could let my imagination go wild. I used Ian McElroy’s excellent Kickboxer concept as a basis. My bike would be dual single sided swingarms, a boxer electric motor, steering, and front and rear suspension, with drive front and rear. Oh, and I had to use the sweet 8420 wheels.

I started with swing arms. The front would be tough as steering with the swing arm would be tricky. I settled on a design with four steering links mounted in a square. This would allow for suspension movement, and the parallelogram linkage would allow for a virtual pivot close to the wheel centerline. I quickly learned adding a drive axle was not worth my time. The liftarm was connected to the handle bars with a series of links and liftarms. Technically, it worked, but it was a little sloppy. The rear swing arm was more simple. After toying with a rear driveline idea, I found it to be clunky looking, so I reverted to a design that mirrored the front. So now both drivelines had been given up.

The body was little more straightforward. Keeping with many BMW motorcycles, I wanted to keep the two cylinder Boxer motor. Since my bike would be electric, one motor would drive the front, and one would drive the rear. The battery was mounted low, and under motors and covered by the panels. I added a seat with seat back pod, and a tank. The tank was for small luggage, since the fuel tank was no longer needed due to the battery. I wanted to keep the sides free so you could see the frame, but it looked like it was missing something. I added two panels, which to my eyes seems about right. The small blue subframe under the seat gave a little additional color.

The bike looked good to my eyes, but the functions were lacking or did not function well. The suspension was gummy, and steering was sloppy. The bike lacked a drivetrain, which is the whole reason I build in Technic. It was fun to build a Motorcycle though, so I’ll make another one soon, but I think this time, I’ll use some more common design themes and building techniques.

Until then, happy building.

Porsche 714


My Entry for the LEGO Rebrick Porsche Contest.

This year, it seems like everything about LEGO Technic is about Porsche. LEGO created a 911, and started a contest for creating your own Porsche. Porsche is all everyone is building and talking about.

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So I made one too. The Rebrick team posted a contest to design your dream Porsche, and thinking of the words of Mr. Porsche, “I couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build one myself,” I set to work. My dream Porsche lives in the spirit of the 914 and the 924: A compact, lightweight, mass-market, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It has a long hood, short overhangs, and a roofline that alludes to Porsches of today and yesterday.

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I had six weeks to design a car. In a week I had the front and rear axle, and the transmission. The transmission is a similar unit to the one I had in the ATS. Six speed manual, with a single point shift lever. It keeps the gear changes quick with short throws. The rear axle is an independent suspension design, with short upper swingarms, and long lower swingarms. This changes the camber of the wheels as they move through the suspension travel, to keep a consistent contact patch around a corner. The limited slip differential is mounted longitudinally behind the axle. The front suspension is also independent with short upper and long lower swingers. The are mounted to a steering uckle that gives both Ackerman and caster geometry.

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Because it was my dream car, I wanted a car that would be inexpensive, and teach me how to drive fast. A front engine, rear wheel drive is a less expensive car to design and build. Additionally, my car would have a Boxer 4 for lower cost, and an option for Boxer 6 for more performance. Since I can use some training to be a better fast driver, I though a roll cage would be necessary.

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The remaining five weeks were spent working on the bodywork and the interior, which always takes more time than you think. I fit the cabin in around all the mechanical bits, and was able to add a glovebox and a manually adjustable tilt steering wheel. The seats are simple, but match the car interior well. I wanted to keep a couple of features that were iconic in my mind with Porsche cars: Round headlights, a full width thin taillight, a curvaceous roof, hunches over the rear wheels, and a taller greenhouse. After many drafts, I was able to get a design I was pleased with.

The car turned out how I wanted, and I felt it was a good contribution to the contest. The front of the car did not turn out how I envisioned it in my mind. The rear did not look as clean as I wanted. Mechanically the car works great. The suspension works perfectly, and the steering works flawlessly without hitting the wheel fenders. The transmission is great, and the limited slip differential continues to do the trick.

After all this talk about Porsches, I’ll take some off and build something different.

Happy Building.

Porsche 911 Cup Car


In a moment of online immaturity, I requested a topic for the 100th LUGNuts Challenge. I was tasked to build “any year Porsche 911, or a 2015 Jaguar F-Type.” It was to be completed during February 2016. I, of course, mistook the challenge as a requirement, and worked frantically to complete the MOC in 13 days.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr or Brickshelf.

Porsche 911 (964)

Being the year of the Technic Porsche, I figured it was a good idea to try my hand at the 911. The 911 is an iconic car and it’s shaping is instantly identifiable. It seemed like a bad idea to try and recreate it. I spent the first week of the month planning the style, scale, and the features. I decided to model 935, 964, or 991 GT3. Each were rear wheel drive, and had a wide rear track with prominent rear fenders. I decided on a four speed transmission, steering, and full suspension all around. Throughout the build, I settled on a cup racing version of Model 964, in OCTAN colors of course.

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I started building on Feb. 10th, and completed the placement of all the major components. By Feb. 15 I had a final chassis. I used a “dynalive” suspension on the rear connecting to a short/long arm suspension design. The differential is not fixed to the chassis, but move in a dynamic way between each side of the suspension. I have used this set up before, and it works well. Immedialty in front of the suspension is the transmission. Rather than having the common four speed tranmissions found in 8880 and many other MOC, this transmission has all the gears in a single plane. This add a couple of gears, but it allows for a lower car, which works great at this scale. The output shaft exits the transmission on the non-driver side, and goes up and over the rear suspension where it connects to the boxer 6 at the rear of the car. Finally, I added a simple double A-arm suspension on the front.

911 WIP 2

By the 16, I had an introduction to the body work, and the steering had been finalized. I added a drivers seat and worked on the roof , and a draft of the front hood was done on the 17th. On the 18th, I submitted for feedback to the internet a couple of designs for the front hood. I finalized the hood and the rear quarterpanels on the 19th. By the 20th the exterior details were done, and I stopped posting work in progress pictures. After a week of solid building, I took a couple days off and made a 12 part Bricklink order to cover the few white parts that were needed.

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I then spent the next couple of days finalizing the interior details, including the dashboard, a full roll cage, and the engine details. The MOC was done by the 25th, which means I completed it in 15 days, faster than anything I have ever built.

911 Side

The MOC worked well. The suspension was taught, and functioned well. The steering lock was a little limited, but it worked smoothly. The transmission was a little gummy in gear one, but two through four worked great. But did it look like a Porsche? Yes, but some parts bothered my eyes a little, such as the spoiler, fenders, and hood. Basically the shape is there; you can tell what car it is, but from some angles, you cannot tell it has flared fenders. The hood does not look as curvaceous as it should, and the spoiler looks like an add on. The colors looks good, but a little more great would be great. Overall, I was pleased with what I did in 15 days, but next time I will be a little more particular.

Until next time, happy building.

 

Audi allroad


There are not many projects I start that I do not finish. I can count a couple. But, sometimes there are projects that take a long time to complete. I either loose motivation, lack parts (read budget), or find something else to do. If I were wise, I would toss the project, and move on to something better. But there is value to trudging through the slog and completing something difficult. The Spitfire is a great example of this. The Audi Allroad has been on The Queue for about 16 months, and it’s finally done.

The full gallery may be seen on Brickshelf or on Flickr.

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After completing the OCTAN F1, I thought I could use the suspension for an all-wheel drive car. I was sure I could make the front suspension with steering work at this scale.

allroad Suspension

I wanted it to have another fun feature, so using a bunch of differentials, I developed a simple three speed transmission. Three power functions motors are connected via two differentials which connect to the drive axles. Each differential acts as a subtractor between each motor. When one motor is running, the power moves through two differentials, and the car moves slowly. When two motors are running, the power moves through one differential, and it’s a little faster, and when all three motors are running the car is running the fastest as no differentials are splitting the power. I got it to work, and within a day, I had a working chassis.

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Once this was done, the MOC sat on my desk for a long time. This past fall, Thirdwiggville welcomed another citizen to the village, and this gave me lots of time late at night to get back to working on this project. I spent a couple of weeks working on the body work with the perspective of “finish this.” So the body work could use a little more polishing; doors, mirrors, better lines, maybe an interior. But I was happy to finally get this done.

The MOC worked well. The suspension functions quite well at this scale, and the transmission was simple and effective. It could be a little quicker, but I was not going to make a substantial gearing change after the MOC was built.

Two final thoughts. I need to stop building supercars because they take a lot of time and effort for me, and I find little motivation for the body work; I do not think the body work looks good, and I lack motivation to work on it. Second, I needed to test the driveline earlier in the build process. I spend too much time fiddling with gear ratios after everything was build. But this project is done, and I am happy it is.

Happy building.