Kalmar DCG180-9

After doing a lot of non powered builds, it was time for me to do something motorized. I very much enjoyed doing a forklift a couple of years ago, so it was time for another one.

See the full gallery on Flickr and Brickshelf.

Kalmar 180

The JCB930 that I did a couple of years ago was non-motorized and had some great features. I wanted to build something with all the same features, and since I would need more room for all the electronics, I decided early to model the forklift after the Kalmar mid-sized 180 model. The model would have drive, steering, a two stage lift, and fork tilt. I did not realize how hard this would be. I wanted to keep the  boom clear for visibility, and the forks not more than two studs in front of the wheels to keep integrity of scale.

Kalmar 180 Front

I set the scale and I went to work. After setting the chassis measurements, I went to work on the fork and boom. I knew I wanted to have a two stage boom, and I wanted to keep as much of the boom open as I could. The forks connect through the middle of both the first and second stage booms, and pinch both together. The middle boom is has a gear rack on both sides to lift the forks. This boom has two gears at the top, to route the chain over the top to move the forks. The outer boom is connected to the chassis at the bottom, and two mLA connect to it operate the tilt. After some working, I was able to get the boom to be thin, and just how I wanted.

Kalmar 180 Up

I decided early that I want to keep the motors out of the boom. So I had to route the lifting function out to the forklift body through the bottom pivot. This required routing the lifting axle under the drive differential. The lifting axle then move rearward, and connected up to a PF L motor. On top of the lifting axle was the drive axle. The PF XL motors was mounted transversally on the right side, and drove and axle forward to connect directly to the differential. To give me some additional space at the front, a portal axle was mounted on its side to move the differential rearward. A PF Servo was mounted in the rear, over the steering axle, and drove the steering function. The steering uses some 2×4 liftarms mounted at an angle to allow for a better steering angle. Finally, a PF M was mounted in front of the Servo, under the cabin to drive the tilt function. None of the mechanics were difficult, but the packaging required a number of drafts.

Kalmar 180 Open

The final hurdle was the body work. I spend a lot of time early in my MOCs working on packaging placement, so I do not have many body work problems later in the build. Still, some simple SNOT work was needed on the side sills to fit about the battery box, and the XL motor. Oh, and the wires. The cab was pretty straightforward, but still took a little bit of time. Finally, I had some trouble with the rear engine cover and counterweight. In the end it was a simple design that I settled on, but I tried many designs. Again, this took a lot of time.

It took a long time, but I am pleased with the final product. The functions worked smoothly and consistently. The control that was afforded by the fork functions was great. It could lift three AA battery boxes at a time. The steering was quick, and had a great lock which gave great maneuverability. The XL motor provided adequate power, and moved the forklift well. Finally, the bodywork represented the original Kalmar well. I hope you enjoyed as well.

Until next time, Happy Building.

K-Tec 1233 Scraper

I find myself on diecastmodels.co frequently as it inspires many of my future builds. Most of the time the site gives me reference pictures, and sometimes it shows me something I have never seen before. This is the result of one of those late night browsing sessions.

See the full gallery at Brickshelf and on Flickr. Instructions may be found here.

K-TEC 1233

I wanted to make a scraper, and once I was browsing this site, I came across the K-Tec. It was a different set-up that I thought looked fun. I was hooked. Early I decided the MOC would be perfect for the newer 49.5×20 tire, so the tire set my scale.

I started with the suspension for the tractor first. I did not have too much room to work with on the rear, so I set two differentials together, and connected them via two 20T gears. The rear one connects above to a 12T gear, which transmits rotation to the fake motor in the front. The two axle assembly pivots at this gear connection and connects to the rear wheels, so no u-joint is needed. The middle axle connects to the rear assembly through the differential connecting axle. This simple set-up allows for all four wheels to move freely, and independently.

K-TEC 1233 ADT Suspension

I then added the front cab. It is not too complex with a differential fixed for the front axle, and a two-cylinder fake motor above it. A HOG gear is above the cabin which pulls a liftarm for the steering. A turntable is used to provide articulation between the cab and the rear chassis. Then a simple body was made, and off to the scraper.

K-TEC 1233 Tractor

I then worked on the scraper part; kind-of. I knew when I started this project I would need a bunch of 1×6 arch bricks in yellow for the front gate. There are not many of them, so I started ordering them over the course of three months. As each would  arrive, I worked on the scraper. I first set the dimensions and worked on the lifting mechanism. It was a little tricky to find the correct geometry while not taking too much room, and keeping the upper pivot point small while using to mLAs for the movement. I found a good solution, but a little more stiffness in the assembly would have been great. I added an extraction plate at the rear driven with a worm gear assembly resting between the rear wheels. Another stud of travel would be great, but it was not worth adding another four stud gear rack to make that happen. Finally, all the parts arrived for the front gate, so I installed it. Because the walls of the scraper are only one stud thin, I did not want to mess with the thickness of the sides to much by adding a mechanism for the gate movement. Each assembly I tried with a mLA or a worm gear set-up looked clunky or bulky. I ended up with a friction pin with a gear to move it. It is not very fancy, but it works well. At this scale, it is all that needed.

K-TEC 1233 Gate

All in all, the MOC turned out OK. It would have been better to have a stiffer hitch arm, and I would have liked a different solution for the entry gate. I was pleased with the size, and I enjoyed packing a number of features into the small (but long) MOC. Finally, for some reason the MOC does not please my eyes as much as those first pictures I saw on diecastmodels.co. Maybe it just needs to be a little bigger.

Until the next one, 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.

911 WIP 2

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.


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.



I participate in only some of the contests that are available in the online LEGO community. I generally participate if it meets the following criteria: Is the challenge within my competencies? Does the contest align with other responsibilities/projects to which I have already committed? Can I be competitive? Frankly, it is the last question that often stops me. The preceding two questions determine my limitations, and considering how good many other builders are it is not often I participate. With this in mind, I decided to enter the Eurobricks Technic Challenge 9 (nine already!?).

Edit 2016.02.16 : The contest has completed, and this Model came in second! See the results page here, and all the votes here. Thanks to Eurobricks for the contest.

A full gallery with Instructions can be found here.



What interested me in this contest was the constraints, and to a lesser extent the topic. the constraints stipulated that both MOCs had to fit within 10,000 cubic studs. I got out my calulators, and started playing with numbers. I was hooked. Additionally, building one MOC is hard, and building two from the same parts seemed very hard. It was something I had never done, and only a few builders can develop a good B or C model. The planning stage would be critical. Both models would have to be planned together right from the beginning. I toyed with a Combine/Tractor, and a Pipelayer/Crane, and even a Airplane/Boat. With each of these designs, I realized I would be using too much space with a long appendage, such as the Combine’s implement, or the Pipelayer’s arm. The cubic studs required something more…cube shaped. I eventually settled on a Snowblower and a Tractor. Both were a little more square and had similar components (wheels, engines, colors, chain links). I knew I would need to build both together, and multiple renditions would be needed. I was ready to start building.

Snowblower Rear

Pretty early, I settled on 17x17x34 studs for the Snowblower. I challenged myself to include steering, a working blower, and a working salt spreader. I build the basics of the blower implement right away, complete with rotation coming from the truck drive. On the rear, I added an implement lift using a worm gear setup, and a quick link to the truck . Next, I worked on the chassis of the truck. I added portal axles, because I could not get the 5L wheel axles to say connected to the differential. This also helped to clear the front PTO from the steering function, which was linked directly to a HOG gear on top of the cabin. The salt spreader needed a take-off gear for the conveyor belt, and the discharge plate would be driven separately from the rear differential. The mechanics were set. I then worked on the cab. I made sure the cab, the blower, and the spreader could be easily removed by removing up to four pins for each. It’s a fun modular function that allow for other attachments.

Snowblower Modules

I first made a pile of all the parts used for the truck while it was still built, and made a first draft of the tractor. Based on the parts of the Snowblower, the tractor would have four wheels, a 2 cylinder engine, and something with a whole bunch of 3×3 round, red, liftarms. I first modeled it after a John Deere 7R series, but realized this would leave me with too many left over parts. I then tried modeling it after a Claas Saddletrac. This seemed to be a better fit. I then took apart the Snowblower, making instructions as I went. I then used these parts to make the official model B. Over the course of a week, I made many revisions.

Tractor Rear

Both models worked well, as none of the feature are too complicated. I was pleased with the A model as everything functioned as it should, and it looked great. The tractor was simple, and it’s simple functions worked well. I was pleased with how it all turned out. It was great working with a limited number of parts for the B model, but I would prefer to clean up the look of the tractor a little better. This was a great little contest. I loved the restriction of the cubit studs, and I loved having to make a MOC with a defined group of parts. Now let’s see how the voting shakes out.




Another year comes to a close at Thirdwigg.com. Thanks to those of you who visit, read, comment, and build. In many ways 2015 was a frustrating year for me as I was finishing or attempting to finish many projects that were stalled, or ones in which I had lost interest. In retrospect, I should have cut ties, and moved on to something I would have enjoyed building more. Because of this and other responsibilities, my completed MOCs were down a little for this year. As a recap, I completed the Cadillac ATS, Windrower, CAT 586C, OCTAN Air Racer, MD600N, 2045 Mercedes Benz Athane, Audi allroad, and T-55.

To reflect on this year, some things come to mind. First, having a dedicated building space is a plus and a minus. It’s nice to be able to have a functional space to keep things organized and separate from the other parts of my life. But it also keeps me away from other good things in my life, so I do not find myself casually building while something else is going on. Also, I can hide my mess in the room which contributes to a lack of focus on projects. This bogs me down.

Second, I am very proud of some of the builds I completed this year. The MD600N and the Cadillac ATS were projects that were outside of my comfort zone, and the time spent completing them reflected this. Though this reminded me that as building time become more limited, I should be careful to limit my difficult projects.

Third, I think I have finally found a good, consistent, and repeatable photography system for my MOCs. While my pictures are not quite 100% perfect, they are 90% perfect 100% of the time now. This is a great improvement, and allows me to take photographs more often regardless of light or weather (particularly instructions).

Finally, I need to stop making supercars. I get excited by planning for them, but I do not find building the exteriors very exciting. Because of this supercar projects drag on for far too long.

For 2016 here are my goals.

  • Work on no more 3 WIPs projects at a time. More can be planned, but not built.
  • Do what I can to get to Brickworld 2016.
  • Finish the Ferrari 333 SP.
  • Complete a garbage truck.
  • Make a small scraper.
  • Make a pickup truck.
  • Participate in another contest.
  • Maybe another tank, or a Honda 2×4. Neat.

Let everything else flow as it comes up. With thirdwiggville now filled with four wiggs, it’s about time for me to acknowledge my temporal limitations. I will update The Queue as things come up.

To 2016! Happy Building.

Top 15 of 2015


Welcome back to the second annual Thirdwiggy Awards. Since I have my own website, I get to pick my favorite MOCs of the year. So, here they are. As with every list, the challenge is not in what to include, but what to leave out. As a reminder, this is how the Board of Trustees at Thirdwigg.com evaluate MOCs throughout the year.

Was the MOC something creative? Basically, was it something different than a red supercar, or a yellow truck/machine?

Did it contribute a new build technique to the community? Did we learn how to transmit movement in a new and unique way?

Was it something I found myself returning to frequently? I build at lot, and others inspire my builds. Did I see something this year that I incorporated right away?

Was is visually appeasing? It takes work to make a Technic MOC look good. Granted, this is subjective, but I think my eyes are generally consistent with the eyes of others.

And we are off to the races.

15. MAZ 537


Let’s start the year off with a biggie. I wondered how many people saw this based on the flickr views, but I love this. The size, the function of the crane, and all the sticks on the back. Plus, I know how hard it is to build with all that dark green. Plus a good brick exterior is great. Great job.




Nico71 needs no introduction. One of the things I like about him is the simple execution of complex functions. Because of his work, I now know how a loom works. The TechLug LMP contest this year had some great designs, but what stood out for me about Nico71’s design is the simplicity of the suspension. Designing a simple and functioning pushrod suspension is no easy task, and this LMP1 shows a great solution for the problem. The opening doors and panels, and those great wheel fenders set this MOC apart. Nico71, you have made some great cars. We look forward to more.

13.  Airport Crash Tender

This MOC received a lot of praise when it was released, and for good reason. It’s large, it functions well, has some great features, and the exterior is well polished. I loved the inclusion of the water tanks, and it has just the right amount of stickers. I have been impressed with the couple of builds Lucio Switch has made in a very short amount of time. Hopefully that will not end anytime soon.

12.  LMP1 



As usual, the French Techlug group, produces some great MOCs over the course of the year. They do a great job organizing some great contests, and 2015 was no exception. On the heals of the 42039 24 Hour Car, the LMP contest was a great idea. The contest produced some great cars. This one I liked because the lines were creative due to the way the panels interacted, and the door hinge was great. It was great to learn about BJ51 from this MOC. Great job.

10.  Mercedes E-Core

Without saying too much about the Rebrick 2045 Contest that makes me sound like a sore loser, there were some winning designs that were… simple. The winning Mercedes Phoenix was beautiful, but it didn’t make me think about the future in a new way and, I think, it only had one function. A contest like this should tell me how we will do things (transportation in this context) differently. The E-Core was beautiful, and used Technic elements well, and it got me excited about trucks of the future. I loved door and stair system. I loved the modular design with the different drivetrains for different loads. And each load would require a different addition; power, steering, etc. I could see this being helpful in a future where loads are more diverse, cities are more dense, and safety is paramount.

9.  Air Ambulance

I’m a sucker for helicopters, garbage trucks, and fellers. This MOC was just what I needed to see as I was slogging through my MD 600N. The styling on the bodywork was well planned, and functioned well. I appreciated the focus on the bodywork, and appreciated the builders inclusion of only a collective. I look forward to seeing more helicopters next year.

8. DAF

There are big MOCs, and then there is this. The size of this DAF is mind-blowing. After building the Spitfire and the Typhoon, I know the challenges of building MOCs this large. You have plan a lot from the begining, and you are constantly rebuilding to make the MOC support itself. Take a look at the video. It’s so slow, but so huge. I couldn’t help thinking, how many 8110 Unimogs were harmed during this build.


Marat is one of the few builders I have actually met. He does not publish much, but the MOCs he does publish are top notch. Like the next tank, the T34-85 packed so many functions into a small and perfect body. The shaping of the turret, the turret ring, and the seamless meeting of many wedge plates are some of the details I love. All the needed functions of a Technic tank are there, and everything works great.

7.M4 Sherman Crab

I highlighted Tommy Styrvoky in last year’s list as someone to watch, and oh boy did he deliver in 2015. Tommy has tank bodywork in LEGO figured out. He recreates the shapes of many tanks well. The Sherman continued this trend, but added some complex mechanical functions. The mine flail on the front is easily identified, but the difficulty of packaging normal functions like drive and turret rotation, and complex functions like the gun elevation and the gearbox are less apparent. Also, explore how he created the suspension using internal pulley wheels; it’s stupendous. Great job Tommy, and we look forward to more builds. Maybe one in something other than Light Bluish Grey?

6.Sky Crane


I kept coming back to this build this year. It was another entry in a TechLug contest. The design is simple, colorful, and has a playful look that I long for in many MOCs that is often present in TLG sets. The functions of the lifting mechanism, rotor, and container grabber are well executed, and the integration of the motor is great. Plus it’s orange. How great is that?

5.  Predator



For the first couple of months after this car was published, I ignored it as another supercar. I was not very interested as I found the body stance a little too forward. I enjoy cars that have rearward stance (long hood/bonnet, short deck), which is why sedans works better for my eyes. Anyway. What turned me on to this car was discovered while reading a review of the MOC on Rebrickable.com. It was here I learned how the transmission worked. Getting a realistic moving 6 speed manual transmission in LEGO is hard. It took me 2 years to finalize the design in my ATS. The Predator linkage is smooth and simple, yet accomplishes the task. I am not sure why it has taken so long for someone to mount a transmission vertically in a car. The originality of this simple solution is excellent. Creative solutions to complex mechanics are great to see.

4.  Tractor 

Seriously, follow František Hajdekr on flickr. He is talented and builds fast. If you need lots of small ideas, go check out some of his solutions. I struggled with which creation of his to add (his Motorcycle gets an Honorable Mention; look at that engine), as so many builds are great. I had to pick one. I loved this little tractor. With a small working engine, steering, and pendular suspension, the MOC ticks all the right boxes for me. The playful aesthetics and a build size right up my alley, I am happy to include this on the list this year.

3. Feller Buncher


Feller Bunchers are my favorite machines. Something about the mechanical coordination of driving up to a tree, cutting it, lifting it, and then moving it to wherever it needs to go is so exciting for me. The size of this MOC is impressive, but the mechanics are what get it on the list. The tilt-able deck from the four way stand is complex, and it was fun watching it come together one Eurobricks. The cutting head is clean, and well executed. And it’s green. People, make more fellers.

2. GAZ 51


I loved these three cute little MOCs. They function well, do not have anything extra, and they have only what is necessary for this scale. More people need to build like this. I’m looking forward to the Eurobricks Technic Challenge 9 contest, to see if it produces similar MOCs. I love the little red one with the small bed. I challenge you to build something like this.

1.Hyster 32-12



Forklifts are common and simple machines, and yet, they are infrequently done well in LEGO. The fork part is hard, and to complete a working multiple stage lift mechanism takes a lot of planning and trial and error. TheItalianBrick recreation of a Hyster 32-12 is beautiful. The MOC is complex, huge, and finished to the tiniest of details (notice how those fork-width motor wires are routed on the right of the lift boom). The rear fenders are perfect. The running boards are so simple it hurts my head. The Unimog tires look great in this MOC. Congratulations, TheItalianBrick, you win the 2015 Thirdwiggy Award.


The T-72 that a made a couple of years ago is still the most popular MOC I have made; at least in terms of internet analytics. This year, I committed to making another tank, so I figured keeping in line with old Soviet armor would be rather apropos.

The main gallery may be found on Brickshelf or at Flickr.


The T-54/T-55 line of tanks have been produced in greater numbers than any other tank. The MOC represented here is a T-55A, representing types that were assembled starting in 1970. This series included an updated NBC and antiradiation system, an upgraded engine, and also added back in the 12.7mm anti-aircraft DShK on the loader’s hatch that was part of the original T-54 spec.

As with most of my MOCs, I starting scaling the tank before any building took place. I knew I wanted to use the newer, larger track links, and I knew I wanted to use the old mid-sized wheels. This set my scale, so I got to work. Starting with the chassis and the hull I worked first on the driveline and suspension. I used simple 2×4 liftarms to connect the road wheels to a suspension axle which activated a shock absorber inside the hull. Each road wheel has its own shock absorber. Fitting them all in took some creativity, but they are all mounted inside on the left and right sides of the hull. In the end, each wheel has about 3 studs of vertical travel.

T-55 Chassis

In between each suspension bank are the remaining mechanics.  After the suspension was set, I worked on the turret functions. Right from the beginning, I knew the tank would have a rotating turret and an elevating gun. It was clear having the elevation mechanics for the gun in the turret would be tight, so I decided instead to have the functions placed in the hull rather than in the turret. Using a vertically mounted mLA, connected directly to the breach of the gun, I was able to develop a method that would elevate the gun throughout the full turret rotation. The turret rotation was driven by a 8z gear connected to the turntable, and reduced by a worm gear. Both motors for the elevation and rotation are placed directly in front of the turret.

T-55 MechBehind the turret are two PF L motors mounted transversely side by side. They drive a 1:1 gearbox which connect directly to each rear drive sprocket. The IR receivers are placed above the gearbox. For those keeping score at home, the internals are (f to r) the battery box, the turret motors, the turret mechanics, the drive motors, and finally the IR receivers.

Working on the exterior of the MOC is what took the most time. The hull came together pretty quickly, with the exception of the details over each track. Most of the finishing time came with the turret exterior. Most Soviet tanks have the distinctive mushroom turret, which considering LEGO’s cube orientation presented some challenges. The turret of the T-55 also has a slight triangle orientation when viewed from the top. Like the T-72, I designed the turret with four side orientations (left, right, front, and rear), and one top orientation. Starting from the rear, I added a basic curved structure. The sides each had a couple levels of slopes, each tapering in toward the gun. The front was a little more complex. There are two “slope blocks” made of 4 curved slope bricks, and a supporting structure. One slope block is mounted on each side of the gun. The support structure is a mess of bricks with a stud on one side, headlight bricks, and plates. The top of the turret is plates on the front, and two sloped plate sections under each hatch. The two hatches are mounted to the turret support under the sloped plate sections. The AA machine gun is placed on the top, and various external mountings are placed in various ways around the turret.

T-55 Turret Detail

After making a lot of non-powered MOCs, it was nice to get back into Power Functions. I was pleased that everything worked flawlessly. The drive had adequate traction and power. The suspension worked well, and provided good floatation and travel. The turret rotation was smooth and allowed for precise directions changes. The gun elevation worked great, though I had to limit turret rotations to under four before the clutch on the mLA would snap. After a number of smaller builds, and frustratingly long builds, I was nice to finish something that worked well, provided constant entertainment throughout the build, and turned out quite nice.

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.

Audi allroad

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.

allroad Driveline

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.

2045 Mercedes-Benz Athane

I enjoy participating in LEGO contests, but I cannot join all of them. Sometimes the timing, my build interest, and the available parts all line up in a way that I can submit an entry. I was able to submit something for the LEGO Technic Mercedes-Benz Future Truck Competition hosted at Rebrick.com because everything fell into place. I hope you enjoy the submission.

The full gallery may be seen here (flickr) or here (brickshelf).

Mercedes Benz Athane

While I would love to see us progress to flying and fully autonomous vehicles, a complete technological and transportational paradigm shift needs more than 30 years; see where we were in 1985. I envision transportation in 2045 will be affected by a couple of features:

  • Cities will be more dense
  • Active transportation will occupy a greater share of road users
  • Electric charging options will be more available and more diverse
  • Vehicles will still have drivers, but the drivers will be heavily assisted with technology
  • Fossil fuels will still be used, but significantly reduced and not limited solely to petroleum
  • Cargo will not change, but storage will
Various loads to apply to the Athane via the SmartStack System.

Various loads to apply to the Athane via the SmartStack System.


With this is mind the 2045 Mercedes-Benz Athane has been designed to best fit within this context. While taking this context into account, the Athane prioritizes three values as most important: Safety, Sustainability, and Versatility.

Placement of the large methane tanks. ThermoCommLink on right rear bumper.

Placement of the large methane tanks. ThermoCommLink on right rear bumper.

Here is the Press Release-

May 22, 2045, for immediate release

The 2045 Mercedes Benz Athane prioritizes safety, sustainability, and versatility. The 2045 Athane is the most advanced and cost effective truck in our 150 years of truck building experience.

As cities become denser and multiple transportation modes are becoming more prevalent, road safety for all road users must be paramount. The Athane’s ThemoCommLink (TCL), located on the right front and right rear bumpers, allow motorized vehicles to communicate to one another. The TCL also detects the heat signature of pedestrians and cyclists. Identification and communication with other users, keeps all road users safer. The driver is seated in the center and forward in the cab to increase vision. Retention of a human driver allows for relational interaction at the job site, and helps the technology make good decisions about varying road situations. The TCL Technology assists the driver so fewer errors are made. The front bumper shaping and full length wheel guards lowers the severity of crashes with non-motorized users should they occur. The Athane uses eight steerable wheels to improve weight distribution and increase city maneuverability. While many manufactures are switching to floatation and hover type drivetrains, this setup allows for unmatched braking control, and removes disruptive air currents to those walking and cycling close to the moving truck.

The Athane’s Methane-Hybrid driveline continues Mercedes Benz’s prioritization of decreasing fossil fuel use. The Athane uses electric propulsion using energy stored in the batteries under the cab and bed. Battery charging is done by braking and by a small methane powered combustion engine behind the cab. Additionally, the Athane can be ordered with an induction charger under the cab to work with newly developed induction charging roadways being installed in many municipalities. Methane gas is clean burning, and a significant byproduct of the waste and recycling process currently in place with Octan Rubbish. A partnership with Octan Energy and Mercedes Benz has developed a standard way to reap, store, transport, and fuel the Athane’s regeneration engine using methane gas. Removable methane tanks are house behind the rear wheels, and in smaller tanks in the cab.

Today’s logistics companies are searching for ways to improve versatility and lower cost. The Athane’s SmartStack systems allows for interchangeable bodies, cargos, and applications all with one common truck. The SmartStack system makes it easy to change the load in just minutes. The connection fits the international container standard. Many body work designers are applying this standard as well. In one afternoon, you can ship a container, deliver a load of concrete, and pull a fifth-wheel with the standard hitch.

Welcome to the future. The 2045 Mercedes Benz Athane keeps all road users safer, decreases our harm on the planet, and supports all work tasks needed.


  • 8 wheel steering
  • Sleeping bed
  • Aerodynamic cabin
  • In-cab Storage System
  • ThemoCommLink, front and rear
  • SmartStack System
  • Fifth-Wheel Hitch
  • Wheel Guards
  • Large/Low Bumper
  • Methane Tanks
  • Hybrid Motor
  • Induction Charger
  • Batteries
  • Passenger Jump Seat
  • Front and Rear Lighting
  • Video Mirrors on Each Side of the Steering Wheel
  • Visibility Focused Driver Placement


One of my first memories of a helicopter was watching a Phoenix Police MD520 land in Roadrunner Park, a block away from my house. The high pitch whine of the main prop was incredible, but another sound was missing. I gathered all my seven year old courage, and asked the pilot, “where is the tail rotor.” I got a lesson in aerodynamics that day, and to this day I can still identify an MD520 by sound. It still remains my favorite helicopter, so I figured it was high time for me to honor this aircraft in LEGO.

Full gallery can be found here. Instructions may be found here.

MD600N Front

What excites me about building with LEGO Technic is creating functions that allow motor, movement, and control. Helicopters are mechanically complex, so I find myself drawn to recreating them. I learned about how they work when I built my first helicopter. With this new helicopter I started with the rotor head. I first built Effermans great swashplate design, and figured out what should stay and go. A four blade rotor head seemed not quite right, so after a little work, I managed to get a six blade head. It was with this decision, and discovering in the chosen scale there would be very little internal room, that I decided to switch to making an MD 600N.

MD600N Starboard

I then got to work setting dimensions, and getting the scale of the airframe correct. The length of the rotor blades dictated the scale, and the interior was going to be tight. The major challenge was getting the control functions connect to the cockpit. This is not a new challenge, as it seems to be the case with every large plane I do. I have a lot of experience with it, and so I came up with some solutions. The challenge with a helicopter is the collective. Every movement that is transmitted, must be able to retail its movement while also being effected by the collective. This works well with the swashplate, but at the controls is where this gets difficult. Using the basis of Effermans design allowed for a simple setup where the collective moves an axle on which the the left/right and fore/aft controls mount.

MD600N Cockpit


Moving the collective moves the other two controls in a way that is independent from joystick inputs, and allows for complete swashplace articulation at any collective pitch. The controls connect to the swashplate above the main cabin and move forward. From there all three fuctions move down to the floor of the cockpit in between the pilot/copilot seats, and the second row seats. The collective is connected here to a lever on only the pilot’s side. The left/right controls connect via an axle to the joystick, and the fore/aft controls connect via a 9L link to the joystick. Both joysticks are linked together.


MD600N Chassis

The final control adjusts the yaw of the aircraft. The MD600N uses three methods to give anti-torque to the main rotor. In forward flight the 1)  tail planes give directional stability. The tailboom also has 2) two slits that provide a “Coanda Effect” from the main rotor downwash. Finally, at the end of the boom is a 3) movable jet direct thruster (all are nicely discussed here). This thruster rotates to force more or less thrust against the torque of the main rotor, much like the more common tail rotor. In this MOC, the thurster rotates on a small turntable, and has an axle running through the boom the controls the rotation. The axle connects to the floor petals by way of a flex cable, and a liftarm running below the cockpit. Both pedals are linked together.

Once all the controls were set, I could work on the body. I wanted the helicopter to be blue as I see it in my memory (almost). This presented some parts challenges, but not as many as I expected. The two suicide doors open to the main cabin, though I did not add any to the cockpit. Many liftarms and connectors were used for the rest of the cabin. I wish current Technic parts could facilitate the rather bubbly lines of the MD600N, but I was pleased with how it looked in the end.

As with many of my large aircraft, this helicopter suffered from gummy controls. The range of motion of the controls reflect the scale for the model, but do not allow for great playability or demonstration of features. For something like a helicopter, I am interested in powering the controls surfaces and inputs controls via Power Functions much like this. Next time I guess. But the Helicopter looks great on my shelf, and it brings me back to a great time in my childhood. I hope you enjoy.

Happy building.