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.

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Mercedes Benz Arocs Tipper


I am finding myself building a lot of trucks these days, so let’s add another one to the collection.

Full gallery may be found on Flickr and Brickshelf.

Basically the whole point of this project was to make a mid scale truck that was orange. It seems like the only official LEGO sets I buy these days are the orange ones, so I have to use the parts for something. I found this nice little Arocs tipper truck, and I thought, that’s a great little idea. I started with the chassis which came together quickly. The two rear axles are connected via each differential, and drive a small 2 cylinder fake engine under the cab. The front two axles steer at different ratios, with a HOG gear going to the top of the cabin. A linear actuator is used to tip the bed, with controls on each side.

The tipper bed came together quickly, though I wished some additional parts were available in Orange. No problem, but in this age of LEGO Technic color proliferation, it would be nice to complete a color pallet before starting on another one. Anyway, the cab was little more tricky. Like many modern trucks, the grill is a rather unique. The Arocs uses four rows of little scoops with a large center star. Adding something similar on my truck required some creativity, and compromise. I fit only three rows, and recreated the scoops with cheese slopes. The top row was mounted level, and the two lower rows were mounted on hinge plates connected on the side of the cab.

The final model was sufficient, but not groundbreaking. It looks good enough; you can tell what it is, but it does not win any modeling contests. The steering worked great, as did the drivetrain. The tipper bed worked well, but required a little muscle at the early stage of tipping due to the leverage. The tilting cab worked well, but in its resting state was a little too loose. Maybe someday I will edit the grill to make it better, but for now, it works.

Happy Building

Coast Guard Helicopter


I enjoy helicopters very much, so as it has been some time since the MD600, it was about time to make another one.

The full gallery can be found on Flickr and Brickshelf.

After my last helicopter, I wanted to build one that was more basic. This one would simple, small, colorful, and would make use of the excellent blades from set 9396. I wanted to do something like the Sea King, but with a Fenestron tail. I used a HH-52 as a basis for the scale. I built a mock-up of the scale, and started making the gearbox for the helicopter. The main rotor could be operated from a gear on the left of the aircraft. Two changeovers located next to the landing gear pods could be engaged to drive the land gear (up or down, on left) and the winch (up or down, on right). The main rotor was connected to the Fenstron fan at the rear. Both the landing gear and the winch are driven by worm gears, so they would stay locked when the changeovers were in neutral.

The gearbox is mounted in the bottom of the helicopter directly under the rotor. The landing gear mechanism moves forward with the pilot and co-pilot seats directly on top (I love those new panels). The winch gear moves aft, and drives a simple string spool. The compact driveline keeps enough space for a full cabin. There is enough room to add a battery box, and a M motor to power the rotor.

The body work came together quickly with the exception of the rear doors. I wanted to add two sliding doors with windows, and based on the color scheme of the helicopter, they had a to be white. After six drafts, I finally came up with a solution that was doable. They are not perfect, but all the other designs had windows that were comically small, or too low in on the body. Unfortunate, the design calls for six white rare parts. The rest of the bodywork turned out well. The nose, while a little clunky, looked how I wanted. The top area looked good with the three engine exhausts, and the six bladed rotor, while overdone, fit perfectly. Oh, and with clever pin placement, you can fold the rotor back towards the tail. The tail looked sharp with the ducted fan. The vertical stabilizer looked empty, but that’s a problem for all LEGO Technic aircraft with the exception of 42040 (maybe).

 

The helicopter worked great, though a clutch for the gearbox would have been nice. I was pleased with the bodywork of the helicopter, and the colors worked well; maybe grey and orange would be great on a rebuild. I would have lived to have a cleaner design for the wheel pods, but it worked well enough. It was a good swooshable design, as I found playing with the helicopter extensively. Now I need to make a scale Coast Guard ship on which the helicopter can land. Maybe next year.

Happy Building

Forest Fire Truck


Everyone once and a while I see a design I like so much, I copy it. So thanks to Horcik Designs on the fun little Fire Truck that I copied. Thanks for the inspiration.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr and Brickshelf.

When I found Horcik’s fun little Fire Truck, I was immediately enamored with the look of the truck. After deciding I was going to make it, I started looking for additional features to add to the excellent design. After finding some great ideas of a Renault version (2), I decided to get to work. The truck started with a 4×4 driveline and an I-4 engine. I used a simple live axle setup with 9l steering links to keep the sway movement in check, and both axles used a Panhard link. The steering was actuated with another 9l steering link, rather than the more common rack and pinion setup. This allowed for a lower engine mount, and something a little different in the design. The steering can be moved by both lights on the roof of the cab.

Which brings us to the cab. I wanted to use the face of Horcik’s truck, but wanted to add some changes. I added two doors to make the cab a little longer, and added four of the new panel parts that work great as seats. Then I made sure the cab could be tilted simply, and connected the two roof lights to the steering. You can see the engine and the steering when the cab is tilted.

Then off to the body. It turned out to be more simple than I had planned. I had some ideas for a hose reel, a roof mounted water gun, and various cabinets with tools inside. Every idea I tried was a little ugly, or boring. So, I closed up the design with a couple of water tanks inside the body of panels. It’s not fancy, but the design turned out clean, which is what attracted me to the project in the first place.

The design worked fine, though the front axle could be a little more robust. It was not a complicated build, but it was a fun one. Don’t worry, there will be complicated builds coming soon.

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.

Mack Magma


I consider myself a LEGO purist. I do not cut parts, paint them, and I do very little with custom stickers. But I confess, I’m bending my purist tendencies as of late with all the great custom tire options available. After getting these RC4WD tires, it was time to build another trial truck.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr.

When I build a trial truck, start with three questions: What functions will it have, how many Power Functions receivers will that require, and how many battery boxes will be needed in what placement. Using these decisions I draw up a basic sketch of Power Functions part placement, and I get to work. This truck would have steering, a 2x PF L motor drive, and a two speed transmission. As with other trucks I make, I started with the axles first. The axles were simple as they required no additional functions. Both front and rear have a knob gear in then center, then a 12t to 20t reduction, and a final 8t to 24t reduction in a portal axle setup. The front as a simple steering setup, and the steering universal joints between the first and second gear reduction.

Both axles are strung together with a frame that houses the suspension and electronics. Both axles have pendular suspension, and are linked together with liftarms front to rear. It is a system that is simple, and incredibly effective. A PF M motor is placed in the front to power the steering, and another M motor sits beside it to power the transmission. Two PF IR receivers and two rechargeable battery boxes are placed with one on each side of the chassis. Both PF L motors are mounted side by side in sliding housing in the rear of the chassis. Each motor drives a set of 12t and 16t gear. These separate axles combine to either a 20t or 24t center mounted gear. When both engines are connected 12t to 24t gear, an overall 10:1 ratio is achieved. When both engines are connected to the 16t to 20t gear, an overall 1:6.25 ratio is achieved. With the power of the L motors, this gives a good low ration, and an appropriate high ratio.

As this was a quicker build, I did not spend too much time on the bodywork. A simple flat bed was installed, and the cab is sparse. I selected a simple America style cab from this design idea to build in blue. The grille is big and square, and the rest of the cab generally follows the idea. Both the cab and the bed can be simple removed.

The truck has plenty of power, and the transmission worked without error. The steering was easily controllable. The larger tires gripped very well, as they are soft with big knobs. They were a little taller than LEGO’s tires, and combined with the softer sidewalls, made the truck a little less secure in its footing. But the truck did not roll over easily, and the soft tires made it grip the ground well. I will be using these tires again.

Until the next MOC, happy building.

Mini Mack Cabover


Sometimes I need to build something small to refresh my mind. This was the result of stepping away from other projects for a while, and spending a couple of hours on something small.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr.com.

Recently I wondered if I could build something like LEGO set 8065; a small truck with one function. I liked the little roll off dumpster idea, and I see plenty of the Mack version around here. I had a couple of hours, so I thought, let’s see what I can build. The single function of the truck is the roll off feature. A worm gear moves the arm up and down, and the little hook catches a bar on the dumpster.

The rest of the truck is build on liftarms and connectors. The truck is 8 studs wide, and the space between the two rear axles is 4.5 studs. These two measurements made the chassis more challenging than it should have been. I built a simple cab, and added a little bumper, and the truck was done.

The truck works well. It only does one thing, so it should. It was fun to do a quick little build, and make something small and simple. Until something more substantial…

Happy Building!

Unimog U90


About 3 months ago I purchased a set of four Fischertechnik tires from ebricks.ru. After seeing a review of them by RM8, I reached out to him, and he mailed me a set. After a little time, I finally have something to show with them.

Unimog U90

After playing with a number of ideas, I decided to do another Unimog. It’s easy to motivate myself to build a vehicle I love. This time, I wanted to do the unloved U90 (418) version. It was not a terribly successful version, as many find the hood…not one of the best. But few people have built this version, so I was up for it. I put to to a vote on Eurobricks, and the decision was to build it in green. Off I went.

The scale required a 27 stud wheelbase and a 19 stud width. I built the front and rear axles and tied them together. Through a couple of edits, I finally added the suspension and figured out how to get portal axles into the truck. The Power Functions XL motor was mounted just over and in front of the rear axle driving power to all four wheels. The Servo motor was placed directly ahead of the XL for the front axle steering. I added a four cylinder fake engine over the front axle. The rechargeable battery box was placed over the rear axle.

Unimog U90 Driveline

The suspension is a live axle setup, with four hard shock absorbers at each corner. Each wheel has about 2 studs of travel. Not much for a Unimog, but enough for a 418. At this point I started a draft of the cab, and a draft of the bed. At this point the truck had an identity crisis. Move forward with green or find another option.

Unimog U90 Bed Tilt

Building LEGO Technic with green is not the easiest. The color lacks 1×5 and 1×11 beams. Both of the these parts would be needed for the bed and the cab. I could make some things work for the 1×11 in the hood, but there was no other option (read, inexpensive option) for the 1x5s needed for the bed. I toyed with other colors for the bodywork; orange, white, blue, yellow. None of them had the right pop I was looking for. Other than the orange, but, as other have said, orange has been done too many times. Then it dawned on me, “why not use plates?” I had my solution. With one bricklink order, I was done.

The truck drives well, and is easily controllable. The front portal axle can use a little strengthening, so serious trial abilities are lacking with this truck. Both the bed and the cab can be easily removed. I ran out of space for a ram to elevate the bed, but it can tilt three ways. I was pleased with how the truck turned out. It looks great. The driveline coule use some improvements, so I will make those improvements on the next truck.