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.

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.

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 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.

Flat 6


Every once and a while I get picked up by another LEGO blog. I am honored when it happens as it show others value my work. However, it seems to happen when I lease expect it, and in creations I find fun, rather than significant.  Thank you none the less.

Thanks to the Lego Car Blog for posting my Dune Buggy and my Zil 132, and The Brothers Brick for Posting my Rumble Bee.  Spreading thirdwigg is deeply appreciated.

THE LEGO CAR BLOG

This monster dune buggy was unearthed by the Elves on MOCpages. K Wigboldy has included steering, all round independent suspension and, best of all, a huge six cylinder engine hanging out the back.

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Mack Marble 5T


I confess.  I took the bait, and started on the 2012 You Design It, We Build It before the final rules had been confirmed.  I should know better.  After all my schooling, you would think I have a good idea about how to follow directions.  The first direction is, wait for directions.  But, with all LEGO building, I enjoy what I am creating, and so even after the rules and directions have been given, I still want to contribute to the LEGO community.  So, my next MOC is another Trial Truck, built with the intention of being easy to play with, easy to build, and tough enough to handle child play.  All with instructions, so you can build one.

See Instruction Page

I built this model based on what I thought could be improved on set 9398.  While this new set was a great step forward for the LEGO company, I felt there where a couple of changes that should be made to make the model a better off-roader.  Because I was working with the assumption that this would be something LEGO would produce, I gave myself a couple of constraints.  First, the model had to be less than, or equal to, the cost of 9398.  Second, the model had to have improved off-roading skills.  Third, the model had to have easy playablity, so the drivetrain had to be reliable, the battery should be easy removable, and it should be easy to drive.

I started the frame before the axles.  I placed the battery box directly over the driveshaft.  An XL motor was place behind the BB and three 16z gears above the driveshaft.  One 16z gear went up to the fake motor shaft.  The driveshaft would connect front and rear to the two axles through the new ball joints from 8110.

I then built the two axles, starting with the rear.  To keep the speed of the Mack similar to the 9398, I would gear down the XL motor to about 1:4.  The driveshaft came out of the ball joints and connected to the differential.  I chose two 12z/20z gear sets as the final reduction.  This would keep the driveline a little stronger, and help keep various axles from working their way out of the gears, much like the design of the 9398.  The final gearing was 1:3.89.  It’s not a stump puller, but it could still move up most hills.

The front axle was a little more tricky.  Basically, it had a similar setup, with a PF M motor placed on in it to work the steering.  This was by design.  To keep the driveline reliable, and limit the failure of steering, I kept the steering part of the axle, rather then having components placed in the chassis, and then connected via a shaft to the front axle.  The steering is a little quick for my liking, but it works flawlessly.  To understand more about the axles, check out the instructions.

Through a little trial and error, I connected the suspension, and tweaked it so it would function in a way that was robust, and allow for great movement.  I am still not pleased with how it turned out aesthetically  but it functioned without problems, it supported the model well, and allowed for sufficient articulation, so I left it.

I then added a simple body, a basic rear bed, and added some engine components such as exhaust,  intake, and a simple turbocharger behind the fake motor.  When I was done, I noticed the cab looked a little like an old Unimog.  This seems to be a theme with me, as I love the look of the Unimog.  On the other hand, I do not like the look of too many cabover truck designs, as such, many of my trucks have the slight setback cabover design that is very similar to the Unimog.  My T55 is like this, and this is why I have built so many Unimogs.

The model worked well.  the suspension and stability was perfect.  The truck was stable, and did not roll over, all while being able to handle various terrains.  The gearing was sufficient and would be great for a playing child.  It was easy to change out the 12z/20z gears in the portal axles to a 8z/24z setup which made the truck a little more strong.

It would be a great model for many LEGO fans due to cost, reliability  stability, and playability.  So I have posted instructions for people to enjoy the model as well.  I think it would have been a great LEGO set, then the rules were released.

Next time I’ll wait for the rules.  Thanks for reading.

Full gallery is here.

CAT D5K


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe another tank.

The full gallery may be found here.

Power Functions 4×4 8081


For most LEGO enthusists, when they purchased the set 8081, they quickly modified the set with a Power Functions drivetrain.  It makes sense.  LEGO models are a little more exciting when they are motorized.  But I guess I went a little backwards.  I wanted to do the fun stuff first, and make the most complicated and compact drivetrain I could make.  I posted the instructions here, and they can also be viewed on Rebrickable.com.

But the comments kept coming from people who wanted to see my model motorized.  So I thought it might be a fun addition.  I added a two PF M motors, a 8878 Battary Box, and an IR receiver.  I tried to keep the modifications simple, so I could easily add the motors to the MOD, and take the system out if I wanted to.  The drive motor was placed on a simple mount that connected to the frame.  The power was fed thought a 8z gear to a 24z gear which then connected directly to the V8 driveshaft.  The driveline was unchanged from the V8 down.  The steering motor was mounted laterally in front of the rear seats.  A 20z double bevel gear drove a 16z gear, then a worm gear moved the final 8z gear which was mounted on the existing HOG steering axle.  I removed the passanger seat which is where I placed the battary box, and created a simple mount for the IR receiver.  The added weight required a new shock absorber, so I added that as well.

The model worked alright.  The drivetrain did well to handle the new power, and I could easily control the Crusier.  The steering motor was a little too powerful for the upside down facing steering rack.  It skipped a little under load, which was a problem over rougher terrain.  The drive motor was a little taxed, so a PF XL would have done a little better.  I guess I could add that, but I am ready to move on to my next model.  Stay tuned.

The full gallery may be found here.

Red Sedan


When I got out of college, I started getting back into LEGO; the end of my “dark ages.”  I wanted to make a large supercar, just like everyone else.  But after my first attempt, there were a couple of things I wanted to improve, and the first car did not really look right.  OK, so what needed to change?  I needed to stretch the car, and make the stance a little better, add some features, and make it as real as possible.

See full gallery here.

I used the dementions of the 2005 BMW 5 series as my template.  From these demensions I used the F1 Racer wheels and tires to set the scale, then I determined the wheelbase, got the width, and I went to work.  I first made the rear suspension unit, and then the dual cam V-8.  Then I linked the two with a 4 speed transmission, and a long driveshaft and added a simple parking brake.  It took a little work, but I then added the front suspensions.  I have found it best to use technic beams to mount the front suspension. The A-arms are then attached to this structure, with the shock absorbers placed on this structure and braced with liftarms.  I then connected this directly to the front of the V-8, and connected it to the rest of the chassis with a simple frame.  I used the old steering mounts of the old 8865 supercar, and connected them to the steering wheel through an upside down mounted steering rack.  Of note, the car was going to be big and heavy.  I had to find a way to get two hard shock absorbers at each wheel which limited the suspensions options I had.  In addition, I added a front and rear sway bar, which took a little more space, but it worked.

Then the body.  I worked first on the doors, and the front bumper.  I used a dual pivot design for the doors so they would open even though bricks do not work well with pivots.  Then I did the front and rear quarterpanels, and set the rear bumper in such a way that a full size spare tire would fit.  I then worked on the interior.  I designed a simple tilt steering using a worm gear, and a universal joint.  I made sure to use the great front seat design by Pixsrv, added a rear bench seat, funished the trunk and added all the little compartments in the center console and glovebox.

I finished with rest of the body work.  The roof had a sun roof, and the trunk would have a damped shock to hold open the  trunklid, and added small details and some mirrors.  It was big, and it was done.  I was pleased with my first large car.  It still my most popular on Brickshelf.com.

All in all it was a great experience to learn about how to make a large car, and all the challenges that go with that.  Frankly, since this design, most of my cars have been a little smaller, as it makes the suspension and steering work a little bigger.  Lessons learned.

The full gallery may be found here.

Zil 132


A couple of months ago I was struck by a new design by Waler.  It was refreshing to see a well made Trial Truck based on something a little different.  I wanted to make a model of my own.  Thanks to him for the inspiration, and for the great ideas on the cab and the fenders.

From the beginning I knew this truck was not going to be a serious off road contender, but I wanted to redesign the whole drivetrain.  I decided to go with a pendular suspension for the first and second axle and a trailing live axle for the third axle.  All three axles would have a differential and a a set of portal axles.  The first and the third axle would also have steering linked together.  As is often the case with my trucks, I had the pendular axles held by a turntable with the steering function passed through the turntable by use of a differential.  The second axle was held by a turntable in the front, and the steering differential passed through to provide steering to the final axle.  The drive function powered all three axles and would connect to the transmission and motor in between the first and second axle.

The third axle was a suspended live axle that had a trailing setup created with the new 8110 pieces.  This would allow for rotational and vertical articulation while connecting the drive shaft and giving space to the steering function above.  The steering shaft would allow for movement via a CV joint.  The Power Functions M steering motor was placed in the rear, and used a simple 1:9 reduction.

A Power Functions XL was used for the drive funtion and was placed between the front two seats.  The motor was mounted on a sliding assembly for the gearbox function, much like the design pioneered by ATRX.  I used my three speed changeover design to move the motor through three gears, for a final ration of 1:7.5, 1:4.7, and 1:3.  The gearshift worked perfectly.  While the drivetrain was a little complicated, the gearing was rather simple.  The battery boxes were place above the second axle side by side.  This kept the weight centered, and as low as I could get it.

Finally I added a cabin and a cargo area.  The cabin was straight from Waler’s design, as was much of the fender area.  I used technic panels to create the cargo area, which also gave me a space to place the two IR receivers.  This also hid the two battery boxes, and the wiring, and generally cleaned up the truck.  I created two small doors in the top to assist with picking up the ZIL.  I was done.

Over mostly level ground the ZIL was one of my better designs.  The differentials and steering worked flawlessly to make the ZIL drive easily.  The gearbox worked well and eased the drivetrain over slight irregularities.  But once the  pavement turned to dirt the ZIL struggled a little more.  It was not designed to have too much suspension travel, and this showed.  It struggled on some of the bigger bumps, as the tires would scrape the wheel-wells.  Overall, I was pleased with the design, and was happy with the way it turned out.  It looked great, it was fun to build, and it was a blast to drive.

The full gallery can be viewed here.  Also, a big thank you to The Lego Car Blog for posting this model on their blog.