Snowblower/Tractor


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.

Snowblower

Tractor

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.

 

 

T-55A


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.

T-55

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.

OCTAN Air Racer


OCTAN is one of my favorite longitudinal themes of LEGO. It gives a little color and identity to many of the racing vehicles that have been produced by LEGO since 1994. I don’t know why it took me so long to start making MOCs with an OCTAN theme, but after last summer’s OCTAN F1, I figured I should do another one.

The full gallery including instructions may be seen here.

OCTAN Air Racer

It was time for me to build another airplane, and I figured a0 small air racer would work well in the OCTAN colors. Right from the beginning, I was sure I wanted to make a biplane, and I wanted a radial engine (all real airplanes have propellers). From there everything was on the table. Off to designing.

I started with the radial. It’s not quite a radial, but rather two perpendicular boxer 4 cylinder engines. Each bank of two cylinders are mounted in a different direction; up, down, port, and starboard, and are connect by one common crankshaft. The side banks are one stud forward, and the up and down banks rear, so all eight connecting rods can fit on a common 5l axle. Two engine crankshafts are mounted at each end. The motor spins well, and quite quickly, but the connection is not exactly “legal,” as the pins on the cylinders are a little stressed.

8 Cylinder Radial

Working backwards, I attached the leading edges of the wings, and the worked on the landing gear. Being an air racer (even a biplane), it had to have retractable landing gear. I connected the two wide spaced legs with a simple axle and bevel joint, and added a worm gear to articulate the action. It is a simply solution, and it functions well.

Air Racer Bottom

Just behind and above the worm gear is the joystick. The roll functions are connected to the bottom wing by gears, and the pitch function is connected by liftarms to the rear elevator. The rudder is fixed. The lower ailerons are connected to the upper ailerons by a simple 9L link. When you move the joystick, all four ailerons move. The cockpit is a little cramped, but when you are racing space is not a concern, only speed.

Air Racer Drive

 

Air Racer Cockpit

After the radial, the bodywork was the priority for the MOC. I have been slowly acquiring white and green parts over the last year. The airplane was designed as primarily white, with red and green accents. The red stripe worked well, as did the red tail, but I could not find a great way to incorporate the green. I added a little to the tips of the wings, and to the wing control surfaces. I used a couple more stickers that I had left over from set 60025, and the MOC was finished.

I was pleased with how the MOC turned out. The airplane looks strong, and the red and green make the white vibrant. I wish I could have found a better place to incorporate the green. The places it was added seems a little haphazard. The radial turned out great, but I feel a little bad about the illegal build. The landing gear works well, as do the control surfaces. I was pleased with how it turned out. Next up, maybe an OCTAN speedboat. Other ideas?

Happy building.

 

Updated 8386 Ferrari F1 Racer


On December 18th, 2004 I bought 8386 here in Cologne, Germany. It was the first LEGO set I bought in 7 years, and thus was the end of my Dark Ages. It was my return to LEGO. Today marks ten years since I bought this set. This is a celebration of that event 10 years ago.

The full gallery may be found here.

Updated 8386 F2004

A lot has happened in the last ten years. When I think about that time I pause to reflect on where I have come. I have lived in 10 different places, including three states, had a number of different jobs, and increased my family unit by a factor of three. But people don’t come to this website to read about me, they come for LEGO. Over the last ten years we have gained much. The Technic line has improved both in terms of functional abilities, but also in the frequency and quantity of models offered. We have gained Power Functions. We have Linear Actuators, CV joints, more suspension parts, and so many more wheel options. We have favorite elements that did not exist ten years ago. Colors now include green, blue, white, and orange. LEGO made a Unimog. Bricklink started not much more than 10 years ago. Let that sink in for a moment. All of these developments have made so much of my building possible. It only makes sense to celebrate with a MOD of the set that reminds me of my return.

8386 was a rather basic set. It was modeled after the F2004 car #1 or #2 of the 2004 Scuderia Ferrari team through a licensing agreement with Ferrari. The cars were rather successful during the 2004 season at the hands Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. 8386 included working steering, a working V-10, and a removable engine cover. And that’s about it. Oh, and a lot of stickers. As I did with the 8081 4×4 my goal was to keep what was there, and improve what I could. I would add some additional features, namely suspension and a gearbox. Since 2004, LEGO has added a number of elements that made these goals easier than they would have been ten years ago.
First, I built 8386 as is. After a good hour, I had the stock 8386 complete. I had my constraints, so now I needed to modify the set. I started with the front suspension, as I thought that would be rather difficult. Turns out it wasn’t. I removed a couple of axles, and added in two hard shock absorbers. The geometry made the suspension adequate. It could have been a little harder, and could have been a little more aesthetically pleasing, but it worked.
8386 Front Suspension
On to the rear. First to go was the trans-clear engine. Ugh. I knew I wanted to add rear suspension, but I was not sure I wanted to add a gearbox due to the limited space. I played around with some designs, and decided I should give it a go. I came up with a design that would need only 7 studs of space. The design would be off center of the car, which would present some changeover problems, but saved 3 studs of length. One axle would connect directly to the new style differential, and the other axle would connect directly to the crankshaft of the V-10. At first, I set the gearbox behind the differential, but I found that option to be rather unsightly and added some complications to the gearshift linkages. With some modifications to the chassis, moving the V-10 forward a stud, and increasing wheelbase by moving the rear axle back 1/2 stud the gearbox would fit.
8386 Gearbox
Once the gearbox was designed, I worked on the rear suspension. The gearbox got in way of the suspension design I wanted, but that was a cost I was willing to pay. I used the same upper arms as 8386, but created a liftarm design for the lower arm. Two shock absorbers connected from the chassis to the slightly modified wheel hub. While a pushrod design would have been nice, this setup worked well enough for me. I added a simple linkage to the gearbox that connected to levers in the cockpit. It looks a little clunky, but it allow all the controls to be at hand. I then made some modifications to the exhaust system so it would fit the added features. I made some modifications to the body work to give the car some visual lines that matched F2004, and added a little more white. The car was done.
End of the V-10, beginning of the cramped transaxle.

End of the V-10, beginning of the cramped transaxle.

All in all the design worked well, and required less time than some of my more fancy builds. It was a restful project, and one to which I enjoyed returning.
Maybe in another ten years, I’ll update this again with new features made possible with 10 years of LEGO changes and developments. I look forward to it.
Happy Building.

Kenworth T47


The Kenworth T55 is my favorite Trial Truck I have built. It’s not the best looking, or the most capable, or the most reliable, or even the most popular but it’s the one I keep coming back to. My latest truck is a continuation of the Kenworth series of trial trucks. The T55 would pull a stump, the T47 is quicker, has better steering, and more compliant suspension.

T47

Right from the beginning I knew the truck would have a similar cabin at the T55. It would continue with the four wheel steering, and I added an independent suspension. The dimensions would stay close to the same. From there anything else was fair game. I started with the axles. The new suspensions arms made it a little bit easier to make a good independent design. A CV joint was used at the steering knuckle, which allowed for the steering pivot to be near the wheel. Each wheel had about three studs of travel.

The XL motor was placed on the left of the center line and the rechargeable battery box was placed on the right. A newly acquired Servo Motor was placed rear on the centerline directly in front of the rear axle. I had a little more space left, so I added a simple two speed gearbox. A little more space remained so I added a flat six engine.

T47 Engine

Part of my attraction of the T55 has been it’s coloring, and it’s shape. I wanted to keep the attraction similar, but in a way that would differentiate the trucks. I have been acquiring some green lately, so I thought would be a great color. The cab is basically the same, but now it can tilt so you can work on the engine.

The off road performance was not great on the T55, and the T47 was similar. The independent suspension had too much play at the wheels to be great at steering, and the articulation was not very supple. The truck was great to drive around my house, but when I took it outside it did poorly. The suspension design is better than my last independent set up. There was no slipping of the gears. I think my next design will use the same knuckle, but design a different steering connection. This truck again proves the use of knob wheels rather than a differential for a trial truck. Feel free to make your own, and let me know what improvements you developed.

Happy Building.

OCTAN F1


In a bought of inspiration (or distraction) at work, I noted my old 6546 sitting on my desk. After years of looking at this small car I thought, I could make this bigger, and in Technic. Done.

The full gallery including instructions can be found here.

Octan F1 Front

I decided the car should have a simple engine, four wheel suspension, and working steering. Recently, there was a good design that gave me an idea about how to do a smaller scale driveline for the car. I worked on the rear first, and once I had the suspension setup, I added a small flat four engine place directly on the bottom of the car. This would be the basis for the rear of the chassis.

I then started the front suspension design which would utilize the new suspension components from 42021. I first tried adding shock absorbers. Then I added rubber connectors. The first was too big, the second did not work to well. After monkeying with it for a while, I developed a simple torsion bar setup. The torsion axle is a 10l and provides the pivot point to the bottom control arms. They connect to the chassis behind the suspension to a fixed point under the steering wheel. The set up works well. Frankly, it works a little better than the rear as the rear could benefit from stiffer arms and suspension mounts.

Next came the body work. As I wanted to keep things similar to the 6546, the coloring would have to be white, green, and red. And it would need some stickers. I used the stickers from set 60025, so the car number would have to be changed from the original #4 to #5. The coloring and markings turned out well. I tried to make sure it was not too busy. Easy enough, and everything is easily acquired so you may build your own.

Fitting with my yearly planning I have now completed the two small builds I wanted to complete. It was quick, fun, and a MOC that is accessible for other builders. Feel free to build your own (make some new colors, and we can then have a race).

Happy Building.

JCB 531


Astute readers will note the heading of Thirdwigg.com has changed to read “LEGO Technic from Grand Rapids.” A slight heading change notes a rather large life change for myself, Mrs. Thirdwigg, and Jr. Thirdwigg. This has caused a slight hiccup to production and the timeline of The Queue, but we are back in business.

A working telehandler has been on my list of machines to build for a long time. I finally acquired a 32l axle, and it was the impetus I needed to start the project.

The full gallery is here.

Ready to take on any project.

Ready to take on any project.

Right from the beginning I decided the MOC would have steering, boom lift, boom tilt, and boom extension. All the functions would be manual as is my current trent (do not fear, it will be over soon), and would be housed within the boom itself. I based the scale for the MOC on the length of the boom being 32 studs so I could use the full 32l axle.

The 32l axle was placed on the top of the boom, and would allow the sliding 8z gear to transmit rotation to the fork tilt throughout the full extension of the boom. At the end of the boom I added a mLA to adjust the tilt of the fork. It took a little working, but I eventually figured out how to adjust the tilt for every position in the lift. I then worked on the boom and the extension so it would be as stiff as possible through all points of the lift.

I then worked on the chassis and the cab. The chassis was rather basic, and after a couple of rebuilds to get the steering right, it was done. I did have to do some revisions to have the boom/chassis interface more rigid. It turns out that when the boom was fully extended, the lift would sway a little too much. I then added a cab and the engine box on the right side. Here you can see the final project working.

The MOC worked well, and other than a slight sagging of the boom at full extension, I would not change a thing.

Happy Building.

Silly Fat Penguin


Sometime procrastination breeds a good outcome. Sometimes. This is the result of waiting too long to come up with an idea for a contest.

The full gallery with Instructions can be found here.

Penguin

A while ago Eurobricks posted a contest. While I was focusing on Brickworld, a new job, and other life events, I decided I should sit this one out. Then things died down. On July 20. It was a little late to produce something excellent. I thought it would be fun to do something other than a truck, plane, or tractor. I saw a little toy penguin on a colleague’s desk, and I thought,that’s it. That would be fun.

The penguin has a wheel on the bottom which runs three gears. The final gear drives a shaft that connects to the wings and the beak, making them move as the penguin wobbled along. Behind the main wheel, there is a little swivel wheel so the penguin can be nimble.  I added some feet, and worked a little while on the belly. I added some fun eyes, and made sure to give the penguin a cute little bow tie. All done. All for 192 parts.

I wish I would have added a wind up motor, or gave the penguin the ability to walk by itself, but I ran out of parts and time. After filming (which is not my best work), I realized the flapping could have been a little quicker. But it was a fun little project, and my first animal creation, so that’s something. I hope you enjoy, and if you can vote, give one for me.

Happy building.

JCB 714


My repertoire has become quite diverse over the years. I have made large cars, large planes, MODs, and many other types of builds. I enjoy those builds, and I get an immense amount of satisfaction completed them. Recently I have enjoyed making smaller, non-powered, Technic MOCs. I can generate more small build ideas, I can stay motivated better, and I enjoy the playing with final result more. So I made another small MOC, the JCB 714.

The full gallery may be found here. Instructions may be purchased for $5 USD.

Buy Now Button

JCB 714

This MOC started when I was browsing the JCB UK website. I thought the 714 would be a fun little project that would have some nice features, and would utilize some of my collection that is not currently being used. I started working on the frame. The MOC would have a four wheel drive system, suspension, steering, and a dumping back. I designed two suspension/steering designs, and while the first one was awesome, it was not as stable as I would have preferred. So I reverted back to the design utilized on the real JCB. It was not as flashy, but it worked well. A turntable is planted behind the steering pivot, with the drive axle moving through the center of both. A liftarm was placed on the left to operate the steering function. The drive axle would connect to both axles through a 12/20 gear reduction which connected them to two differentials. The I3 motor was placed in front of the forward axle.

The rear was more challenging than I expected. First, I had to plant the mLA’s in such a way that they could be connected by a single axle that would not impede the driveline. Second, the mLA’s had to operate in such a way that the bucket could do the full range of motion; nearly 90 degrees. Third, the shape of the bucket did not work well in LEGO, as there were limited flat surfaces. Thankfully the sides were flat, and some of the bottom. The bottom was connect to the dump pivot, and the sides would hold the angled panels. Finally, it had to make sure the rear wheels could still move freely. While there are still some holes in the dump, it works well enough to transport a bunch of bricks.

The cab built up fairly quickly, and allowed me some space to add the rear window grate, and a exhaust pipe. The hood can open, and there are steps to get into the cabin. Safe egress is important.

As I am finding with MOCs that do not utilize Power Functions, the MOC functioned well, every time. No maintenance is needed, gears do not skip, and the MOC works as it is designed. This is part of the reason I am building these kind of MOCs more often. The MOC worked as it was designed, just like a MOC should.

Thanks for reading and happy building.

 

 

Iveco XTR


After a couple of more complex projects it is nice to take a break to do two simpler projects. When I need a little bit of a design rest, I do a trial truck, and usually a fictional one, so I can build as I please.

The full gallery can be found here, and free instructions can be found here.

Iveco XTR

After building a number of trial trucks, I have found some features I like to have on my trucks. Note, these features may be prioritized differently if I was participating in a Truck Trial race. These features I like are linked suspension, PF XL motor for drive, tall clearance, and a center mounted battery box. As I was making this truck for my own pleasure, I forced myself to include all of these features.

I usually start a truck with the axles, and the Iveco was no different. I created the axle with a portal axle build around my favorite piece for both the front and the rear. I also added the space to fit both a differential, or knob wheels for the final drive (though the pictures only show the latter). This would allow me to switch the traction of the truck, and allow for a minor gearing change. While the changeover takes a little bit of time, it’s a nice feature and the gives the truck some versatility. I placed the steering motor directly on the front axle with allowed the middle of the truck to be simplified vastly. In the center of the truck is the battery box mounted longitudinally, and a Power Functions XL motor in the rear. This keeps the heaviest components of the truck in the center and low.

The linked suspension is a setup developed by other that connect two pendualar axles together. Each left side has a linkage that connects the two left wheels together, and the right wheels have the same. This keeps the wheels planted as the pressure from the terrain is balanced across all four wheels. When one wheel has to go up to follow the terrain, the rest of the wheels adjust. It is simple, effective, and keeps the truck a little more planted than a suspension utilizing shock absorbers. Otherwise the truck bounces a little during an obstical.

As you can see in the video, the battery box is getting a little tired, and the snow as a little mushy, but the setup worked well. The truck stayed planted, and it was nice to have two final axle options. It is a simple design that does not require too many hard to find parts, so if you need a good little afternoon project, give the Iveco XTR a build, and tell me what you think.

OK, off to some more complicated builds. Check The Queue. There is some fun stuff coming. Until then, happy building.