Volvo FE Garbage Truck

My favorite vehicles to build are garbage trucks (Ok, maybe trial trucks). I enjoy the many functions that I can create. I enjoy the diversity of shapes, sizes and colors, and I enjoy how ubiquitous they are. But I have not built many. So it was time to fix that.

Volvo FE Refuse

I was originally going to do a large scale truck, but as my temporal limitations are becoming ever more apparent, I decided to do something smaller this time. The 13 stud wide truck is popular in the Technic community, so I decided to go with that. I very much enjoy the Volvo FE, so that was my truck. Since my last truck was one with three axles and Power Functions, this one would have two axles and be manually controlled.

Volvo FE Extraction

I searched high and low for garbage box that would work well: Gesink-Norba, Heil, McNeilius, EZ-Pak, Dennis-Eagle, Ros Roca. All required a compactor that would need a round base for the trash to collect. Curves are hard to do in LEGO. I had some trouble with refuse compaction cycle working well on the Axor due to the floor curve on the hopper. I wanted a compaction cycle that was more simple and more reliable. So I designed my own.

It’s dead simple.

There is a angled elevator in the hopper that goes straight up and down. The center gear on the outside of the hopper that moves the elevator. When refuse is placed on the elevator and lifted, the refuse will fall over an internal wall at the top of the cycle. The refuse falls into the compaction bin, until the rear hopper is opened. Bigger parts sometimes gets stuck on the cross axle.

Volvo FE Hopper

Inside the compaction bin, is an extraction plate. Turn the gear down near the front left wheel, and you drive a mLA to move the internal extraction plate. Everything works well for small LEGO refuse parts. I built the side of the compaction bin with slopes and tiles. After a number of panel attempts, this one seemed to be the best looking option. I very much enjoy the shape.

Volvo FE Compactor

Since I had a little more internal room, I added a driveline to the truck. A rear differential powers a small fake inline 2 cylinder engine under the cab. To check it out, the cab tilts forward. The steering axle serves as a friction connector so the cab does not open unless you intend it to tilt. The doors open, and the bodywork was designed to mirror the Volvo FE 2011 body style. I built a small red refuse bin to show off the functions of the truck.

This may be my favorite build of the year. All the functions work perfectly, and the model looks great. I think I could add a tilting bin function, and add another mLA to give more strength to the extraction plate, but other than that I am not sure I would change anything. I will keep this one built for a while.

Happy building.


Hawker Typhoon MkIb

Two years ago I built the Spitfire MkIIa. It remains one of my more popular builds, and one of which I am still quite proud. It was not my first large plane, though when I completed it, I said it would be my last.

As my father would say, “never say never.”


The full gallery may be seen here.

I learned a lot of great things from the Spitfire. Large scale building is exciting, and challenging in that you have to think about significant structural considerations, placement, and shaping before and while your build.

With this in mind, I wanted to develop what I have learned, but allow myself the ability to take a large scale aircraft to the next level. I wanted to improve the function of the control surfaces, design my own propellor, use four Power Function channels, and use the boatload of Dark Green parts that I had recently acquired. I considered a number of airplanes, including doing the FW-190 again, but I finally settled on the Typhoon. Time to get building.

After some planning, I had my scale. 1/13 was an appropriate size for me to replicate the plane and its functions, while still keeping the plane from getting too large. This scale would also allow for LEGO wheels for the landing gear, and a worker able propellor spinner design. As I learned from the Spitfire, placement of large components needed to be done early, and placed in the MOC to its exact final location. As the structure of the fuselage and wings would be stressed heavily, large components could not get in the way. Once I placed the engine block, the landing gear, the power functions, and the control surfaces, I was able to start putting together the robust structures that would support the final plane. One of the major challenges of this plane was the outset landing gear on the wings. Because they were located 42 studs apart, the wings needed to be strong. But due the the space taken for the control surfaces, and the massive 24 cylinder power pack, the wings still sag a little under load.

The control surfaces were activated with strings with studs on each end. I found this to be a better system than the axle controls for the Spitfire. It kept the controls more smooth, and reduced the amount of play in the controls. The elevator and ailerons were controlled with the joystick, and the rudder was controlled by two foot pedals in the cockpit. The remaining functions were controlled via Power Functions. An XL motor powered the massive 38 stud diameter propellor, as well at the 24 cylinder Napier Sabre engine. A M motor controlled the pitch of the propellor. Another M motor powered the landing gear, and still another  adjusted the flaps. All four motor were mounted in the chin of the aircraft; I had to use that huge chin for something. The two IR receivers were mounted in under the windscreen, and the rechargeable battery was mounted behind the cockpit.

Finally, I had to make sure all the markings were accurate. Again, due the limits of dark green parts, it was not an easy task. I started with wings, and made sure to add invasion stripes, and work my way out to the tips. The roundels were a little different than the Spitfire, but were a little larger. The fuselage took a little work to make sure the panels could be easily removed, but I eventually got there. The fuselage roundel should have a yellow ring around the outside, but the strip is so small, I could not figure out a good way to do it.

The plane worked almost perfectly. The ailerons were a little sticky, but other wise everything else managed to work for an 8 hour shift at Brickworld. The plane was liked enough to be nominated for Best Air Ship. While it did not win, it was validation that the the model was a success.

Happy Building.

Cargomaster Crane

We all have our favorite LEGO sets.  Then we also have sets that we think were pretty cool.  Set 6352 from 1991, the Cargomaster Crane was one of these sets for me.  It was a set simple set, it was perfect for a growing child.  Small, playable, yellow, and it could lift things.

Recently, I decided I wanted to make a little Technic crane.  I researched a number of designs, none of which really struck me as something I wanted to pursue.  I kept coming back to 6352. Why not make a crane like that?  Perfect.  I wanted it to be a nice homage to this classic set.  I was going to make is just like 6352.  Double the size, same shape, complete with container and tractor, and of course a driver.  The full gallery may be found here, and instructions can be found here.

6352 Technic

I stared with a simple frame built for the outriggers at both ends.  I knew I was not going to be able to add a more complex outrigger system at this scale that would reflect the original crane, so I made manual outrigigers just like the original.  I added two steering axles so the crane could drive to and from the site, then I placed a turntable right on top of the chassis.

As I started the superstructure, it become very clear very early, that having an offset crane boom like the original model, was not going to be a good idea.  My model was going to look off, and the balance of the offset boom was going to make stability, both for the superstructure, and the crane as a whole, a problem.  I knew the size of the boom, and decided to place it in the center of the crane.  I then placed the cabin, and set it up for the little technic figure.

The boom was relatively simple; two stage, and 23 studs long.  The outside was simple and straightforward, meant to be sturdy and strong.  The pivot was at the rear on top of the winch, and the elevation ram was connected forward under the front of the boom.  There was a simple worm gear under the front that would drive a set of gear racks, to drive the inner boom.  The inner boom would hold the final boom which was only a series of plates.  Each stage was connect by a two cables to make sure all the booms moved together in unison.  It worked well, even under load, as you can see in the video.

The model worked well, and had perfect balance.  The simple boom extension worked well, as did the winch.  The outriggers gave appropriate stability through all positions.  And it looked very similar to the original model, even with the little tractor.