John Deere 5115


Sometimes you just do not want to shovel your own snow. Why not get a machine to do it for you?

The full gallery may be found on Flickr.com.

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I have enjoyed building a number of tractors over the years, and I think it is mostly because I enjoy building all the implements. This little Deere is no exception. When I was making instructions for the Claas Atos, I found some inspiration from this picture. I wondered, “could I turn this into another tractor?” Yes, yes I could. So I was off on another mid-power tractor.

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I decided on the John Deere 5115, which is a mid-power, open cab row tractor. I used the chassis of the Atos, so the tractor retained the drive, steering, front and rear PTO, and the front and rear three point hitch. I added a green fake engine, a new hood, and some new wheels and tires (Batmobile!). So it was a simple modification of a simple previous build.

I added a variable V-Plow on the front from M_Longer, and a simple spreader on the rear powered by the PTO.

The MOC worked just as well as the Atos, which it should. But the Deere looked a little better. The hood looked more complete, and the proportions looked a little better. Plus the color of the green and yellow always looks sharp.

Happy building.

1E.R Track Car


Thirdwigg Motors is not immune to the regulatory requirements of automotive manufacturing. As such, electrification has arrived!

Full gallery may be found on Flickr.com.

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After the introduction of the 3T Sports Sedan and the 2C Sports Car, Thirdwigg Motors was ready to start exploring the electrification of vehicles. Since the previous vehicles all had internal combustion, in order to more into electrification, some testing was required. The car features a single electric motor just forward of the rear axle. Geared up 3:1, the motor provides sufficient acceleration and top speed.

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Since this is track car suspension and bodywork are crucial for performance. The flat bottom of the car contributes to downforce, as does the rear wing and aerodynamic bodywork. The front and rear suspension is independent with torsen bars at each corner. There is very little wheel travel, appropriate for a track car. Steering is handed with the steering wheel, and the HOG just above the driver’s head.

The car was a good exercise to test a different drive mode in a LEGO car. Another electric car will soon be coming from Thirdwigg Motors, so this test vehicle was a good first step. The suspension was a little soft; it worked OK which was my experience with the Octan F1 as well. Frankly, the torsen system only works great for tanks in my experience, but maybe with a little work, it can have an application in future cars.

Until next time, happy building.

2C Sports Car


3T Sports Sedan was the inaugural car for startup Thirdwigg Motors, and the market requested another, smaller, sportier offering. The board of directors approved development of the 2C to fill this need.

Full gallery including instructions may be found here.

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I wanted to keep the scale and keep many of the best parts of the 3T in this design but change the body style and add a couple of features. Very early I decided on a two door with a mid or rear engine. I wanted to get a better transmission, so with this, I set of to work. I scaled the car to the Porsche Cayman, and started fitting in parts. I used the same suspension from the 3T in both the front and rear, which constrained how the driveline would have to be routed.

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It was at this point that the interior setup got a little complicated. When I started this car, the new Wave Selector was just release which optioned a lot of gearbox options. After seeing this great little transmission, I knew I had what I wanted: a four speed sequential transmission. After playing with some options, I place it in the middle of the car. I toyed with having the engine behind the rear axle, but settled on a mid placement. Nothing larger than a Flat 4 was ever considered. The four speed gearbox worked and a changeover axle ran to the front under the suspension where a simple rotation limiter was placed. The steering HOG and steering wheel had all of their mechanics in front of the transmission, so everything fit.

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I had intentions of having a ratcheting gear selector to work with the slick sequential  transmission. But I was running out of space. The center of the car was taken up with the transmission, suspension at each end, and placing one in the rear did not give a way to connect to the transmission. So the only place left was under the front hood. There were a number of great change over options that work well. I tried each. Some fit, some worked great, but each had the same problem: there was not good way to seamlessly integrate the “button” into the bodywork. I had visions of pushing on a grill to actuate the mechanism, but the grill was not very big, and required even more space than I was already using. In the end I decided to scrap the idea of a changeover, and use a simple rotary selector. It is not fancy, but it works well, and keeps the bodywork clean.

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Through out this process I was toying with ideas for the body work. Generally, I add parts as I like them, and when everything is placed, I rebuild the whole car with structures in place for all the final placements of critical internal and external parts. But this car had a large transmission in the middle which meant there was no frame running from the front to the rear. I added a structural frame under each door, and tried to build up the frame under the transmission as best as I could. It works, but there is still a little car flex under heavy center load.

First, the bodywork on this car works better for my eyes than the 3T, even though I tend to like sedans a little better. Second, the gearbox worked flawlessly. It was smooth, and even though I had the open the hood the change gears, the smoothness was worth it. Finally, the suspension worked great as it had proved itself in the 3T. It now adorns the desk at my work. Hopefully you enjoy it too.

Don’t worry, Thirdwigg Motors is already hard at work on the next car.

Happy Building.

8081 110


I have made it clear on a number of occations that I love LEGO set 8081. To celebrate this little unloved set, I created another MOD of this set.

Full gallery may be found here.

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A couple of years ago I did my first MOD of 8081, the 8081 4×4. It was the same bodywork of 8081, but I added 4 wheel drive, a front mounted V-8, and rear seats. It was a substantive change to the set. Likewise this MOD is so different from the first set, I am not sure if this is a MOD, or a MOC. I keep the design features of 8081, but not much from the original set still remains.

I took from front end of the 8081 4×4 which mounted the V-8, and the front bumper. Then I lengthened the chassis to accommodate a 4 stud longer wheelbase. The rear axle is the same, but the front axle needed to be modified to handle the increased weight of the truck. The center differential powers the V-8.

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Both axles are live axles that are suspended with a hard spring at each corner. Each axle has two stabilizing links on the bottom, and a Panhard rod for each. Steering is on the front axle. Combined with the Fischertechnik tires, the truck has significant suspension articulation.

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I added the bodywork last, but this did not take long as much of the design work followed themes determined by set 8081, though the pickup body style was planned from the beginning. The truck looked too big and black when I was done, so I added the roof rack/roll cage, the running boards, and a bull bar (though its little clunky).

The truck works well, and looks pretty tough. The suspension works much better than the first 8081 4×4. The new wheel hubs help the front a lot. Also the front suspension is better supported laterally than the first iteration. The Fischertechnik tires work great on this model, and while not LEGO parts, they are quickly becoming a favorite addition to my builds.

Throughout the whole project I kept asking myself, when is a build a MOD, and when is it a MOC. This project felt a lot like the later, but still connects to 8081.

Happy Building.

Porsche 911RS


There is a part of me that finds LEGO 42098 a little gimmicky: buy this truck that fits 5 cars but comes with 1 so you you build or buy more to fill the truck. But, these wheel arches are so awesome that I am going to do just that.

Full gallery including instructions may found here.

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After a rough first draft it was clear I was going to be able to steering and a Flat 6 into the car at a scale that would work for 42098, so most of the early work was on figuring out the shape of the car. I knew the car was going to be orange, and I wanted the little ducktail spoiler, so I modeled the car after the 964 version of the Porsche 911. The rear differential is placed two studs in front of the rear axle to allow for more room for the rear engine. I kept the normal LEGO engine parts rather than an axle engine like in 42098. The steering is simple in all in front of the driveline.

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The body work continued to take the most time. I used a great 911 MOC from Paave for many ideas including the seats and the front hood. Eventually, it all came together, after a lot of work on the doors, the roof, and the rear deck. The 911 is a beautiful car and getting all the details is so tricky. I almost feel bad for how critical I was of LEGO 42056. Almost…

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One thing you will notice is my use of both the 43mm and the 49mm tires for the rear of the car. I go back and forth on which ones I like best. Also, there was no way is was going to use the skinny 43mm tires for the front. They look silly.

This little car worked great, and functioned as intended. The shaping was off a little particularly with the rear quarter panels, the roofline, and the front headlights. But the shape of the 911 is so iconic that get all the details that have been refine over 50ish years is tricky. Either way if fits on the back of 42098.

Happy building.

Iveco Skip Loader


I have done a lot of small scale trucks, and it was time for me to do something bigger. 2 studs bigger to be precise.

Full gallery is here.

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This project stared as a desire to make another small truck. I have used the 43.2mm tire in my trucks a lot, and I have used the 49.5mm tire only once. I was ready for the newer size again, so I found a nice little truck to model, and I was off. I very much like the shape of the 49.5mm tire, but it presents some challenges to scale. I works much better as a 15 stud wide size, and trucks often have a dual tires on the drive axle. This leaves only 5 studs of width to work with for the chassis and driveline. While a differential will fit within this space, keeping the axle connected to the differential does not happen when driving the finished truck. So I have a 8l axle with stop connected to a bevel gear on one side, and a 5l axle with stop. The gear then runs to the front of the truck where it connects to a V-4 engine.

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Adding the skip functions were the next challenge. Adding the rear outriggers was not very difficult, but then it was complicated by adding the skip hook. Both are moved by mLA that are mounted far forward in the truck and connected by long liftarms to the back. It took a while to get the geometry of all of this to work together in conjunction with the lifting arms, but in the end it all worked well. The lifting actuators are moved by a gear on the side, and the other two functions are moved by two gears on the top of the cab protector.

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Working on the cab came next, and I used a mix of system and technic bricks. I made sure the cab could tilt, and there is a locking mechanism. The steering HOG is on the top of the cabin, and connects when the cab is down.

Finally, I added a little trailer. I added a simple function to lock the skip in place. The trailer can be towed by the truck, and when it is time to add a skip the hitch goes under the truck so it can get close enough to drop the skip.

The truck ended up doing everything I wanted. The tip and lift functions work well, and the trailer was a fun little addition. The colors work well for this truck, and the cab turned out as well. Maybe I will need to do another MOC in this scale.

Happy Building.

 

LEGO 42098 Car MOD


I do not buy many sets these days, mostly due to the fact that the space required for a gazillion new parts every year is not priority I am willing to resource. But some sets are a fun opportunities to MOD.

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The little car from 42098 caught my eye. While the truck was neat, it was not what I was interest in, so after a query of my own part collection, and a quick order from LEGO, I got the parts I needed. Upon completion, there were a couple parts of the car that bothered me, and a couple of parts I thought I could improve. So I started taking apart the car to see what I could do.

First, I made a mock-up of the side of the car to see if opening doors could work without lengthening the car. Turns out by moving the curved panel forward one stud, it works easily.

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Next, I was off to the rear axle. It was easy enough to design a simple live axle and connect it to the V-8. What become tricky was mounting the shocks. 42098 has low rear deck, and I do not like how the rear wheels are pushed down away from the wheel wells; it make the car look tilted forward. So finding an appropriate ride height to lower the rear while mounting the shocks in the limited space available took the rest of the time. Once this was in, I added the bodywork back on with a couple of changes to the 1950s rear and the side sills and the car was done.

The car worked well enough, though any live axle setup is a little silly when there is not suspension on the front. The engine still worked smoothly. The steering HOG on the back is still not optimal, but adding one on the roof would take away from the fantastic roof-line. Another round of edits may be needed to add back in the nominal opening hood. It is a pretty basic feature in the original car, but since opening doors were added in this MOD, the opening hood is missed. We’ll see what I end up MODing next time.

Happy building.

John Deere 6130R


I am into a little bit of a tractor phase lately, so here is a model of the John Deere 6130R row tractor.

The full gallery including instructions may be found here.

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After the completion of my 9393 MOD, and the Claas Atos, I wanted to expand on what could be done in the tractor theme, and I wanted to use the newish large technic tires that first came from 42054. I set out to set the scale and list some of the features I wanted.  I decided on a John Deere tractor, because green looks sharp in LEGO, and the hubs I would need were available in yellow.

I first started with the driveline which is simply a differential between the rear tires, and a  couple of gears to the I4 engine (green of course). The steering was the second feature added, and runs from the HOG on the roof, goes through one bevel setup to the rack under the from engine.

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The tractor also has a front and rear PTO, with dual on/off switches, and front and rear drawbars. These features were a little tricky to add. The PTO on the rear is connected to the driveline on the right by a changeover catch, and routes rearward over the rear axle. The PTO on the from is connected to the driveline on the left, and routes under the steering axle to the front. Both drawbars can be raised and lowered by a HOG on the roof ahead and behind the steering HOG. Both use two mLAs to raise and lower the drawbar, and both can hold enough weight to tip over the tractor.

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Working on the body work took some time. After trying a couple of technic options for the front hood, and rear fenders, I settled on an option that uses mostly system bricks. I was pleased how it turned out as it does not subtract from the look of the tractor too much. The hood can open to see the engine.

The tractor worked well, and all the features functioned as they should. I will continue to design implements, and test them out as long as the tractor stays built.

Happy building.

3T Sports Sedan


The sport sedan is my favorite kind of car. You can have your McLaren, if I can have four doors and a long hood. One with the proportions of a C-class, the suspension of the ATS, the engine of a Mazda 6, the suede interior of the M3, and the value of the G70. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be set. But there are few good sedans in LEGO, and even fewer smaller ones. Let’s change that.

Instructions may be downloaded here.

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When I set out to make a sedan, I wanted it to be smaller. What were the features I could add in a smaller LEGO car? It had to have some style, suspension, a gutsy engine, steering, and a transmission. Finally, it had to be strong. So I got to work. The scale was set on a 3 Series that was a little wide, so I set the hardpoints and set off to work.

I first set the two axles and suspension. I have built a couple cars with a floating rear differential, and this setup has worked well in the past, so it would work well for this car. Each side had a dual arm independent setup with two shock absorbers. The front suspension used a dual A-arm setup and a wheel hub with only one hard shock absorber.  Before adding the steering, the driveline would need to be finalized.

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I played around with a number of transmissions, but settled on a simple two speed design for a number of reasons. First, it was smallest as something else would take a lot of space from the interior. Second, something better would take away from the rigidity of the model. Sedans need a lot of support through the transmission tunnel as you lose a lot of rigidity near the doors. Finally, anything more complicated than 2 speeds would be tricky to manually operate (play with) in this scale. About half way through my work on this project, some fun new gears came out which improved the design.

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Next, I moved on to the bodywork. This is the part that causes me the most problems in my car builds, and this car was no exception. I set the doors first as I wanted to use two panels for each side. Then I worked on the front and rear bumpers. The rear came together quickly, but the front took a little more time. I wanted something that was sporty, and with a simple grill. I think it worked out well. Finally was the roof and the rear quarter panels. This part took a long time, as I wanted something strong and stylish. The result is strong and has the C pillar split into a D pillar. It is not perfect, but it is stronger than all the panel ideas I tried.

After the bodywork was set I did something I have never done before, I rebuilt a second whole car. This time, I knew all the final features, and where all the body work would attach so I could focus on creating a strong frame that would best support the whole design. I am happy I did this, as it cleaned up the inside, found some new solutions, and made the whole car stronger. Building this way also helped me think through how clear instructions could be made.

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In the end, I was pleased with the final design. It accomplished all the goals I wanted, and it is an accessible design for others to recreate. I love building in this scale, and cars are a lot of fun, so I will need to do another small car design again.

Until the next time, happy building.

Unimog 437


If my previous builds are any indication, I am a big fan of Unimogs. So it was just a matter of time before I built another one. Rather than building one this time, I built a modular system that allows for a number of different versions.

Full instructions can be found here.

This build started with a desired to make another small build with the great Fischertechnik tires I acquired. I wanted to build something small and playful like RM8s FJ or Sheepo’s Defender. As has been happening with many of my recent builds, I wanted to give the MOC some playable options and easy modifications. A Unimog was a perfect option, and who am I to turn down a Unimog? So I gave myself the following constraints: 4×4, I4 fake engine, steering, manual and PF drive options, removable cabs, removable bed, and two chassis. I set off to work.

The axles came together fairly quickly. I decided quickly not to do portal axles, because I wanted the complexity of the MOC to be elsewhere. Both axles have a differential, two soft springs, and are stabilized longitudinally via steering links and laterally via panhard links. All for shocks are mounted on crankshaft parts to get the ride height of the Unimog just right. There is about 1.5 studs of travel for each wheel, which provides adequate articulation.

The axles are connected to a fixed axle that powers a I4 fake motor. Since I wanted the MOC to be easily switched between manual control and PF, the driveline got a little over-complicated quickly. The steering axle and drive axles cross each other twice. This allows for the steering to go to the top for a HOG, and backwards so a PF servo motor can be added. A 16t gear is available at the top of the chassis to power a PTO, or add a PF XL motor to give the Unimog propulsion. The long Chassis can fit a full a full Power Functions pack. When the power pack is not installed lots of open space is available for other additions. I added a three way tipper lift mechanism for both the long and short wheelbase chassis.

Attachment points were added for the rear bed and for the cab. I created three cabs, and each can be added to both chassis (though the Doka looks best on the LWB). Two axles with stop can be pulled to free the cab. I created three beds and a power pack. Four axles with stop are required at each corner to secure the bed. A camper and a crane bed are not far behind on my building queue.

The Unimog turned out exactly as I wanted. The suspension and steering are light and smooth under manual operation, and work great with PF. I am excited about the ability to offer and develop multiple beds and cabs. Instructions are posted, so I look forward to seeing other options people develop to make their own Unimog.