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.

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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 at 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.

CAT 914K


These days, some projects are taking longer than they have in the past. The little Wiggs in my house and a mirad of other reponsibilities are slowing my production. This loader was started a little over a year ago, and it was finally finished last week.

The full gallery can be seen here.

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I was sitting on a train in Chicago, and saw a little CAT 914k out the window, and thought, “I should finally make a loader.” I got home and started to work. My collection recently added the Fischertechnik tires and the pneumatic parts from the LEGO 42053 Volvo, so I started calculating the scale. Once the scale was set I worked on the linkage for the bucket. I spent two full nights working on the linkage to take full advantage of the longer pneumatic rams. I used the longer ones on the lift, and a shorter one on the tilt.

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After the bucket mechanism was set, I worked on the chassis. The size allowed for four wheel drive. The rear axle was set in a pendular setup, which allowed for some articulation over varied terrain. The rear differential linked to a small I4 motor that was placed in the rear. The pneumatic valves were placed over the motor. The light on the roof operated the steering.

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While the project took a little too much time to complete, it was a fun project that turned out well. The linkage and bucket range worked well. It also held a load well. The stability of the loader could have been a little better when pumping the pneumatic pump, as the suspension took a lot of rigidity out of the rear. The design allowed for normal LEGO 81mm tires as well.

Happy Building.

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.

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.

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.

 

Concept John Deere Bulldozer


In what is becoming a little bit of a theme, I submitted another design for a Lego contest. In the long line of Eurobricks.com contests, the Technic Challenge 10 called for a pneumatic build. Challenge accepted!

Full Gallery Here

Concept John Deere Bulldozer Left

The contest had very few constraints other than the build had to use Pneumatics. As I have mentioned before, working with pneumatics is not my preference. I don’t like them, so it was good for me to step out of my comfort zone.

I was feeling especially creative this time, so I thought about a number of concept ideas. Pneumatics do not tend to work smoothly when lifting arms so I decided against an excavator and a loader early. Additionally, I was not willing to invest in additional parts for this project. After a couple of drafts, the idea of this bulldozer was born. Taking some inspiration from some of John Pope’s design, the basic idea was there. The dozer would have different tracks, a three movement blade, a crazy engine, and a forward thinking design.

Concept John Deere Bulldozer Blade

I started with the tracks. After moving the axle points four wheels countless times, I came up with a design I liked. I made another one, and linked them together. The I worked on the blade. The dozer would have a lift, tilt, and side to side angle adjustment. After playing around with some idea, I found a solution I liked. Two pneumatic rams were on the front to lift the blade on the top. Then two links were connected low on the two sides of the blade, and then on each side of the dozer. These points on the dozer were moved fore and aft by on pneumatic ram each. These side rams would move the blade left or right individually, or together they would tilt the blade up or down. Additionally, it allowed all the tubing to be internal.

Concept John Deere Bulldozer Open

I added a small compressor powered by a Power Functions M motor, and the battery box under the cab, and added the 16 cylinder engine (coupled V-8 and Flat 8). The cab was easy to get the shape I wanted, and gave me some space for another pneumatic ram to open the hood. I then decided to add a ripper since I had one pnuematic left. The new 1×11 ram a great addition, but a little more power could have been used for the ripper.

Concept John Deere Bulldozer Chassis

I was pleased with the look the bulldozer. The functions worked well, but on reflection, the were not exciting enough to be competitive for a contest. After two pneumatic builds in a row, I find some of the frustrations I have with them remain, but I am discovering some charms as well. We’ll see what comes next.

Happy building.

Porsche 714


My Entry for the LEGO Rebrick Porsche Contest.

This year, it seems like everything about LEGO Technic is about Porsche. LEGO created a 911, and started a contest for creating your own Porsche. Porsche is all everyone is building and talking about.

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So I made one too. The Rebrick team posted a contest to design your dream Porsche, and thinking of the words of Mr. Porsche, “I couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build one myself,” I set to work. My dream Porsche lives in the spirit of the 914 and the 924: A compact, lightweight, mass-market, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It has a long hood, short overhangs, and a roofline that alludes to Porsches of today and yesterday.

714 Rear

I had six weeks to design a car. In a week I had the front and rear axle, and the transmission. The transmission is a similar unit to the one I had in the ATS. Six speed manual, with a single point shift lever. It keeps the gear changes quick with short throws. The rear axle is an independent suspension design, with short upper swingarms, and long lower swingarms. This changes the camber of the wheels as they move through the suspension travel, to keep a consistent contact patch around a corner. The limited slip differential is mounted longitudinally behind the axle. The front suspension is also independent with short upper and long lower swingers. The are mounted to a steering uckle that gives both Ackerman and caster geometry.

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Because it was my dream car, I wanted a car that would be inexpensive, and teach me how to drive fast. A front engine, rear wheel drive is a less expensive car to design and build. Additionally, my car would have a Boxer 4 for lower cost, and an option for Boxer 6 for more performance. Since I can use some training to be a better fast driver, I though a roll cage would be necessary.

714 WIP2

The remaining five weeks were spent working on the bodywork and the interior, which always takes more time than you think. I fit the cabin in around all the mechanical bits, and was able to add a glovebox and a manually adjustable tilt steering wheel. The seats are simple, but match the car interior well. I wanted to keep a couple of features that were iconic in my mind with Porsche cars: Round headlights, a full width thin taillight, a curvaceous roof, hunches over the rear wheels, and a taller greenhouse. After many drafts, I was able to get a design I was pleased with.

The car turned out how I wanted, and I felt it was a good contribution to the contest. The front of the car did not turn out how I envisioned it in my mind. The rear did not look as clean as I wanted. Mechanically the car works great. The suspension works perfectly, and the steering works flawlessly without hitting the wheel fenders. The transmission is great, and the limited slip differential continues to do the trick.

After all this talk about Porsches, I’ll take some off and build something different.

Happy Building.

9393 Updates


Every once and a while, I find myself building an older set from my collection. I find it relaxing not to think about design and simply follow instructions. Recently, I built LEGO’s 2012 set 9393, and after a couple of days, I thought, it needs something else.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr and Brickshelf. Instructions may be found here.

9393 Harrow Furrow

The LEGO set was simple with steering, lime green color scheme, a mower implement, and a system to raise and lower the implement. I decided it needed a fake motor, front suspension, a drive differential, and some bigger front wheels. I started building. Adding the motor proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. By adding the larger front wheels, I was able to get the steering axle lower by one stud. This allowed space for the engine to be added, but did not solve the structural problem of how to mount the front suspension. I ended trying a number of solutions, but ended with one with many connectors, axles, and two liftarms running over the front axle beside the fake engine. I would prefer it to be a little more stiff, but it works. As I built the front of the tractor, I found myself adding an implement attachment point. I thought, maybe I should make another implement for the front.

9393 Engine

This is where the project grew, and grew….

Now, only the mower implement was not enough. The tractor needed a plow, counterweights, a furrow, a harrow, a tiller, and a grain cart. All of a sudden this project became much bigger. I started with the snow plow. It is a simple design with a little worm gear lift attachment. Using this type of mount, I constructed a simple furrow implement as well. The multiple wheels are meant to smash larger clumps of dirt, and push stones down under the soil. I added a basic group of curved liftarms for front counterweights. All three implements are attached by removing two axles.

9393 Snow Pusher

Most tractors have a three point attachment on the rear. The base 9393 has a two point attachment, which does not allow for a parallel movement as the impliment is raised. I went back and forth on changing this attachment point. In the end, I decided adding a parallel linkage would require a another PTO universal joint. I was not willing to add this, as it would put the implements too far behind the tractor. As such, I kept the stock 9393 motor implement the same. Using the same attachment point, I build a small harrow. The harrow is driven by the PTO shaft. Finally, I build a tiller with the fun little claw parts. I added a drawbar and a pivot, so this impliment would stay parallel to the ground.

9393 Tiller Rear

Because I still did not think this was enough, I added a hitch to the tractor, and built a grain cart. It is a simple single axle design, with sloped sides. There is a conveyor on the bottom, and a folding auger for grain extraction. Both are geared together and can be opperated by a rear HOG gear. OK, I realize it is not an auger, but rather a chain. At this scale, I could not figure out a good auger solution that did not look clunky.

9393 Update Grain Cart

Before I could think of more implement, I said “I’m done.” I was please with how it turned out. All the implements were fun, and give the MOD much more playability. The grain cart was fun to build, and made the tractor look grand. I wish the chassis of the tractor was a little stiffer for the front suspension. I had a lot of fun with this build. I am going to build another tractor before this year is done.

Until next time, Happy building!