Coast Guard Helicopter


I enjoy helicopters very much, so as it has been some time since the MD600, it was about time to make another one.

The full gallery can be found on Flickr and Brickshelf.

After my last helicopter, I wanted to build one that was more basic. This one would simple, small, colorful, and would make use of the excellent blades from set 9396. I wanted to do something like the Sea King, but with a Fenestron tail. I used a HH-52 as a basis for the scale. I built a mock-up of the scale, and started making the gearbox for the helicopter. The main rotor could be operated from a gear on the left of the aircraft. Two changeovers located next to the landing gear pods could be engaged to drive the land gear (up or down, on left) and the winch (up or down, on right). The main rotor was connected to the Fenstron fan at the rear. Both the landing gear and the winch are driven by worm gears, so they would stay locked when the changeovers were in neutral.

The gearbox is mounted in the bottom of the helicopter directly under the rotor. The landing gear mechanism moves forward with the pilot and co-pilot seats directly on top (I love those new panels). The winch gear moves aft, and drives a simple string spool. The compact driveline keeps enough space for a full cabin. There is enough room to add a battery box, and a M motor to power the rotor.

The body work came together quickly with the exception of the rear doors. I wanted to add two sliding doors with windows, and based on the color scheme of the helicopter, they had a to be white. After six drafts, I finally came up with a solution that was doable. They are not perfect, but all the other designs had windows that were comically small, or too low in on the body. Unfortunate, the design calls for six white rare parts. The rest of the bodywork turned out well. The nose, while a little clunky, looked how I wanted. The top area looked good with the three engine exhausts, and the six bladed rotor, while overdone, fit perfectly. Oh, and with clever pin placement, you can fold the rotor back towards the tail. The tail looked sharp with the ducted fan. The vertical stabilizer looked empty, but that’s a problem for all LEGO Technic aircraft with the exception of 42040 (maybe).

 

The helicopter worked great, though a clutch for the gearbox would have been nice. I was pleased with the bodywork of the helicopter, and the colors worked well; maybe grey and orange would be great on a rebuild. I would have lived to have a cleaner design for the wheel pods, but it worked well enough. It was a good swooshable design, as I found playing with the helicopter extensively. Now I need to make a scale Coast Guard ship on which the helicopter can land. Maybe next year.

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.

Mini Mack Cabover


Sometimes I need to build something small to refresh my mind. This was the result of stepping away from other projects for a while, and spending a couple of hours on something small.

The full gallery may be found on Flickr.com.

Recently I wondered if I could build something like LEGO set 8065; a small truck with one function. I liked the little roll off dumpster idea, and I see plenty of the Mack version around here. I had a couple of hours, so I thought, let’s see what I can build. The single function of the truck is the roll off feature. A worm gear moves the arm up and down, and the little hook catches a bar on the dumpster.

The rest of the truck is build on liftarms and connectors. The truck is 8 studs wide, and the space between the two rear axles is 4.5 studs. These two measurements made the chassis more challenging than it should have been. I built a simple cab, and added a little bumper, and the truck was done.

The truck works well. It only does one thing, so it should. It was fun to do a quick little build, and make something small and simple. Until something more substantial…

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.

International Tow Truck


I have so many pneumatic parts, but I do not build with them often. It was time for me to use them.

DuraStar

Since this would be an intentional pneumatic MOC, I wanted to do something small and simple. I thought a tow truck would work well. As many of my trucks are based on Europian models, I figured it was time to do an American truck. The International DuraStar truck seemed to be a good solution, and they are rather ubiquitous her in the States. It is not too big, and not a pick-up based truck, so it was perfect for me.

I first started with the tow boom. I used the new 1×11 cylinder for the boom extension. I used two of the old 2×9 cylinders for the boom lift. I worked hard to get the boom rigid enough for the extension while remaining small. Still the boom is about twice the width and height of the required scale. It is a little flimsy with a heavy load.

DuraStar Hook

The chassis was more work than it should have been. Working in all the pneumatic parts is simple enough, but giving space for all the tubing and flexibility required much work. Add to the fact that the  chassis needed to be strong enough for a Pneumatic pump, and I thought it would be good to have a working driveline, and it got messy fast. Editorial comment: I like clean designs. It’s hard to have clean designs with pneumatics.

DuraStar Chassis

The rear wheels connect to a 2 cylinder fake motor in the front. I did not use a differential. It fits, but I could not find a solution to keep the wheel axles connected to the differential while retaining the rear dualies. All of a sudden the choice of not having a differential in 42022 makes a little more sense. I added a little car lift on the back. The elevation is controlled by worm gear, and the extension simply uses two friction connectors. In front of the dualies is a pneumatic air tank on the right, and the two control valves on the left. Hoses fill up the rest of the space. Above the air tank is worm gear transmission for the winch.

DuraStar Right

I spent a lot of time working on the hood. The cab came together smoothly, but the hood took some work. Working with something that was rigid enough for my standards took some time. I tried some designs with panel, and some designs with plates and wedge plates. Eventually, I settled on a simple studs-on-top brick and plate construction. The mixture of Technic and system looks a little disjointed, but it represented the shape well.

The truck worked well enough. The steering and fake motor worked smoothly and consistently. The pneumatics worked smoothly, and were able to move the functions of the truck well. The car lift on the back cannot handle too much weight.

Two final editorial comments. I am firmly in the linear actuators camp, as I have said before. Fitting rams, running tubing, and trying to use those little valves just to get position of the pneumatics perfect drives me crazy. Second, I really like the 49.5×20 wheel and tire set. It is a great size and has perfect look. But when I build trucks with them I get frustrated. They look better as dualies on the rear, but there is no good connection to a differential on a 15 or 17 wide setup. Eventually I will find a solution, but at this time, they are driving me crazy, so stay tuned.

Happy Building.

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.

 

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.

714

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.

714 WIP1

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!