8854 Update

Winner, Winner, Chicken dinner is what we say in my house!

Free instructions are available at Rebrickable.com.

LEGO 8854 Update

I often participate in online LEGO contests, and most of them are on Eurobricks.com. In the summer of 2021, Eurobricks announced TC20, Technic Studless Recreation. I participate in many, but not all, of the contests that Eurobricks offers. The requirement was to pick an old studded set, and recreated it in studless Technic. I couldn’t sit this contest out, as it checked all the right boxes for me. Entries would be smaller to stay in scale, the builds would be feature packed, and it they would have a deep nostalgic connection. I was in.

Choosing a set to recreate took some time. I started with a list of 32 sets, and started to whittle it down from there. Quickly I removed some of the sets for various reasons: interest, size, not right now, too sacred (8880). I ended with a top three of 6357, 8855, and 8854. 6357 would be interesting to me, but after doing 8640 a couple months back it could wait. 8855 had some opportunity. It is a classic set, and instantly identifiable. I built a little mock-up, and let it sit for a couple of days. I didn’t come back to it.

I am not sure why I did not settle on 8854 right away. I love building Unimogs, and when I do updates I like to add some features. 8854 was missing suspension and an engine, so everything was right for me to recreate this iconic set. I had made my decision and I started posting my progress. First, I had to decide the scale. I made the decision to use the newish Batmobile tires in the build, which make the tires a little larger than the original 8854. I added a stud to the wheelbase to compensate, but otherwise the scale would remain the same.

Next, I had to figure out how to add all the features I would want, while keeping all the original features. HOG for the steering would remain on the top right side of the cab, naturally as a beacon. I then added a control gear for the outriggers on the top left side of the cab. The rotation of the crane would be on the right of the truck driven by a worm gear, and all other crane controls would be on the crane itself.

Fitting in the suspension and engine was a little tricky. Adding the engine was simple enough. There is a differential on the rear axle with portal axle. The driveshaft goes forward to drive a I4 mini engine. Suspension is a dual pendular axle setup: both axles pivot side to side. The front and rear axles are linked together so that when one axle pivots right, the other axle pivots left. It is a simple design that functions well.

LEGO 8854 Engine

Designing the crane was the easiest part. Panels form the base of the arm, and a simple extending boom as created using studded technic beams and some rack gears. A worm gear extends the boom.

The cab is where I had some trouble. 8854 has a funny shaped cab to my eyes. First, it is very narrow. Second, the hood slopes very steeply. Third, the windshield is not very steep, more car shaped than truck shaped. I rebuilt 8854 in Bricklink Studio to help me compare the two designs over each other. I found this to be a helpful step, and allowed for some good feedback from other Eurobrick members. I ended up making the hood a little more flat and slightly shorter. The roof was made a little longer, which made the windshield a little more steep. Then added the fenders that wrap around the wheels a little better, and headlights and a grill that referenced the original grill. I was pleased with the final design. Oh, and I added seats, opening doors, and a dashboard.

Being able to compare the two versions side by side helped me feel comfortable with how the build was going. Most of the time I use Studio when the build is complete, as do not like to tinker in Studio. However, being able to see changes in real time, was immensely helpful. I could ask was the new version staying true to the original? If not, what was the specific part that was making it feel/look off? Being able to overlay both versions on top of each other was helpful, and a step I will do again in the future.

Cab Comparison Overlay

It turns out the design was good enough for a first place! I was thrilled that through both a voting and jury stage, this update was picked over 46 other designs. In addition to that affirmation, I was pleased with how the MOC turned out as well. The functions all worked well, and the control of each was simple and effective. I only wish the suspension was little more stable, but this was only noticeable when the crane was fully extended. I’ll use the suspension again in other MOC soon. If you love 8854 as much as I do, I hope you will give this update a build as well.

Happy Building.

Compact Telehandler

Sometimes I plan out a build, and other times, a build just kind of happens. This was the latter.

You may find free instructions for this MOC at Rebrickable.com.

After building the Atmos Tractor, and then a gazillon implements, attachments, and trailers, I started branching out to other machines that could be used at the Thirdwigg Farm. The Compact Loader was a result of this. I was playing with the new LEGO 42122 tires, and quickly came up with a little four wheel steering idea. I added a fork boom, and decided to see where the project would go.

I am quite fond of LEGO 8283, and the rest of the design was influenced by this little set. I tried a couple of boom extension designs, but each looked a little too “overweight” for the little tractor. So I came back to the extension design that was used on 8283. A mini linear actuator is used to lift the boom. Both functions are controlled by two separate gears on the back of the telehandler.

The cab came together pretty quickly, though I had to make sure the new tires had a clear range of motion. I added some lights, and front fenders which brought a little visual weight to the front. I had a tricky time finding rear fenders that I liked, but I eventually found a solution I liked. In my move towards increasing the readability of my instructions, I have published a PDF with step-by-step instructions that list required parts for each step. I hope they are clear for you, and they bring value to your own build.

The Compact Telehandler worked just as I hoped. The steering is great; it’s fun to drive this little tractor around on a small desk. The boom lift works well, and has a great range of motion. The extension works smoothly, though since it is driven by a worm gear, if the extension is in the wrong position while trying to lift the boom, the boom will bind. The fork tilt mechanism is smooth, and is easily accessible in all boom positions. We will see what next build come from just playing with a couple of parts.

Happy building.

Compact Loader

It was time for me to learn how to do Bricklink Studio, and my Atmos Tractor needed a friend to load all of the trailers.

Free instructions can be found at Rebrickable.com.

This small loader came together rather quickly. I decided to use rear wheel steering rather than articulation as this would keep the mechanics of the bucket/fork simple. Additionally, I wanted to use the new tires from LEGO 42122, and they take up a little more room while turning. Finally, I wanted to allow the tractor to switch easily from forks and a bucket, so this simple feature was the second part to figure out.

The next part of the build required a little more trial and error. End Loaders are tricky in that they have a wide range of motion, and have to fit within a little given space due to the front wheels, cab, and ground. It become clear that at this scale, a mini linear actuator was not going to work. So I used a worm gear and 24z gear with a small linkage to the boom. This gave a wide range of motion, including a very high lift height. The motion was controlled by a 20z gear at the rear of the loader.

The bucket/fork tilt was a little more tricky. A 8z gear and worm gear control the movement. I add this mechanism in many of my builds because it works well for many needs; and it is small. In this build, I needed to redesign the frame for this mechanism as the standard build would not allow for the bucket and fork to fully tilt at ground level. But with a little modification, I was able to get it to work. At the high end, the bucket tilt can bind, which is not great. The tilt stays consistent as the boom lifts, which was a requirement for me as the fork was going to be a center part of the build. Control for the tilt is at the rear of the tractor. Pulling two axles allows for quick change between the bucket and the forks.

Finally, I built this MOC with the singular focus of developing my skills with Bricklink Studio; with the goal of improving the instructions that I make available. I have made photo sequencing instructions for years, but with the 800 pound gorilla that is Rebrickable.com, more and more people are contacting me directly saying some form of “I am confused when I try to build ______.” So, after trying a couple of 100-200 part builds, I launched into this Compact Loader, and built the file in Studio. Studio takes a little time to get used to, but it is slick. And the instructions that are generated are very slick.

But it does take time. Many of my instructions have been free, and I continue to value this for many reasons, but I’ll be reevaluating this the deeper I get into this transition. Either way, enjoy the many MOCs of mine that you can build for free.

I am pleased with how this MOC turned out, and what it taught me about building in Bricklink Studio has been valuable. The model fits my design language, and functions as I expect my models to function. And now, you can clearly figure out how to build it as well. I hope you will enjoy the build as well.

Happy building!

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.


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.


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.

Volvo Ibex

Another contest, another build. LEGO Ideas posted a contest to build your idea of the Volvo construction vehicle of the future using LEGO Technic bricks. This was my entry for the contest, which did not win, but was a design I was happy to complete.


The design was inspired by the Volvo Sfinx and the Hyundai HFex Concept as I was interested in trying the various tracks, and a foldable boom. I started with the track sections, with four idetntical modules. Each are connected to the center turntable with a worm gear assembly for individual track movement. The system is enough to hold the full MOC, but not overly strong.


Next came the superstructure. I created a conventional cab on the left, and added some fuel cells on the back. These cells can slide out the back of the superstructure to be easily replaced. Next came the boom. I wanted a three section boom that would fold, and extend in a variety of directions. Each of the three pivots is operated by a worm gear mechanism. The best manage the length of the boom, the main boom used a worm and 48z gear, the second used a worm and 24z gear, and the final boom used a worm and 8z gear. I added a ball join at the end of the boom to allow for multiple attachments.


The entry did not win the contest, but I was happy with the result. It was creative, and functioned well. I like the way it looked, and was happy with the track setup.

Happy building.

Claas Atos

Not only are my builds becoming smaller, I am also enjoying builds that offer a little more modularity. Why build one thing, when the one thing can play a number of different tasks?

When I built the Snowblower a couple of years ago, I made a couple parts of the truck removable. So after the build was complete made a couple of other options: different cabs, other beds, a crane. This kind of building continued with the 9393 updated tractor. I was hooked. So, when it came time to make a tractor, I had this feature central to the build.

The Atos started a couple of years ago when I completed the 9393 update. I wanted a front PTO in a small tractor. Lime parts were becoming more prevalent (though we are still missing a red medium wheel), so I figured I could make something work. I started with the front axle, as it would need steering, a PTO shaft, and something to lift an implement. The PTO shaft runs directly forward from the rear differential under the steering rack. Another axle runs a stud and a half to the left, which drives a worm gear to elevate the front drawbar.

The engine is mounted on top of the steering unit, and is connected to the rear differential. Off the right side of the engine is a changeover that controls the raear PTO. This drive moves to the rear, and then powers another PTO for the rear. The changeover lever is in the cabin, to the right of the steering wheel. As in the front, a worm driven drawbar is on the rear to mount an implement. A simple hitch is there for a trailer.

I build a front Lemken furrow, a rear Poettinger power harrow, and a front and rear Claas disco mower. I look forward to making other implements as well. Each attach to the front and rear by removing a 5l and 8l axle with stop. It’s simple, and allows for endless modification.

I am happy with the way the tractor turned out. It was strong enough to handle the play of my young kids, and all the functions worked well. I would have like to have an on/off switch for the front PTO. Other than that it turned out well.

Until next time, happy building.

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

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!

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.


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.