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.

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!

K-Tec 1233 Scraper

I find myself on frequently as it inspires many of my future builds. Most of the time the site gives me reference pictures, and sometimes it shows me something I have never seen before. This is the result of one of those late night browsing sessions.

See the full gallery at Brickshelf and on Flickr. Instructions may be found here.

K-TEC 1233

I wanted to make a scraper, and once I was browsing this site, I came across the K-Tec. It was a different set-up that I thought looked fun. I was hooked. Early I decided the MOC would be perfect for the newer 49.5×20 tire, so the tire set my scale.

I started with the suspension for the tractor first. I did not have too much room to work with on the rear, so I set two differentials together, and connected them via two 20T gears. The rear one connects above to a 12T gear, which transmits rotation to the fake motor in the front. The two axle assembly pivots at this gear connection and connects to the rear wheels, so no u-joint is needed. The middle axle connects to the rear assembly through the differential connecting axle. This simple set-up allows for all four wheels to move freely, and independently.

K-TEC 1233 ADT Suspension

I then added the front cab. It is not too complex with a differential fixed for the front axle, and a two-cylinder fake motor above it. A HOG gear is above the cabin which pulls a liftarm for the steering. A turntable is used to provide articulation between the cab and the rear chassis. Then a simple body was made, and off to the scraper.

K-TEC 1233 Tractor

I then worked on the scraper part; kind-of. I knew when I started this project I would need a bunch of 1×6 arch bricks in yellow for the front gate. There are not many of them, so I started ordering them over the course of three months. As each would  arrive, I worked on the scraper. I first set the dimensions and worked on the lifting mechanism. It was a little tricky to find the correct geometry while not taking too much room, and keeping the upper pivot point small while using to mLAs for the movement. I found a good solution, but a little more stiffness in the assembly would have been great. I added an extraction plate at the rear driven with a worm gear assembly resting between the rear wheels. Another stud of travel would be great, but it was not worth adding another four stud gear rack to make that happen. Finally, all the parts arrived for the front gate, so I installed it. Because the walls of the scraper are only one stud thin, I did not want to mess with the thickness of the sides to much by adding a mechanism for the gate movement. Each assembly I tried with a mLA or a worm gear set-up looked clunky or bulky. I ended up with a friction pin with a gear to move it. It is not very fancy, but it works well. At this scale, it is all that needed.

K-TEC 1233 Gate

All in all, the MOC turned out OK. It would have been better to have a stiffer hitch arm, and I would have liked a different solution for the entry gate. I was pleased with the size, and I enjoyed packing a number of features into the small (but long) MOC. Finally, for some reason the MOC does not please my eyes as much as those first pictures I saw on Maybe it just needs to be a little bigger.

Until the next one, Happy Building.


I participate in only some of the contests that are available in the online LEGO community. I generally participate if it meets the following criteria: Is the challenge within my competencies? Does the contest align with other responsibilities/projects to which I have already committed? Can I be competitive? Frankly, it is the last question that often stops me. The preceding two questions determine my limitations, and considering how good many other builders are it is not often I participate. With this in mind, I decided to enter the Eurobricks Technic Challenge 9 (nine already!?).

Edit 2016.02.16 : The contest has completed, and this Model came in second! See the results page here, and all the votes here. Thanks to Eurobricks for the contest.

A full gallery with Instructions can be found here.



What interested me in this contest was the constraints, and to a lesser extent the topic. the constraints stipulated that both MOCs had to fit within 10,000 cubic studs. I got out my calulators, and started playing with numbers. I was hooked. Additionally, building one MOC is hard, and building two from the same parts seemed very hard. It was something I had never done, and only a few builders can develop a good B or C model. The planning stage would be critical. Both models would have to be planned together right from the beginning. I toyed with a Combine/Tractor, and a Pipelayer/Crane, and even a Airplane/Boat. With each of these designs, I realized I would be using too much space with a long appendage, such as the Combine’s implement, or the Pipelayer’s arm. The cubic studs required something more…cube shaped. I eventually settled on a Snowblower and a Tractor. Both were a little more square and had similar components (wheels, engines, colors, chain links). I knew I would need to build both together, and multiple renditions would be needed. I was ready to start building.

Snowblower Rear

Pretty early, I settled on 17x17x34 studs for the Snowblower. I challenged myself to include steering, a working blower, and a working salt spreader. I build the basics of the blower implement right away, complete with rotation coming from the truck drive. On the rear, I added an implement lift using a worm gear setup, and a quick link to the truck . Next, I worked on the chassis of the truck. I added portal axles, because I could not get the 5L wheel axles to say connected to the differential. This also helped to clear the front PTO from the steering function, which was linked directly to a HOG gear on top of the cabin. The salt spreader needed a take-off gear for the conveyor belt, and the discharge plate would be driven separately from the rear differential. The mechanics were set. I then worked on the cab. I made sure the cab, the blower, and the spreader could be easily removed by removing up to four pins for each. It’s a fun modular function that allow for other attachments.

Snowblower Modules

I first made a pile of all the parts used for the truck while it was still built, and made a first draft of the tractor. Based on the parts of the Snowblower, the tractor would have four wheels, a 2 cylinder engine, and something with a whole bunch of 3×3 round, red, liftarms. I first modeled it after a John Deere 7R series, but realized this would leave me with too many left over parts. I then tried modeling it after a Claas Saddletrac. This seemed to be a better fit. I then took apart the Snowblower, making instructions as I went. I then used these parts to make the official model B. Over the course of a week, I made many revisions.

Tractor Rear

Both models worked well, as none of the feature are too complicated. I was pleased with the A model as everything functioned as it should, and it looked great. The tractor was simple, and it’s simple functions worked well. I was pleased with how it all turned out. It was great working with a limited number of parts for the B model, but I would prefer to clean up the look of the tractor a little better. This was a great little contest. I loved the restriction of the cubit studs, and I loved having to make a MOC with a defined group of parts. Now let’s see how the voting shakes out.




The T-72 that a made a couple of years ago is still the most popular MOC I have made; at least in terms of internet analytics. This year, I committed to making another tank, so I figured keeping in line with old Soviet armor would be rather apropos.

The main gallery may be found on Brickshelf or at Flickr.


The T-54/T-55 line of tanks have been produced in greater numbers than any other tank. The MOC represented here is a T-55A, representing types that were assembled starting in 1970. This series included an updated NBC and antiradiation system, an upgraded engine, and also added back in the 12.7mm anti-aircraft DShK on the loader’s hatch that was part of the original T-54 spec.

As with most of my MOCs, I starting scaling the tank before any building took place. I knew I wanted to use the newer, larger track links, and I knew I wanted to use the old mid-sized wheels. This set my scale, so I got to work. Starting with the chassis and the hull I worked first on the driveline and suspension. I used simple 2×4 liftarms to connect the road wheels to a suspension axle which activated a shock absorber inside the hull. Each road wheel has its own shock absorber. Fitting them all in took some creativity, but they are all mounted inside on the left and right sides of the hull. In the end, each wheel has about 3 studs of vertical travel.

T-55 Chassis

In between each suspension bank are the remaining mechanics.  After the suspension was set, I worked on the turret functions. Right from the beginning, I knew the tank would have a rotating turret and an elevating gun. It was clear having the elevation mechanics for the gun in the turret would be tight, so I decided instead to have the functions placed in the hull rather than in the turret. Using a vertically mounted mLA, connected directly to the breach of the gun, I was able to develop a method that would elevate the gun throughout the full turret rotation. The turret rotation was driven by a 8z gear connected to the turntable, and reduced by a worm gear. Both motors for the elevation and rotation are placed directly in front of the turret.

T-55 MechBehind the turret are two PF L motors mounted transversely side by side. They drive a 1:1 gearbox which connect directly to each rear drive sprocket. The IR receivers are placed above the gearbox. For those keeping score at home, the internals are (f to r) the battery box, the turret motors, the turret mechanics, the drive motors, and finally the IR receivers.

Working on the exterior of the MOC is what took the most time. The hull came together pretty quickly, with the exception of the details over each track. Most of the finishing time came with the turret exterior. Most Soviet tanks have the distinctive mushroom turret, which considering LEGO’s cube orientation presented some challenges. The turret of the T-55 also has a slight triangle orientation when viewed from the top. Like the T-72, I designed the turret with four side orientations (left, right, front, and rear), and one top orientation. Starting from the rear, I added a basic curved structure. The sides each had a couple levels of slopes, each tapering in toward the gun. The front was a little more complex. There are two “slope blocks” made of 4 curved slope bricks, and a supporting structure. One slope block is mounted on each side of the gun. The support structure is a mess of bricks with a stud on one side, headlight bricks, and plates. The top of the turret is plates on the front, and two sloped plate sections under each hatch. The two hatches are mounted to the turret support under the sloped plate sections. The AA machine gun is placed on the top, and various external mountings are placed in various ways around the turret.

T-55 Turret Detail

After making a lot of non-powered MOCs, it was nice to get back into Power Functions. I was pleased that everything worked flawlessly. The drive had adequate traction and power. The suspension worked well, and provided good floatation and travel. The turret rotation was smooth and allowed for precise directions changes. The gun elevation worked great, though I had to limit turret rotations to under four before the clutch on the mLA would snap. After a number of smaller builds, and frustratingly long builds, I was nice to finish something that worked well, provided constant entertainment throughout the build, and turned out quite nice.

Happy building.

OCTAN Air Racer

OCTAN is one of my favorite longitudinal themes of LEGO. It gives a little color and identity to many of the racing vehicles that have been produced by LEGO since 1994. I don’t know why it took me so long to start making MOCs with an OCTAN theme, but after last summer’s OCTAN F1, I figured I should do another one.

The full gallery including instructions may be seen here.

OCTAN Air Racer

It was time for me to build another airplane, and I figured a0 small air racer would work well in the OCTAN colors. Right from the beginning, I was sure I wanted to make a biplane, and I wanted a radial engine (all real airplanes have propellers). From there everything was on the table. Off to designing.

I started with the radial. It’s not quite a radial, but rather two perpendicular boxer 4 cylinder engines. Each bank of two cylinders are mounted in a different direction; up, down, port, and starboard, and are connect by one common crankshaft. The side banks are one stud forward, and the up and down banks rear, so all eight connecting rods can fit on a common 5l axle. Two engine crankshafts are mounted at each end. The motor spins well, and quite quickly, but the connection is not exactly “legal,” as the pins on the cylinders are a little stressed.

8 Cylinder Radial

Working backwards, I attached the leading edges of the wings, and the worked on the landing gear. Being an air racer (even a biplane), it had to have retractable landing gear. I connected the two wide spaced legs with a simple axle and bevel joint, and added a worm gear to articulate the action. It is a simply solution, and it functions well.

Air Racer Bottom

Just behind and above the worm gear is the joystick. The roll functions are connected to the bottom wing by gears, and the pitch function is connected by liftarms to the rear elevator. The rudder is fixed. The lower ailerons are connected to the upper ailerons by a simple 9L link. When you move the joystick, all four ailerons move. The cockpit is a little cramped, but when you are racing space is not a concern, only speed.

Air Racer Drive


Air Racer Cockpit

After the radial, the bodywork was the priority for the MOC. I have been slowly acquiring white and green parts over the last year. The airplane was designed as primarily white, with red and green accents. The red stripe worked well, as did the red tail, but I could not find a great way to incorporate the green. I added a little to the tips of the wings, and to the wing control surfaces. I used a couple more stickers that I had left over from set 60025, and the MOC was finished.

I was pleased with how the MOC turned out. The airplane looks strong, and the red and green make the white vibrant. I wish I could have found a better place to incorporate the green. The places it was added seems a little haphazard. The radial turned out great, but I feel a little bad about the illegal build. The landing gear works well, as do the control surfaces. I was pleased with how it turned out. Next up, maybe an OCTAN speedboat. Other ideas?

Happy building.


CAT 586C

My favorite constructions vehicles are feller bunchers. The wheeled ones. So I am naturally inclined to make them. I built a small one; I built a large one. I wanted to build a medium one, but I figured I should get out of the box. At least this time.

The full gallery may be seen here, and instructions may be found here.

CAT 586C

The CAT 586C is a site prep tractor. Forgive me for simplifying the work done by the engineers, but the tractor is basically a 573C with a new implement for site preparation, rather than felling. As always, I stared with scaling the full tractor from CAT’s website, and finding a size that would work well with tires, features, and aesthetics. Then I started building.

CAT 586C Rear

I started with the chassis, to get a sense of the size and the layout. I had a good idea of all the features I would want, and I knew some planning would be required. I then finished the mulcher (implement), which is basically a rotating drum with lots of teeth on it. I used a bunch of 24 tooth gears, and connected them to a rotating driveshaft. The chassis was built with four wheel drive, and was connected to the mulcher driveshaft through a series of gears to increase the speed of the drum.

CAT 586C Underside

Then on to the back of the tractor. Feller bunchers and site prep tractors all have their engines in the back; pretty normal for large tractors with large front implements. But to get the weight as far back as possible, the engine is mounted transversely. This presented a couple of challenges for me. I mounted a I-3 engine on the left in the rear with simple gearbox geared up to connect it to the drivetrain. Just in front of the motor are the two cooling fans, which are also driven by the drivetrain. These are also geared up. For those of you keeping score at home, the drivetrain gears up three separate functions, so rolling the MOC on the floor causes a nice whizzing sound.

CAT 586C Driveline

I added some additional features that mirror the real tractor. First, over the mulcher there is a guide bar that allows the tractor to push trees and shrubs down toward the mulcher. In my MOC this is accomplished by a simple worm gear mechanism. Second, I added a small winch on the rear to get the tractor out of sticky situations. Finally, a small mulching door was installed to allow for more or less entry to the mulcher, again just like the real tractor.

CAT 586C Mulcher

The tractor worked well. Functions were smooth, and required no maintenance during play. The many controls on the front were a little dense, and this caused some finger congestion. The number of rotational features connected to the drivetrain made rolling on the floor a little strained. Thought, this kept the MOC from rolling off the table into a lot of pieces. Everything worked well enough, so maybe it is time to make another feller in this scale. Not today, I still have a lot of other projects to complete first.

Happy Building.


At any given time I have about 4-6 projects going on at a time. This is partly the result of the Queue, which is partly the result of my lack of focus. In the midst of all this planning, I find it therapeutic to sit down, and start something small, simple, and without a plan. Two weeks ago, right after finishing the ATS, I sat down, and in a couple of hours, completed a small windrower.

The full gallery including instructions may be found here.


Some of my favorite MOCs are the smaller non-motorized ones I have done over the years, like my Feller, my Octan F1, my 4×4 8081, and my Sod Harvester. I built the Windrower to fit in this theme. A Windrower, or Swather, is basically a large lawnmower. The blades on the front cut down hay, and pull all the cuttings to the center to make a row of cuttings, or windrow, to be picked up later.

My version is rather simple. The two main wheels are connected to a center differental through two 8z portal axles. The differential drives a small I3 motor in the rear, and a PTO driveshaft comes out the front. The PTO drives a simple harvesting head made of four z24 gears which are connected with a number of z12 gears. The harvesting head can be raised and lowered by a simple worm gear setup. A simple steering system was created for the rear wheels, and it was connected by a liftarm to the smoke stack so you could control the steering.

The body work took a couple of orders. After recently making a couple of MOCs in red, I felt the Case IH coloring would be a little redundant, so John Deere Green it was. My collection of green is growing, but there were still some parts needed. After everything arrived, I replaced all the red, and added some yellow wheels, and everything was set. A simple MOC, with some fun features, and an infrequent color.

Happy Building.



Kenworth T47

The Kenworth T55 is my favorite Trial Truck I have built. It’s not the best looking, or the most capable, or the most reliable, or even the most popular but it’s the one I keep coming back to. My latest truck is a continuation of the Kenworth series of trial trucks. The T55 would pull a stump, the T47 is quicker, has better steering, and more compliant suspension.


Right from the beginning I knew the truck would have a similar cabin at the T55. It would continue with the four wheel steering, and I added an independent suspension. The dimensions would stay close to the same. From there anything else was fair game. I started with the axles. The new suspensions arms made it a little bit easier to make a good independent design. A CV joint was used at the steering knuckle, which allowed for the steering pivot to be near the wheel. Each wheel had about three studs of travel.

The XL motor was placed on the left of the center line and the rechargeable battery box was placed on the right. A newly acquired Servo Motor was placed rear on the centerline directly in front of the rear axle. I had a little more space left, so I added a simple two speed gearbox. A little more space remained so I added a flat six engine.

T47 Engine

Part of my attraction of the T55 has been it’s coloring, and it’s shape. I wanted to keep the attraction similar, but in a way that would differentiate the trucks. I have been acquiring some green lately, so I thought would be a great color. The cab is basically the same, but now it can tilt so you can work on the engine.

The off road performance was not great on the T55, and the T47 was similar. The independent suspension had too much play at the wheels to be great at steering, and the articulation was not very supple. The truck was great to drive around my house, but when I took it outside it did poorly. The suspension design is better than my last independent set up. There was no slipping of the gears. I think my next design will use the same knuckle, but design a different steering connection. This truck again proves the use of knob wheels rather than a differential for a trial truck. Feel free to make your own, and let me know what improvements you developed.

Happy Building.