Loaded like a freight train
Flyin’ like an aeroplane
Feelin’ like a space brain
One more time tonight
No, we don’t know what Axl Rose was singing about either, but seeing as we also don’t know about sci-fi it seemed like a good fit.
There’s more to see of Oscar Cederwall’s fabulous floating freight train at his Flickr photostream, and you can listen to Guns N’ Roses singing about, er… something possibly train-related by clicking here.
This is a BR44, a heavy steam locomotive built from 1926 to 1949 to haul giant loads across Germany’s mountainous regions.
Able pull 1,200 tons through the hills, or 600 tons up steep inclines, the BR44’s were hugely impressive machines. We suspect much of what they hauled from the late-’30s was rather different from that originally intended though, with a simplified versions (ironically given the least simple title of ‘Übergangskriegslokomotives’) designed to speed up production during Germany’s phase of, er…. European ambition.
This brilliant brick-built recreation of the BR44 comes from Bricks_n_Trucks, who has not only replicated the design beautifully, there are two Power Functions L-Motors and a BuWizz 2.0 hidden inside to bring it to life.
There’s more of Bricks’ creation to see on Flickr, and you can travel into the mountains of wartime Germany via the link in the text above.
We’re often guilting of favouring enormous million-part creations here at TLCB. This is because we’re eight, and also because ‘subtlety’ isn’t really in the TLCB Elves’ vocabulary. To be fair to them though, very little is in their vocabulary. Anyway, today we are going small, because Thomas Gion has produced this lovely micro-scale railway vignette, complete with the tiniest trees, teeniest tracks, and littlest locomotive. All look wonderful despite their miniature size and there’s more to see (although not that much more) at Thomas’ photostream. Click the link above to go on a teeny tiny train ride.
The elimination of acid rain by the U.S and Europe (but not China, cough*) is one of very few environmental success stories in world we are still polluting much faster than we can clean it up.
In the ’70s and ’80s forests were dying, lakes became barren, and those living in affected areas suffered respiratory problems. A concerted effort** to lower sulphur and nitrogen emissions – despite the usual environmental denials and refusal to accept blame (sound familiar?) – reversed the catastrophe, and nature is – miraculously – healing itself of the damage.
Back in the early 1900s though, there were no such concerns, and pretty much anything could be dumped into the air, water, or soil in pursuit of profit. Acid included.
This beautifully constructed Epoche 1 ‘Säuretopfwagen’ (acid wagon) and Bayerische PtL 2/2 shunter comes from previous bloggee Pieter Post, who was inspired to recreate some commonplace turn-of-the-century environmental vandalism by the news that a Dutch chemical company has been granted a license to annually discharge up to 14,000kg of micro-plastics into one river.
And thus over a century later, even with the success of halting acid rain (except in China), nothing has really changed at all.
This post features something on rails, carrying something on rails, craning something on rails. Previous bloggee Pieter Post is the builder behind this railway-based Inception, with his 1930s diorama depicting a Henschel ‘Brauns’ narrow-gauge steam engine being lowered onto its new route by a fully motorised Ardelt 25-ton railway crane. Each is beautifully constructed and there’s more to see on Flickr via the links above.
If there’s a more ‘Choo Choo!’y Lego creation than this, we haven’t found it. Wonderfully built by Owen Meschter, this is a Class Y14 steam locomotive, as used by LNER at the turn of the century who classified them as J15s, and which saw service on British railways right up until 1958. But that’s enough boring train facts. You now have permission to run around your house or place of work shouting ‘Choo Choo!’. If anyone stops you tell them TLCB sent you.
This is not a car. It is in fact a Prussion G12 steam locomotive, depicted here in Royal Württemberg livery (and in a wonderful snowy scene) by Flickr’s Pieter Post.
Around 1,500 G12’s were built between 1917 and 1924, when it became one of the first standardised locomotives in operation across Germany.
Pieter’s beautiful recreation of the G12 utilises a slew of third-party parts to maximise the realism, with custom valve gear, tender wheels, LED lighting, and a BuWizz bluetooth battery powering the LEGO L-Motor that drives the wheels.
The result is – as you can see here – spectacular, and you can check out the full description of both Pieter’s Prussian G12 build and the real steam locomotive at his photostream.
Click the link above to take a winter’s journey across 1920’s Germany.
This is not a car, as was pointed out by the reader that suggested it, but it is incredible, and we quite like trains.
Built by TLCB debutant Rouven’s Legoeisenbahnen this amazing creation is a Union Pacific EMD DDA40X Centennial locomotive, and it is unfathomably lifelike.
Wonderfully realistic decals add to the accuracy, as do the twenty-four huge container trucks, each carrying two containers, and the second EMD DDA40X locomotive used to pull them.
All in Rouven’s build is easily the longest creation that this site has have ever publicised, and you can see just how enormous the complete train is via the link to Rouven’s ‘EMD DDA40X Centennial’ album above.
Being lazy, er… we mean tremendously generous, we’re handing over to another reader today for a review of more LED lighting kits for the 2020 LEGO sets, courtesy of LEGO-compatible LED lighting experts Game of Bricks. John Olive is the lucky recipient/willing reviewer, who has fitted some twinkly lights to his 10277 Crocodile Locomotive, and a few Speed Champions sets too – over to John!
Lights are only good for 3 things. Driving in the dark, for decorating a Holiday tree, and for lighting up LEGO sets. You know that feeling you have when you’ve finished building an official set that cost you an arm and a leg, and you have the desire to take your build to the next level? Well, for a good price it’s time to look to lighting your set or own creation with a good set of lighting kits.
While the current lineup of LEGO lighting kits are few and far between, a majority of builders have to turn to 3rd party vendors for all their lighting needs.
I had the distinct pleasure of getting hooked up with some lighting kits from Game of Bricks. Curious on the build quality and lighting ability, I had 3 kits sent to me in the United States. Two were for Speed Champions sets and the third was for the 10277 Crocodile Locomotive.
While shipping did take a little while, I was pleasantly surprised that when the package arrived, the kits were packaged nicely in thin black boxes. Inside all 3 kits, were the necessary components for each set and all came with a disclaimer packet. I was thrown off for a hot second because there weren’t any installment instructions and I didn’t know which lighting kit was for which set. I was quickly corrected by my 6 year old as he noticed a sticker on each kit with the set number on there. Go figure.
I had to refer back to the website for instructions as the kits didn’t come with an installment guide which was conflicting with their website offer of having instructions in every set. The instructions online were geared towards folks that have built the corresponding set already, so it included tear down instructions prior to adding the lights. This was extremely helpful for the Speed Champions sets and Crocodile. With only receiving digital instructions, I don’t hold that against them as I prefer to use digital instructions. The pictures were clear and provided a close up view of what was happening. I may have been distracted by the model’s fingernail in some pictures, but as I replicated the instructions on my own desk, it was apparent that Game of Bricks had given some thought in this phase of the installment. While the sets I reviewed were somewhat newer, hopefully older sets have the instructions right out of the box. Just in case customers don’t have the internet.
Let’s get to the actual kits.
The quality of the lighting kits was high just by the look and feel of the components. The website promises top notch quality, and while I’m unsure of the specific requirements to that, my experience with lighting kits confirms that it’s true. The extremely thin Connecting Cables are wound tightly and I didn’t notice any unraveling wires when running the cables in between the plates and bricks. Connecting the cables to a light strip has to be done very carefully and will be rewarded with an audible click when it slipped in there correctly.
*Veteran tip: A classic technique requires you to use your fingernail to push the connector into the port when dealing with such small components.*
Once cause of concern when dealing with any kind of lighting kit is the size of the LEDs used, but luckily Game of Bricks comes through with the perfect size. On the Crocodile Locomotive set, there are several 1×1 translucent clear pips that mimic the lights.
The LEDs from GOB fit nicely inside the pip. On the flip side, the light kit for the 75894 Mini Cooper S Rally & 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Buggy came with 2 sets of pips that had small holes that snaked the connecting table inside for you. This was because the Crocodile lights had their clear pips connected to a brick that allowed the cable to be hidden. When it comes to creating lighting kits, attention to the smallest detail allows for an easy installment. Spending time with a set when developing these clever little work-arounds is important because not only does it need to be installed correctly, the cables need to be hidden in order to pull off that realistic component of the set. No one likes a gorgeous set with clunky wires being exposed. With that, Game of Bricks is going to receive good marks when it comes to hiding cables.
While it makes sense to light up a locomotive like the Crocodile, Speed Champions sets like the MINI or Jaguar were a wild card for me. In all my years going to brick shows, it is rare to see those small cars being lit up because it becomes difficult to hide those clunky battery boxes. Luckily the battery boxes provided in the lighting kits aren’t much bigger than a zippo lighter, and comfortably hold 3 triple A batteries. Just make sure that you are hiding that box behind the set as it is clear that these lighting kits are more for display than for running trains on a train layout. A nice little tidbit is having the on/off switch on that battery box and some sets like the Crocodile include a secondary battery box for two 3 volt round batteries. This extremely thin box allows for installment underneath the set and is hidden from view. The finished models shined brightly in all the right places. For example, on the Crocodile Locomotive, the main cabin’s lights shine a dull yellow, mimicking this 1919-1986 model, while the lights at the front and rear “snouts” shone a bright white light. I appreciated the thought behind those decisions.
Having so many options for kits leads to the biggest question that I will leave to others to debate. Are there certain LEGO sets that should be MODed for lighting kits or are there sets that should not be lit?
Game of Bricks throws all that into the wind with their wide selection of lighting kits and says, you shouldn’t let anybody tell you what LEGO set to light up. Their catalog of lighting kits is ever growing, and just by the looks and experience of using their lighting kits, it’s hard to not think of a LEGO set they don’t have a kit for. If they don’t have one available, you can make suggestions which I appreciate as a consumer.
As LEGO continues to pump out new sets, Game of Bricks appear to be doing a great job of creating new kits for them. With their robust catalog of kits, and accessories for your own creations, I believe that Game of Bricks is here to light up the competition.
We can be accused of many things here at TLCB, but not reading isn’t one of them. The mass of emailed complaints our inbox receives don’t read themselves…
Requests for building instructions also land here with frequency, and as such a whole industry has sprung up to provide the online Lego Community with step-by-step directions to build all sorts of creations, from realistic real-world supercars to tiny micro models. Today we have another addition to this increasing pool of instructional resource, thanks to Charles Pritchett and the guys at No Starch Press, this is ‘Lego Trains Projects‘.
Running to 200 pages, ‘Lego Train Projects’ brings seven rather lovely train creations to life via step-by-step building instructions, with everything from a coal hopper to a hefty diesel locomotive. Each is compatible with LEGO’s own 6-wide train system, and matches their more advanced models – such as the 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief – for detail, only without the need for stickers.
Whereas previous No Starch books have offered small descriptions or backstories to the builds within them, there’s little pre-amble here, as Charles gets straight down to the building steps. A title page for each model displays the number of pieces, whilst a bill of materials (aka a parts list) and alternative colour suggestions finish each section.
The instructions themselves are fantastic, equal to LEGO’s own with clear steps, sub-assemblies, additions to each step highlighted in yellow, and probably a touch more complexity. The models aren’t necessary more complicated than the more advanced of LEGO’s own offerings, but they do pack in a variety of techniques that are probably above those within the grasp of the average builder, thus ‘Lego Train Projects’ could be a worthwhile educational aid for those wishing to up their game beyond basic studs-up construction.
The result is a set of train-based models that will up the realism of most layouts considerably, and which can be easily tailored to suit the preferred colours of the owner, with our favourite of Charles’ seven designs probably being the milk tanker, which could easily be converted to an Octan tanker if you prefer petrol over cow juice by simply switching the coloured rings.
As we’ve become used to with No Starch Press publications, the quality of both print and paper is superb; ‘Lego Train Projects’ not only looks great, it feels great too, with a soft matte cover and beautifully crisp pages within. Whilst we personally don’t always understand the need for building with instructions, if you’re looking to use them to build yourself some really rather lovely train creations, they don’t come much better than this.
Not the running bird type (we’re not sure why things are avian-themed today), but this rather beautiful Japanese National Railways 583-series ‘EMU’ train, built and photographed superbly by TLCB debutant Orient R. Minesky.
Orient has eschewed the usual plain background set-up (that admittedly we usually prefer) for gorgeous (and incredibly life-life) outdoor photography, making his stunning EMU train appear almost real.
Head to Orient’s photostream via the link above for all of the wonderful on-location imagery.
This is the most interesting Lego creation that you’ll see this year. By a mile.
Built by newcomer Alfred Boyer, this huge Technic steam locomotive really works, and is built from 100% standard LEGO pieces. Of course fire and plastic bricks don’t mix that well, so instead of superheating water to generate steam, Alfred’s astonishing creation uses air pressure to drive pistons, which is essentially exactly the same operation as a real steam engine, only without setting fire to coal to generate the energy.
Four LEGO pneumatic cylinders turn the eight drive wheels, with two speed ‘gearbox’ – if you can call it that – controllable from the cabin. Also controllable from the cabin are working brakes, with shows that press against each wheel through pneumatic pressure, and -amazingly – a working whistle, which diverts air pressure through some hollow bricks to create the sound. It’s a good thing the Elves haven’t figure this out otherwise it’s all we’d hear all day.
It’s a phenomenal piece of engineering and one that probably takes LEGO’s pneumatic system further than any model before it. The only way to really appreciate Alfred’s creation is to take a much closer look – head to Eurobricks by clicking here for the complete build details (where you can also find a link to it on LEGO Ideas), and definitely watch the video below!
Ah the age of steam, when no-on had to worry about catching a deadly virus named after a beer, and idiots vomiting ‘advice’ on social media in the name of clicks were just idiots vomiting advice down the pub that could be quietly ignored. There was polio, consumption and no National Health Service though, so on balance today is probably a better time to be alive, however romantic the past may look.
This particular piece of romantic looking past is a Thompson Class L1 steam locomotive, produced between 1948 and 1950 and run – in this case – by the London North East Railway.
Built by Britishbricks it’s a breathtaking replica of one of the ninety-nine Class L1s constructed, with custom valve gear and beautiful decal work too. A convoy of superb trucks follows and there’s more to see of the complete train at Britishbricks’ Album on Flickr. Head to a romanic looking past via link above. Toot toot!
Today’s creation probably goes a bit beyond what many of us think of when building with LEGO. Newcomer Britishbricks’ beautiful LNER Class P2 steam locomotive is almost entirely wrapped in custom vinyl, from the bespoke wheels to the smokebox, with many parts coloured or – look away purists – cut, in order to replicate the real locomotive as accurately as possible.
Whilst not to everyone’s tastes Bristishbricks’ creation shows what is possible in pursuit of perfection, and you can view an insight into how this model was made via his LNER Class P2 ‘Prince of Wales’ album on Flickr, which not only shows the finished locomotive that you see here but also the digital and pre-wrapped steps along the way.
Thomas the Tank Engine has had enough! Fed up of shunting along the stupid Ffarquhar branchline, rescuing the hapless James, and taking orders from the authoritarian Fat Controller, Thomas has grown himself mechanical arms and legs purely from the rage burning inside his boiler, he’s about to get mad, and Vicarstown isn’t going to know what hit it.
Flickr’s Dvd owns the somewhat unhinged mind that has managed to turn a children’s classic into a steam-powered automaton and there’s more to see of his frankly terrifying Thomas the Mech Engine creation at his photostream. Now will someone please build a car so we can blog without having nightmares.