LEGO Railroad Designs by David A. Karr
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This page describes model railroading I did with LEGO.
At this writing, it's rather old-style stuff--pre-electric, in fact.
I built a number of models of steam locomotives in the 1970's.
In 1994 I retrieved the one example of these
that had never been broken up. I believe this model sat around
on one shelf or another fully assembled for at least 15 years.
Aside from dirt and yellowing of the white bricks (used very extensively
in this model), the bricks have shown little harm.
There's one white 2x2 that shows moderate warping, but it has very
old styling, and I believe it's one of my cellulose acetate bricks from 1963.
(The dirt you see in the images is what was left after complete
disassembly for cleaning, an overnight
soak in soap and water and a thorough scrubbing with
toothbrush and rags--the ``before''
photos, which I haven't shown, are much, much worse.
I used to attribute this to 15 years of exposure to
New York City air, but according to LEGO lore, it was more likely
the years of exposure to UV light while the train sat on an open shelf
that did the damage.)
This locomotive was intended for my old 3-brick-high figures
(which I co-invented before LEGO produced minifigures as a special part),
but it turns out it works even better with the modern minifigures,
even without modification, as can be seen in the pictures.
Left side view
(22K JPEG image)
showing the 2-4-2 wheel configuration (the notation indicates a pair of
small leading wheels, then two pairs of drivers, and finally a pair
of small trailing wheels--a classic setup), and the
smokestack, sandbox and steam dome along the top.
In this view,
you can also see a nice profile of the old-style LEGO hook for joining
Rear view (21K JPEG image).
The minifigure fits quite well in the cab. The opening at
the minifig's feet is the firebox.
Front view (19K JPEG image),
with the minifigure again for scale.
Front door of the cab, open
(24K JPEG image).
Interestingly, the new minifigures can actually pass through the door,
which my old minifigures could not, thereby increasing the
playability of this model.
Bottom view (20K JPEG image).
The locomotive uses old train wheels (with flanges)
for the leading and trailing wheels, but for drivers I had to
use wheels without substantial flanges. The LEGO tracks have very
tight curves, so the wheels at each end of a 2-4-2 would drag the drivers
off the track. To counter this, I put the trailing truck on a
long arm hinged between the drivers, as seen in this view.
As an exercise to see how much the innovative LEGO parts of the last
20 or 25 years have helped a builder like me, in the summer of 1995
I reworked my locomotive model using mostly new pieces.
The new parts I used are mostly not highly specialized, but
I was pleased with the opportunities they afforded.
I also took the opportunity to make the locomotive over in a more
interesting color scheme.
I've shown the train on the old non-electrified track
(blue plastic rails) that LEGO sold in the 1960s.
The complete train (17K JPEG).
Shows the locomotive, tender, and passenger car.
Naturally I had to demonstrate that the locomotive can negotiate
Interior of the locomotive cab
The yellow door leads to the firebox. Some dials and levers have
been added for the operation of the boiler, and there is a
speed control lever near the engineer's right arm.
In a real locomotive this lever could also reverse the engine.
The cord that rings the bell (a little LEGO ``bell'' on the side
of the sandbox swings when you pull this)
is threaded along the inside roof of the cab and
through the eye above the engineer's head.
Passenger car (27K JPEG).
This is an old-time car with open platforms and a center ridge
(with vents) that runs the length of the roof.
Interior of passenger car (14K JPEG).
The roof of the passenger car lifts off to provide access to the
six seats inside, three on each side of a center aisle.
Vertical tabs (two-stud bricks) over each doorway interlock
into the underside of the roof ridge and keep the roof
securely in place when the train runs around the track.
Last updated Mon Sep 29 00:57:18 EDT 2003 .
David A. Karr's LEGO Collection, by
David A. Karr