Yes, I would do it again (Notes on a Lego train set)

Posted by Bob Keller
on Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Okay, I'm acting in Drama Queen mode. It was challenging for me, but I suspect my niece could have assembled this without breaking into a sweat.

I recently reviewed a Lego passenger train set for CTT. Aside from a few structure kits, it was the most challenging thing I have done because, let's face it, I'm not 10 years old anymore. Kids are naturals for the, I was a bit rusty.  All I needed to do was take a few deep breaths, gulp a cup of coffee and jump right in.

During the process, I took quite a few images of the process mostly so I could keep track of where the heck I was. A secondary notion was to show some of the steps involved so that it might encourage some of my fellow train guys (and gals) into taking a stab at making your own train set.

Being a total newbie to today’s Legos, it took me about two hours to assemble the locomotive. At the end of engine construction I was a bit frustrated, and held off on assembling the cars for another day. So this might give you a taste of what you might expect.

First, the box is great, because it gives you a large image of what it is supposed to look like. This is also a motivator as you search through piles of bricks trying to find that one oddball piece you need. In the end, the car will look like “this.”

There are multiple packages of pieces. There are multiple manuals and the bags of bricks are numbered. I presume that all the pieces you might need were tied into a specific manual and in a given bag. That wasn’t my experience. There are a handful of them that were scattered in other bags. I eventually handled this by opening all the bags and separating the pieces by color. This made it easier for me to find the bits I needed.

The process is straight-forward. Assemble the locomotive and then the rolling stock.

The powered unit starts by assembling the floor and the frame that will house the battery box. You don’t need to worry about the motor for a while, since it is in a powered truck. Once the battery box is installed on the frame, you feed a connector from the truck to the battery box for propulsion. There is a topside lever to turn the battery on (it times off) and a remote control.

Whether it is the locomotive or the cars, everything I constructed from ground up. Floor, sides, interior walls or counters, windows, roof. Don't try to anticipate the sequence, the manuals will take care of you.

The coach was interesting for seat placement and passenger placement, but the café car offered the most grins with a coffee maker, snacks, and customers. I thought the smoked glass windows were an especially neat feature. And yes, I considered it to be possible to substitute O gauge passengers of you wanted to make this a light rail train on your O gauge line.

There were a few (as in four) instances where the manuals literally called for something with X nubs in a specific color, which I could not find. I did however find suitable replacements in colors that didn’t look out of place. The big win here is those pieces weren’t needed later. I suspect the color changed but they didn’t correct the manual.

This was a fun project to construct. It took me two hours to make the locomotive, but just two hours to assemble both of the passenger cars. Let me note their assemble was the same. Once you get into the rhythm of it, things go faster. So have good lighting, a large workspace to spread out the parts, and don't be in a hurry!

As the headline suggests, if I find the right set, I'd take a crack at it and see how it looked on my layout!

I actually kept the box handy to double check if something was to 'look that way.' I tended to pre-guess the next step. Don't bother. Go with the flow.

I literally caught my breath when I saw all the bags. Now is the time where the weak-willed will balk. I didn't because I had Carl, Roger, and Rene continually popping their head in to measure progress.

Hardly exciting, but you begin with the powered unit frame. It will house the batteries that feed the powered truck below (not shown).

Don't get in a rush to install the engineer.

The power truck. Yes, you have to assemble the axle and wheels ... no hammer needed. Just add the wheels to the unit and it is complete.

The powered truck is at the rear of the frame.

The unpowered wheel set is at the front, beneath the engineer.

Walls are rising. The engineer compartment is at the left.

The large empty space is where the battery box will go. The battery box is the square with the green button on top. Once assembled, this is depressed to activate power and the remote controller takes it from there.

Shifting to the cafe car, as with the engine, the walls and interior come first.

Note the cafe with muffins and even a hot dog.

Coffee maker and windows installed.

The least complex assembly was the coach.

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