Kit 7764 JIA Polybulk Hopper Wagon Available

7764Advert

At long last, I have found time to complete the instructions for the British Rail Polybulk covered hopper (TOPS code JIA). This wagon design is quite robust and looks quite impressive in its striking green livery—a livery made possible with availability of 2x4 tiles and 2x4 curved slopes in green. I have road tested this wagon extensively during shows and it works very well.

At 535 pieces, it is quite efficient with parts for a wagon of its size. If you can build multiple copies, this wagon looks impressive in a rake of several vehicles.

Available now at the kit store.

Support the PFx Brick!

KickStarterBannerSquare

After many months of hard work, Jason Allemann and I are launching our Kickstarter campaign to hopefully bring the PFx Brick in to mass production. The PFx Brick has truly been a labour of love and we're super excited about its potential. The mix of emotions before launching a campaign like this is quite unusual. It is a combination of excitement, trepidation, vulnerability, and impatience. Exposing the fruits of one's labour to the collective judgement of the world in a focused 30 day period is quite a unique experience. It will be very interesting to see how this 30 day campaign unfolds!

Campaign start: Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:00am EDT

Campaign ends: Tue Apr 25, 2017

Heavy Metal

MEMetalTrack

I'm not normally a fan of the "un-boxing" photo or video genre; however, I'll make an exception in this case!

After quite a long wait, I have finally received my much anticipated delivery of ME Models metal track elements.

It appears that the wait has been worth it. Initial exploration with assembling some track sections has put to rest any anxieties of adopting a novel, yet unconventional method of metalizing plastic track. Some observations:
1) The clutch power is much improved over previous ME track. The tendency for ballasted track sections to "explode" with any subtle twisting forces, resulted in me solvent welding the rails to the ballast plates.
2) Rail joints are smooth and seamless. This is not a surprise given that these are effectively HO/OO rail sections with fishplates. This will lead to very smooth running characteristics and superb electrical performance.
3) Nickel silver rail will resist corrosion and improve electrical performance.
4) Separate rail sections will broaden the opportunity to "scratch build" a wider variety of track. I've posted some track sections built to represent precast concrete rail-beds common with many high speed railway lines.
5) Flange way clearance is better without flanges running on the rail base.

HighSpeedTrack

My only criticism is the possibility of creating uneven rail height during assembly. My initial tendency when assembling a rail section was to apply force on top of the rail head to secure it to the tie-plates. This would sometimes result in pushing the metal rail insert further into its groove resulting in uneven rail height. I now have to be conscious to apply force to the rail base flange rather than the rail head.

Overall, I say its a big win for us Lego train fans. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is motors with metal wheels!

Happy Holidays from Fx Bricks

Fx who?

I guess I should come clean. A lot of the reason I haven't posted for while this year is because I've been working on this. No, not a winter village scene which can built from sets in 2 hours! :) I have been working on the electronics which power this scene as shown in this video...




These models are powered by the PFx Brick. A new product developed in collaboration with my good friend Jason Allemann (yes, the same Jason who designed the Lego Ideas marble maze). We've started a company called Fx Bricks, and we're hoping to bring the PFx Brick into production with the help of a crowd-funding campaign in the near future. We hope the PFx Brick will just be a starting point for many cool products aimed at integrating electronics with bricks.

I won't bore you with the details, you can visit fxbricks.com for that. Suffice to say, what started as an effort to bring the awesome technology of the model train world (i.e. DCC sound decoders) to Lego trains, became a more useful and general purpose product. A product which can bring the magic of lighting, sound and animation to models of any theme, shape, or size!

Merry Christmas to all my Lego friends, and all the best for 2017!

A Few of my Favourite Books

FavBooks
There's an active thread on Eurobricks discussing the possibility of relaunching a Lego train magazine publication following the demise of the excellent Railbricks.

I posted my opinions on this topic to essentially say that whilst I'd love a Railbricks replacement, there probably isn't a commercially viable way to make it happen.

It also got me thinking about what I loved about Railbricks and other great model train publications for that matter. The common factor was aspiration. By seeing a showcase of the very best models and layouts, inspired me to push my limits and to have the confidence to do so.

Shown above are three publications which inspire me in pursuit of this hobby in very different ways.

1) British Rail Design by James Cousins
Ironically published by the Danish Design Council, this book satisfies both my love of British trains and graphic design. It chronicles the radical impact of British Rail's rebranding strategy of the 1960s and how many elements of it survive to this day. This was an extremely difficult publication to find since it was long out of print. I heard of one copy being available in a Tokyo bookshop and one torn copy available from a Danish museum. (Obviously I got the torn copy from Denmark!)

2) Layout Design by Iain Rice
Iain Rice is no stranger to the UK model train community; having published many books and magazine articles on fine scale modelling. His approachable and witty writing style combined with uncompromising practical advice offered no end of inspiration to my scale modelling efforts. This book focuses on the topic of layout design. Everything from research, planning, operation, visual design, and much more are covered. What really strikes me about this book is how relevant it's content is to any model train scale and standard (including Lego!) Iain Rice has also published articles on layout design in the US Model Railroader magazine, so his name might be familiar to some US based modellers too.

3) 2016 Kato Model Railroad Catalog
Its not because I have a soft spot for Japanese N-gauge modelling, but I simply love this book! Or should I say catalog? At 258 pages it qualifies as a book! Even though I can't read most of it; I derive no end of inspiration. It shows how mind-bogglingly comprehensive a product line can be made and organized. Kato offers its lucky customers a complete "candy store" of products all designed to work together. Everything from baseboards, track systems, scenery, buildings, infrastructure, control, and yes the trains themselves! They offer a complete range of spares and conversion parts as well as practical how-to guides. It is expertly photographed with superb visual design. It is a fantasy version of what we would all love to have available in our niche Lego train hobby. It evokes the nostalgia of the relatively rich product range of the 12V Train era. And, it inspires me to offer a similar "product" range at L-Gauge.org. A range which is systematic, organized, and accessible to everyone.

Happy reading!