June 3, 2015 Non-Update

A little non-update update.

The build has slowed down considerably over the last couple of months.  I stopped for a while because I was waiting on some parts to finish the detailing of the locomotive.  I received all of those parts, quite a few weeks ago actually, but I have not had a chance to do anymore building.

I don’t have a lot of time for my hobbies, so since the weather has been getting nice the time that I have has been going to my other hobby, photography.  You can see what I’ve been doing on Instagram and Flickr (links are on the right side of the page).

I will get back to the working on the engine.  I can’t put a date on it, just whenever the urge strikes me.

The other thing that I have been working on is cleaning out my basement.   I am still making progress on that, slowly, but it is getting there.  Once that is done I will have some room to set up a layout so I can actually run my trains!

April 14th, 2015 Update

A little late on this update, it has been a busy week…

Monday night I worked on the detailing some more and reworked the cab.  And, of course, realized that I still don’t have the dark blue parts that I need to finish it properly.

I also played around with the cylinders and driving rods since I am still not entirely happy with how they look and are working.


Here are a few detail shots.




April 13, 2015 Update

I got my orders from BrickLink on Friday, but didn’t get a chance to build until Sunday night.  I spent $123 on parts and of course I forgot a few things.


The last time that I worked on the engine I toyed with the idea of changing the cylinder design since I am just not that happy with how they look when compared to the prototype.  I had replace one of cylinders as an experiment.

Last night I had to tear apart the pilot truck to replace some parts with the correct color so that led me to work some more on the cylinder design.  This is actually my original design before I ended up going with a variation of Tony Sava’s design.

0103f464ed4f296622218d757fd5a7bb9cbc6a2786I actual like this design better, I think that it looks more prototypical and I really like the piston rod moving in and out of the cylinder (technic brick).  I think this looks more realistic.  Of course there is a problem.  The pilot truck will not move around this cylinder, it is just too big.  The only solution would be to spread the pilot trucks wheels apart even further so they would, but they are already farther apart than they should be so I really cannot do that.

So after wasting over an hour, I put the original cylinders back on.  Luckily I didn’t destroy them so it wasn’t that hard.  The hardest part was getting the front end attached again since I did have to rework it slightly to get it to attach over the new cylinders.

So needless to say, I didn’t get too far due to the wasted time.  I did swap out a lot of parts that were wrong before so the engine looks a little better now.  I think that I have enough pieces to do all of the detailing under the boiler so that will be my next task.  The cab also needs rework since I threw it together with what few dark blue pieces I had laying around.


April 10, 2015 Update

Not much progress since the last update.  Last weekend was Easter so I did not have any time to work on it.

I had also been waiting on funding to be able to order the parts that I needed from BrickLink.  I did finally place a couple of good sized orders on Monday that should give me the parts that I need to finish detail, swap out some of the colors that are still wrong and hopefully make some good progress on the tender.

Hopefully the orders will get here today or tomorrow so that I can build this weekend.

April 1, 2015 Update

I decided to hold off on the detail until I can get some more parts from BrinkLink so I figured I will give the coloring on the tender a shot.

This is my first attempt at doing the yellow/dark blue curve.  It turned out okay, but it is by no means the final version.  I used 1×2 jumper plates to make the curve more gradual, but then it left me with 1/2 stud gaps which I couldn’t figure out how to fill.

My original plan was to use cheese slopes snotted in to give me a smooth curve.  However, the pieces that I need to attach them do not exist in dark blue.  There are only headlight bricks and no bricks that have a stud(s) on the side.  There are not even any brackets in dark blue that will work.

I have a couple more ideas that I am going to try, but at least I got it started.  from a distance it doesn’t look too bad, but up close, ouch!  Plus I am lacking in dark blue bricks which is the reason for all of the black at the front.

013bc120ceb2af2a2c7a6e0311574bb770d8dba993 017af2a2800206b780cb24344326db029736505f58 013421708a9bb3f223a1a108df3a8be2b79e2a4d13

March 31, 2015 Update

Tonight I fixed a small problem that I noticed the other day with the body not sitting properly.  The problem was the angle of the firebox was preventing the body (boiler/cab) from sitting properly on the under carriage.  I removed the tiles from the top of the firebox and now it sits better.  Of course now there are visible studs so I need to replace the black brick with a couple of plates and a tile to smooth out the look.

The main work I did was starting to detail under the cab.  It is amazing how long can be spent on just little details like this.

Below are a couple of angles of the detailing.  I don’t think that this it the final version yet as I am sure that I will make changes to it once I get better parts to use.  Also the 4L lt gray bar really sticks out…I don’t have any black ones!

I have quite a large list of parts that I need from BrickLink so I will be placing orders soon.  This includes quite a few pieces that will be used in the detailing, such as hoses and bars.



March 29, 2015 Update

I made a little progress on the engine on Sunday.  Nothing too noticeable, but things that needed done.

The trailing truck has been reworked a couple of times since the last update.  It is a lot more solid, I am just not sure I like it yet.  Maybe once I get more black tiles and 1×1 plates it will look better.

I also reworked the connection between the engine and the tender.  The current state is not final, I just used what pieces I had available.  It was getting near impossible to connect the tender without a lot of hassle.  I wanted to make the connection between the two to make it easier to reach.

I started on the detailing between the drivers and the walkways, I didn’t get too far because I am lacking in most pieces that I need to do it they way that I want.

I also started on the detailing under the cab.  I am very disappointed because I realized that most of the detail will have to be on the trailing truck  which is going to limit what I can do and make it look even stranger when going around a curve.

With the very WIP tender.  Notice that she is about 5 track length long with her tender.  From what I found in my research, she normally ran with 2 tenders…01cbb7997365e876719012aa096e45b711cf6bc0bc

Starting to detail under the cab0137f7ad038997e2fec5b45b101dfb242a013f3088

Starting to detail under the walkways01a32f7a8dfe1859d4c206dee6620ad92a73f06dff

March 25, 2015 Update

I was going to post this last week, but the time got away from me.

This is the state of my Chessie Steam Special as of March 25, 2015.  My write up on Eurobricks.com from last week is here.

I definitely have a lot more work to do on her.  You can tell there are still some wrong colors and some wrong pieces here and there.  Such as the headlight bricks on the back of the cab.  I do not have any regular dark blue bricks?!?  She is also missing detailing.  I have not started on that yet.

I will post updates periodically of my progress as I get a chance to work on her.  This picture was taken on a Wednesday and I didn’t get a chance to work on her again until Sunday.

Since I just started this blog, I am thinking about going back to beginning of the build and posting some earlier pictures to show my progress and things that I discovered/learned along the way.

LEGO Chessie Steam Special Project

This blog is simply a way for me to talk about LEGO and what I am building.  Whether anyone will read it or not, who knows!  It just feels good to write about it.

The current project that I am currently working on has been a very long time coming…around 8 years to be exact.  I have always wanted to build a steam locomotive out of LEGO and finally I am getting around to it.

I will start with a brief history…

First, I have always loved trains.  I remember wanting to be a engineer when I was little.  I am also quite fascinated with the Chessie System for some reason.  My dad had HO Chessie trains in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but I cannot recall if I ever actually saw Chessie trains where I grew up in southern Ohio so I am not sure where the fascination comes from.

When I back got into the LEGO hobby in 2003 after my dark ages (actually I started buying Star Wars sets in 1999, but never built anything on my own until 2003) I built mostly buildings, houses and skyscrapers.  However, It didn’t take me too long to want to build trains.  After all, I was a member of a LEGO train club (COLTC).  The first locomotive that I built wasn’t that great, I don’t even remember what is was exactly, an SD40 or something similar.  Due to my fascination with Chessie, my next locomotive was a Chessie SW1200 Switcher.  It was built around 2004.  It turned out okay, but not great.  I also built some rolling stock, but no more locomotives for a while.

After a few years, I did not have time for the club any more, so my LEGO hobby slowed down quite a bit.  At least in brick.  I began using MLCAD a lot and designed quite a few locomotives and rolling stock (and buildings and lots of other stuff!).  A few things did get built in brick eventually, but the majority are still sitting in digital form.

I finally decided it was time to build a large steam engine.  After seeing so many great ones on the internet, I was anxious to join the “club”.  After doing some research I came across the Chessie Steam Special.  It is a Reading T-1 Northern, a 4-8-4 that ran excursions for Chessie in 1977 and 1978.  I knew this was the engine that I had to build.

The unique color scheme is part of what really draws me to it.  I did take some liberties with the colors when converting to LEGO to make it a little “prettier”.   I believe the red is supposed to be more towards orange, but that color really doesn’t exist in LEGO and orange doesn’t look as nice in my opinion.  The biggest struggle I had was whether the engine itself was black or dark blue.  I have been designing it in dark blue because that make it very unique and looks great.  The question was always in the back of mind of what color was it really was though.  Some pictures made it look black, while other made it look dark blue.  I finally read somewhere that it was indeed a dark blue.  I have not confirmed this yet, but the engine had to have some major work done on it between the ’77 and ’78 excursion seasons, so I wonder if it was black and went blue or vice verse during this work.  There is an obvious blue square with a yellow/gold outline on the cylinders in some pictures (including the one above), but it is clearly not there in other pictures.  I actually found a book that documents this “Revival” as they call it.  I have not had a chance to read it yet, but glancing through it, there doesn’t seem to be any mention the color or of painting the engine.  There is, however, I picture at the end that does show the blue square on the cylinder so I am going to conclude that then engine was painted blue between the ’77 and ’78 season.

I began to design the engine in LEGO in early 2008 (or maybe late 2007, the .ldr file of the first version is dated 3/7/2008).  This first version looked okay, it was 6 wide with 4 wide boiler made of regular slopes.  Nothing too exciting.  Very basic.  It was nowhere near complete though.  A lot of pieces were just floating.

Chessie Steam Special v1I continued to refine it further over the years (yes years) until finally in the beginning of 2011 I made my first attempt at building it brick.  At this point the engine was 8 wide with a 6 wide boiler that was made of tiles and cheese slopes instead of just regular slopes and bricks like the original.  I got the boiler and cab built and a very basic version of the drivers for it to sit on, but it just didn’t look right.  I eventually got stuck and just stopped working on it.0192a989d580e7d331e397a78c0f35c5b7a6f27494

So it sat on a shelf for 4 years (time really does fly) until the beginning of this year (2015) when I decided that I was finally going to get it done…