Frank STENGEL

How Do You Create Trains?

11 posts in this topic

Just a question to know how one creates trains.

Personally I tend to use a CAD program to start a more or less rough outline of the loc/wagon I am building, then do mock-ups of certain key parts (chassis, gear mechanisms etc) go back to the drawing board, to get to the point where the thing looks like what I want. The hard/long part comes next: ordering parts, building the loc/wagon, changing (the many) details that don't work, order more parts etc.

How do you proceed?

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I never digitally design anything, just get an idea and start building, then break it down 10 times in the process to modify things.

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I never digitally design anything, just get an idea and start building, then break it down 10 times in the process to modify things.

Depends what I want to do - sometimes it can be an organic design if the model is simple... other times I will use LDD whilst I am trying out some visualisation ideas. Similarly for construction ideas, or special SNOT designs. Then back to the real model to see if it works well. In the end, both LDD and real model should exist.

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I design entirely in LDD, after I did some work or consider it done, I show it to my girlfriend, she'll find some valid points to change or do changes herself.

Then when we're both happy with the results, we order parts.

After everything arrived, I put it together. Later I may have a better idea to convey something and change it in bricks, this change than gets reflected in my LDD model.

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I never use any digital design software either. I tend to lose the sense of it all unless I'm working with actual bricks.

First of all, I like to work on getting the proportions right. After that, I almost always concentrate on the front end of the vehicle. Which is much easier with diesels / electric locs... In my experience, steamers require an integral approach since things are much more flowing and predetermined by the way you've implemented each single visual and technical aspect. After I'm done with what I believe is the catchiest visual cue (as noted above, most often that's the front end), I work towards completing the build from that point on, generally leaving all the techy aspects for the end since I like to try out various different approaches and simplify the tech-related things where possible.

By the way, I also use my girlfriend as a guide towards the end of the building process. It's only when she tells me that what I've built does not quite look like the real thing that I also see it and get to redesign the flawed parts. So I must agree, it's nice to have a consultant by your side at all times. :sweet:

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Firstly I do some research looking at photos of real life prototypes that are similar in style to the piece of rolling stock I would like to build, this site http://www.railfaneurope.net/ in particular is a great source of inspiration for the type of trains I like to build, after looking at a variety of designs I decide what features from those designs I would like to incorporate into my models. I don't use any form of digital building as I prefer to hold the item I am working on in my hand and view it from a number of angles to see if it looks right, call me old school but I like having the hands on approach from beginning to end :classic: .

With locomotives I first work on a key area of the design and work out the rest of the proportions from there, Diesel and Electric locos I start from the cab area and then work on the body, Steam locos I have to tackle two areas working on the chassis and the boiler at the same time. Passenger stock I generally stick to 32 studs in length with some stock going to 36 studs from there I have to work out the placement of windows and seats as these will dictate the amount of minifigs I can fit into a design, after I have that sorted I then look at how much room I have to fit other details such as baggage storage areas. I tend to apply some pretty strict guidelines to my builds such as all seats must be capable of seating a minifig in a comfortable pose, I also like to have opening doors on my stock, the only exception is for designs where an opening door is not suitable for the style or wont fit in the space available, the LBB 2nd Class Clerestory coaches are a prime example in this case.

Freight stock follows similar principals to real life examples such as common length underframes/chassis, 4 wheeled wagons are all built to 18 studs in length whilst bogie stock differs, vans are 32 studs in length, flatcars, gondolas and container flats are built to 28 studs in length. I tend to play around with the fittings until I am happy with the proportions and placement of them. With my van stock they all have opening doors and the interiors are uncluttered so I can fit loads inside them I find this an important feature as I like to be able to create scenes where they are being loaded or unloaded.

Edited by Steinkopf

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I'll sometimes fiddle around with a few sub-assemblies inside either LDD or ML-CAD just to get my mind working on the problem without randomly rummaging through bins of parts trying to figure out what best matches the shape I'm shooting for. I use the virtual results as a shopping list to ensure that I have plenty of _potentially_ useful parts on hand. In the end, however, it almost always comes down to fiddling with actual parts - seeing how they look, feeling how well a SNOT idea holds together when clattering along at ridiculously non-scale speeds over flex track, etc.

Maybe I'm just a bit old-school (the irony being that I have a Ph.D. in Computer Science and an extensive background in data visualization, 3D CGI and Virtual Reality) but I just find nothing produces a better finished product (for me) than the tactile and visual feedback of tinkering with a tableful of physical parts - building, evaluating and rebuilding as I go.

Besides, the tinker approach invariably means that I buy lots of parts that I don't ultimately use in the finished model so my collection of parts on hand just always seems to go up. :classic:

Edited by ShaydDeGrai

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By hand, using lego bricks, at least for the most part.

I'll start with a design in mind, and work towards it. The last wagons I built were the Consett dock hoppers, and the matching Class 25. The class 25 is a bit unique, as I started out with a paper sketch (!) on graph paper of it, and it actually worked OK as a design. The inspiring elements there were a bag of 2x2 yellow windows in 1999. Since UK engines tend to be GYE (green with Yellow End), that was the inspiration as to building the first loco. The 2nd one was a requirement to be able to control the train on the spiral I had in Newfoundland, along with extensive work on brake vans. Other locos were designed from photos, trying to accheve a look within my existing pallet for the most part, as a lot of my designs are pre brick bay (brick link), so the ways to get pieces were much more limited. I haven't done a lot of train construction in the last 10 years, mostly just running stuff & building occasional new buildings for the town, as well as being busy with work, live steam engines & two sons.

So, for me, CAD is not the way I work...hands on if possible.

James Powell

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I don't have a programme to create LEGO trains and I don't need one. I spend too much time in front of the computer anyway. Since I have no creative mind, I usually build them from instructions. I have already built trains from MOC instructions I found on the internet.

Edited by legotrainfan

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I'm working on my first train MOC, and the way I'm going about it is to build it in LDD; and get something I am kind of happy with and compare it to some reference pictures. I bought the parts on BrickLink for some of the parts I knew I would need (I want to fit in a 9V battery); and got some extras that I thought might be useful from the same seller. I validated part of it that way, and then moved onto the other part with another Bricklink order. As I put it together, I'm finding things that I could have done better and adjusting in LDD. One of the things that is clear is that the clutch power in real life isn't quite what it is in LDD; and when not every element is accounted for (e.g., the wires); you may need to make some real life adjustment. Also I have a lot of black for the bottom of the engine I'm working on; and things don't quite look the same on the screen as in bricks (much less contrast). I am almost happy with it, I think I just need one more round of parts [in part because I cannibalized the motor and receiver from my Yellow Cargo train -- having both of them put together at once would be quite nice].

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I tend to do a search of Brickshelf/Flickr/MocPages for examples of what I'm building to gather ideas for how I want to do major features. I then sit down on the carpet surround with likely needed parts and fiddle. I will also go searching for enough pictures via google images of the prototype that I can get details correct. I'll try and get the features mostly scale correct, except with long passenger carriages, where I'll generally use selective compression to remove some windows to keep the length low enough to run on my clubs layout.

I tend to build the body first and then try and power locomotives. This is generally the wrong way to proceed :-) I've learnt the hard way with steam locos it's really important to get the wheels sorted out and running reliably first, as it's really hard to make changes later without rebuilding large parts of the frame and body.

I'm a bit of an egotist so I very rarely finish a Moc, since they rarely live up to my expectations. Finished Mocs will either be pulled apart of hang around and get gradually upgraded over time if I like them enough. I might buy parts for a few copies if I'm not too critical of them. Many will be exhibited when my local LTC has a display.

Even finished Mocs rarely get photographed, though I hope to change this.

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