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Hod Carrier

[WIP] Merseyrail Class 777 EMU - Stadler Metro

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Posted (edited)

This is a model that I've been working on for a while but have only just got to the point of near completion. It was one of those projects that started quickly only to hit a wall and then sit idle for several months before coming back to again later, but I'm now at the point of asking for comments and feedback on some of the design choices I've made.

The model is of the brand new Class 777 EMU that is currently undergoing testing before entering service on the Merseyrail network. Built by Stadler in Switzerland and based on the Stadler Metro platform, these trains will replace the existing fleet which has clocked up around 40 years of service. These trains will run on the existing 750V DC third rail electrification system but have the capability to be modified to run either on battery power away from the electrified network or on the 25kV AC overhead electrification, making new services possible.

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Class 777 777010 - Kenilworth Road, Ainsdale. by Martyn Hilbert, on Flickr

My design is for a static model rather than a powered one, which permits a full interior. However, the model will still articulate at the bogies and between the cars.

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Apologies for the way that Stud.io renders transparent parts. They tend to show almost black, but I promise you that details like the headlights and cab windows really are there.

The design is as good as finished, but I'm wondering if there are better ways to convey some details. The one I'm struggling with most is what looks like handrails along the lower bodyside but which are my attempts to replicate what I have been calling the Toblerones along the flanks of the real train (I presume that their function is to help prevent passengers falling between the train and the platform). They are an obvious detail that I don't think I could omit but they are not huge structures. I'm just not sure if I've gone about them in the right way. Also, the livery is a bit complex around the cabs and has required the use of some illegal building techniques in order to complete it as shown here. The primary component in this section is PN:92946, but some will require cutting down to 1x1 in order for the livery to work.

Thoughts...? Comments...? Feedback...?

Edited by Hod Carrier

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As soon as I saw the thread title I thought you'd be responsible :tongue:

Overall I think you've hit the shaping and livery pretty spot on. The cab front looks quite tidy, including the tricky fairing shapes around the coupler and the underside corners.

My first thought RE "Toblerones" would be a line of 1x2 cheeseslopes |\ - but that wouldn't integrate nicely with the quite pronounced curve of the real thing's bodysides, so I'm not so sure. The other thing I've noticed is your fantastic livery work somewhat disguises the cab door - if it could be set back a tiny amount it might help, but I would expect the cab is a bit full of SNoT to get it to work?

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That is a deceptively difficult prototype you've chosen, it looks pretty square at first, but no, just about everything has a small curve to it. You've done an impressive job so far with that challenge.

 

 

16 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

The one I'm struggling with most is what looks like handrails along the lower bodyside but which are my attempts to replicate what I have been calling the Toblerones along the flanks of the real train (I presume that their function is to help prevent passengers falling between the train and the platform). They are an obvious detail that I don't think I could omit but they are not huge structures. I'm just not sure if I've gone about them in the right way.

Your current solution looks like it would be a great detail on a steam engine, but if I see it correctly on the prototype, it is a bump-out of the side rather than something attached to it, no? If so, what about "studs out" nx2 curved slope above a plate or tile that is "studs down" above a cheese brick that is "studs out"?

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Thanks for the quick feedback, chaps.

1 hour ago, ColletArrow said:

As soon as I saw the thread title I thought you'd be responsible :tongue:

Yeah, I do pick some odd prototypes. :wink:

1 hour ago, ColletArrow said:

The other thing I've noticed is your fantastic livery work somewhat disguises the cab door - if it could be set back a tiny amount it might help, but I would expect the cab is a bit full of SNoT to get it to work?

There is a fair bit of SNOT in there which would make indenting the cab door tricky. In any case, the doors on the real train are flush and, apart from the droplight window and the door seals, the cab door is pretty well hidden. My intention will be to pick it out in much the same way as on the real thing, by outlining it with some thin black tape to replicate the door seals, and the same on the passenger doors too.

1 hour ago, ColletArrow said:

My first thought RE "Toblerones" would be a line of 1x2 cheeseslopes |\ - but that wouldn't integrate nicely with the quite pronounced curve of the real thing's bodysides, so I'm not so sure.

Cheese slopes were my first attempt at a solution, but you're right to say that it affects the curve of the lower bodyside a bit too much.

48 minutes ago, zephyr1934 said:

Your current solution looks like it would be a great detail on a steam engine, but if I see it correctly on the prototype, it is a bump-out of the side rather than something attached to it, no? If so, what about "studs out" nx2 curved slope above a plate or tile that is "studs down" above a cheese brick that is "studs out"?

It really is more like a structure attached to the side of the train rather than being part of the shape.

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777009 by LiamBlundell, on Flickr

I've been referring to them as "Toblerones" because they look just like a line of Toblerone boxes stuck to the train. :tongue:

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toblerone by bold-aslove, on Flickr

I know my existing solution looks like a handrail or the piping down the side of a steam loco, and that's why I'm not very happy with it. I like your suggestion and can see how that would work, but it would mess somewhat with the proportions and require a fairly hefty redesign. I'll have a tinker later and see if I can make it work somehow.

One tweak that I did come up with was to use flex hose. Unfortunately the rigid stuff doesn't come in dark bley and any rod longer than 4L has a molded collar that would prevent it from fitting. At least flex hose would mean that I could reduce the number of clips I'm using which might help to clean up the appearance a little.

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Posted (edited)

Got some alternative ideas to get opinions on.

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Merseyrail 777010 by LiamBlundell, on Flickr

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On the left I have swapped the bars for flex hose which means that I can reduce the number of clips used to hold them in place. In the middle I have used the 1x1 double curved slope (PN:49307) and on the right the 2x1 45 degree slope with 2/3 cutout (PN:92946).

To my eyes, the flex hose version still looks like a handrail or pipe, but it does allow the use of curved slopes on the lower bodyside. Both the other versions look squarer because the curve cannot be used except where the "toblerone" is not fitted. The middle version is likely to be unbuildable anyway due to the part not being available in yellow.

Thoughts...?

While I'm about it, here's a small update to the build. The model will ride on #4 size wheels rather than the standard #5 in order to get the correct ride height. If my maths is correct I think I've got the spacing right in this render.

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On the matter of the "toblerones", the lead two cars have reduced clips as would be necessary for use with flex hose.

Edited by Hod Carrier

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On 7/22/2021 at 9:45 AM, Hod Carrier said:

Got some alternative ideas to get opinions on.

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You are one for a real challenge, aren't you? (grin) Looking at this picture, I see another possible variant, but it is far from perfect. What about: windows, then a row of nx2 curved slopes studs out (as before) but then a row of tiles on a 45° (or really 135°) slant so that the Toblerone is the side of the tiles and the top of the tiles is the "side of the car" below it.

Another thought, why not try mocing it up without the Toblerone? You probably won't like it but it will help your resolve with respect to using the bars or tubing.

Finally, if this is going to just be a display piece, maybe making it a little bigger would be okay if it gets the features in a lot better. Without tossing what you've done, you could separately moc up a 4-8 stud long section of the wall to see if a larger size has any promise and if so, do you like it enough to pursue.

 

Another thought, what about: windows, then a row of 2x2 curved slopes studs out (as before), with headlight bricks behind (top) studs down, then 1x2 cheese bricks studs down. The break from the vertical edge of the cheese bricks might give the feel of the Toblerone even though the angle isn't perfect.

 

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40 minutes ago, zephyr1934 said:

You are one for a real challenge, aren't you? (grin)

Well I decided that I should try and push myself with this design. Most of the builds I have so far either have a simple livery or I have cheated with colour vinyls and so on, but this time I wanted to see whether or not I could brick build these sorts of features into the model itself. That's not to say that there won't be some cheating going on, but the extent to which I cheat will be less than before.

I've gone back to the start again and, going on @ColletArrow's mention of them, decided to explore the cheese slopes one more time. Here's how it looks now.

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Part of the reason why I'm sticking with this approach rather than going all out for more extreme SNOTed solutions is that I want to keep the walls down to 1 brick thick to leave room for an interior and to permit articulation. Taking things up a scale might also be an option and might allow me to try a few other things like the tapering to the top of the body. I do appreciate your suggestions, though. Thank you for them.

Keeping things at this scale is now looking like a quest for the least worst solution that is possible within the parts and colour palette that LEGO offers. It turns out that dark bley is not a good colour for hose and would require some relatively expensive purchases from overseas, and the double curved parts are not available in yellow. So I think it's a case of fronting up for the hose or using cheese slopes as nothing else seems to be possible. Mocking up some assemblies to check in real life is now the next step, as Stud.io renders tend to overdo the shadows and make gaps look worse.

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Of the various options you've considered I think the "2x1 45 degree slope" actually looks the best, since the slope tricks the eye into thinking the curve carries on from the actual curve tiles. The cheese-slope option has now been demoted to second place in my mind :grin:

That said, I'm prepared to completely change my mind when you share the mock-ups! Looking forward to seeing some real bricks in this thread.

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On 7/23/2021 at 11:11 AM, Hod Carrier said:

I do appreciate your suggestions, though. Thank you for them.

Not a problem as long as you don't mind my hair brained ideas. With little time to build myself right now I'm MOCing vicariously (grin). And in that direction, here's another thought, maybe that bumper is just too small to capture accurately in brick at this scale. If so, perhaps it could be captured with a thin, two tone color vinyl to capture light differences on the top and bottom side of the bumper. Regardless, it would be neat to see 4 long or 6 long wall sections in real brick for the leading designs.

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4 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

Not a problem as long as you don't mind my hair brained ideas. With little time to build myself right now I'm MOCing vicariously (grin).

I don't mind one bit. If anything, I'm suffering with the opposite problem which is too much time to MOC. I had two weeks summer leave and then, just as I was about to go back to work, I got picked up by the NHS Covid Track & Trace service and have just had another week isolating (although I've tested negative). So I've had plenty of time to fill with this project.

4 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

And in that direction, here's another thought, maybe that bumper is just too small to capture accurately in brick at this scale. If so, perhaps it could be captured with a thin, two tone color vinyl to capture light differences on the top and bottom side of the bumper.

That's not a bad idea as a "cheat" which I'll keep it in mind if I come up empty with brick-built solutions. However, have a look at this first. I think this might be the new front-runner.

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Here's a sneaky peak inside to show how it's been done. I've had to change some of the structure in order to get the studs down orientation needed to support the panel pieces, but at least the result is clean and doesn't spoil the curve of the lower bodysides too much. I fear I may have created some structural issues elsewhere though, and the next job will be tracking those down and fixing them.

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4 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

Regardless, it would be neat to see 4 long or 6 long wall sections in real brick for the leading designs.

Hopefully coming soon (provided that I can find enough of the right parts to do this).

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19 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

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Wow, it looks like you are getting as close as possible to maximizing the inside/outside space. Clever trick building studs down. Though as you say, the strength would have to be investigated IRL.

When viewed strictly from the outside I wonder what it would look like to pull the "bump" in 1/2 plate. But to do so would at a minimum complicate the interior, if not completely destroy it. Though if you really liked the effect on the outside perhaps you could bump the rest of the wall out by 1/2 plate.

On the other hand, if you wanted to give a nod to "lego" and accentuate the feature, you could replace the panels and instead use door rails for the bump and then use a studs-down cheese brick for the bottom to keep the height the same. This would actually simplify the build too.

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Some real bricks at last. A quick and dirty idea of how the "toblerones" might look using each technique. What do you think?

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1 hour ago, zephyr1934 said:

When viewed strictly from the outside I wonder what it would look like to pull the "bump" in 1/2 plate. But to do so would at a minimum complicate the interior, if not completely destroy it. Though if you really liked the effect on the outside perhaps you could bump the rest of the wall out by 1/2 plate.

Luckily I had a quick peek at this thread before putting my bricks away again. Do you mean something like this?

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It is going to make the exterior walls thicker with, as you say, consequences for the interior. However, I suppose you see more of the exterior so maybe there's a trade-off to be had somewhere. I'll have a think about it.

1 hour ago, zephyr1934 said:

On the other hand, if you wanted to give a nod to "lego" and accentuate the feature, you could replace the panels and instead use door rails for the bump and then use a studs-down cheese brick for the bottom to keep the height the same. This would actually simplify the build too.

That's one idea I had considered and not pursued. I'm trying to keep this model "scale" and as faithful to the original as I can. While it would make the build much simpler I fear it may also make the resulting model a bit too boxy and too wide, and I'm not sure I wanted to go down that route. I prefer your idea of pulling in the panels that extra half plate and see if it can be made to work without having to sacrifice too much of the interior.

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20 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

When viewed strictly from the outside I wonder what it would look like to pull the "bump" in 1/2 plate.

Perhaps a little like this.

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The supporting structure necessary inside the car is not that much of a compromise after all, although I have had to change some parts usage in order to retain as much as possible of the interior details. This is a comparison rendered part way halfway through the conversion showing the altered and unaltered versions of the interior.

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4 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

Perhaps a little like this.

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Yes, exactly that. The feature seems right sized (based on the two photos of the prototype that you've shown).

Obviously the ultimate choice is what feels best to you.

Since you are asking for opinions, here's my thoughts, none of them are perfect. The shallow panel above has an unevenness of the panels with a large gap in the 4 long and a small gap in the 3 long, not to mention the rounded corners that might detract from this variant. The size of the feature in the other four variants seems too large, but I think your first design with the hose is probably my favorite of those four since it gets the curvature in above the bumper. I'm not sure which one I like better between the shallow panel or the hose solution. Regardless, if I were not looking so closely at the original photographs I probably would not notice the imperfect copy

What about 2x2 curve slope RIGHT under the windows, then a 1x2 x 1x2 up bracket (with the plate portion studs out and the thin bracket studs down) set one plate back (towards center of the car) from the curved slope so that the end of the bracket is even with the bottom of the curved slope. Then below that cheese bricks that continue the slope profile.

 

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18 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

Since you are asking for opinions, here's my thoughts, none of them are perfect. The shallow panel above has an unevenness of the panels with a large gap in the 4 long and a small gap in the 3 long, not to mention the rounded corners that might detract from this variant. The size of the feature in the other four variants seems too large, but I think your first design with the hose is probably my favorite of those four since it gets the curvature in above the bumper. I'm not sure which one I like better between the shallow panel or the hose solution. Regardless, if I were not looking so closely at the original photographs I probably would not notice the imperfect copy

Thank you for your excellent input. It's always great to kick ideas around and get the views of other builders.

I totally agree that no idea is completely perfect. I've said before that the task of a LEGO builder is to find the least worst solution to any given design problem, as the building medium is necessarily restrictive. If we wanted total accuracy we would be following a different hobby altogether.

My own opinion is to favour the shallow panels because it gives the cleanest finish. I agree that the hose looks good across the curved slopes and I would probably take that option except for the clips and tiles needed to secure it. As you said in your first post, it makes them look like pipes or handrails which is a view that I share. I also think that the shallow panels is the most satisfying version to design and build, even if the complexity of the structure will not be obvious to folk who see it. It's rather a lot of SNOTing and offsetting just to create what is effectively a rectangular box. 

There is an unevenness in the panels as presented here because of the 4L panels, but I'm currently unsure if that's a quirk of Stud.io or whether these parts really are thinner than the 2L and 3L versions as I don't have any to compare (or rather, I do but they are currently buried deep in the bowels of another build and therefore not easily accessible). If it is a difference in the part it wouldn't be too hard to use the more consistent 2L and 3L versions instead. The rounded corners may not be too visually jarring either as they are acceptable on cheese slopes and other parts. But you are right that a lot of these imperfections will disappear at normal viewing distances, especially as this is only one detail on a whole model.

18 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

What about 2x2 curve slope RIGHT under the windows, then a 1x2 x 1x2 up bracket (with the plate portion studs out and the thin bracket studs down) set one plate back (towards center of the car) from the curved slope so that the end of the bracket is even with the bottom of the curved slope. Then below that cheese bricks that continue the slope profile.

That's an interesting idea. I'm just not sure if it would protrude out from the shape of the curve at all as the thin part of the bracket is 2.5 plates tall and the total height of the plate portion plus the one plate recess plus the height of the thin end of the curved slope is also 2.5 plates. However, the geometry of the model does permit the cheese slopes and n x 2 curved slopes plus two plates between the bottom of the windows and the solebar, so maybe have a plate with door rail or a tile attached to the bottom of the bracket. The trade-off against that would be that it would interfere with the SNOTed livery around the cab which would require a bit more cheating with coloured vinyl.

Hmm. Some food for thought anyway.

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i personaly think that the bottom left picture of the designs you built in real bricks looks best (the one with the slope pointing down). it in my opinion atleast looks closest to the real thing!

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15 hours ago, XG BC said:

i personaly think that the bottom left picture of the designs you built in real bricks looks best (the one with the slope pointing down). it in my opinion atleast looks closest to the real thing!

Thanks for the feedback.

The cheese slope option does replicate the shape of the bumpers in that they are triangular, but I rejected the idea originally because they were too big. As you can see up-thread I did revisit the idea to see how it would look on the whole train, but I'm still not entirely convinced. Not only are they too big but there is a half plate overlap which creates a fairly obvious shadow.

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