Book Review: LEGO® Train Projects by Charles Pritchett

If, like me, you have enjoyed having a LEGO® train run around the tracks of your LEGO City, you are probably starting to think that you might like something a little more realistic running on the rails. If, like me, you are finding that coming up with your own model is harder that you expected, then this book: LEGO Train Projects by Charles Pritchett might just be what you are looking for.

Pritchett has been publishing instructions for a few years, and you can find some examples via his website, http://brickmonster.toys. LEGO Train Projects has just been released by No Starch Press, and I was sent a copy of the ebook to preview.

The books wastes no time getting into the subject matter: after a few succinct opening remarks about the author’s journey, we are given an explanation of the conventions used in the instructions (parts needed for each step; rotations, submodel builds), as well as advice on sourcing LEGO elements: including the local Pick-a-Brick wall and Bricklink.com. There is also advice with regards to what to do if you don’t have the elements: but this is more limited to the notions of colour not being important for hidden bricks, we well as ultimately reaching the desired dimensions – perhaps with bricks or plates of different lengths to those specified. There is a link to a Bricklink compatible XMLfile, containing the bill of materials required for the models.

And from there, the book really begins to shine. We start each piece of rolling stock with a beautifully rendered image, on a stylised background reminiscent of the catalogs from the 70’s and 80’s. A minifigure calls out some interesting features to be aware of, and the basic statistics are listed (size, part count etc) From there we work our way through easy to follow building instructions. At the end of each set of instructions is the list of parts required for that ‘chapter’ – both as a text list with Bricklink IDs and an illustrated list of parts. The next page provides some examples of alternate colour schemes. And so it continues through a variety of cars: a Coal Gondola, Milk Tanker, Open hopper, Depressed flatcar, and a passenger coach. On the

The second last chapter: gives us instructions for building a Powered Box Car: concealing a Power Functions battery box, IR sensor linked to a centrally mounted motorised bogie. I was surprised that there was no mention of the Powered Up system, which has been used in LEGO Trains over the last 2 years.

The final chapter builds an EMD FL9 locomotive, and the illustration explicitly mentions that the locomotive is unpowered, but designed to pair with the box car. The livery is striking , in black, white and orange, but is marred slightly by the black framed windscreen element only appearing in one set previously (4564 Freight Rail runner from 1994). It has also appeared in a nmber of other colours subsequently. I think that by reaching this stage in of the book, however, most builders are likely to have increased their level of proficiency and ingenuity to be able to find an appropriate workaround.

On the whole, this is a well presented book. The ebook was suitably easy to navigate, and instructions clear to interpret. I imagine the paper one would be similar. At 200 pages thick, it is a reasonable tome, and has a wealth of ideas for builder who wishes to expand their collection of rolling stock. It is now available and has a recommended retail price of $AUD42.00- $USD19.95 (ebook) $USD24.95 (print and ebook), through your favorite book retailers (UK release September 3).

I would recommend this book for anyone looking to build additional rolling stock for their LEGO trains. I have already mentioned a few of the practical ways in which it could be more useful. LEGO Train Projects is beautifully presented, and I am sure will get novice to intermediate train builders heading on the right track. And on that pun, I’ll see you later. Until next time…

Play Well.

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