Book Review: LEGO Train Projects, by Charles Pritchett

No Starch Press has produced many LEGO builder-oriented books. Only recently has the publisher started printing building guides. Charles Pritchett has been making building guides for a relatively short time at Brickmonster.toys and with LEGO Train Projects made a book with instructions for train builders. The book has guides for seven different train models: Coal Gondola, Milk Tanker, Open Hopper, Depressed Flatcar with Electrical Load, Passenger Coach, Powered Box Car, and EMD FL9 Locomotive.

If you’re looking for background information on the models, you won’t find any – these are strictly building instructions. A page is devoted to how to use the book (it’s formatted very closely to LEGO instructions) and how to find parts online, but after that, you’re building.

What makes the book very useful is that there are resources in the book and online to help the builder with gathering the parts needed to build. In the book, there is a visual listing and a catalog listing of the parts. The visual listing has part numbers with the parts, so it’s a real help in recognizing what a person has and hasn’t. If the builder just wants to get the parts without checking, there are links to get XML listings that can be imported for online shopping. All of this makes it easier for a builder to get things ready for the main thing: the building.

The building guides/instructions are in the same style as LEGO instructions are, and are very clear in showing what is added in every step. The train cars are good for a book because they are size that doesn’t have to be enlarged or reduced too much to fit a page. This is important, as the larger a model, the harder it is to spot and recognize a part – on buildings, sometimes sections are zoomed in to show a step. Two steps are on a page here, and they are easy to follow from page to page.

Each model can be changed by color, and examples are shown at the end of each set of instructions. Showing those changes is a nice touch, as it opens the options for the models in the book to be more individualized.

There are some interesting building ideas – the techniques are not advanced. One of them is placing the drive for a train in a car other than the locomotive. Here, a box car is used to hold the battery and train motor to run a full train. The locomotive doesn’t have a motor for battery, but has the room – the forward train truck could be replaced with a train motor and its wire would have to go through a hole in the floor , which could be done by altering the floor board. In LEGO sets, they have train car plates that are long and have holes for the wire to go in, but they are not cheap to buy, which is probably the reason why the loco is motorless. This, like any of the other options shown in the book, can be done by the builder.

As a book, LEGO Trains Projects is a great gift for the LEGO train fan. With only 7 sets of instructions, this book allows builders to make many different train cars and fuel-length trains. With the focus on building, beginners can start buying parts and building their own line, while experienced builders can use this as a jumping off point for their train creations. So get the book and start building!

You can order LEGO Trains Projects from No Starch Press.

 

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