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How do you maintain Clutch on Built Sets?

waylanderwaylander Member Posts: 3
edited February 2012 in Collecting
Hi. Ever since reading 'Lego-a Love Story', one fact has stuck in my mind and the question remains... The fact was that when the bricks are 'made-up' or interlocked, the plastic is under quite a bit of tension, therefore holding the pieces together. The question then is this: if i store models or minifigs 'made-up' for perhaps many years, will the plastic lose its flexibility and holding power? Just what is the long term viability of ABS?


  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I have this problem on the big wheel, but normal bricks should be fine.
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 672
    I have a few bricks from the early 80's that have lost some of their clutch power after years of heavy use, but it's only really noticeable with the 1x1 plates, because they only have one opportunity on each side to clutch. If you have a worn post on, say, a 1x8 plate and the other 7 are fine, then you'll likely never be able to tell.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited February 2012
    Sorry wasnt clear before.
    I meant the ferris wheel,

    which relies on the clutch of these

    as well as technic rods in sockets in other places -
    Neither of which seem to hold well over time.

    ^ Ive also noticed the 1x1 clutch problem, even on bricks in 'new greys' - Im not sure when they switched colours, but I think it was since the 80s.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 531
    If the set is built and left built it should be fine. It's the constant taking apart and putting back together that "damages" the clutch power of bricks. The only sets I've had problems with are ones I've bought used and have clearly be rebuilt many times.

    Some current bricks like clip plates (any type) and level arms seem to have a different amount of clutch today then in the past. I've seen a number of new clips that a gets a hair too loose. And I've got some level arms from around 2000 that were impossible tight. Where as today they are almost too loose.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    edited February 2012
    Recently my son had a new set with very weak clutch on the stud receptacles of the robot arms. These hold a 1x1 stud used as wing mirrors in the yellow dump truck from a few years ago. In fact, the 1x1's just fell off. We got replacements, but its a bit of a worry with a brand new piece.
    Another piece that has been discussed in other threads a while ago is the cheese slope - they tend to crack up the slope from the thin bottom edge up.
  • CoolsplashCoolsplash Member Posts: 935
    I have noticed a brick plate like 2x2, the robot arm, the cheese slope not having the required Clutch power. But these are only in the newer sets. I have lots of bricks from the 80's but they all seem to have retained their quality.
  • waylanderwaylander Member Posts: 3
    Mmmmm...interesting. I too have bricks from the 80s and they seem to be fine though they were kept mostly loose. I also wonder about the constant temperature fluctuations in for example the attic - extremes of cold and warm air throughout the year. I know they test for this on new models but what about 20years of that sort of treatment.

    Thank you guys for your comments and for teaching me yet another Lego term - 'clutch' power :o)

    I too have seen a few cracked cheese slopes though i would guess that most are still too new to tell about long term viability.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the clutch power with minifigs? i know the torso/leg connection changed and was vastly improved, but what about the other limbs? will the Chinese figs fare well when brand new legs are already a little loose?
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Thank you guys for your comments and for teaching me yet another Lego term - 'clutch' power :o)
    Hence the bad pun whihc Lego devised a while ago:

  • NeilJamNeilJam USAMember Posts: 272
    Many of the minifig legs from my #3578 NHL Championship Challenge seem to have lost clutch power at the feet. These were connected to the bases for an extended period of time prior to this discovery. I wonder if having the legs connected to these parts could have caused this loss of clutch power due to the different types of studs on the bases.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,270
    @Si_Dorking_Surrey_UK That image.... priceless!! ;-)

    Since the bulk of my collection (somewhere over 1/2 million parts) is from before 1990... I can address the clutch issue from a historical perspective (when you get to my age you can address anything historically ;-).....

    The regular LEGO elements that I have built in models that are still assembled after 25+ years still retain their clutch power just fine. Ditto for the parts that have waited 25+ years to finally be used.

    I would however recommend NOT putting LEGO into the attic over summer months. Not that anything WILL affect them necessarily... but since most things expand in heat, and contract in cold.... why take the chance. Especially in warmer climates.

    As to the Minifig issue... I don't play with minifigs... they just sit in boxes and drawers unused (and dare I say it... unloved). But recently I sold some in my Bricklink store, and I noticed that some of the feet were awfully loose for never having been played with. One buyer even accused me of selling used minifigs because the legs were so loose (I told them that if they could spot any wear of any kind on the figures, that I would refund them.... funny... I never heard from them again)...

    But then again, some of the minifig parts are not ABS, and so that's a whole other "can o' worms".

    As for the clutch power on those cheese slopes... I wonder if TLG reduced that so that they won't crack. There's an entire thread here on Brickset that discusses the cracking of the cheese slopes... so a remedy by TLG may have been to reduce the clutch power, and therefore the stress on them.
  • jadeirenejadeirene US, CaliforniaMember Posts: 475
    ^^^ Is that Bart Simpson hair I see?
  • CoolsplashCoolsplash Member Posts: 935
    @Si, great picture and a even great movie. One of our favorite LEGO based movies :)
  • waylanderwaylander Member Posts: 3
    The best puns make you groan on the outside. that one made me groan on the inside too......still great picture.

    Istokg - thanks for the info and advice. space is always an issue though of course. the dream of a lego room continues ......
  • sadowsk1sadowsk1 Member Posts: 124
    I have been putting all my CMF's on their respective stands and I was wondering in time if they are in normal temperatures and kept out of sunlight is there any estimate on how long it will be before they lose their clutch power? Would other minfigures last longer since I have read CMF's are made of poorer quality materials? Just curious so I know how to display them and not ruin their play value for when my son is older and wants to play with them. Apologies if this has already been addressed, I did a search of the forums and didn't find anything touching on this.
  • Dread_PirateDread_Pirate Member Posts: 184
    In my experience I have not found a quality difference in CMFs over other minis. I have found that the new baseplates dont seem to have the clutch power of my older plates, but the other plates and bricks hold just fine to minifig feet. I collect the CFMs and I have them set up in their black plates attached to a 36x36 base plate. It gives them a good spacing and works great for showing them off.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,921
    Well, let me start by saying that the plastic TLG uses for the CMFs is AFAIK the closest they can get to their standard supplier from a domestic Chinese source. That doesn't, however, mean that it's identical-- differences in opacity and luster have been observed in various cases.

    Furthermore, the CMFs and other Chinese-made figs usually have different molds than non-Chinese figs. This throws a further wrench into matters.

    Overall, I think clutch power would be one of TLG's biggest considerations when it came to making figs in China, so I don't think that there's anything to worry about. Others would disagree, having reported problems with the parts' clutch power even before they've had an opportunity to age. My guess is that until someone does some serious experimentation, including tried-and-true LEGO quality testing methods like a heat test, there won't be a definite answer to this question.

    In general, though, the CMFs are still better in quality than any clone brand I'm familiar with, and since brands like Mega Bloks don't tend to lose clutch power over time from my experience, I see no reason to expect a loss in clutch power in the CMFs.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    I agree with @Aanchir above. If you keep your LEGO in reasonable conditions (out of direct sunlight, in normal temperatures (i.e. temperatures that a normal living space would have), there is nothing to worry about. I have minifigs from the 70s and I see no loss of quality, except for some printing.

    Even though I like how LEGO collectors are keeping LEGO to strong standards and complain right away if they see that LEGO is slipping in the quality department, I also sometimes feel like they are a bit over-concerned. I have not found any quality difference between regular minifigures and the CMF, except for a slightly higher opacity. Nor have I found any loss of clutch-power through the years.

    LEGO is a very durable plastic toy. It is meant for kids to play with and can take a lot of use and abuse. I have even found some LEGO in my back-yard from the previous owners of our house, that has been sitting out in the soil for who-knows-how-long (but at least a decade, since that's how long we have been at this house), and once I washed it off, it was perfectly fine with only minor scratches.

    So enjoy your minifigures, and it will likely be still played with not just by your kids but also grandkids....(c;

  • sadowsk1sadowsk1 Member Posts: 124
    Thanks for the friendly advice. I was just concerned that by keeping on them on their stands that their feet would change and not be able to grip as time goes on but it sounds like I'm in the clear!
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