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Technic advice needed

GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
Apologies if this is in the wrong place - this is my first post here. A bit of background - I had Lego as a child, which was a very long time ago. Around 2009 I got some Star Wars mini sets free with the morning paper and since then I've built the Big Bang Theory living room, but what really got me back into Lego was the Saturn V. I fancied something a bit more challenging so after seeing a clip on YouTube I bought the Bucket Wheel Excavator, which is sitting unopened as it's my birthday present to myself and my birthday is still three days away! I also couldn't resist the Mobile Crane (YouTube has a lot to answer for) and managed to get one off eBay; I'm awaiting delivery of that one.
So (at last) my question - as I've never built any Technic sets, have I started with things that are too complicated? Should I get a smaller, simpler set to see how these things work before I tackle the giants? And if so, can anybody recommend a good one?
Donsnowhitie

Comments

  • bandit778bandit778 Docking Bay 94. Member Posts: 1,899
    edited March 2018
    @GordonEdin

    Firstly, welcome to the forum and the rabbit  hole that is Lego Collecting. :)

    As to your question, I don't think you can start too big with Technic as at the end of he day, providing the instructions are followed, it should work (My first Technic set was #42009 ).
    The only difference (in my experience) is that the smaller sets are easier to follow/understand the build process that will get you to the end result whereas it can be quite difficult to follow all the individual sections that go into a making up a multi-functional build.
    This of course won't be an issue if you just enjoy building but if you are of an inquisitive nature and you like to know how things actually work it can get confusing with the bigger sets.
    Fizyx
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,415
    Big ones are not so much any more difficult to build than smaller ones, just longer. Ocassionally there are trickier techniques, but probably less so than in the system higher age rather than lower age range sets.

    But I'd suggest doing a couple of smaller ones first, just to see if you like technic before buying too many large ones. Don't just put them together, take them apart again too, as it is quite different to 'normal' system lego.
    bandit778Fizyx
  • MaffyDMaffyD West YorkshireMember Posts: 2,442
    Hi @GordonEdin - welcome to Brickset Forums. My own advice about Technic is hopefully not patronising, but it's to be really careful about following the instructions. One wrong pin or beam out of place/missing, or a gear placed back to front or mirrored to where it should be can sometimes be hard to spot straight away, and when you finally realise the mistake on a big set it could be laborious to work your way back to fix it. 'Normal' Lego is a bit easier to disassemble. The instructions are no harder though IMO.
    bandit778Fizyxsnowhitieesfrolios
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,025
    MaffyD said:
    Hi @GordonEdin - welcome to Brickset Forums. My own advice about Technic is hopefully not patronising, but it's to be really careful about following the instructions. One wrong pin or beam out of place/missing, or a gear placed back to front or mirrored to where it should be can sometimes be hard to spot straight away, and when you finally realise the mistake on a big set it could be laborious to work your way back to fix it. 'Normal' Lego is a bit easier to disassemble. The instructions are no harder though IMO.


    So much this. Technic sets are much harder to take apart, and therefore less forgiving when you make a mistake.

    With a large set like the Bucket Wheel excavator, my suggestion would be to take frequent breaks - at least every hour - or even spread out building the set for several days. Also, when you work on the mechanical sections (like things that need to rotate, move, etc.), regularly try them as you build, to make sure there are no obstructions. Sometimes all it take is pressing something together too hard to make it stuck. Or have it too loose and end up wiggling too much. And work under good light!

    Other than that, just take one step at a time, and carefully follow the instructions. A big Technic set is like eating an elephant. Looks overwhelming at first, but if you focus on taking one bite at a time, it's not any different than building a small set. Have fun! :D

    drdavewatfordbandit778Fizyxsnowhitieesfrolios
  • FizyxFizyx ColoradoMember Posts: 648
    Oddly, I've had the opposite experience with taking Technic sets apart than it sounds like most people here have.  I actually found it easier, in general, to take apart the Technic sets than the System sets.  This may be because I tend to gravitate towards higher piece count, more modern System sets, which means lots of small plates that are a pain to separate.  But my trick with the Technic sets has always been the same as with the System sets:  2 brick separators.  I think a lot of people forget that the brick separator has two non-System related tools.  The first is more obvious, the x-bar attached to the top, which is exceptionally useful for getting Technic pins out easily, as well as stubborn bars and axels.  The second is the lever at the back of the tool. This is generally useful for leveraging out Technic pins from awkward places, as you can generally use them to release the clutch action on the pin to make it easy to pull out, or you can use to to begin to pry apart pieces connected with pins.  Using these two techniques, I find Technic comes apart quite easily, and in general is far less fiddly than similarly sized System sets.

    As for building it, I completely second the comments about taking it slow, as many times what seems like a random pin placement early on can become vital at the end of the build, and incorrect gear positioning is an absolute killer.  Far better to go slower and do it right the first time than to have to disassemble 1/2 of all the work you've done to fix that placement of that one stupid pin by one stupid hole.  (I may or may not be speaking from experience...)

    I like @akunthita's comment about making sure all the mechanical sections are in good working order also.  Doing this makes it much easier not only to ensure the mechanics are working correctly, but also to pinpoint any issues that arise.  If a second is working correctly, and you add on, and suddenly it's not working, then you know the problem is what you just added.  If you wait till the end, the range of locations you could be having issues will be much larger, and harder to troubleshoot.

    A final note:  If your set has gear boxes, PTOs, or other gearing assemblies, you may want to consider leaving them assembled when you disassemble the set if you're not going to use them for something else.  Technic gears are already subject to wear and tear, and assembling or disassembling them can be a heavy contributor to wearing them down.  I know a lot of people will try to avoid that by leaving those assemblies together as much as possible.  This will, of course, mainly apply to sets, assemblies, and parts that see heavier use and are more complex.  For smaller sets it's much less of an issue than for something like the BWE. (Which is an amazing set, and a great purchase imo!  Great way to get into Technic for sure.)
  • TheLegoMaster35TheLegoMaster35 OH, USAMember Posts: 254
    I strongly recommend this book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1593277601/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1521571840&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=lego+technic+book

    while I don’t have the updated version, it’s still a great book for technic beginners. 
    Fizyx
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Thanks for all the tips - I've just ordered the book from Amazon!
    I have no intention of trying to build the models in one go - when I built the Saturn V it took twelve days, one day per bag of parts. I enjoyed it much more that way than if I'd rushed it. As for checking that the gears turn at each step, I was planning on doing that too - the box hasn't been opened but I downloaded the instruction manual and I've been studying that so I hope I know what to expect.
    At least if I do run into any problems there seem to be plenty of nice people willing to help out!
    FizyxMaffyDsnowhitie
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 1,398
    I just recently built my first Technic set #8455 Back-hoe Loader. It was a fantastic experience that taught me a lot about techniques. The biggest thing I learned, to add onto the point made by others, is take your time to follow the instructions. 

    Being someone who is really into Lego for the build experience, I didn't mind slowing down and taking my time. I still ran into a few steps that took me awhile to figure out how/where to attach, but it was a highly rewarding experience!

    Fortunately (or unfortunately), I think I caught the Technic bug! The day after I finished that build I saw the Mobile Crane go on sale locally for $25. I responded within minutes of it posting, but lost out to someone else who got there faster. It's all I could do to not make a sympathy purchase for myself to fill the void created by missing that offer. 

    Best of luck! 
    Fizyx
  • dmcc0dmcc0 Nae far fae AberdeenMember Posts: 641

    Fortunately (or unfortunately), I think I caught the Technic bug! The day after I finished that build I saw the Mobile Crane go on sale locally for $25. I responded within minutes of it posting, but lost out to someone else who got there faster. It's all I could do to not make a sympathy purchase for myself to fill the void created by missing that offer. 

    I seem to have just caught the Technic bug too - it must be contagious.  Bought the small Dozer Compactor a few weeks ago as a re-introduction to the theme that I've not really had any experience with since I had #8660 and #8842 when I was a kid.  Haven't even got around to building it yet but I've bought another few sets already, including the bucket wheel excavator and the Class Xerion Tractor!
    Fizyx
  • BooTheMightyHamsterBooTheMightyHamster Northern edge of London, just before the dragons...Member Posts: 1,281
    @GordonEdin

    All good advice above, and you won't regret buying Sariel's book - it's excellent.  I love Technic, more so than 'regular' Lego.  I've learnt a lot about real world engineering from building sets - gearboxes, suspension and so forth.  Nothing wrong with starting off with a big set, but as others have said, build slow - get the pieces for each step out first, complete the step and don't move on if you've got any bits left (!) - and test functions as you go.

    Have fun!  And if you can get the #42054 CLASS XERION Tractor before it disappears, do!  The steering mechanism is amazing.
    Fizyxdmcc0
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Thanks again for all of this. It occurred to me that the Bucket Wheel Excavator includes a dumper truck which seems the perfect way to start with Technic - not too big and not too complicated but with enough of the, er, techniques that I'll need later on. Being a relatively small model it will show results sooner than the big beastie!
    Fizyx
  • dmcc0dmcc0 Nae far fae AberdeenMember Posts: 641
    edited March 2018
    I like your thinking - buy the biggest technic set you can find, and build a small bit of it as "practice". :-)
    FizyxSwitchfoot55
  • DonDon San DiegoMember Posts: 63
    Let me echo some of the previous good advice - take your time and be really meticulous about doing each step.

    Testing the gear assemblies is essential. Take the time to understand what they are doing and make sure all of the gear changes, inputs, and outputs work. A missing gear due to a skipped step can be a real problem if you don't discover it until the end.
    Please don't ask me how I know. :-)

    The Bucket Lift Excavator does get built in stages, with major sub-assemblies being built and then added. (Well at least the 'B' build does, I think the 'A' build does as well.)

    I wouldn't worry to much about it being too big of a set to start with as long as you are careful.

    Probably the biggest risk with starting with that set is that almost every other Technic set you subsequently build might be a little less exciting!  ;-)

    Oh, and the 'B' build of the "rock" sorter is really good. I'd even say it's good enough to be an 'A' build.

    Good luck!
  • BooTheMightyHamsterBooTheMightyHamster Northern edge of London, just before the dragons...Member Posts: 1,281
    Don said:

    A missing gear due to a skipped step can be a real problem if you don't discover it until the end.
    Please don't ask me how I know. :-)

    Do tell!!
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 3,382
    Every time I build a large Technic model, I'm even more in awe of the designers.
    dmcc0Fizyxbandit778Donsid3windr
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 368
    I think for large Technic builds, there should be a vat of silicone oil to dunk them in. Or at least have a can ready, especially for the bucket wheel. It lurches and is super weak if you don't oil it.
  • DonDon San DiegoMember Posts: 63
    Don said:

    A missing gear due to a skipped step can be a real problem if you don't discover it until the end.
    Please don't ask me how I know. :-)

    Do tell!!
    Sigh.  :-)

    This was on the 'B' build, the rock sorter. Missed a step on the transmission and left out one (maybe two) gears that transfer power to one of the conveyor belts. Did not detect this until completely finished and tried to run it.

    Yeah, a little overconfident in not doing any testing before that point!

    Fixing it would have required tearing it down to the point where the transmission could be removed, taken apart, fixed, then re-installed. So essentially not possible.
    This resulted in a crazy workaround to take power from another gear and use a long run of axles to transfer the power underneath the structure.

    It was a fun bit of improvising, but still...   :-)
    sid3windrAddicted2OxygenFizyxsnowhitie
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,415
    And nobody else has ever made a mistake like that!
    drdavewatfordDon
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Well, yesterday I took a deep breath and dived in. I built the dumper truck and everything went smoothly, so I was happy with that. I'm now working on the chassis of the excavator itself (for those who know the model I'm up to stage 33). I keep making sure that the gears turn smoothly so hopefully that will avoid having to go back later. I'm taking my time and stopping before I get tired as that's when mistakes are likely, Thanks again for all the advice!
    BumblepantsdrdavewatfordSwitchfoot55MaffyDDonsnowhitie
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Just a heads-up on current progress: I'm almost at the point where the main body attaches to the chassis. I've already done several test-fits each time I added a new set of gears and everything seems to be running smoothly. Only cause for concern is that sometimes when the main body is rotating it seems to stick for a moment; other times it turns freely. Can't see anything that's catching but I'll do a complete check once it's in place.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 3,382
    Is it sticking at the point where the large yellow quarter-gears join? I've found that to be a point of friction, because the gear at that point has a slightly larger 'gap'.
    Fizyx
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Is it sticking at the point where the large yellow quarter-gears join? I've found that to be a point of friction, because the gear at that point has a slightly larger 'gap'.
    It seems to be running smoothly enough at the moment. The main body is now attached to the chassis (i.e. I've reached that point in the build so it's not coming off again!) and everything appears to be fine. However if it sticks again that will be the first thing I check.
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Construction is complete up to the end of Stage 7 and everything is working beautifully. I did have a moment of panic when the thing seemed to be rolling along in the wrong direction until I realised the driven axle for the caterpillar tracks is at the back! Rotating the body 180 degrees solved that one. All that's left to do is decoration - the driver's cab, access ladders and safety rails, the shell surrounding the battery pack at the rear, stuff like that.
    However...
    I'm used to having small parts left over but this time I have a 15-hole beam! I'm as sure as I can be that I haven't left any parts out but how likely is it that there's an extra part as big as this?
    Fizyx
  • FizyxFizyx ColoradoMember Posts: 648
    Construction is complete up to the end of Stage 7 and everything is working beautifully. I did have a moment of panic when the thing seemed to be rolling along in the wrong direction until I realised the driven axle for the caterpillar tracks is at the back! Rotating the body 180 degrees solved that one. All that's left to do is decoration - the driver's cab, access ladders and safety rails, the shell surrounding the battery pack at the rear, stuff like that.
    However...
    I'm used to having small parts left over but this time I have a 15-hole beam! I'm as sure as I can be that I haven't left any parts out but how likely is it that there's an extra part as big as this?
    When I built mine, I did NOT have an extra piece of that size.  I would be worried about what it came from.
  • BrickByBrickBrickByBrick Massachusetts, USAMember Posts: 587
    edited April 2018
    ^^Extra pieces that aren't supposed to be there are possible, I got a series 12 fairytale princess that came with an extra of her hair/hat part and that DEFINITELY wasn't supposed to happen...
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Fizyx said:
    Construction is complete up to the end of Stage 7 and everything is working beautifully. I did have a moment of panic when the thing seemed to be rolling along in the wrong direction until I realised the driven axle for the caterpillar tracks is at the back! Rotating the body 180 degrees solved that one. All that's left to do is decoration - the driver's cab, access ladders and safety rails, the shell surrounding the battery pack at the rear, stuff like that.
    However...
    I'm used to having small parts left over but this time I have a 15-hole beam! I'm as sure as I can be that I haven't left any parts out but how likely is it that there's an extra part as big as this?
    When I built mine, I did NOT have an extra piece of that size.  I would be worried about what it came from.
    Found it! Step 524, the beam across the front edge of the switch box and easily reached without dismantling anything. Not a major structural element but my mind is at ease!
    BumblepantsBrickByBrickbandit778FizyxSwitchfoot55HugeYellowBrick
  • GordonEdinGordonEdin ScotlandMember Posts: 15
    Well, I've just finished the build and I enjoyed it very much. I did make a few mistakes along the way but nothing that couldn't be put right very quickly.
    One thing that gave me problems was the stickers. I'm used to building plastic kits with waterslide decals that are put in roughly the proper position then can be adjusted until they're exactly right, until the adhesive sets. With the stickers here I found it hard to get it just right first time, so had to peel them off and try again. I was concerned that if I did that too often they wouldn't stick. I got better as time went on so hopefully with my next model (the big Mobile Crane) these things should go more smoothly.
    Fizyxbandit778
  • slfrodenslfroden Member Posts: 3
    Well, I've just finished the build and I enjoyed it very much.
    One thing that gave me problems was the stickers.
    Congratulations on finishing the BWE!

    Sometimes the 'A Model' of a Technic set will have pieces left over that are used in the 'B Model'.  This is true more so for some of the older Technic sets rather than the newer ones.  As others have mentioned, make sure that you collect all pieces for each step before attaching them to the model so that you don't miss any.  Bricklink has inventories for sets, and shows the 'extra' pieces that are typically included which can be a good indication at the end of the build to see if you have any pieces left over that you think you shouldn't have.  Eg. https://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemInv.asp?S=42055-1 (scroll towards the bottom of the page).

    As for stickers, I normally don't apply them, but when I do I make sure the piece is clean (not covered in oily finger prints), and I use a pair of tweezers or Xacto blade or the edge of a Brick Separator.  I lightly stick the corner of the sticker to this, then position it in place over the Lego piece before I press it down.  I find that this gives me a lot more control over the placement of the sticker.

    If you have caught the Technic bug, in addition to Sariel's "The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide" book, can I also suggest Blakbird's "Technicopedia" website (www.technicopedia.com), which shows the details and mechanisms in Technic sets (so far, up to sets released in 2001).

    Have fun building the Mobile Crane - it is a great set with a complex drive-train.
    omniumFizyx
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