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December 24, 2020: Dec. 19 Meeting Report

by Ed Chang

Virtual meeting - Brian Lasseter hosting.
 
Participated in the meeting:
Brian Lasseter
Jacob Gooch
Mattti Schaelicke
Sarah Silverman
Steve Jackson
Tim Howell
Tony Sava
Amy Meyer
Matt Sailors
Ed Chang
 
1. MOC updates:
Steve showed some nearly-complete GP40s based on Benn Coifman's design, in Conrail blue livery.
Matti showed a new modular building in Studio, work in progress.
Tim showed his new dark orange modular building, also a work in progress. We considered some possible names/purposes for the building.
Tony posted a video of his motorized mini trains.
 
2. Club car update:
First draft of the instructions are done. Ed will be making some revision moving forward.
We considered making a Playbill font variant of the Texas flag design. We may be able to have variants with each type of font.
When the instructions are complete, LUG members can email Ed for link/password to the online hosted files (Dropbox/Google Drive or something)
 
3. TBRR Blog:
Steve is always taking submissions for blog posts. This is meant to be a LUG blog, not a solo Steve blog.
 
4. New items in the community:
Matt received a KeyBrick One prototype rechargeable battery insert for the PUp Hub. We expect he will report back once he's had a chance to try it out.
We discussed the new LEGO official road system, and speculated on how they might do curved roads. It seems to have some potential for use in the club layout.
Tony showed a preproduction sample of the BrickTracks R104 switch. They look very promising and have some neat features including modularity to make a ladder yard, and a removable rotary switch stand that can be place on either side of the track. Several LUG members have placed preorders, expected in Feb. 2021.
 
5. Brick Rodeo:
We didn't make many specific plans for this.
We would like to come up with a good way to incorporate Tony's Galveston terminal station into the layout.
It sounds like there will be some new tables built in Austin "soon." 3x3 tables, including dropped tables would be useful. Tim's new turntable will need a new 3x3 dropped table.
 
The next virtual club meeting is tentatively set for Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 4 PM.

If there are people who regularly cannot make Saturdays, please let us know and we can alternate Saturday/Sunday meetings.


December 12, 2020: Online Meeting / Club Car Photos

We have an online meeting coming up Saturday the 19th. Visit the TBRR Google group for details! We hope you can join us.

Ed Chang has completed the design of a tank car for TBRR and has executed it in two color schemes – one red and white with the TBRR graphic logo, one red/white/blue like the Texas flag. Pictures are on Flickr.


November 30, 2020: TBRR Club Standards And Suggestions

by Steve Jackson

A question we get once in a while: What are the TBRR club standards?

There is no WRONG in Lego, except Mega Bloks and Krazy Glue, but a collaboration needs to agree on a few points ahead of time. These are ours.

•• The big standard, the meta-standard, is Plan In Advance. With enough communication, anything is possible, even if it breaks the rules. We coordinate our displays using our Google group. Please read it.

•• Play well together! We are all ambassadors for the hobby.

PennLUG track profile

What We Bring

• We use plastic track ballasted to the PennLUG standard, with black ties. That way the track is uniform throughout the layout, which really ties it all together. So to speak. And end view is to the right. Match this profile and you're golden.

• Track positioning is vital if things are to link together. The PennLUG standard calls for double track on mainlines. The outer rails occupy the 6th stud in from each edge (see the image). Varying from this takes a lot of planning.

• Wide (third-party) curves are strongly preferred because they allow for bigger engines and longer trains.

• Monorail positioning will be the subject of a separate post.

• We do our best to keep city streets consistent, but which street style we use depends on whose collection of streets is used. We do expect all sidewalk surfaces to be tiled.

• Our basic grid is the 32 x 32 baseplate. We use features as small as 8 x 16, but they take more planning! Everything is built on either a baseplate or a plate. Some of our members are enthusiastic about basing systems like MILS, but some of us are less so. There is no consensus, and we don't do things without consensus. If you bring something cool that is built on a raised base, we will find a way to work with it.

• Our display is train/town themed (except for little vignettes, which can be just about anything), and generally urban unless we have so much space that we can do some countryside. If you want to work in pirates or Minecraft or Hogwarts or something, look for a way to give them a Town context. Discuss it on the Google group!

• No vignettes past PG; we have lots of kids in the audience.

• For AFOL shows, MOC buildings and trains are preferred, followed by modified sets. Unmodified sets are filler at best. At train shows, Maker Faires, and so on, most of the audience doesn't know which sets are which and there is no reason not to use the good official ones.

• Please don't bring unauthorized clones!

• Lighting is awesome. Motion is awesome. Humor is awesome.

How We Display

• We use black plastic skirting around the tables, and store as much as we can underneath.

• No bare tabletop! At a minimum, every space must have a baseplate, preferably with landscape . . . unless it is being used for literature display.

• Our standard club tables are 3 x 6 baseplates (30 x 60 inches). They are 30" high. (Table design by David Hawkins, with later refinement by Joe Herbert and Gareth Ellis – plans are elsewhere on this site.)

• Rather than assigning each member a zone, we plan the whole layout in advance, mixing up the contributions to create the most interesting and liveable town plan that we can.

• We have stanchions. Sometimes we use them. Often we don't. We do put up Please Do Not Touch signs, and they mostly work.

• Everybody who brings a train will get the chance to run it at some point, and at AFOL shows we welcome visiting trains. We have never needed a formal schedule; everyone always plays nice.

• We are as kid-friendly as we can possibly be.

• If it's dusty, wash it!

• No "stuff," and especially no food, on the display tables. We set up separate places for these.

Recommendations

These are not rules, but they seem to be good ideas.

• Landscape! Visitors like it. We do not have a standard for trees, any more than Nature does. Build trees that you like.

• If a layout stops at least an inch from each table edge, then kids have a place to lean while they look. Most kids will not abuse this privilege!

• Trees or other features on the outside of curves will help slow down a runaway train and may avoid a death plunge.

• It is a very good idea to put your name on both your property and your boxes.

• Building sidewalks, like those on the modulars, look best at 4 to 7 tiles wide.

• We have a lot of fun with our Seek and Find slips.

• Most trains are 8 studs wide (though 6 is okay). Most trucks are 6 wide. Most cars are 4 wide.

• Wear your nametag!

Up To You

• Whether you use batteries, PF, or Powered Up is up to you.

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 


November 21, 2020: Living Room Layout

by Steve Jackson
My Brick Town

Finally, I will get to enjoy some of my Lego in between shows. My living room is now host to four club-sized tables, plus the original living room table with a green-painted sheet of builder Styrofoam to protect it and bring it up to height. Not quite six tables' worth of area. So tiny by the standards of what we do at shows, but as a home layout it will be nice. The goal is to use as many of my buildings as possible.

I started by building a plan in quarter scale. I was able to get almost everything in; I even have room for the plaza behind Posh. The only compromise I had to make was to leave one of the Bluestones on the shelf. There will be sidewalk along all streets, even in front of parks and beside buildings that weren't made as corners.
 
Thanks to Gareth Ellis for great help on setting up the tables!

The next step was one of my favorite parts: excessive landscaping! I didn't quite use up the whole tree collection, but it came close. And I put plastic skirting on the tables.

On the end of the row you can see my quarter-wide Sushi Bar MOC. It pairs with a 3/4 wide building to fill up a full space and adds some variety along the street front.

At this point I called it finished, enjoyed it for a couple of weeks . . . and then tore it up again.

As originally constructed the curves were R40/40. Using BrickTracks curves, I upgraded the whole loop to R56/40, and the trains like it. Replacing the first outer curve with the R56 track was very time-consuming, with several false starts. The second went better. At that point I had a system, and the last four were done at the same time. The only catch is that the "inside" curve puts an R40 radius in what is otherwise an R56 loop, so speed is still limited. But the tables are nice and smooth. I can run long trains, even pulling through two R40 curves at once. I am very pleased with the BrickTracks curves.

The Trans-Blue Tower stays lit all the time. It is a great living room night light. There will be more lighted features as time goes on.

And I haven't used up all my living room space. The next expansion will add another table and a monorail loop. More on that as it happens . . .

More photos are on Flickr.

 

  


November 11, 2020: We Have A Blog!

    Thanks to Kira for writing the code to make this happen!
    We'll update this blog every week or two with news, reports of interesting projects from our members, and whatever else seems right.
    We will also continue to maintain the sections on upcoming events and trip reports, just so all our events are easy to find.
    If you have something you think we should write about, email me – sj@sjgames.com. Pictures are good, too!
    Comments on blog posts should go to the Google group – that way, all our club discussions stay in one place.
– Steve Jackson