The Second Leg

I’ve only had a limited amount of time to work on building the SDF-1 due to my real life responsibilities, and unfortunately extra time will only become more and more limited going forward. Since the last time I posted I’ve been dealing with a number of weight issues – even beyond the legs. With the size and weight of this model, the traditional LEGO connections aren’t doing the trick.

In cruiser mode, the blue sections on the left and right side shown in the picture below were not being held tightly connected to the main white center section with just a couple of technique pin assemblies. This was especially troubling since this was happening before I attached the legs and before I have even built and attached the carriers – which would add even more weight. I tried to remedy the situation with numerous additional pin and axle connections which all improved the quality of the connection between the white and blue sections but none were able to make the connections really ‘tight.’ The best solution was to build a 1×1 hole on both sides of the white center section which I was able to line up with the top of the blue sections. Through this hole I slid a plate that I was able to use to connect the sections and create a tight connection.

I buitl the 1 x 1 hole about where the gray brick is at

I’ve also rebuilt a significant portion of the leg to improve it and have started building the second leg. I’ve have come to the realization that glue is the only solution to make the model strong enough to support the legs. I’ll most likely need some form of super glue, because the legs are extremely heavy and there is not LEGO trick I can think of that I can use to connect he legs to the ship AND still have the SDF-1 be able to transform.

Before I begin to start to glue the leg I wanted to make sure the SDF-1 didn’t have some form of fundamental design flaw that would not allow the SDF-1 to stand and support its own weight after transformation. So I built a skeleton of the second leg to test the balance during transformation and fortunately it worked: Knowing that it could support the weight I went on ahead and also tested the transformation:

I was most afraid that the SDF-1 would tip backwards because of the weight of the Main Guns, but fortunately no issues.

The only issue I found with this test was with the technique I’m using to attach the Main Guns is not really holding the guns upright and tightly to the ship. I may have to go back to the drawing board on that feature.

I have to order a ton of new bricks on Bricklink in order to finish the 2nd leg. If the gluing the LEGOs together does not work in providing enough support for the legs then I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue the model, at least not at this large size. I’m going to hope that all the time, energy and money I put into this model will not go to waste because of that.

Weight Issues

I have been able to complete most of the leg; however my worst fear has come true. It appears that the weight of the leg has compromised its connection to the rest of the ship. To put it simply when I move the ship the weight of leg forces the connection points to break apart and the leg breaks away from the ship.

This connection point does not support the leg.

This connection point does not support the leg horizontally. Note the white brick on the right, even that extra support does not keep it from falling apart.

To attempt to remedy I reconstructed all of the connection points, including adding an axle connection and a male/female pin assembly as well as reconstructed an internal beam that extended from Section 3 into Section 4 (the legs). Although my improvements improved the strength of the connections I could not overcome the physics of the situation. The current weight of the leg is 2 ¼ lbs, and I think no LEGO Technic pin and/or axle assembly can hold that much weight up horizontally. Also, the leg is currently hollow and will only become heavier as I add more detail to the SDF-1.

SDF-1 Leg Work in Progress

I wanted to avoid using glue in building this model, but I think that at this point the physics of the SDF-1 make it unavoidable. The legs are a 1/3 the length of the ship, the heaviest section of the ship and protrude out with no support – with a model of this size extra support seems unavoidable. I know I could do some alterations to attempt to cut the weight of the legs, but I don’t think I could do any drastic changes that would cut the weight by a third or a fourth. Plus, after transformation the legs support the entire ship so they still must remain sturdy. I’m hoping that if I glue the connection points together it will give it enough strength to horizontally support 2-3 lbs.

If glue is the solution, I feel it is still premature in the build to be glueing LEGOs together; I’m not sure what might still change. Yet, if I don’t try to strengthen the connection with glue now I won’t know if it will work and I won’t be able to handle the ship easily. It’s a dilemma. In the meantime I going to do my best to think of other possible solutions to resolve this without glue, but as I alluded to earlier I think the chances of a strictly LEGO solution is slim to none.

"I know it hurts, I feel your pain too. But don't give up now...you are so close to building the perfect LEGO SDF-1!"

Work in Progress: SDF-1 Legs Day Two

I had a lot of fun working on the SDF-1 leg today, much more fun than yesterday. I made significant progress and I’m starting to see it coming together – even though I know I still have a long, long, long way to go. The pic below is from the morning:

After about 2 hours of work

Although I made a lot of progress, it is a slow build. So far I have spent two days on this one leg. I have rebuilt section after section after section over and over again, it is very tedious. Even when I ‘finish‘ this leg I’ll still have to rebuild parts of it depending on what I select to store inside of it (perhaps a version of Macross City). Also because I’m short on so many pieces I have to use my bucket of old spare pieces to fill in the gaps. If it wasn’t for those parts I don’t know where I would be at in this build.

Starting to build the bottom of the leg, about 4 hours into the build.

I realized a haven’t posted a pic of the whole ship together to show all of the progress, so here is a quick pic of that:

Progress to date, quite a bit more work to do but at least it is starting to look more like the SDF-1.

Just this one leg has decimated many types of my inventory of plates and bricks; I’ll need to order hundreds of more pieces to finish this ship. So yet again back to Bricklink I go to search for blue, white, yellow and black LEGOs. Because of the shortage I won’t be able to do too much tomorrow to progress this leg. Maybe I’ll spend time working on the second part of the white center section, hopefully I’ll have enough white pieces for that.

Work in Progress: The SDF-1 Legs

Today I spent a little time building the top of the center white section; I wanted to determine what slope pieces to use for the top. I think what I have so far works well enough, I’ll see for sure once I build the second half of that section (the part that supports the bridge). Here is a quick pic of the work in progress:

Added the angled top section to the white center section.

Now this is the least fun part about the build, THE LEGS. I feel like this where 99 out of 100 people stop when they try to build the SDF-1, these legs are no fun. The numerous long angles on the legs make it extremely difficult to replicate via LEGO. There may be a way to do it perfectly, I’m not claiming to be a LEGO master builder by any means, but I have not come across the pieces that would make building these angles easy. The center white section on the top of the legs, the center white section on the bottom and the outer blue sections on the top and bottom are all long and difficult angles to reproduce:

Angles! Angles! Angles!

I wish to build the outer blue section to be 1 stud across. The longest LEGO blue brick slope that is one stud across is 4 studs long. I can find longer curved blue brick pieces that are 1 stud across but these leg angles call for sloped pieces, not curved pieces. Then I thought about using wedge plates for this section but again LEGO does not produce the longer wedge plates in blue, so no luck there. Just to satisfy my curiosity I even tested the theoretical building technique with white wedge plates to see if it would work and the answer was no anyways, the angles of the wedge plates did not work.

The center white section of the SDF-1 legs is just as difficult, same angle problems. In the past when I have built LEGO SDF-1s I have used plates and hinged plates to create the angled white center section: I would attach a white plate to white hinged plates at the bottom and at the top of the leg. The method works ‘ok’ but it is always difficult to line up the hinges and plates – it never fits exactly. It also makes any storage within the leg difficult to access because the hinge and plate assembly are not easy to seperate. Below is a pic of my first attempt at the building the leg with the hinge and plate method.

Trying the build the white center section with hinged plates. The hinged plate is at the bottom of the leg with all of the white slopes.

After considerable frustration with the angles already, I did not want to settle for the status quo of the plates and hinges for the white section of the legs. After all of the time, effort and money spent of this model I felt such a poor and recycled technique was not acceptable. However, what else could I use? Wedged plates would work because the angles were too severe. Early in the day I tried a crazy wedge plate, modified headlight and plate combination – that didn’t work. Angled slopes would work because although LEGO makes longer sloped bricks in white they do not make them one stud across. I was running out of ideas.

My current solution is to use hinged bricks, it looks OK to me now, but it presents additional problems such as weight. Also, with the hinge I’m only able to attach the white section to the top of the legs. To be truthful, the hinged bricks isn’t that much different from the hinged plates – so maybe that is still the optimal solution.

Building the white center section with hinged bricks. Also notice the studs on the side and the wedge plates of the carpet, those were from testing the wedge plate building technique for the side.

I have spent all day of this leg, and I still have a long, long way to go, but at least it is started. I hope I can turn this into something respectable, I don’t want the legs to ruin the build and my goal to create a faithful LEGO SDF-1!

What a disorderly arrangement! This guy is completely ignorant of LEGO building tactics!