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.

Work In Progress: Second Half

Sorry I have been away for so long – please don’t think I have abandoned my LEGO SDF-1! Things have been extremely busy and unfortunately I won’t have as much time to dedicate to this project going forward as did last month. I have been able to sneak in some time to build here and there; most importantly I have started building the second half of the ship. I’m still short of a lot of pieces, but I did receive a couple of my orders from Bricklink which allowed me to put some finishing touches (although far from complete) on the main center section. Below are a couple of snapshots of the progress to date:

Starting the build of the left side. Part of me feels the blue section of the Main Guns may be too short, but I'll hold off on judging until I see the ship with the both Legs attached. Besides, the last thing I want to do at this point is reconstruct anything!

Although the Main Guns may look almost complete, there is still a lot of work to be done. There are some areas I will have to take apart and rebuild.

As I described in my previous post, there are still major issues with the weight of the leg. I have to decide if glue is the only solution to make the LEGOs strong enough to support the weight horizontally. If glue is the only solution, I have to decide when is the right time to start gluing Sections together, I don’t want to glue Sections together too soon and have to go through the trouble of taking the pieces apart.

To prove my point about not wanting to glue too soon, I have already discovered that I need to rebuild a section of the leg to make it so it can support the ship after transformation. Recently I found a critical design flaw in one of the connection points I built for transformation and as is I don’t think it would be able to support the ship upright.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, I’ll have to attack the leg issues when I have a significant amount of free time to focus just on solving the leg’s issues. For now I am going to wait for my last Bricklink order to arrive.

Good Job so far Sport!

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!"

Locating the Rotating Points

DYRL Transformation

For transformation into Attack Mode the middle section rotates 180 degrees, the tricky part is finding the appropriate point of rotation. I used some spare LEGO bricks as placeholders to help me locate the rotation point. The white main section is so pretty but I always knew I would have to break it apart and install a Technic brick on each side (I’ll also have to break it apart to add additional mechanisms for support too). Below is a photo of me lining up the location for the Technic brick:

The photo below is of a test to see what the SDF-1 would look like after transformation, I’m attempting to line the blue section up correctly.

The line art images that I have are not too much help because they are not really drawn to scale, especially after transformation. Because the artwork is untrustworthy, I had to use my own best judgment to decide how far out the white section should protrude after transformation.

This is the most detailed image I have of the SDF-1 in attack mode but the I use it the least because so many areas of the drawing is not to scale.

This week I’ll have less time to spend on this, I have to get back to real life! Also, progress is limited until I receive my new LEGO orders from Bricklink. Best case I hope to at least finish the leg by the weekend.

Work in Progress II: Center Section

I was able to make more progress on refining the second half of the center section, see picture below:

I added more detail to the bottom portion to fill in this gap:

The challenge with this section is building it so it folds properly into the first section for transformation, it sounds easy but of course it was not. Fortunately with a few tricks and determination I was able to get it to work. This is where I am at now:

There is still work to do to finish cleaning up the gap. Also, the mismatch colors are due to my shortage or white LEGO.

I’m still short on white pieces thus the mismatch colors. This section will be all white and all new LEGO pieces once I’m done. Here is a picture of middle section as I tested it for transformation:

Front View

Back View

I would have preferred the top section to sit a little deeper into the first section but this was the best I could do and I think it is very close to the line art I have of the SDF-1. I’m not going to do too much more with the second half of the middle section until I receive more white pieces. This was fun to build (so far) and it turned out better than I expected.

Work in Progress: Center Section

This project is a beast! I’m running out of so many types of LEGOs, I totally underestimated how many pieces this project would require. Today I submitted two more Bricklink orders for pieces, on top of the three orders I already have outstanding. I am afraid to tally how much this ship has cost; I’ll wait to add it up when I’m done.

Today I worked on the second half on the white center section, the section of the ship that the bridge sits on. The tricky part about this section is that rotates clockwise into the first half of the white center section when the ship transforms. In order for me replicate that important feature I have to find the best point of rotation. Again, I am working only with pictures I found online of the SDF-1, I don’t have a toy or model to assist me. I’m building the rotation points with simple Technic pin 1×2 bricks. Below is a photo of the section after I determined the best points for rotation.

It took a long time to find the best points! It was not easy, a lot of trial and error!

Next I had to determine how long the section should be; again I used the images available to me.

I used these images to determine how long the section should be (how far over the legs did it extend).

Compared to everything else, determing the length was easy

Below is a picture of my first attempt to build this section out after I pinpointed the points of rotation. You’ll notice I’m using other color LEGO in this section besides white; that is because I ran out of many of the required white bricks and plates and was forced to use my old spare bricks as substitutes. After I built this section and took this picture I decided it was too bulky/blocky and took it apart. Again, just like the leg the slopes and angles were the source of the problem, replicating them is no easy task. With the first attempt I felt the slopes I created were not faithful to the images I had of the SDF-1 and I knew I could do better.

Not exactly what I wantedAfter hours and hours (approx. 10) and many more versions this is the best version I was able to create:

I did the best I could to be faithful to the SDF-1 images.

I used wedge plates to create the outer angles and inverted slopes for the inner ones. I was also able to match it closely to the images I have of the SDF-1. I’m happy with how this section has turned out (so far), but there is still a lot of work to do here: I’m still missing many of the pieces that I need and I still need to finish the bottom/back of this section. Also, this section is mostly hollow and I am planning something special for the inside!

Being short of so many critical pieces I am not sure what I’ll be able to work on tomorrow. I’ll sleep on it.

Rick likes what he sees so far...