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.
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.
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.