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Big Steam Tractor


Road Loco "The President" to say Goodbye

Well, it's been an amazing time, but three days before closure it looks like the Big Steam Tractor simply isn't going to make it.

I'd like to thank everyone for their support, encouragement, useful and kind comments, and overall good vibrations. You folks really steam!

I'm signing off with the latest design of my Big Steam Tractor, clad as the famous Burrell Road loco "The President", which is still out and about. I did not create the basic model in order to resemble a particular make or model, rather to let your fantasy run free. Take this as another example of how versatile the underlying design is. Just look!

Yours Truly,




75 percent complete... 4 months to go

What you see here is the crew of the Big Steam Tractor hard at work to get those last 25% done. The Big Cable Shovel has come over from its own project site to help out. Can we count on your assistance, too?

Honestly, 7500 supporters is a reason to celebrate, but please continue to share this project with your friends, and with other enthusiasts outside of Lego Ideas!

We Can do it!



Celebrating 6000 Supporters!

With a little below one year to go, the Big Steam Tractor has reached 6000 supporters!

Thank you all for staying with me. Many have been backing the Big Steam Tractor for over a year now, and some keep checking back regularly.

It feels like a stroke of luck to me that this model is capturing your imagination as much as it does. I couldn't have known in advance, and every time I post a new project I get a new, different kind of reaction.

Please keep the comments coming, they are most valuable feedback to me. And because I promised, here's the LDD file for the water tanker. It can be used for carrying a battery pack for Power Functions.

LDD file for tanker




New Video of RC Steam Tractor with Thresher

I finally edited the video I shot at the Berlin Lego fair "Steinewahn 2017" on September, 16. The exhibition was quite attractive, and many amazing MOCs were presented. I'm glad to say that the Big Steam Tractor enjoyed its share of admiration, too!

I had set up a display with several engines derived from the basic project model, which were shown in a farming setting. My steam crane model, which is currently equipped with PF, took a ride around the hall while pulling the threshing engine. See for yourself!



Harvest Time, Threshing TIme!

During the summer, I tackled something that was on my mind from the moment I submitted the 'Big Steam Tractor'. I have made a functional model of a thresher to go with the agricultural threshing engine. In the end, this might not be part of the final model because it has just as many bricks as the steam tractor, but it goes to show what possibilities there are in the original idea.

Threshing was revolutionized by steam power. Before the introduction of threshing machines it was the most exhausting task involved with harvest. Threshing by hand required a number of skilled, strong workers (with big appetite) to work through fall and winter. Mechanical, steam-powered threshing took a fraction (literature I read speaks of less than 10%) of the time.

My model represents a threshing machine around 1910, such as were made by Ransomes, Marshall, or Lanz.

The bundled straws are fed to the rotating threshing drum on the top of the machine. The grains are beaten out of the ears by wooden boards attached to the threshing drum, which beat them against the cage. The straws are the transported towards the rear of the machine, while they are being shaken. All the grains falling down are going to the winnowing sieves, which separate the short straws from the grain. A brisk air flow is taking the chaffage away. The grains are collected in a reservoir on the bottom of the machine, from where they are again thrown upwards by a feeder, and cleaned by another air blast while falling down through the funnel on the left side of the thresher. Then the grains are sacked.

My models will be exhibited and shown in operation at the 6th 'Berliner SteineWAHN', in Berlin-Tegel, on 16th and 17th of September. I will post pictures in an update.


A Living Van for the Big Steam Tractor

Here's a fun accessory for the Big Steam Tractor, particularly for the Showman's Engine. It's the type of living van that travelling showmen would be dwelling in while on the road. Similar vans were used by the working crews of steam ploughs, road working crews, and the like.

The van features two beds, two chairs, a table, and an oven. It's equipped with a working hand brake. Of course it can be used to store a battery pack inside when running the model with Power Functions.






What's Your Favourite Colour Scheme?

After the last input I received from you, I have now run a couple of renders to compare possible colour schemes for the model. After all, if this is going to be a three-in-one set (four-in-one, if you cout the basic traction engine model), there can be only one choice of colour.

Here's one I like:

Now the next picture shows a number of combinations of body and wheel colour. All of them are realistic, even though not all are equally common. I am currently considering a dark red, blue, or dark orange body in combination with dark red, yellow, red, gold, or black wheels.

At the time being, most of these wheel colours don't exist (only gold and black). But as you know, existing parts in new colours are okay for Lego Ideas.

Please give me you feedback, which one you like best!



Model on Display in Lego Brand Store Berlin

I proudly announce the presentation of my models in the fan window of the Lego Brand Store, Berlin! For those of you who live in Berlin or stop by for a visit, it is now possible to check out the Showman's Engine and the Road Roller in real life. I chose these two of the different variations on the project theme, as they demonstrate the versatility of the underlying idea. Regrettably, the display case is not high enough for the crane and not wide enough for all models at once, but I might redecorate later. The models will be displayed in the Store on Tauentzienstraße until the end of July.

My steam engines now enjoy the company of the Lego Ideas Yellow Submarine, the modular buildings, and the Creator cars! Please keep up the support, so one day the set may be on that shelf, available to all.




LDD Files Download Links

For those who cannot wait to see the model in stores, which is a larger number of people than just me, I offer the LDD files for download.

Mind you: the wheel design could not be correctly modelled in LDD, because 1.) the rubber tracks can't be modelled into the right shape, 2.) the collision detection stops me from wrapping the tracks tight around the wheels (rear wheels, too), so there is always an extra chain link, 3.) some parts don't exist in LDD, like the 1970ies rubber tracks on the front wheels of the Showman's engine, or the old 14-tooth bevel gear I like to use as sprocket for the Power Functions chain drives (2 gears back to back make the perfect sprocket), or the PF LED lights.

For full appreciation of these details I refer you to the pictures in my last updates, and to my flickr video. The power functions mechanism is shown in the second part of it.

Furthermore, the coloured sections of the different models are all of different construction (in particular boiler and tender), due to the varying availability of parts in these colours. E.g. to make the green boiler, I had to sort of buy the world's supply of green plates 11213, because nothing else will give a green cylinder 6 studs wide. However, with the exception of the wheel tyres, everything in the LDD files is exactly as in my real-life models which you can see on the various photos.

Now here comes the good suff:

1.) Big Steam Tractor - Steam Roller LDD file

2.) Big Steam Tractor - Showman's Engine LDD file

3.) Big Steam Tractor - Steam Crane LDD file

4.) Big Steam Tractor - Traction Engine with Power Functions LDD file

Brick on,



A Slimmer Boiler, and the Different Front Wheel Styles

So far my project models all have a boiler of 6 studs diameter. That makes them look quite beefy, and helps to make a big and heavy impression. Some more elegance may be gained with a boiler of 4 studs width, as can be seen here. The drive train is the same as before, but the tender is obviously remodelled, too. It now includes a working hand brake, at the cost of the room for the Power Functions motors. It looks good, but is it worth the trouble? You be the judge.

So far, I came up with four basically different front wheel designs, which differ in diameter, width, and general appearance - and that's not counting the roller. I think they all make sense with the respective models. Here's an overview.

I appreciate every comment or suggestion, and thank you for reading.


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