- Category: Technic history 1970s
- Hits: 113
Technic sets were first introduced in Europe in September 1977 under the name Technical Sets. Advertising, such as in catalogs, called the new theme "Technical Sets" although the boxes didn't have any name on them. The term Technic would not be coined until later. These new sets still used much of the traditional studded construction of other LEGO® sets, but now introduced a small number of new parts which could be used to reproduce realistic technical functions. There were gears and axles, and new special beams and plates with holes in them to allow installation of the axles. There was even a piston element which could be used to accurately reproduce the lower part of a reciprocating engine.
These sets, intended for older children, expanded the Lego range into much more complex mechanical models, or -as early advertising stated- models "as technical as the real thing". The original series consisted of 4 models, including a 590 piece Auto Chassis, and 2 supplementary sets. In Europe they were given 850 and 870 series set numbers.
Several of these new elements, such as the cross axle and universal joint were holdovers from the earlier Gear wheel sets and were changed very little. Several other elements were new, more refined versions of the Gear Wheel elements, such as the technic beam that replaced the 2 x 4 brick with holes. Still other elements were entirely new, such as gears, the connector peg and piston rod. The 2 original supplementary sets included examples of all of the new elements.
The crown gear:
The original crown gear is a good example of how the new Technic elements replaced earlier elements. The Samsonite and Lego gear wheels could act as either a pinion or crown gear due to the relatively large size of their teeth. However, the smaller Technic gears required a new design. The crown gear featured a tooth similar in profile to a claw, (or a "bird's head" according to the 1976 UK patent application). Acting as a pinion it could mesh with the bottom of the tooth or as a crown gear with the top of the tooth.
UK patent 1,543,128
- Category: Technic history 1970s
- Hits: 54
In Europe, 2 new models, a small go-cart and a large crane, as well as a new supplementary set were released. The theme was finally released in the US under the name "Expert Builder" and were given 900 series set numbers. The initial release included 4 models, the motor set and a supplementary set. This difference between US and European availability has become standard Lego marketing practice, in fact there has never been a year with a common retail Technic assortment.
In addition to the new 16t gear, chain links and gear reducing blocks were introduced in set 872. The blocks connected to the 4.5 V motor and allowed for a 1:20 gear reduction in a much smaller space than would be required with Technic gears.
1978 US ad
855 Mobile Crane:
Another of the first generation Technic sets, the 855 Mobile Crane was the first of the crane models. This set featured an extendable boom that could be raised, lowered or rotated 360 degrees. It also had a hook that could be raised or lowered. Similar to the rest of the first generation models, much of the cranes' construction was with standard Lego elements, especially plates and 2x2 tiles.
In 1978, some of the new technical sets made it to the USA, now under the heading "Expert Builder".
Only two brand new sets were available in Europe. The go cart didn't really do anything new, but brought the piston engine parts down into a much lower price point and included six wheels. The mobile crane was a significant technical achievement, every bit as complex as the auto chassis of the previous year. With realistic boom luffing, telescoping, slewing, and hoisting functions, this set had most of the functionality of a real crane.
A few new parts were available this year, including hose, string, rubber bands, and the incredibly important axle pin.
Only a few new parts were included in the sets of 1978. By far the most important is the axle pin, pictured. As the name suggests, this part has a 1L axle at one end, and a frictionless pin at the other. The primary use of this pin is for supporting wheels, but many other uses would follow, including the use as a rack gear keeper (to hold it down) on set 855. For many years, this part was available only in light gray.
Also new for 1978 were the hose, the string, and the rubber band. The hose (black) is approximately the diameter of an axle, so it fits through a standard Technic beam hole. The string is really more than standard string. Its braided design makes it strong and stiff, so it doesn't stretch much under load. This string is still in use today, virtually always as crane or winch cable. The rubber band, which might not sound too exciting, is used for a number of uses including to preload a pawl into a ratchet.
1978 Expert Builder US sets:
- 948 - Go-Kart
- 952 - Tractor
- 954 - Helicopter
- 956 - Auto Chassis
- 960 - Power Pack
- 961 - Expert Builder/Gear Parts
By Isodomus and Technicopedia
- Category: Technic history 1970s
- Hits: 51
2 new models, a large motorcycle and a bulldozer, as well as 6 small boxed supplementary sets and a 12 V stationary motor were released. The 12V motor, released only in Europe, was powered by the 741 transformer originally designed for the 12V Lego trains.
New elements in 1979 included the now common connector peg with axle, tread links, and the 12 V motor. The tread links were essentially a modified chain link and have appeared in only a handful of sets.
1979 US ad: 125K
856 Bulldozer: Construction equipment has always been a common Technic theme and the 856 bulldozer was an good early example. The bulldozer included realistic treads running on 40t gears and a front scoop that could be raised and lowered as well as tipped forward and back via an interesting rack and gear mechanism. Although still largely based on regular bricks and plates this model signaled the beginning of more complex designs that were possible with Technic elements, particularly the use of cross axles.
856 Bulldozer857 Motorcycle874 Yellow Beams and Connector Pegs875 Red Beams and Connector Pegs876 Blue Beams and Connector Pegs877 Steering Gear Parts878 Piston Parts879 Gear Wheels and Chain Links880 12 V Technical Electric Motor
In 1979 only two new models were released. Some of the previous models were shuffled around Europe and the USA, with different countries getting the new models in different years. The motorcycle was also released under set number 8857 which was the first 4 digit Technic number, and was one of only two which would eventually be reused.
The bulldozer was the first (and nearly only) tracked vehicle released by LEGO. The fascinating series of four bar linkages and translating racks made for a complex mechanism, the likes of which has rarely been duplicated. It was made primarily of beams, axles, and connectors. The motorcycle was very large, and is one of the biggest to this day. It introduced the chain link and included a one cylinder engine and sidecar. It was made mostly of standard beams and plates, with only a few Technic elements. Neither of these models really broke new ground in the way of Technic functionality, but they were both examples of subjects which had not been made before. In only a few years this would almost entirely cease, and most new models would be newer and (sometimes) improved versions of subjects which had been tackled before.
A few new parts were available this year including chain links, tracks, and the 16 tooth spur gear.
Chain Links and Tracks
The chain link is the one of the smallest, but most useful, Technic parts. This new link, which comes only in black, was designed with an opening the width of a spur gear, with a cross member which is the diameter of a gear tooth root, and with a pitch which is equal to the gear tooth pitch. In case it isn't obvious, they were designed to fit over the gears. Each link is a separate part and clips together. Because of this assembly method, there is no master link and one end of each link is an open section, unlike a real chain. This means that all the load is carried in bending instead of tension. You would think that this would make these parts prone to breaking, but they are actually quite durable. They have been used in various sets up to the present day.
The track is a variation of the chain link. It has the same features underneath, but is 3 times wider to provide a large footprint. There have only ever been 3 tracked vehicles which used these parts, the bulldozer of 1979, and excavator, and a mobile crane. Various forklifts used a single track to attach to the lift mechanism. This part was replaced by a much larger track in 2007.
A new 16 tooth gear was introduced. It shares the same tooth profile with the other spur gears, but the new number of teeth made a wider range of gear ratios available. This and the 8 tooth gear have probably been the most common gears throughout the history of Technic.
This isn't technically a Technic part, but had not been seen before in Technic sets, and was only seen one more time in a Technic set 8848 - Power Truck. This part was actually introduced in the train series in 1969 for tipper wagons. Only by 1976 this part showed up in other themed sets and finally in 1979 in this set 856 - Bulldozer. This part is finally discontinued in 1982. By 1996 this part was reintroduced, however without the pins as a flat bucket end element, not suited anymore for tipper functionality.
By Isodomus and Technicopedia