Guy Bagley
                               Also see... Starting in model boats by Guy Bagley....!

The LEGO Tyne class lifeboat – ‘RNLB GARSIDE’

What do you do if you live model lifeboats and have endless supply of LEGO blocks?!

The LEGO Tyne class lifeboat ‘RNLB GARSIDE’

This model was constructed for a  special event at LEGOLAND Windsor- this event featured the work of the ‘emergency services’  and so we were asked to produce models of ambulances, fire engines and lifeboats, - needless to say I chose the task of building  the boat !-

It  is ‘stand off’ scale waterline model,  built to 1 to 20 scale or as near as the bricks will allow,  built entirely from standard LEGO parts that are available in the shops, no special parts were used , all the elements used in its construction come from one of the many LEGO sets you can find in your local toyshop, I just used lots of the pieces !

The first thing is to draw up instructions as you don’t get this ‘kit’ out of the box with a guide on how to build it !!!!

So having contacted the RNLI  and obtained drawings, pictures and other relevant research I started to enlarge this reference material on the photocopier to get to the scale we wanted to work to ( 1:20 )

We then overlay a draughting film onto the hull profiles,  the draughting film has squares printed onto it, each square represents one LEGO brick,  we trace the hull lines onto the film and then fill in the grid lines to represent the stepped LEGO contours, each coloured contour is what we build in bricks to form the 3D model. So we basically draw our own instructions, this planning stage is the most labour intensive bit of the model, the build once the drawings are perfect is the easy bit.

So following the hull contours we have drawn we start the 3 D build, we start at the bottom and work up in levels,  in the hull we use the thin LEGO plates, ( 3 plates make up the same thickness as a standard LEGO brick)  - the build follows the bread and butter principle with 3 layers of plates  for every 8 mm up the hull.

Once the hull is complete we add the deck and then the details such as wheel house, hatches and similar.

Each brick is chemically  glued/ bonded to the surrounding bricks, if we put a brick in the wrong place and the glue has cured the only way to remove it is by a sharp chisel or saw….. so we try not to make mistakes,  we generally do not build a trial run first, we go straight into building the final model once the drawings are complete.

The actually brick building of the Tyne class lifeboat took only 27 hours to complete, with 30 hours going into the design, drawing and research of the vessel.

The model hull was built in standard LEGO bricks and plates, the wheelhouse and superstructure are basic parts with the addition of some ‘detail elements’- these are the more varied and unusual parts from some of the sets, these can be parts of spaceships or breakdown trucks or  whatever, these are the parts we use to represent the details such as cleats, bollards, fairleads, winches,  radar scanners, anchor parts,  vents, or deck lights, or whatever is needed,

The skill here is to look at all the boats details and find the LEGO part that best represents it, this can mean using a dustbin for a searchlight or a knife and fork for a cleat or fairlead !

The lifeboat set us an unusual challenge as there are a lot fewer of these unusual shaped LEGO parts in  the orange colour, so we really needed to be creative …. The hull is hollow so the model is as lightweight as possible, it weighs in at 3 kg- and in due course this model will be fitted to a flotation base and will be seen moving in a lifeboat display in LEGOLAND  Windsor’s harbour display.

The model is a representation of the St Davids lifeboat ‘Garside’  and the model was built from materials supplied by the RNLI

Anyway you should have enough images of the boat during  the build, and some of the research materials supplied to us. There are also a few images of the finished model,  hopefully there is enough material to put a webpage together if you wish.

Please if you do include this model  could you put a link to at the bottom……. Cheers