Redesigning the 60197 Engine

A few weeks back I picked up two of the 60197 Passenger Train discounted on Amazon. I’d been in two minds about this set for a while because I really don’t like the big, pre-moulded cockpits on sets like these — slapping a sticker on the side of a moulded shape just don’t feel very LEGO. One argument is that it keeps the weight down, but the freight trains are all brick-built so why should this be different? The other argument is of course cost, and with the freight trains running at £160-180 compared to £120 (at retail price) for the passenger train, that makes a bit more sense.

Regardless of the reasons why, I figured I’d do something about it. I’ve always loved the design of the early 80s British Rail engines — the Intercity 125 being perhaps the most iconic of the lot. I’d seen a couple of LEGO versions of this engine, some of which looked pretty decent, but the curves and bulges of the front really doesn’t lend itself to bricks!

Intercity 125 — Image taken from Wikipedia.
Intercity 125 — Image taken from Wikipedia.

Nevertheless, I decided to use this as a starting point for my redesign. Clearly I wouldn’t be able to accurately replicate the design, but getting just a few of the most eye-catching elements in there would be enough. I knew from the start I wanted to drop the pantographs and turn this into a diesel engine - just for a start there’s no overhead wires on any of my track, so having “electric” trains whizzing around looks a bit odd!

The very first design iteration using stacked windscreens and slopes
The very first design iteration using stacked windscreens and slopes
Progress! Note the black arch piece used under the cab
Progress! Note the black arch piece used under the cab

I made some decent headway but got frustrated trying to work out the shapes and benched the whole thing. I’d bought a load of dark blue and “bright light orange” (or whatever the official LEGO colour name is!) pieces off Bricklink and while I was determined not to let them go to waste, sometimes you just need to take a step back and return with fresh eyes.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. I just got back from The Art of the Brick with NBLUG and decided today was THE day to finish this thing. I pretty much took the whole thing to bits and rebuilt it from scratch, reworking some of the more fragile bits along the way. After a few hours sat at my desk, I finally had something I could roll along the tracks.

Taking shape — the engine starts to come to life
Taking shape — the engine starts to come to life
The very first on-track test. Suffice to say there was a lot rejigging to get the large cab overhang round the tight curves!
The very first on-track test. Suffice to say there was a lot rejigging to get the large cab overhang round the tight curves!

I stayed up way too late (as usual) hammering out the body build and transplanting the battery box and shell from the original model onto my new one. After hooking that up and roughing out a design for the roof, it was ready for a proper powered-up track test.

Sitting in the station waiting for its first track test
Sitting in the station waiting for its first track test

I only have space in my layout for R40 curves so naturally some of the corners are quite tight, and there were a couple of pinch points where the cab overhang would scrape against the layout scenery. This led to a fair bit of rejigging although luckily nothing too drastic!

After a successful few laps round the layout it was back to the desk for some more design tweaks. The livery looked a bit haphazard in places so I took some time to neaten that up, and made some changes to the roof and running gear.

Side by side - my modified engine and the original 60197 version
Side by side - my modified engine and the original 60197 version

As with all LEGO projects, it’s hard to ever draw a line and declare something “finished”, but I’m really happy with the results of this little experiment. I want to add lights to this model but it will require a bit of thought as there’s not a huge amount of space to play with.

I’ve also started work on a redesign of my favourite set from my childhood, the 4564 Freight Rail Runner, so watch out for a write up of that coming soon.

A few people have reached out to ask for instructions for this model, which I’m more than happy to provide but it takes a lot of time to put them together. If/when I get round to making them, I’ll post them on this blog for free.

Thanks for reading!

· train, MOC, redesign