Custom connecting rods and side rods for steam engines

Written by Benn Coifman on Aug 23, 2012 in steam, drivers, rods, custom parts, for sale - 8 Comments

Shortly after discovering Big Ben's Bricks, I found myself dissatisfied with any of the alternatives for driver rods (connecting and side rods) on brick built steam engines. Out of determination, I have produced driver rods that are compatible with BBB and Lego's steam engine wheels for my own use.

After some tinkering, I'm now offering these rods for sale to the AFOL community as well. These parts are designed to be driver rods, they are a little thicker than a plate and a little thinner than a 1/2 Technic beam. This odd thickness is deliberate, the rods are designed so that they should not rub against the rim of the wheels. The rods float on the pin cuff- compatible with 3/4 pins or full Technic pins. So now you can paint the rims of your driver wheels if you are so inclined.

J bef-aft

Given the wide array of possible configurations and the limits of my pocketbook, I have opted to fabricate these custom driver rods using rapid prototyping technology. As a result, the possibilities are literally endless, e.g., half stud offsets for BBB small drivers should be feasible.

My store only contains those driver rods for which I have completed designs and fabricated at least one copy. Other configurations are feasible, contact me via Bricklink messages and we can discuss (I can't guarantee that I can make everything, and in any event, expect a longer lead time on new parts since I will have to design it).


The surface of the driver rods is a little rough because the fabrication technique, but it is hardly noticeable except when you are extremely close up. There are only a few fabrication colors to choose from- gray, black and red and I cannot adjust the colors. Fortunately, the gray is pretty close to light-blay. I have not yet tried the other colors for a match to lego colors. As such, black and red are only available upon request (again, contact me via Bricklink messages).

Visit my Bricklink store to order the rods or find more information about production. These are a labor of love.

EN bef-aft


About the Author


  1. Shuppiluliumas
    Nathaniel Brill August 24, 2012 at 11:35PM

    Benn, I just wanted to let you know how much I like these side rods. I recently bought a set for my PRR Q1 and ran it with them at BrickFair. They performed very well and looked worlds better than the stock Lego solution. Thanks!

  2. Benn Coifman August 28, 2012 at 2:50AM

    Thanks Nathan for the kind words and I'm glad to hear that they worked out well for you. I'm slowly updating my fleet as time allows and this past weekend I was pleased to find I that could make the cylinders on my SP Pacific one stud narrower. In my current fab run I'm going to test a possible solution for situations where you can't easily move the cylinders in. Essentially the rod widens to almost a full beam at one of the connection points, but more on that as it develops.

  3. Cale
    Cale Leiphart September 01, 2012 at 12:01AM

    I'll second the awesomeness of the new rods. I ordered a few sets and I'm very pleased with them so far. I especially love the the ones for my Western Maryland Decapod. They were a great fit and worked flawlessly all weekend at Brickfair 2012. Here is a video of the rods in action.

  4. Benn Coifman September 10, 2012 at 4:06AM

    Thanks Cale, and fantastic to hear that the improvements run deeper than aesthetics.

    Meanwhile, after getting several questions about the Emerald Night, I have put together a photo tutorial for updating the Emerald Night here:

    and more examples of the rods can be found here:

  5. Tim Gould September 26, 2012 at 6:21AM

    Hi Benn, I'm late to the show here... I'm guessing it's impossible to get the cross beams down to a standard LEGO bar, which is a shame as that would be utterly awesome. Either way they look great and seem to work a treat from what I've seen.

  6. Benn Coifman September 28, 2012 at 2:58AM

    Hi Tim, thanks for the kind words. I was aiming to replace the half thickness technic beams and my current rods are actually thinner than the beams, but about the same thickness when you add the cuff on the pin. If you mean making 3mm tubes/rods, that is definitely doable, I fabricated a few tests early on and they seemed to work. If you are pondering rhetorically no problem, but if you are looking for something specific drop me a note via BL messages and we can talk about what's feasible.

  7. Tim Gould September 28, 2012 at 3:41AM

    ^ Thanks. And awesome. Right now I'm pondering rhetorically, but that could change and if it does I'll definitely drop you a line.

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