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Point Reyes Lighthouse by J Harreld - Lego - 1:27 scale

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Here I'm going to post some of the process I went through to build my Lego model of the Point Reyes Lighthouse, out here just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  My wife and I went out to see it when my parents were visiting, and it just struck me as so interesting a structure that I knew I had to give it a shot.  The base of the lighthouse is essentially a 16 sided pyramid, so that just screams out to be done in Lego, right? </sarcasm>  But seriously, the difficulty of it is what makes it seem worth all the time that invariably goes into a big model.  I know everyone here understands this well!




I'm going to copy/paste a few things here up front from my Kilo Moana post, just to get them on record.  Then we can begin.  Any images herein that do not present actual Lego bricks are most likely not mine and scavenged from the internet in various places, and so I apologize in advance for the lack of attributions.  I will include some of these images for reference.  If anyone wants a source, I'll be happy to go back and locate it with an image search.  Also, for the next big model I build (thinking of a large scale cross-section of a war galley as I've seen some post in this forum, but in Lego), I will take more photos with the build log in mind.  I think I have enough to briefly tell the stories, but the majority of my pictures were taken to just remember what I did in various trick spots so I could remember how I solved tricky connection problems or fix something if it broke later. So on to the build...



As you all do, my first step was to gather as much data and images as I could for the lighthouse and surrounding area and buildings, to get a basic idea if/how I could make it and what scale I should use.  Initially I wanted to do it all of course, but had to limit my scope to the lighthouse itself and equipment/navigation building just below it on the cliff side.  Otherwise, the size would be impractically large or the scale would need to be so small that I couldn't treat all the details that I love to work with so much.  Unlike the more traditional model making components I see on this site, Lego parts only get so small.  Beyond that, the best that can be done is to try creating an impression of details as from the limited texture and color choices available within the Lego system.


The Lighthouse with 16 sided pyramidal base, built in 1870 ...




And the lower equipment building...  The roof also contains the modern navigation equipment and beacons actually used since the station was automated in 1975.


So after determining the scope of the model, I needed to figure out the scale.  Sometimes the scale is determined my the size of a Lego minifigure "person" if you want to include them in your model or display.  The challenges here can be described and debated for pages, as they are in fact on many Lego-related forums and websites.  Essentially, the minifigures are not human proportioned, so if you scale something by their height, they will be too thick to fit in anything you build.  Conversely if you build to their width or volume, then they will be too short to fit with your model.  In any case, many times your scale must be determined by the size of a specific Lego element that is essential to capturing a necessary characteristic feature of your model.  This was the case for me here.  I wanted the windows to the enclosure that contains the Fresnel lens to be the right size, since those window parts are limited and their appearance seemed to me to be essential for the overall look of the model.  This in balance with a few other part-driven practical details absolutely set my scale to be about 1:27.  Conveniently, this is basically in the range of the generally accepted "minifigure scales" that people use (around 1:25 to 1:42).  So in some of these pictures you might see a Lego park ranger, as the Lighthouse is part of the NPS Point Reyes National Seashore.


Once I got that sorted out and gathered a few parts for building, the first step was to prototype how to get the 16 sided pyramidal effect I wanted and still attach the raised walkways around it.  Here is what I started with...



And some 2x1 "jumpers" (a piece to move the connecting studs 1/2 space) to center the panels as well as possible...



You can see a few critical features from these pictures.  The slope of the pyramidal sides is of course applied with the two-tone grey hinges.  The requisite triangular shape of the sides was necessarily a compromise.  The sides were not all exactly equal and left some gaps, but these are the compromises you struggle with, optimize, and finally need to accept when working within the Lego system.  Also, one common way to get round structures as in the cylinder supporting the pyramidal sides is to alternate the typical square bricks with either gaps or round bricks.  Otherwise, bending Lego brick walls can be done due to small but finite gap tolerances between the bricks, but only at much larger size scales.


Once I felt that I had these techniques worked out, I needed the proper base to really start building it in earnest.  As you can see in some of the photos (and from satellite images), he lighthouse is built on an almost pentagonal slab.  This is also not ideal for Lego geometry, but part of the fun and I made it work...  The holes are to accommodate the eventual drive shaft to rotate the Fresnel lens.





To be continued...  😉



Edited by J Harreld
Removed duplicate image, and image description corrected
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Next step was to get the 1st walkway around the base; starting with the supports, then the walkway and railing...



Another important iconic feature is the Fresnel lens.  This was also very tricky to treat well at this scale in Lego, so I ended up relying on the impression of a Fresnel lens rather than something that looked exactly correct.  So I used transparent slopes on top and inverted transparent slopes at the bottom, then connected them in the middle with Lego technic pins.  I also had to make it hollow and roomy enough for the Lego lights and leave a hole for the wires.  Finally, it needed to be able to be mounted to something that I could use to rotate it with a motor.




Mostly satisfied with that, I continued to make the lighthouse main body taller.  First the second walkway, then the window housing to contain the Fresnel lens...  Also, the ground level door and the upper level walkway to the adjacent cliff were put in here. 



Bundling up a sufficient number of lights and getting the wires out of the Fresnel lens...


One challenge was that I needed to rotate the lens without twisting up the light wires on the drive axis.  So finally I offset the rotation drive axis to the side long enough to let the wires escape before bringing it back to the center of rotation.



Now ready to put the light tower into the 16 sided pyramidal tower...



With a bit of planning, it dropped right in!



Motor (and gearbox to further gear down minimum motor speed) to drive the Fresnel lens rotation is under the pentagonal base.



Final chapter to be continued... 






Edited by J Harreld
Removing duplicated images
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  • 3 months later...

Okay, I'm back to finish up this build log... if I can remember how to post pics in the right places.


So on last posting here, I guess I was about finished with the lighthouse tower, so I just need to put the roof on and build the surrounding area including the little equipment building on the seaward side...


The octagonal sloped roof in dark red was not easy, and I wasn't completely thrilled with how it came out, but it got the job done and was not bad from a distance...





Okay, the lighthouse part is done. 



Here is the actual equipment building I wanted to replicate...


And here is my take on it...






Here is the modern navigation equipment that is actually used to replace the actual lighthouse (yes, that's a Star Wars droid head up there - artistic license!)...



Now on to getting the relative height and position worked out for the lighthouse and building...





Finally, I got the cliff built up around it and got the battery pack ready to plug in to the lighthouse motor and lights...



Plug everything in, set the buildings in place and it's done!






Thanks for checking it out!  Sorry it took me a few months to get back here and finish it.





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