Can A Lego V12 Survive Spinning At 40,000 RPM?

Growing up, it would probably be a safe bet to say most–bordering on all–of us played with Legos growing up. After all, they are a great way to develop both sides of a youngster’s brain. For those that lean towards the engineering side of things, the more advanced Legos (the Technic lineup) are like an erector set, with fewer sharp edges and lost tiny screws and nuts.

Some of us never stop playing with our childhood toys, and when you combine that with a fascination with automotive engines, you get something like the guys over at the Mad Brick YouTube channel. They are constantly doing things that are not only entertaining, but downright impressive.

In the past, we’ve shown you Lego engines that spin up to real-world engine speeds, but in this latest video, the stakes are exponentially higher. The challenge being undertaken is a whopping 40,000 rpm from the Lego V12 engine model. While that seems impressive to us all by itself, the bar has been raised by the use of completely “stock” Lego components, and no super glue to hold all the non-moving parts together.

Tell me that doesn’t look like a miniature Spintron setup? Especially when you consider it really is doing the same thing, albeit in a greatly simplified application. It sure found the weak points in the rotating assembly’s design, though!

You’ll notice that that even for these mass-produced plastic toys with clearances that are probably measured in hundredths–maybe even tenths–of an inch, oil is still used on the cylinder walls and the crank “mains” to keep friction to a minimum in the quest for 40,000 rpm.

It’s pretty impressive how balanced the rotating assembly is, although you can see some initial vibration as the model comes up to speed on the setup that is eerily reminiscent of a miniature Spintron. Eventually the “block” separates itself from the mounting base. Once set back up and restrained by an SFI-approved Lego Engine Restraint Device, the next failure points are the “wrist pins” (or whatever method of attachment is used to connect pistons and rods in Lego Technic world) as the pistons become high-speed projectiles, exiting the block one by one.

Eventually the input shaft succumbs to a lack of lubrication and shears, bringing all of the fun to grinding halt – literally. While they are just toy engine models, it is quite fun to watch, and to see the damage caused by such insane RPM. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to Amazon to go buy some Lego sets.

That’s some pretty impressive damage inside of a plastic engine with loose tolerances and a proper lubricant to boot. It just goes to show that 40,000 rpm is no joke.

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent over a decade in automotive publishing as Senior Editor of Race Pages magazine. In his free time, he is a firearms instructor and volunteer in the police armory.
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