Building the LEGO Antikythera mechanism – Part 2 – Buying the parts

Welcome to part two in this three part series on building the LEGO Antikythera mechanism. In part one, I looked at the history of the device and how it works. I also touched on how I’ll be generating the required gear ratios using differential gears. It’s time to go shopping and buy some parts! If you’re not interested in this step, feel free to skip to part three, the construction.

The model I’m building is the MOC-1523 – Antikythera Device, available on Rebrickable. This is Andrew Carol’s work, reverse engineered by Sean Turner who has been kind enough to not only re-create the parts list, but has put together a 227 page instruction manual to go with it.

To give you an idea of its size, it has 3,715 parts, making it quite large. As of August 2019, there are only two larger official LEGO Technic sets – the Bucket Wheel Excavator (42055-1) at 3,929 parts and the Rough Terrain Crane (42082) at 4,056 parts. It’s going to be a challenging build, that’s for sure – just the way I like it!

Buying the parts

I’ve opted to build this model with new parts only. I’ve had many or experiences with used parts, and this also allowed me to skip the cleaning/drying step altogether.

We used the amazing Rebrickable ‘Buy Parts’ functionality to source the parts via Bricklink. For each part (60 unique parts in total), we entered each part number into Bricklink and surveyed the possible options. Our goal was to order the maximum number of parts from the fewest suppliers, paying the lowest total cost. Conveniently, Bricklink allowed us to have multiple shopping carts open across multiple stores at once. This made mixing and matching parts across multiple vendors much easier, before pulling the trigger.

We’re in Australia, which makes buying parts more difficult, but not impossible. For some of the rarer parts, we were forced to buy from overseas, and paid a hefty Australia tax for the privilege – some things simply cost more just because we’re in Australia, and LEGO is no exception. The parts we had difficulty in purchasing (at a reasonable price) included:

  • Technic, Link Chain (3711) – The model calls for 126 of these, and they are relatively rare in Australia in this quantity, in new condition. We’ve opted to buy from a Bricklink store in Hungary for HUF 60 each (about AUD 0.30) – we paid AUD 70 for the privilege. Ouch!
  • Technic, Steering Pulley Large (3736) – The model calls for just two of these, however, we found them to be expensive in new condition and in light bluish gray. We paid AUD 19 for just two of these, delivered.
  • Technic, Liftarm 1 x 15 Thick (32278) – The model calls for a whopping 183 of these guys. We had trouble finding anywhere in Australia selling them at a decent price. The cheapest price we found (new) was AUD 0.65 each, meaning we paid AUD 118.95 for this one part. As of this writing (August 2019), the absolute cheapest price for this quantity, anywhere in the world, is AUD 0.47, so have your wallet ready if you decide to build a machine of your own.
  • Technic, Pin Connector Perpendicular Double 3L (32557) – This is by far the trickiest piece to acquire in large quantities. As of this writing (August 2019), there is currently only one store in the world that has all 263 parts in a single order, in black. Light bluish gray parts appear to be easier to find, but we wanted to stick to black to match the lift arms. We bought this part from four separate stores to get the quantity needed. We paid AUD 124.87, delivered.

We opted to modify some of the colours in the original parts list, purely for financial reasons. For example, the Technic, Gear 36 Tooth Double Bevel (32498) is five times more common in black than light bluish gray, and about 6-7 times cheaper. The dark turquoise and yellow stop bush pins were also substituted for gray and red variations which are much easier to find.

After pulling the trigger on 28 separate orders via Bricklink, we waited. It took four weeks for all 28 packages to arrive, much to the delight of our postman. We used a printed inventory list and checked each part off as it was unpacked.

The final cost

The final cost of all the parts was AUD 751.43, delivered.

All 28 Bricklink orders
All 28 Bricklink orders.

Sorting the parts

We’re not sure why, but when we received each parcel, we added them to a single box. It would have been much easier to keep them separate and skip the sorting. Normally with a set of this size, the build would be separated into individual numbered bags – we’re building it in one go. And yes, that’s a single yellow piece in there amongst a sea of black and gray!

Sorting the parts was just a matter of separating the common pieces into appropriately sized containers. We started this process by first removing all of the lift arms. Then we removed the gears.

The most time consuming step was separating the blue and black pins. The instructions call for black 3L pins, but we already had thousands of the blue ones in our inventory, so used them instead.

After separating the pins, we’re left with just the random pieces which make up the saros and calendar dials.

After a quick trip to Bunnings to buy more boxes, the sorting was complete.

In part three of this series, we’ll start the construction.

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