A state-of-the-art example of Daniel Calahans lego miniatures


Miniature marvels – a labour of love

How many components does it take to build an excavator? About 1,300 if you are using LEGO bricks. Daniel Cahalan puts his product knowledge to work in perfecting his miniature earthmovers.

Lego Volvo

You can build just about anything out of LEGO bricks: from your classic towns; to mammoth castles and pirate ships; to Harry Potter, Sponge Bob, and Stars Wars characters. Even in this technological world, the enduring fascination of this decidedly low tech – but high fun – hobby is stronger today than when LEGO began making wooden bricks for Danish children in 1932.

That includes construction equipment, as Dan Cahalan found out a few years ago. Dan, a long serving product specialist for Volvo CE takes his love for construction equipment home with him and builds miniature machines out of LEGO.

The name LEGO is an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. Dan’s love for building things while playing as a kid started with planes, boats, and cars. That passion for modelling never left him, and despite not playing with LEGO as a child, the ever youthful Dan has embraced the annoyingly compulsive mini bricks with a boyish enthusiasm.

Dan says building a LEGO kit is much like the assembly line at Volvo CE. You follow the instructions and by the end you have a much smaller version of the machines he deals with at work. Over the last 30 years, Dan has built more than 30 miniature machines. The first piece of construction equipment he built out of LEGOs was a lattice boom crawler crane. Dan’s favorite is his most recent and sophisticated build: an excavator.  It took about seven hours for Dan to put together the 1,300 piece kit.

During his 33 year career with Volvo CE, Dan has worked on just about every product group the company produces, doing a myriad of jobs over the years.  “It’s very rewarding,” says Dan. “I like what I do. And when you like your job—you keep doing it!”

Dan’s latest challenge is being a product specialist on the excavator team in the customer support group. As a liaison with dealer service managers and technicians, Dan helps troubleshoot problems over the phone and via the Techline. “I get a lot of enjoyment from figuring out what is wrong and fixing it – remotely,” explains Dan.

Dan’s LEGO hobby isn’t exactly cheap either: an excavator kit alone can cost upwards of $200. Some machines have motors and can actually be operated by remote control. So far, Dan has kept all of his builds and often will bring them in to share with co-workers.

So, what’s next to make it to Dan’s assembly line? “I have a wheel loader on order,” he laughs. It’s truly a labor of love. Happy building!

LEGO fun facts • Every year, about 19 billion LEGO bricks are produced. That translates to 2.16 million LEGO elements are molded every hour, or 36,000 per minute! • LEGO manufactures about 306 million tiny rubber tires every year? That’s more than any other tire manufacturers in the world! • There are about 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.