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4557-1: Freight Loading Station
Published 2 months ago
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The inventory is ~98% accurate; I had to use a sizeable MOC-assembly in place of a missing raised baseplate, but the rest of the changes are minor. A few decals and multiple stickers (on the crane) are all absent.

=MISSING PARTS=
1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/2617/baseplate-raised-16-x-16-x-2-13-platform/
2. https://rebrickable.com/parts/6015/tyre-21-x-12-with-offset-tread-small-wide/ (replaced with #87697)
3. https://rebrickable.com/parts/3127/hook-plate-modified-1-x-2-with-crane-hook-left/

=MISSING DECALS=
1. https://rebrickable.com/parts/4346px3/box-2-x-2-x-2-door-with-slot-and-round-money-bag-print/
2. https://rebrickable.com/parts/892pb08/road-sign-clip-on-2-x-2-triangle-with-truck-print/
3. https://rebrickable.com/parts/890pr0001/roadsign-clip-on-2-x-2-octagonal-with-red-stop-sign-print/
4. https://rebrickable.com/parts/973px8c01/torso-train-red-vest/
5. https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=4557stk01 (stickers sheet)
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This set no. 4557 'Freight Loading Station' came out in 1999—a part of one of my favorite classic 9V "Trains" series (perhaps, after 'Metroliner'). It didn't include railway tracks, intended as an "expansion" for set no. 4565 'Freight and Crane Railway,' which was essentially part of the same lineup (though it came out a few years prior, in '96).

As most of the 1996-'99 "Trains" collection (see links below), the 'Freight Loading Station' was designed by Jørgen K. Thomsen, a Lead Platform Architect at The Lego Company. There's a partial Brickset list of his creations, spanning over three decades from Classic Space to "Western," from "Aquazone" to Star Wars: https://brickset.com/sets/designer-J%C3%B8rn-Thomsen

Thomsen's train modeling was particularly impressive. He worked on some of the best special "Trains" projects in the early 2000s, such as the "Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)" locomotive, "My Own Train" series; he also guided Henrik Andersen's first train project, "Santa Fe Super Chief," etc.

Clocking at 210+ pieces and two minifigs, the 'Freight Loading Station' was the second-largest "Trains" model without railway structure that year. It features a container crane (or "gantry crane")—an iconic machine commonly seen around seaports, cargo railway stations, warehouses, and other similar environments.

The crane is mounted on two gigantic, 16x4x16 Crane Double Stands. This Lego part #2635 debuted in 1991 in the first, to my knowledge, LEGO System gantry crane—a colossal set no. 6542 'Launch & Load Seaport' with 1032 parts (the largest inventory in Classic Town ever). The first "Trains" gantry crane was set no. 4555 'Cargo Station' in '95 (it used only one stand, though, as the crane's rails were part of the building on the other side).

The structure itself is static (unlike some gantry cranes with the entire tower on rails), resting on a raised 16x16x2⅓ baseplate. The crane's cabin, distinctly-styled with identical windshields and steering wheels on each side, moves between two massive slides, carrying 4x8 containers from arriving trucks to the railway tracks.

This specific crane also measures the cargo's weight—the rope is spooled directly on the central axle with a crank and a yellow "arrow" on the opposite end (indicating the mass on a stickered scale)—a simple yet efficient mechanism.

The truck's "hybrid" design is worth mentioning as well. In a way, it was a crossover between a proper Classic Town car chassis and more futuristic design traits of "juniorized" Town/City Center builds, predating and perhaps inspiring the new millennium LEGO City style that began forming in a few years.

For example, the truck's cabin has a front bumper from individual bricks, openable doors, and a typical roof hatch. On the other hand, the car has only one pair of wheels, inseparably attached to a trailer with 2x4 'articulated joint' hinge plates. Indeed, an odd look for Classic Town transport!

The cargo container, which is additionally secured on the trailer's flatbed with a chain, has mostly transparent walls tinted in dark blue. As far as the cargo, the 'Freight Loading Station' came with just one half-empty container loaded with a lonely bank safe (carrying a whole $100 bill!)

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=SEE ALSO=

4514: Cargo Crane (2003)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/oK2wkJ4929k
A somewhat similar "World City" set

=JØRN THOMSEN's TRAINS=

4532: Manual Level Crossing ('96)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/Lkj9B6oVvAp

4533: Train Track Snow Remover ('99)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/kOjL8WGVjx6

4553: Train Wash ('99)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/0DvYGGeW29e

4560: Railway Express ('99)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/eVaPROoLjzB

4565: Freight and Crane Railway ('96)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/VzvM1ERRvJp

2126: Train Cars ('97)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/pyj6d69waRq

3225: Classic Train ('98)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/BLvGXP8kaGy

=MY OWN TRAIN (2001)=

3741: Large Locomotive
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/N02gzpPLaLD

3742: Tender
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/7l2B9YB1a0N

10013: Open Freight Wagon
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/xov7goAlv0D

10014: Caboose
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/GVjK4DZlvnz

10016: Tanker
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/8xaDZy4WjB7

10015: Green Passenger Wagon
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/GVjK4WD6vnz

10017: Hopper Wagon
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/7X2RJXVY2ZY
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