My husband and I have been married for five years, and living together for almost nine. And every time we think we’ve gotten all of our random belongings from our respective mothers’ houses, something else gets dredged up from a dark basement corner. This past summer, it was a ratty box of various LEGO pieces. Thus began my quest to resurrect a train set from 1996.

Cargo Railway (4559-1) & Octan Twin Tank Rail Tanker (4537-1)

I’ll spare you the picture of the original box. It was GROSS. The first step was letting the entire set soak overnight and then laying it out to dry, back in August.

This got me familiar enough with the pieces as a whole to use the wonders of the Internet to hunt down the instruction manuals for both sets, which I was able to download as PDF files. 

Everything (clean and slightly more organized now) went back in a (new) box for a few weeks until my husband suggested that we put the train around our holiday tree. Since I had the feeling that some pieces might be missing, I figured I should start working on it. Cue a lazy Friday night with wine, pizza, and the sounds of the husband playing video games to keep my company.

About halfway through deconstruction:

train set deconstruction

I only messed up my thumbnail a little bit. Meanwhile, my husband mocked me for having the fun orange tool that helps separate pieces, because BACK IN HIS DAY they had no such luxuries.

I managed to build a significant portion of both sets that night, before I started running into missing pieces. Over the next two months, and with many visits to, I was able to reconstruct as much as possible in time to put it under the Christmas tree.

Train engine, dining car with fuel and cash box, and truck:

first half of train

Sleeper car with cargo and postal service and twin tank rail tanker:

second half of train

And finally, under the tree! I think OSHA might have something to say about the rail tanker between the two passenger cars, but that’s the only way it all fits together.

train under the tree

My current LEGO set is the Star Wars advent calendar, so look for my full report of all the goodies inside after December 24! And eventually, I’ll finally finish the first draft of my current novel and get to tackle the SHIELD helicarrier.

What LEGO sets did you request during the holiday of your choice? I have my fingers crossed for the Louvre set and more Star Wars ships, myself.

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