Building a reusable truck chassis

I started this blog with the best of intentions but in addition to the list of instructions I need to make, the list of posts I need to write just gets longer.

Anyway, I last wrote in March about the 60197 engine redesign. I never did get round to building a matching tail unit (also on the list) but since then I’ve also finished rebuilding the 4564 and 4565 cargo train sets. The layout has been extended and the town has gained a big new engine shed plus a fair few new residents. All this was loads of fun and I’ll cover it all eventually (especially the shed) but for now I wanted to focus on one aspect of the 4565 redesign - the truck.

I’ve got a thing for the very few 6-wide trucks that existed in the 90s era of predominantly 4-wide vehicles. The 6484 F1 Hauler is the best of the lot in my opinion but there were a handful of others including the container truck from 4565. It’s fair to say it’s not the best looking LEGO truck ever made but it still has its charm, of course!

The 6486 F1 Hauler and the 4565 Freight and Crane Railway truck
The 6486 F1 Hauler and the 4565 Freight and Crane Railway truck

One of the main features of my 4565 train is the totally modular cargo units. I ended up building a bunch of different containers ranging from coal hoppers based on the original model, to fruit and veg crates and even a shark tank (more on that later). All the containers are interchangeable and have space for a forklift to slide underneath, and connection points for chains to lift from above.

So the truck just needed to hold them securely in the same way the train did, just a little more compact. I also wanted something I could potentially reuse, first to make a fleet of cargo trucks and then to include other variants like a fire truck, wrecker, and so on.

A selection of containers built for the 4565-Mk2
A selection of containers built for the 4565-Mk2

Unlike proper model railway layouts, it’s hard to define a particular real-world “era” for a LEGO town. It tends to just be either classic or modern, and usually a mix of both (clearly the best option!) However you can certainly give individual models certain nods to a particular time and along with classic vans like the Citroën H, I really love the styling of UK trucks from the 50s and 60s, particularly Foden and Atkinson models. The latter must have been stuck in the back of my subconscious while I built the truck because it took me a while to remember the name but the connection is evident, as you can see!

First iteration of the 4565 truck redesign
First iteration of the 4565 truck redesign

You can see the Atkinson-style snubby nose and big round headlights. The front bumper, roof, wing mirrors, light covers and grilles can be switched up to give a different feels for different models but the basic cab design stays the same. Afer that, the bed can be customised and extended in whatever way is necessary. Here’s another version with a Palfinger-style crane attachment on the back.

Second iteration of the 4565 truck redesign
Second iteration of the 4565 truck redesign

This crane varient is a fairly simple 3-stud wheelbase extension, allowing enough room behind the cab for the arm to fold and rotate, plus extra space behind the fuel tanks for the outriggers. At this scale, options for sturdy folding cranes are pretty limited but the locking hinge plates do surprisingly well. They can’t hold a full shark tank, but can easily handle lifting empty crates or - as was the case - a crashed Black Falcons motorbike.

The next step was to make a shortened wheelbase version. That soon morphed into an ambulance, which at one point had a battery box and flashing lights. Someone on the town council took the executive decision that actually fitting a patient in the back might be more important, however, so the design was scaled back a bit…

Short wheelbase variant given the ambulance treatment
Short wheelbase variant given the ambulance treatment

Where next? A cab forward version, fire trucks and of course another look at the 6484 F1 Hauler. Check out the next post to see how they turned out!

· truck, MOC, redesign