The Coaling Station No. 497 offered a self-contained continuous operation when used with the No. 3459 Automatic Coal Dump Car. The unloaded coal in the bin would be raised by cables and then could be loaded again from the overhead chute. This was the last of the coal loading/unloading accessories that Lionel produced during the Post War Era.
Available from 1953 until 1958, there were three different instruction sheets, No. 497-90, that came with this station. In a change from the normal procedure of putting these instructions in the parts envelope, Lionel instead laid them inside the box. The first instruction sheet is dated 12-53, and the second is dated 6-55. This second issue was provoked by the introduction of the LW Transformer in 1955. Both of these sheets used BLACK ink on WHITE paper. Pictures of the second instruction sheet are shown below:
When Lionel introduced Super-O track in 1957 it became necessary for them to update this sheet, which they did during November of 1957. This sheet is printed with BLUE ink on WHITE paper.
Included with this accessory was a controller, No. 497-100 (illustrated above), a No. 206 bag of coal, a CTC Lockon, Power Blades for O Gauge track No. 3656-66 and for O27 Gauge track No. 3656-68, and a ground clip No. 3656-66. The flat electrical cable that connects the controller to the coaling station is often found brittle and cracked.
There were several different colored roofs that were used on this accessory. The roof was held in place by latches that attached it to the supports. These latches are often found broken. Which is undoubtedly why Lionel enlarged them during the last production run.
The GREEN roof (Part No. 497-63) for this station has been reproduced. Collectors should look for this cast-in part number along the underside of longest edge of this roof to insure that it is original.
There are four variations: