Pre War American Flyer Pictures - An Invitation

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Monday, January 29, 2018 11:25 AM

PChase

Greetings, all! Love the posts but I am a rookie having just inherited an American Flyer Lines locomotive and car! First attempt at a post. My father-in-law had this train when he passed away. I've tried to find out something about it but since is has no number or identifying mark I've not had much luck. It was the search, though, that led me to this forum. I'm going to try to attach a photograph of it. If it makes it, I would love any information anyone might have about it. Thanks! 

These are PChase's photos of his engine.

PChase:

"Thanks for taking a look. Let me know if I can take any other angles that might help. I have no idea what happened to the rest of the set. My wife remembers more cars when she was a child. If there is a good museum or Club that would enjoy having it we'd be happy to make a gift of it. Regards. "

Northwoods Flyer:

"PChase;

The photos came through perfectly.  The engine that you have is from circa 1935 - 1937.  It is a sheet metal locomotive and tender combination known as a Type XX (Roman Numeral 20)  The large metal piece in the back is a gear driven mechanical whistle. The tender is a sheet metal TypeXII. This locomotive did not appear in any American Flyer catalog,  but it was sold through large department stores and sometimes through their catalogs, and is considered an uncataloged locomotive. (Schuweiler states in the Greenberg Guide that it appeared in the 1935 Sommers catalog).  While it is uncataloged it is not particularly rare.  They show up quite frequently.  Does your wife remember if the cars were passenger cars or freight cars?  The locomotive is missing a metal cowling around the headlight that was either brass or black, (reproductions are available) and from what I can see that may be all it is missing. Are the drive rods present on both sides?  Do you know if it runs?  It looks to be in very good condition."

PChase;

"Many thanks for the information. Sorry but she doesn't recall what the other cars were. The drive rods are the same on both sides. Have no idea if it runs but the wheel mechanism in not frozen, they turn freely.  It was originally purchased in Pittsburgh and I suspect it was purchased in one of the department stores downtown."

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 9:06 PM

New Computer test post

OK now a photo test

Now for the rest of the post

The above engine/tender is a 3310 combination from 1934.  This particular engine features an unusual motor, which is somewhat difficult to find.  Note the reverse lockout lever sticking out of the front of the boiler and the large brass ball on top of the reverse rod sticking out of the top of the boiler.  My guess is that this is a leftover motor from an electric boxcab engine.

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Posted by LL675 on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 11:37 PM

beautiful locomotive

Dave

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Friday, February 02, 2018 2:27 PM

Nationwidelines

 

 

 

The above engine/tender is a 3310 combination from 1934.  This particular engine features an unusual motor, which is somewhat difficult to find.  Note the reverse lockout lever sticking out of the front of the boiler and the large brass ball on top of the reverse rod sticking out of the top of the boiler.  My guess is that this is a leftover motor from an electric boxcab engine.

NWL

 

 

NationWideLines;

You find some of the most interesting variations.  This engine and tender are in beautiful shape as well.

I assume the reverse rod sticking out of the top of the engine fits through the hole in the casting that the reversing rod normally sticks through.  The reverse lockout lever sticking out of the front makes me wonder how much extra hand labor went into drilling the hole and making other alterations to get the motor to fit.  Any idea which electric boxcab motor this is?  Were they able to keep the ringing bell feature?  Was the engine accompanied by any rolling stock?

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Friday, February 02, 2018 7:41 PM

Northwoods,

The reverse rod sticking through the top of the boiler does stick through the normal hole.  The motor does not have a ringing bell.  I am not sure which boxcab this would be from, but I would suspect either a late 3187 or a late 3115.

The engine/tender did not come to me with any rolling stock, but the 1934 catalog shows this engine/tender with both a passenger set and a freight set.  

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Friday, February 02, 2018 7:49 PM

Here is a nice early #96 station

One reason why this station has stayed so nice, is that it comes with this..

Have never seen one of these early boxes for sale until this one came up.

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Saturday, February 03, 2018 4:28 PM

The above 96 station came with an equally nice, but common engine and set of cars.

Here is the 1218 that came with the set.  It just shines like new.

I believe that the set I received may be a hybrid 1228 set from 1924.  I say this because the set box did not have a legible number on it and is a box that would contain either a 1221 set or 1228 set, with the 1221 set having a smaller station and the 1228 set, per a 1924 foldout, came with a 96 station.  As for a hybrid set, I say this because the 1228 set is always shown with 8 wheel cars, yet this set has 4 wheel cars.  The setbox appeared to have an F on it, which could denote a Butler Brothers set number, with Butler Brothers being a wholesaler that sold Flyer trains from the teens through the late 1920s/early 1930s.

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Posted by strainst on Monday, February 05, 2018 6:06 AM

Great find; I noticed the listing for this train set with passenger station and also noted the different label on the station box.  When I saw the label, I wondered if the label was used on station boxes sold through a store other than American Flyer, but I missed that this is the early version of this station.  With American Flyer trains and this forum, I seem to learn something new every week.  Gald to see you added it to your collection.

strainst

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Monday, February 05, 2018 6:41 AM

Strainst,

It is not only a different label on the box, but if you compare boxes, it is a different style box construction, which denotes earlier production.  These early accessory (and similar style individual car) boxes probably disappeared from Flyer items around 1924-1925, possibly 1926 at the latest

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Friday, February 09, 2018 8:23 PM

Its time to add the 2017 American Flyer Tale for Christmas to the thread.  It exists as a separate thread elswhere on the forum, but I like to keep the stories all in one place.

An American Flyer Tale for Christmas
2017 Edition
 
Adam had been looking forward to this train show for months.  It was only held twice per year so he had plenty of time to anticipate it.  He had been making lists of things that he was looking for so that he could do some repair work on the projects he had been collecting at home.  Occasionally one of his co-workers or a neighbor would bring over a box of old trains that “had been in the family for years”, wondering if he could fix it and get it running again.  The pace always picked up around the holidays; everyone wanted their trains to be running under the tree for Christmas.  Most of the projects were simple and very quickly he would have things working just like they used to.  So today he knew what he was looking for and he pretty much knew which vendors would have what he needed.
 
Both of the boys had come with him again; as they did to most of the train shows over the years.  He felt very lucky that at their ages they still enjoyed the hobby with him.  Of course they had other things that took up their time and drew their interest like sports, and music, and electronics and video games; but it pleased him that when he was tinkering in the train room or running their collection of trains at least one of them would come in and spend time with him.  Years ago he and his wife had decided to buy them a Polar Express set for Christmas.  They watched the movie together as a family at least once during the Christmas season every year since the boys were very young.  It had become a family tradition.  Adam smiled to himself as he remembered that first Christmas with the 1225 running under the tree.  Each year since that time they had added a car, track, switches or some accessory to their Polar Express collection.  Each time they came to the train show Adam looked for parts to do repairs, or scenic material for the layout, or some piece of American Flyer equipment to add to his personal collection while the boys went off to find the best deal on a new addition to the Polar Express.  This year they were looking for the Elf handcar.
 
After several hours Adam had covered all of the show once and was working his way around for the second time.  He had found all the things on his list, including several boxed S-gauge cars to add to his collection. The boys had checked in with him and reported what they had seen and were frustrated that they hadn’t found a handcar yet.  However, he knew where he had seen one and sent them off to check on it.
Adam walked to the concession stand and bought himself a very expensive cup of coffee.  He reminded himself once again to make a mental note that he should bring a thermos filled with coffee with him the next time. He walked back to an area near the center of the show where there were a number of benches clustered together.  He chose one of the empty benches, sat down with his bags at his feet, and began his second favorite thing about going to the train show – people watching.
 
The show wasn’t overly crowded, but there was a steady flow of people moving up and down the rows from vendor to vendor.  Many of the folks carried bags through which he could see the orange and blue of Lionel boxes.  He felt pretty satisfied that if anyone was looking they would be able to see the blue and yellow of vintage American Flyer boxes from the A.C. Gilbert Company through the thin plastic of one of his bags.  It was fascinating to watch how each of the shoppers approached their hunt differently.  Some were fast, barely stopping at a table to glance over its contents before moving on.  Others seemed to examine every item, and every price tag on the table.  A few walked several tables away and would pull out what Adam assumed was their “wanted list” or a price guide and check it over.
 
He hadn’t been watching very long when one particular shopper caught his attention.  He was a nicely dressed older gentleman.  He had snow white hair and a well trimmed beard. “Oh no.” thought Adam, “I bet he gets teased a lot about being Santa Claus.”  The man moved slowly from table to table, looking carefully at what each table held, almost as if he was looking for something specific. Then he would take a step back to see what was in the boxes on the floor under each table.  The other thing that drew Adam’s attention was the walking stick that the man was using that added to the Santa look.  It was at least 5 feet tall and as the man drew closer he could see a pattern carved into the stick that looked like railroad tracks winding their way up the length of the stick.  Near the head of the stick were two letters made out of what looked like brass inlaid into the wood of the stick and surrounded by a carved shield.  Adam could not quite make out what letters they were.
 
 
The white haired man reached the vendor’s table directly across from the bench where Adam was sitting.  He looked at all of the items on the table and then spotted something in a box underneath the table.  He squatted down and pulled the box out.  From what Adam could see it looked like a collection of 3 rail tinplate track.  The man examined each piece and carefully put it back in the box before sliding it back under the table.  With the help of his walking stick he stood up to his full height again and stared down at the box for what seemed like several minutes.  The man turned around and looked at the cluster of benches where Adam was sitting.  He walked over to Adam’s bench and sat down.  His eyes were focused on the box under the table and he seemed to be deep in thought.  Adam noticed the brass letters inlaid in the head of the walking stick were A.F.
 
Eventually the man nodded his head with determination as if he had made an important decision.  At about the same time he noticed that Adam was sitting on the same bench. “Good Grief, where are my manners?  I didn’t realize that this bench was taken.” said the gentleman. “Oh it isn’t.” replied Adam. “There is plenty of room.”  The gentleman reached out his hand and said “My name is Bill.” Adam shook his hand and said “Nice to meet you. I’m Adam.”  They exchanged a few more pleasantries about the weather, and the size of the crowd when Bill said; “I haven’t been here for several years.  There was a time when I never missed a show.”
 
Adam replied; “My boys and I try to come to every one. I’m always looking for American Flyer trains.”
 
Bill’s eyes seemed to twinkle a bit. “Two rail Flyer or three?”
 
“Oh, I’m an S-gauge guy; two rails for me.  It’s what I grew up with.  My Dad had S-gauge trains that we set up every year at Christmas when I was a kid and I’ve kept up the tradition. He gave me his trains when our first child was born and I’ve tried to grow the empire over the years.”
 
Bill smiled. “Up until a year ago I had a very large collection of American Flyer Pre War trains.  It’s the stuff they call Chicago Flyer because it was made in Chicago before Gilbert took over the company and moved it out east.  Somewhere in the move he lost a rail though.”
 
They both chuckled. “I noticed that you were looking at a box of track over at that table.  Is that 3 rail American Flyer track?” asked Adam.
 
Bill replied “Yup, it’s some pretty old stuff too, but in decent shape”
 
“You said that you had a large collection of Pre War Flyer, Bill.  What happened to it?”
 
“Well several years ago my wife and I decided it was time to downsize and move into a smaller place that was easier to take care of.  We made the decision that it was time to pass on the trains that I had collected over more years than I care to tell you to other collectors.  I figured that there were others that would enjoy them and take care of them.  I never thought of myself as really being their owner.  I saw myself as being their caretaker for as long as they were in my possession.  Other people owned them before I did so I was just one of their caretakers until someone else took up the job.  Boy did I have fun with those trains too!  It took a long time to get everything organized and ready for the auction, but once we made the decision to sell I put all of my energy into getting them ready to go to their new custodians.”
 
Adam thought for a moment and then asked; “Don’t you miss your trains?”
 
“Well, maybe just a little bit.” replied Bill, “But I kept one.  Back when I was a little tyke my Dad bought me my first train.  It was a streamlined grey steam engine and tender, and it had 3 cars; a sand car, a Bordens Milk car and a caboose. Later I learned that it was set #1716 from 1937.  We set it up every Christmas as soon as the tree was up and decorated. And it stayed up on the living room floor until Valentine’s Day.  It was a tradition in our family.  Every year Santa or some relative would give me a new car or track or switches, or an accessory.  It was all American Flyer O gauge.  Once they stopped making O gauge and switched to your S gauge we had to start buying trains that were used.  It never bothered me though.  I just kept on collecting American Flyer O gauge equipment.  I think I had the most American Flyer O gauge trains in a 3 state area.  In fact among the friends that I made over the years that are train collectors I got to be known as Mr. American Flyer.  In fact one of my buddies carved this walking stick for me and put the A.F. in the American Flyer shield.”
 
Adam asked, “So what brought you to the show today?”
 
Bill chuckled, “Well, when we sold off the collection I inadvertently sold all of my track too.  So I came today looking for some track so I can set it up around our Christmas tree in our apartment and run my old train.  We have to keep traditions going you know.  That box over there has 10 curves, 4 straights, and 2 turnouts.  With that amount of track I should be able to build quite a railroad empire.  Its labeled as a junk box and the vendor wants $5 for it.  He has no idea what Mr. American Flyer can accomplish with that much track.”
 
Adam wished Bill good luck and Merry Christmas as he stood up and headed back to the vendor’s table.  He watched as Bill took the box out from under the table and pulled a $5 bill from his wallet.   Bill tucked his prize under his arm and with a broad grin he walked back to the bench where Adam sat.  “See you at the next show.”  Adam smiled and saluted Bill as he headed for the exit.  He noticed that there was a little bit of a spring in Bill’s gait.
  
As Adam sat watching Bill walk away his two boys came charging up breathlessly. “Dad we got it.” they said almost in unison.  With obvious pride and excitement they held out their newly purchased Polar Express Elf handcar. “Come on Dad, let’s take it home and run it on the layout.”  “It’s the tradition.”  As they were walking to their car one of the boys asked, “Hey Dad, who was that guy we saw you talking to?”  Adam smiled, “His name is Bill.  He’s known as Mr. American Flyer.  I’ll introduce you to him at the next show.  He is a true Titan of Tinplate”
 
 
The Track
 
 
Bill's Train
American Flyer Set #1716 from 1937                 
  
 Pennsylvania Freight 
 
Enjoying the World's Greatest Hobby
 
Northwoods Flyer
                                                                    Merry Christmas
 

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Friday, February 09, 2018 9:27 PM

American Flyer  Set #1326  1930 -1931

I recently purchased this set on ebay.

In the 1930 catalog it is called the "New Potomac"

And in 1931 it becomes the "Potomac"

The descriptions of the sets are similar

I was interested in the set because it had a vey nicely restored #3109.  These engines are hard to find intact because the two hoods are diecast and the originals are frequently damaged because the zinc has crumbled.  I don't usually buy restorations, but in the case of this engine it is highly unlikely that I would ever find a complete one, and if I did I am sure I would not be able to afford it.

The seller acknowledged that the two hoods were reproductions and had been repainted. The bell isn't original either and I will need to tweek it a bit. The majority of the rest of the engine is original as are the cars.

As you can read in the catalog copy the set comes with 2 #3171 Pullmans.

The catalog copy also says that the set includes a #3172 Observation.  And this is where the set gets interesting. The seller said that the set came from the orginal owner with a #3182 Observation with "The Potomac" plates and the #3182 individual plates. I checked the Greenberg guide before I bid and found that variation listed.  When I unwrapped the Observation it wasn't a #3182, it was a #3282.  I went back to the Guide and could not find a variation of the #3282 in the green and tan color combination with "The Potomac" plate.  The #3282 is usually found on the Blue-Green "Golden State" observation, or a Blue - Green "Jeffersonian" observation

I would guess that this is a situation where Flyer had run out of "3172 Observation" plates and substituted the "3182 Observation" plate and the "3282 Observation" plate.  The Greenberg guide does not document this "3282 Observtion" in the green and tan "The Potomac"  colors.  Does anyone have a car like this?  Perhaps this is another example of variations still out there to find and document.

It is a very pretty set, and it runs fast.

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Posted by mersenne6 on Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:27 PM

American Flyer's Electric Steel Bridges and Wooden Electric Trestle Bridges 1925-1937

1925/26/27

These bridges first appeared in the 1925 Catalog. The electric steel bridge was available in either electric (3 rail) or clockwork. The catalog numbers for the steel bridges were #112 and #123 resepectively.

 

 

  The steel bridges consisted of two approach ramps and a central span. For the 1925/26 years the central span was illustrated as orange lithography.

Steel Bridge with orange center span

 

  The wooden trestle bridge was cataloged as either #212 (O gauge) or #4218 (Wide Gauge)

Wood Trestle Bridge - #212 – O gauge LxWxH  51” x 5.25” x 8.75
Wood Trestle Bridge - #4218 – Wide Gauge – LxWxH  56” x 6.5” x 9.75”
The same catalog illustration was used for both wooden bridges.
 
 
1927
 
   The catalog illustrations changed for 1927. #112 was now illustrated with a yellow center span
 
Steel Bridge with yellow center span
 
 
The wooden trestle bridges #212 and #4218 were described as being the same length - 56".
 
 
1928/29/30
 
  The Steel Bridge was still illustrated as having a yellow center span.  The catalog illustrated three new wood trestle bridges:
 
O gauge #212 Length - 50.5”
Wide Gauge #4219 – Length 56”
Wide Gauge Only #4220 – Length - 70.5”
 
The trestle bridges were described as having brass name plates attached at either end.
 
 
  The huge wide gauge bridge included telephone poles and indicator lights at either end of the bridge.  All of the wooden bridges , like the earlier versions from 1925-27 included approach ramps.
 
1931/32/33
 
  The catalog illustrated the #112 Steel Bridge with a sort of compromise yellow/orange color.  It dropped the separate illustrations for wooden trestle bridges #212, #4219, and #4220 and verbally introduced a new bridge Universal Bridge #211 with a length of 28".  All three bridges were represented with a single illustration of a wooden trestle bridge.  The "Universal" bridges did not come with approach ramps and were built so that track (either O gauge or Wide Gauge) could be laid directly on the bridge base.
 
 
1934/37
 
#112 was dropped as were all of the wooden trestle bridges.  The wooden trestles were replaced with the Lighted Universal Bridge #213. It was 27.5" long and came with a lighted bridge tender shack which was mounted on a wooden block attached to one of the bridge top cross braces.
 
 
The first version had the earlier clapboard litho treatment for the bridge tender shack which was the same structure used on the elevated watchman's shed and the small suburban station.  Later versions have an "updated" shed in the simplified white and green litho.
 
Lighted Universal Bridge #213 - later litho treatment for bridge tender shack.
 
 
  While the catalog text states the wooden bridges are "strongly constructed of clear white pine and heavy gauge steel braced with wire struts" the fact is that these bridges are very fragile. Over the years I've seen more shattered remains of these bridges than I have intact samples.
 
  The bridges were shipped in huge cardboard boxes. In the case of the lighted universal bridge the bridge tender's shack was packed separately.  The assembly instructions indicated that the shack was to be nailed to a wooden block nailed to one of the top braces.  If the new owner did this they were going to have a problem when the light bulb inside the shack burned out because there is no way to reach the bulb without removing either the shack roof or removing the shack from its wooden block support. 
 
  The good news is that, at least for the bridge illustrated above, the width of the wooden block allows for a simple friction fit of the shack to the bridge structure.
 
 

 

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Sunday, February 11, 2018 10:35 AM

I have wanted to display sets, in their original form, in a dust free environment, for a while.  Last fall I purchased this display cabinet and finally installed new LED light fixtures yesterday.  I put the shelves in and the doors on and began loading it with trains this morning.  

 

The cabinet is great for displaying these sets.  It is 80 inches long and 24 inches deep.  On the bottom are the 4 airplanes that American Flyer marketed c. 1928-1930, the shelf above contains a pristine Major Leaguer set from 1931 and the Zephyr that was presented to the head of the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy RR in 1934 from American Flyer MFG.  The second shelf up contains a Railroader set from 1931 and a Clipper set c. 1930/31.  I have one more shelf to load and am not sure what will go there, but I am thinking the 1927 and 1928 Blue Bird sets, side by side with all accessories.  

NWL

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Monday, February 12, 2018 5:20 AM

Here is the cabinet fully loaded.  

click on the image to see a larger photo.

 

NWL

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Saturday, February 17, 2018 1:49 PM

Type VI Tender 1931-1935,  1938-1940

Over on another tinplate forum Steve Eastman, I, and a number of other folks have been discussing this tender and its variations.  I thought it would be of interest to a number of folks here as well.  I have Steve's permission to quote his entries from the other thread and to share the photos that he posted.

Steve:

"In American Flyer's unusual numbering format, 427 is a combination of a 425 loco and 426 tender. The 426 tender looks so out of place behind this nice locomotive. It looks like a silly afterthought. The one in the Schuweiler book has black trim, mine has copper. Both are correct. I actually like the black trim better.

American Flyer 427

American Flyer 427 .

This common 421 tender would have looked so much better.American Flyer 425

 

Steve"

 

Me:

Robert S. Butler posted:

Ah me...what can I say.  I've always thought that engine/tender combination looked pretty good.

I agree Robert.  Although I have to say that in Steve's photos there is something about the tender that makes it look undersized, even the photo from the Greenberg Guide.  I looked at photos that I took of my engine and tender from different angles and I don't think it looks bad at all.

Northwoods Flyer

Steve:

"Greg, my tender has the small 3/16/type trucks and wheels. In the picture, yours look taller.

Steve"

Steve:

"Just looked in the 39 & 40 catalogs. It appears in 39, the tender had tall trucks and in 40, it had low trucks.

Steve"

Me:

Steve,

I think that is what makes it look different and a bit undersized.  This combination comes from the transition era to Gilbert designed equipment and I am sure Flyer was trying to use up leftover Chicago Flyer equipment.   I went back to the Greenberg Guide and read the information on the Type VI tender. (page 70) "...The Type VI appeared in the catalog for the last time in 1940, again in the No. 27 combination - but now equipped with Type XIII 3/16 scale freight trucks.  These tenders have rubber-stamped sides."  

So there is the new thing I learned about Flyer for today.  And now you can identify your engine and tender as the  1940 model.

Steve:

Greg, in your photo, it's hard to tell, but the trucks look something like the XII style which is consistent with the artwork in the 39 catalog. Page 70 in Schuweiler's book shows a 426 with gray VIII style trucks. I have that tender with another loco and height wise looks much better with the 425 loco.

Steve


Me:

Steve,

I also have the Type VI tender with the type VIII grey painted trucks.

I have it paired with a 332X locomotive

I also have the other Type VI tender that I have matched up with the #425 locomotive. It has type XII trucks. This tender was an early purchase in my O gauge collecting phase, when I was not quite as concerned with condition.  I just wanted an example of a specific piece of equipment. 

So I am a bit suspicious of this tender as being original equipment; especially when you see how the trucks are fastened to the frame, all of the holes drilled in the frame and the odd looking coupler.

I think it might be time for an upgrade on this particular tender.

Northwoods Flyer

So we have identified at least three different variaions of the Type VI Tender

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Posted by Nationwidelines on Saturday, February 17, 2018 2:48 PM

That tender was first introduced in 1931, and came with the 3300 engine.

In 1931 only, this tender came with gloss black paint.  This may also be the only year when it came with brass plates instead of labels, but I am not certain about that.  

NWL

 

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