A Gilbert Prewar American Flyer 3/16" O gauge pictures and information thread

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Posted by AF53 on Sunday, November 25, 2012 11:23 AM

I guess we all have our story on how we got into a phase of a hobby. Here's mine,

As my collection began to grow I wanted to build a set from every decade of American Flyer. In choosing a set from the 1940's I chose one from 1941, after all it is the year my wife's parents were born and how could she say "no"? I bought a 1941 catalogue and found on ebay a complete set. No. 4103 Crusader Freight Train.

That's were I got the "bug" for S scale (3/16") O gauge Flyer. So here is that set and later I will add more, even though some will have already been posted.

Catalogue from 1941

Locomotive # 565

 

Tender # 564C ( "C" stands for chugger but doesn't sound great)

Log car # 482

Box car # 478

Caboose # 484

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, November 25, 2012 1:25 PM

Thanks for the post Ray, great to see them sitting on the rails.

Here are some shots of my "Tayle-Chase" railroad.. It is a little pike, still a work in progress. I had the idea to make it as much like it might be seen back in wartime or immediately after WWII.

Lichen, bottle brush trees and spray flocked trees. Very period.

Track gang working on a loose rail as a Union Pacific freighter rattles by.

Loading scrap metal for the war effort

Gateman watches the entrance to the yard

Main Street, USA

Waiting for a local

Local freighter passing through

Pennsylvania Rail Road Passenger line pulling out

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, November 25, 2012 5:33 PM

Pages out of the 1940 catalog. I will add more as I scan them. These catalogs are an invaluable source of information. If anyone has 1938,1939 and 1941 it would be great if you could add to this part of the thread. In the meantime I'll be looking for each one of those catalogs

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Posted by AF53 on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:02 PM

After I convinced my wife it was a good idea that building a set from the year her mother was born (1941), The set I posted earlier, I sold her on the idea to build one the year her dad was born, also 1941. Am I lucky or what!

Here is "The Red Arrow Passenger Train" . Set number 4110 in the 1941 catalogue.

Here is the Locomotive #561.

The 558C Tender.

The Baggage Car # 494R.

This set came with 2 - #495RL Coach Cars.

And here is the video for it.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGP0fzDzBpc&feature=plcp

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:37 PM

Thanks for sharing Ray. It's great to see "sets" of these trains. Of course there is nothing better than to see them coursing around a track.

Is that a little lever I see poking out below that tender? Could that be a chugger tender?

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Posted by AF53 on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:42 PM

Sure is, but like all the three I have they need a bit of work to make them sound "normal".

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:50 PM

Ray, I have a chugger unit mounted on a tender base for the K5 that I want to put under my tender. I tried it once and it seems that the flat screw on the large gear is rubbing on the inside of my tender shell. I don't see and warp at all in my tender shell. I wonder is there any relief cutout in your tender shell, or is your screw really thin and flat, possibly a different screw than used on the Atlantic?

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Posted by AF53 on Thursday, November 29, 2012 8:12 PM

Gray Cat - When I took it apart months ago everything ran fine it's just that the leather washer wasn't pushing enough air. I might have to drill it out and reverse it. But I know that I won't get the time to work on it until February. I guess that's part of the fun in our hobby, working on these 70 year old trains. Depending on the outcome I do find it a good thing.

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Saturday, January 19, 2013 12:01 PM

Today I added a few photo's of new acquisitions. In order to try and keep some sort of semblance of order I edited earlier posts to add the photo's and descriptions.

Thanks for looking and I'm really looking foward to some more input on these rare and beautiful prewar American Flyer (Gilbert) trains.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, January 20, 2013 7:51 AM

David Barker

A.C. Gilbert changed the pace in model railroading before WWII, then after the war he set the pace!  I have very few pre-war pieces, but do have some.

http://www.rfgco.com/americanflyertrainscatalogs/catalogs.html

Thanks for posting this David, I didn't realize until now that this is an interactive catalog link showing pages of the various catalogs. Good point of reference.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Thursday, January 24, 2013 11:24 AM

Update; just added photos of three new acquisitions two to the die cast car section (again in trying to keep this stuff grouped as best as possible). A 506 "Beano" Box car and a 510 MP Stock car. Both of these cars are the die cast cars that were introduced early in the Prewar Gilbert line. They are all quite heavy. They are also a whole lot less common than the tinplate rolling stock. Also added a 581 crane (sheet metal construction) this pretty much completes the tinplate freight and the diecast freight cars.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Monday, January 28, 2013 1:50 PM

For those that might need it here is a scan of the Whistling Express car and Remote Directional control wiring instructions.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Monday, February 4, 2013 3:09 PM

Boxed sets.. always a treat to find! Just picked these up today..

This is the No. 4022 N.Y. Central J-3a Hudson Passenger set with the deluxe diecast pullmans. These passenger cars are very often a victim of zinc pest so to find one that is straight and in excellent condition is a rarity indeed.

These cars are really quite heavy. Even after giving the cars a fresh lube the Hudson has a little wheel spin when first starting out. These cars are much better suited with the 4-8-4 as it's extra weight and extra axle would help pull.

This car has a variation of the pickup. Both other Pullmans have the later style phenolic that mounts in slots on the truck.

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Posted by AF53 on Saturday, February 9, 2013 8:21 PM

Recently I was lucky enough to purchase this set. With a good cleaning the Loco runs nice. This run of American Flyer 3/16'' O Gauge was for just a short amount of time and when sitting side by side with the pre-Gilbert era you can really see the difference "scaled" cars and those that aren't.

Back on the previous page Northwoods posted his pics of Locomotive #553. Well here is Set No.4004 "Streamliner Freight Train" cataloged in 1940.

Locomotive #553

It's Tender

Log car #482

Tanker #480

Caboose #484

Ray

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Posted by AF53 on Saturday, February 9, 2013 8:24 PM

And here it is doing what it does best.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUIFvSwHMSI

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Saturday, February 9, 2013 8:55 PM

Great find Ray, thanks for sharing. I just noticed the other day when looking at pictures of another 553.. I see there is a hole in the motor casting between the two drive wheels. I wonder if they used the same casting on the Pacific engines but just moved the front hole to make it a two drive wheel loco (Atlantic Style)? Can you confirm a front hole in the casting that would match up to a Pacific wheel arrangement like the Royal Blue?

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Posted by AF53 on Saturday, February 9, 2013 11:33 PM

I don't believe they used the same casting. I also have a 561 Locomotive and they appear to be different. Here are a few pics of the 553, what do you think. Hope they help.

Ray

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Posted by AF53 on Saturday, February 9, 2013 11:48 PM

After looking again and measuring the pre-drilled small holes, if you notice on my top picture there is a hole closer to the front wheel. I measured 1 1/2" towards the front and towards the back from that hole. Same distance on the 561.

So....... Maybe they did start with the same casting, the bottoms are both 3 15/16" long also.

The 553 on top with the 561 on the bottom. It will look somewhat distorted since the 561 is a bit closer.

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, February 10, 2013 3:24 PM

I just checked the motor casting on my 545 and it seems it too has the extra two hole in the positions for a Pacific type wheel configuration. I would guess that it's safe to say Gilbert used the same castings to save money and offered the 545 and the 553 as budget versions of the Pennsylvania K5 561 and and Royal Blue 556.. one less axle and set of wheels, I guess in Prewar America a set of wheels and an axle could shave a few dollars or cents off a train set?

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Posted by AF53 on Sunday, February 10, 2013 6:19 PM

I agree. According to the 1940 catalog the 553 was valued at $6.75 and the identical 556 (with the extra axle) was $11.00.

Ray

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, February 10, 2013 6:26 PM

Ray that's a huge savings! For a boy that wanted a scale model toy train the 553 is clearly the better value. I wonder what sales/production numbers would show if we could compare the 553 and 556 side by side. He or his dad could have gotten him the 553 and a few cars for the price of the 556.

It also seems upon closer inspection there are a few other cost saving differences. The 553 has stamped steel front that is attached to the motor frame with a single screw and stamped steel trailing trucks (early style?) where the 556 has diecast front truck and pilot assembly and elaborate diecast trailing truck frame.

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:38 PM

Gray Cat

Cabooses. The little red caboose deserves a post of it's own. There are variations. They came lighted and non lighted.

484 caboose with black railings

484 caboose with white railings

484 with lights

Here is a strange 484 I came across. This one has a caboose base that is punched out for a chugger unit.. I'm not sure if a caboose ever came with this option or if this was a mistake. But is certainly is curious.

Gray Cat,

Have you, or anyone else reading this, ever come across a #484 with S gauge trucks?  I just picked on up off of eBay and discovered that it has the S gauge version of the link and pin trucks.  It has white railings.  I compared it to my other #484 caboose and the trucks are fastened in the same way and appear to be factory installed.

I can post some photos later.   Any ideas?

Enjoying the World's Greatest Hobby

Northwoods Flyer

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Posted by Gray Cat on Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:47 PM

I can only guess that perhaps there was some old prewar stock being used up at the beginning of the postwar Gilbert era and someone at the factory riveted those trucks on!. Gilbert did continue to sell prewar locomotives and rolling stock while it lasted after the war. Waste not want not. If I'm not mistaken the postwar rolling stock had no journals. I have a set like that. No journals on the cars or tender. NWF, does your tender have journals on the S gauge trucks?

Please do post pictures of it!

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Posted by Gray Cat on Friday, March 29, 2013 8:32 AM

BTW I'm curious are the links plastic or metal? The earliest AF S links were plastic without weights if I'm not mistaken.. a design that was quickly revised since they had a tendency to uncouple frequently. I'll research a little to confirm this.. but if your S gauge trucks have metal links as prewar, but in the S gauge sizes that would indeed be curious.

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Posted by Major on Friday, March 29, 2013 7:40 PM

I picked up a post war 3/16ths on O gauge Atlantic set a few years back. The Atlantic had the fahnstock clip on the front of the tender.  All cars had journal boxes but the box car was made with ends punched out to hold the brake wheel on both ends!  As you said they were using up leftover parts

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Posted by bkane on Sunday, May 19, 2013 8:42 AM

Gray Cat,

Maybe they used a tender base for this caboose.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, May 19, 2013 11:21 AM

bkane

Gray Cat,

Maybe they used a tender base for this caboose.

If you are referring to my caboose that's punched out for a chugger being a tender base. I don't believe it's the same size in length. But even if it is, I find it curious that it made it through the assembly line and got painted assembled the way it is. This is original not a repaint.

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Posted by bkane on Sunday, May 19, 2013 11:27 AM

Grey Cat,

It doesn't seem like they wasted anything when they were putting cars together.That caboose is a great convesation piece. I'm sure all kinds of intersting pieces made it out of the factory.

 

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Posted by bkane on Sunday, May 19, 2013 11:43 AM

Grey Cat,

Measured my Royal Blue tender and compared it to caboose base measurements and they are the same.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, May 19, 2013 12:10 PM

bkane

Grey Cat,

Measured my Royal Blue tender and compared it to caboose base measurements and they are the same.

Ok great! Thanks for doing that. Well we know where it came from then! Hey maybe I can take it apart and use it to make my RB a chugger..  JK of course.

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