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

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Posted by Gray Cat on Sunday, September 8, 2013 10:27 AM

The good news is that the stuff is out there. Even with the interest stirred up here on the Forum I think overall the amount of interest in Prewar Gilbert era 3/16th O is very low. Most collectors walk on by it not paying any attention to it or seeming to care. I just got back from the Hamburg Pa. train show and there was a good showing of Gilbert O. I saw a mixed set with a little Chicago Style engine and two 3/16" cars a 494 and a 495 in red. Silver outlines on the windows. No lights.. $75. There were several different sellers offering rolling stock. All common stuff but reasonable prices and good shape. I saw two complete freight sets at different tables one headed by a nice 561 K4 and the other headed up by a 545 (same locomotive but with 4 drive wheels as opposed to 6 and a prewar Chicago style tender).. Lot of stuff just all common. It's the hard to find things that don't show up. But if you are looking to start a collection there is plenty out there.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 6:02 PM

Concerning the 494 and 495 prewar coaches. I saw something interesting today in an Ebay description. This can be a good source of information since there are at times sellers with knowledge on the auction site. The seller in this case is offering a set of these coaches in boxes.. stating that they are from an original set 1941 only production. He further states in his description that in 1941 only the American Flyer Lines decal was in black lettering and the coach number was in silver lettering. As depicted in his auction. At times we have seen these cars come through with different layouts. Some all silver, some all black, some half and half and in a few cases two American Flyer Lines decals and no number. Perhaps there is more to this than just a coincidence or a mistake? For now I buy into the 1941 only theory with black AFL and Silver 495/494.. this seems to make sense and is verified by a 1941 set. Anyone with further information concerning this please feel free to add to this.

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Posted by ashcat on Friday, September 13, 2013 11:38 PM

Gray Cat AF 53 and mersenne6

I am not a puter whiz and this is the first time I have tried to correspond with anyone on line.  I am a toy train collector. However, American Flyer is my main area of intrest.  I had a TCA charter member as a mentor.  In my collection I have all years and gauges and manufacturers, as well as A.F. equipment.  I try to acquire A.F. sets and accessories from each era, from Chicago Flyer, through Gilbert, and a few repo sets from each company since Gilbert. Don't have MTH yet. 

As I was looking through many A.F. videos etc. I found this site dealing with A.F. 3/16 "O" Gauge equipment.  This is one of my most interesting areas of A.F.  I have 236 sets of A.F,(all gauges) plus over 100 6 place inventory sheets of extra cars, engines, and accessories.  I have every engine style, of 3/16 O, with a few duplicates. I was fortunate to acquire the # 574 0-8-0, to complete the engines.  I have every style of freight car both tin and cast.  I have green, blue, gray, and red tin passenger cars,  however I do not have is a set of the cast passenger cars.  I do not have the track gang nor the yellow and brown bulidings.  I really like the 3/16 O trains.  That's why I was so glad to find this site.  

I have a # 490 whistle control button for the gray and blue whistling baggage cars.  I have never been able to acquire the wiring diagrams and instruction sheets for this equipment, until I found this site.  I was elated. In fact all the information is very important and I am so glad someone has taken the time to get it published. 

The other thing I have been looking for is a totally working choo-choo tender.  I have two tenders which need repair but I have never seen nor heard one operate.  I have one that runs great but the discs in the cylinder are loose and I haven't figured out how to repair it.  Hearing the royal blue tender run on the vedio was absolutely great.  That's my next project.

On the site there was mention of operating action cars.  A friend of mine came to me and asked if I would clean and service his Dads old trains because he wanted to set up a layout for his grandkids.  When he brought them to me I couldn"t believe it, It was two sets of American Flyer 3/16 O gauge.  After I serviced them and returned them my friend took them home and constructed a very nice 8X10 layout.  He then invited me to come see it and answer a few questons for him reguarding the equipment.  He had an "S" gauge #751 log loader dumping logs in his 0 gauge gondola.  I decided he needed an 0 gauge log dump car.  At a train show I purchased a #717 "S" log dump car.  I changed the trucks to the regular 0 gauge trucks, of course insulated one truck, rewired a straight piece of 0 gauge track in front of the loader, and came up with an 0 gauge automatic log dump car.  Works perfectly.  I drew the wiring schematic an an exploded parts diagram and sent it to TCA to see if they would put it in the collector magazine but I haven't heard form them.

Thanks for your tremendous information I will be checking it offen, and reading comments from other enthusiastic 3/16 0 collectors - runners.

Howard Runft , 1827 W Dallas St.  Wichita Kansas 67217-2247

Ph: 316-265-3414

e-mail: crunft_22@yahoo.com  Don't forget the underscore between t and 22.

  

    

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Posted by Gray Cat on Saturday, September 14, 2013 6:22 AM

First and foremost Howard (Ashcat), let me offer you a hearty "welcome aboard".. it's great to hear of your collection and have another fellow Gilbert O Gauger here on the forum. I'm hoping that in the near future we can help you to get some photo's of your collection here in this thread. It will be great to see if we can come up with variations. Your input will be welcomed!

You touch on a few subjects we can delve into for sure. The Chugger Tenders are a nice point of interest and they certainly add to a consist. I have serviced three of them to date with excellent results. As long as the casting is not warped, crazed or cracked you can make them work again and sound good.

With just a sliver of time (AF 53) these trains were manufactured finding something as simple as a control button can be a challenge. The tin rolling stock is pretty common, but good cast cars, and accessories or special catalogue items are harder. Very nice to hear you have the elusive 0-8-0. I just missed one on Ebay, the seller ended the auction early. Which is a shame for them as I was ready to do what ever it would take to get it. Chasing down hard to find items well, that is part of the fun of collecting these trains!

I like what you did with the S gauge log loader. I've toyed with the idea of something like this a few times. It's all in the family for sure, I'm just not sure I'm ready to mix parts like that.. but boy would it add a whole new level of fun to the O gauge era. Gilbert made some great S gauge accessories.

Lover of all things Gilbert, truly a man ahead of his time.

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Posted by ashcat on Saturday, September 14, 2013 4:48 PM

Thanks Gray Cat, Keep up the good work.

Ashcat

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Posted by Gray Cat on Saturday, September 14, 2013 7:04 PM

Ray I just noticed that my Whistle Car has the same decal arrangement as yours.

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Posted by AF53 on Sunday, September 15, 2013 10:14 PM

Thanks for the pic! I guess the only thing consistent is that nothing is consistent! Wink

Ray

Bayville, NJ

 

Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans - John Lennon

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Posted by Gray Cat on Monday, September 16, 2013 12:05 PM

In his Catalogs A.C. Gilbert offered a selection of his new 3/16" scale toy trains in "Kit" form. You could buy a kit which was supplied with all parts needed and paint to assemble various pieces of rolling stock or locomotion. Finding any of these kit pieces, like many of the Prewar Gilbert can be a challenge. Finding one with a nice paint job is even better. I believe you could have the kit assembled and painted if you wanted, but I'm not certain of this. The one thing that marks a Kit vs a Factory assembled train is the screws. All kits were assembled using screws. Trucks were not riveted on as were the factory assembled units.

Here is the first of my Kit acquisitions purchased today. This is the 514K (K of course designates kit). Note that on this particular kit the smoke stack is raw copper and the frame of the cab is unfinished steel. The green supplied in the kit is often of a different shade than factory paint. The cab usually has no markings. It's in great condition, this little crane was well cared for.

Note the screws holding trucks and crane cab on to diecast open frame.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Thursday, September 26, 2013 6:15 PM

I added a few more kits or "K" cars to my collection today. The crane shown above is really quite a nice piece. It was so well done it almost looks factory painted. These next two kit cars are hand brush painted and not quite as nice. This is also one of the sure signs of a kit.. brush painted with screw on trucks.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Thursday, September 26, 2013 6:20 PM

I found this nice Talking Tool Shed "A-Koosti-kin". Gilbert must have thought this was a catchy name, however it didn't seem to go over well with the public. As Nationwidelines shows us earlier the non talking version has a smooth green roof and this talking shed does indeed have a crackle green roof. You can see in one of the pictures it looks a little better after I carefully cleaned it with Novus 2 plastic polish. It can be scary to try and clean some of these older trains and accessories. A little wipe in the wrong place and I could have erased "Tool Shed".. This shed comes with instructions and the special track clip. It fits nicely on original AF track.

Cleaned up a bit.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Thursday, September 26, 2013 6:28 PM

Another recent acquisition is this 553 Bullet Nose engine and tender. It's a bit of a variation. Northwoods Flyer's shows American Flyer Lines on the Engine, AF 53's does not. The one I'm showing is without it also and a bonus is that it's tender lettering is entirely different from both. It has a different Font and it's silver. Also this engine has the original instruction tag for worm drive motors that were new to the toy train buying public and in my opinion superior to the old Chicago Flyer motors. The worm drive is much smoother at slow speeds. A little motor trivia is that this little universal (AC/DC) worm drive motor was designed by Gilbert to be used in aircraft (fighters and bombers) as little control motors for linkages and such. Typical of this engine the trailing truck wheels are cracking and the front truck is missing. Parts that are readily available.

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Posted by HOOScaler on Friday, March 7, 2014 8:59 PM

I have just purchased a #484 3/16 caboose that has a similar base punch out for the chugger motor.  It does not have any pick-ups.  Guess Gilbert used whatever base he had at hand…?  Any clues?

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Posted by David Barker on Monday, March 10, 2014 4:43 PM

Tremendous thread!.

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Posted by Gray Cat on Monday, March 10, 2014 5:55 PM

HOOScaler

I have just purchased a #484 3/16 caboose that has a similar base punch out for the chugger motor.  It does not have any pick-ups.  Guess Gilbert used whatever base he had at hand…?  Any clues?

If you look farther up  in the thread you will see pictures of a caboose I own that has the same punchouts for a chugger. Looks pretty obvious that a chugger won't fit though. I bet you and I had the same guy on the line grabbing the wrong parts! ha ha..

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Posted by Gray Cat on Monday, March 10, 2014 5:56 PM

David Barker

Tremendous thread!.

Thanks David, sadly there just isn't as much interest in this little slice of American Flyer history to make this a long popular thread like some of the others.. But there is some good information in here none the less.

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Posted by David Barker on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 3:16 PM

Gilbert's O 3/16 was an excellent idea to get into scale.  Gray Cat's information is absolutely awesome!

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 9:09 PM

I thought that it was time to bump this thread back to the top so that Shiffy48 could find it more easily.  This thread has great information and photos.

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Posted by Shiffy48 on Thursday, October 16, 2014 2:21 AM

The Royal Blue IS inherently premium.  In this case,  PREMIUM is unrelated to list price.   As you all well know, those that are in gorgeous condition (which includes lack of rot on the engine shell) are very difficult to obtain.  That the list price was relatively low as compared to the RDC / chugging tender / diecast / Hudson / Northern freight & passenger sets is (to me at least) irrelevant to appreciating all of its attributes.

I prefer the earliest version of the 556 in which there are 4 milled out cab windows on each side.  More severe rot & front impact damage seem to have occurred with them.

And, only a small % of  the 495s were illuminated.

I acknowledge that the color of this font is NOT a precise match for the set...

Shiffy48


 

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Posted by wallyworld on Sunday, October 19, 2014 8:48 AM

An overdue and enjoyable topic and the appeal of that era and what might have been if the switch to S gauge had not taken over is food for thought....They have a distinct look to them and to my eyes, seem more appealing than the omnipresent Lionel trains of the same era, and it might be because they are different..

They somehow look more proportional to me than the Lionel examples that have been done to death, covered in amazing detail..not that I particularly dislike that brand, but they do seem as common as rabbits..and there is an appeal to rarity as a type compared to whats common. I have had an unfulfilled addiction to Voltamp Interurbans as an example of a very appealing but very rare example of a type. 

Every so often I see this or that up for sale and think..I should add one of those and think it's like the potato chip thing..I couldn't have just one. And we all know where that leads.

Great thread.

Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.

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Posted by Gilbert O guy on Thursday, August 27, 2015 1:24 AM

FYI 3/16 Gilbert O gauge Northerns I am aware of.

1939 spur gear, RDC, 806 number board (painted)

1940 Kit engine spur gear, 806 number board (decals)

1940 571, reverse lever, worm drive

1940 571 ,RDC, worm drive

1940 Kit worm, drive reverse lever, 806 decals

1941 572 worm drive, reverse lever

1941 533, worm drive, RDC

1941 534, worm drive, RDC

Note about the K-5s

you see a 561 most often with reverse lever, there is a more rare 559 with RDC which was included with the die cast passenger and freight sets.

Same for the Hudson, there is a RDC version used in the die cast sets.

at some time in the future I will unbox these and post photos including the rare 0-8-0 574.  I have never seen a 575, but I hear they do exist.

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Posted by Gilbert O guy on Thursday, August 27, 2015 1:30 AM

there is another variation to this station, it is red/white with brown ramps, red base

Nationwidelines

Gray Cat,

 

This is an excellent topic as the Flyer 3/16th O gauge era was such a short period of time and also included the transition of Chicago Flyer to Gilbert production. 

 

I have to admit to not actually caring for the 3/16th O gauge flyer items and having only some of the accessories.  Although I think the die cast freight and passenger cars are nice, I have never persued these items in my collecting interest.  However, I like the Gilbert pre-war buildings. 

 

This first item is a transitional piece from 1940 and was cataloged under the Chicago number 97 Freight Station Set.  This item features the Gilbert produced crane and a green crackle painted roof with the rest of the item being from leftover Chicago era production.  Some of these stations are found with the earlier Chicago era lithographed roof.

 

 
I believe that the next item dates to 1941 and represents the first year production of the 612 freight station.  Note that the item has the red painted base similar to the 1940 97 freigth station set pictured above.  The building also has the brown trim instead of red trim, which is common on the pre-war tool shed and mystic stations (which were brown and yellow painted).  There is also a black crackle painted roof and red mystic station letterboards.
 
 
 

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Friday, August 28, 2015 9:01 PM

Its nice to see this thread having posts to it again.  I just re-read it and it has lots of great information.  I posted this information over on the Prewar photo thread some time ago and discovered that I hadn't posted it here.  I thought it would be good to keep the 3/16 information together.

NWF

 

553 Streamlined Engine Revisited

The 553 engine and tender combination is part of the Gilbert 3/16" O gauge line. It was only cataloged in 1940.  The engine is given the number 551 and the tender is given the number 552.  The two pieces together are given the number 553.  You  have to love Flyer's numbering system.

Recently I picked up a second 553 and I noticed some differences. While I am not sure that these differences qualify as a variation (Schuweiler doesn't identify them that way) they are worth noting.

Here are my two examples.

It is impossible to tell from my photos but there is a subtle difference in the grey paint used on each engine.  The top example is just a shade lighter in color. The tenders match their engines exactly.  So there must have been at least two paint batches when these were being produced.

The first noticeable difference is that the bottom engine has a decal that says "American Flyer Lines".  The top engine does not have the decal and there is no evidence that it ever had one.

Both engines have a 553 decal.

The next obvious difference is the lettering on the tenders.  The top tender has "American Flyer Lines" stamped in silver in the indented part of the body.  The bottom tender has a decal with white lettering that matches the decal above the running board of the engine. (Schuweiler does make note of this difference in the tenders in his book.)

Another difference is that there are two different trailing trucks used.  I know that these trucks are easily swapped out, but it does present another possible difference.  I'd like to know if anyone else has examples of the two different trailing trucks.

Now when you look at the engines side by side I bet its easier to see the differences.

I think its interesting to find these kinds of differences.  It gives a bit of an insight into the manufacturing process and how things changed as the supplies of materials on hand changed.

So now I can make up the two trains that were headed by this engine in its one year appearance in the catalog; a passenger set and a freight set.

By the way.  If you have Schuweiler's book on Pre War O gauge; if you look at the photo that he uses on page 220 to illustrate the 553 you will notice that it is a 4-6-2 not a 4-4-2.  I wonder if that is a factory original or if it is a 553 shell placed on a 556 Royal Blue chassis.   We collectors of variations can be very detail oriented.

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American Flyer Trains

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Posted by augbus on Thursday, November 19, 2015 6:09 PM

Really found your post very informative. I own the earliest version of the 4-8-4 # 571 with the gears on the drive wheels. I need a wiring diagram to get it running again due to broken loose wires. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I also have other AF "o" that need repairs. Thanks, Bill

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Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Friday, November 20, 2015 8:38 AM

This is a great thread with the O gauge AF 3/16.  Great research and photos!  Thank you for sharing 

Jim

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Posted by tinplatacis on Friday, November 20, 2015 3:26 PM

How hard are prewar Gilbert trains to find? They look great.

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Posted by rogruth on Saturday, November 21, 2015 7:02 PM

I had an uncle that had, it seems, at least one of each of the pre-war 3/16ths locos.

I don't know which models exactely but do remember one of each of the following:4-8-4, 4-6-2 PRR, 4-6-4 NYC, R&O Royal Blue 4-6-2  and I think a 4-4-2 and a 0-8-0. I always liked thembecause they seemed to be better proportioned than the Lionel stuff.

I was to inherit these but unfortunately they were stolen from his house while he was in the hospital. Someone knew what they were because nothing else was taken, only his train stuff.

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Posted by AF53 on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 11:50 PM

Nice to see this thread back up and running again.

A while ago I was fortunate to come across a set from someone who was selling her granfathers train set. After doing a bit of researching I was able to find it in the 1939 catalogue as set no. 301. It came with the original boxes and someone marked on the bottom of each box Dec. 1940. The set looks and runs great execpt I need to replace the locomotives light bulb. I will try a post some pics this weekend.

Tinplatacis - This ara of American Flyer is somewhat hard to find and you definatly need patience. It can hit you like a bug if you let it, easy to get hooked on it.

Ray

Bayville, NJ

 

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Posted by tinplatacis on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 7:20 AM

Oh I believe it. I defenatly believe it. I been hooked the circle L bug for a bit, so I know how it can bite. The G-AF O looks fantastic though.

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Posted by Gilbert O guy on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 4:42 PM

Some background information:  the 1940 494/495 cars had black pans with silver window surrounds,  in 1941 it went to white pans with white window surrounds.

1942 is where it gets interesting because the war had started production was winding down.  equipment was made up from whatever Gilbert had on stock, which makes for interesting variations.

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Posted by Gilbert O guy on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 4:46 PM

The 553 with the spoked trailing trucks looks to actually have had the origional trucks replaced by Lionel spoked wheels.

I have several 553 examples and see no validation of the spoked wheel theory.

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