TrainDR started as a father/son project as a way to find a joint project for us to work on. The site is focused on curating the wealth of train knowledge from Bill’s head through an organized approach. First we wanted to focus on bringing high quality content, diagrams, and historical information on American Flyer Trains. Long term we will cover Lionel and others. Next we wanted to provide amateurs and enthusiasts quality information, manuals, and reference materials for toy trains. With a great deal of this content complete, we are moving on to the next phase of the project.
Phase II of the project is to add a collecting functionality. For over 60 years Bill has struggled to organize, catalog, index, and track his collection. Our collection tracking tool is designed to make that much easier. Next we wanted to add a better train community auction site than the generic EBAY style sites. Finally, we wanted to begin taking various components of the site and turning them into educational books, videos, and repair tools so that we may inspire future generations of train collectors and record the history of what exists now.
GILBERT AMERICAN FLYER TOYS
FROM THE BLOG
When Gilbert acquired American Flyer in 1938, they introduced Gilbert designed accessories to compliment the train line. The first Gilbert American Flyer design bridges used Gilbert Erector Set Gilbert AF 1st Bridgeparts. The migration of parts went the other way as well. The house at the top of an American Flyer signal tower became the Erector Set house.
Gilbert American Flyer Crossing Gates were introduced in the pre war 3/16’s product line from 1938 to 1941. Many of the parts that were in inventory when toy production was stopped for the war were saved and then used in the post war products. The first crossing gate introduced in the post war period was the 591 which continued the prewar 591 design but with the wiring adapted to the newly introduced two rail track system.
The first American Flyer Set produced also came with track, an uncoupler, and a transformer. The “T” in the set number indicated that a transformer was included. The set was cataloged in 1948 and 1949 and several un-cataloged versions also exist. 1948 versions should have the brass coupler weights and the 1949 versions should have black coupler weights.
Gilbert American Flyer made a variety of train motors based on the various train models they were manufacturing. In general, the motors were designed to match the type of locomotives they were modeled after and had a variety of features. It appears that there were approximately 6 different types of American Flyer Train motors as well as a variety used in accessories and other components.