Gilbert American Flyer Bridges and TunnelsWhen 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 parts. 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. With the move to 3/16” scale, many of the accessories were scaled to match the trains but with enough space to accommodate O gauge products for cross manufacturer sales. The result was products that are slightly oversized for the post war S gauge product line, but slightly undersized for O scale. However, many of the Gilbert pre war bridge accessories continued in the post war product line.
Gilbert Cataloged several bridge designs as accessories to the American Flyer train line from the acquisition in 1938 to the end of standard production in 1964. The three basic types were the trestle bridge, the girder bridge and the truss bridge for conveying train tracks over rivers, gulches, other train tracks, roads and anything else that needed clearance. In addition, there was a cardboard trestle set with a girder bridge and a pedestrian bridge to allow layout people to safely cross over the tracks.
The first Gilbert American Flyer trestle bridges were cataloged in 1938 and incorporated Erector girder parts and the Erector hut, in a creative effort to tie the two product lines together. These were the No. 1 Single Span Bridge and the No. 2 Trestle Bridge with Tender’s House. The No. 750 Trestle Bridge was introduced in the 1940 catalog and outside of the war year gap stayed in the catalog until 1956. As the 23750 it remained in the catalog until 1961.
The girder bridge was introduced to the Gilbert American Flyer cataloged product line in the 1939 as the No. 581. With the exception of the war year gap it remained in the catalog until 1956 and until 1964 as the 23581. Its mini me the HO-254 joined the American Flyer HO line in 1939 and stayed until 1941. The HO-254 girder bridge was cataloged again in 1946 but disappeared from the catalogs until 1949 through 1950. Another gap left the HO-254 out of the catalogs until 1956 when it returned as the HO-700. In 1957 the conversion to the IBM five digit inventory and cost accounting system changed the number to 35700 although the January 15, 1957 price list still shows it as the HO-700.
Both the No. 1 and No. 2 bridges were introduced to the 1938 Gilbert American Flyer train product line and show the beginning of the Gilbert influence on American Flyer by using Erector set parts.
American Flyer No. 1 Trestle Bridge – 1938Gilbert included this smaller bridge in the 1938 catalog as it began to adapt the American Flyer product line to a Gilbert look and feel. The bridge is made from easy to construct sheet metal parts with a couple of Erector set parts included. The Erector parts help a simple bent sheet metal design by providing the look of girders. After assembly the whole American Flyer No. 1 bridge was painted the same red as the Erector set boxes.