American Flyer Locomotive 21004
The Gilbert Train Engine 21004 was made in 1957 and was a switcher. The American Flyer Locomotive Switcher 0-6-0 would have had 0 leading, 6 driving, and 0 trailing wheels. There were 5 models of the Switcher 0-6-0 produced by Gilbert. The American Flyer 21004 Pennsylvania 0-6-0 Yard Switcher and Tender was an uncatalogued version from 1957. It came equipped with Pull-Mor traction tires on rear drivers, smoke and choo-choo in boiler, two-position reverse unit mounted on rear of motor, and disconnecting drawbar attached to the chassis.
What is a Locomotive Switcher?
A switcher is a small train engine built for short distance hauling and moving rail cars around a freight yard. Essentially, they put the train together and then a large locomotive is brought in to haul the train to its destination. Switchers are also sometimes used to make short distance runs and pick up cars on branch lines. The typical switcher is optimized for its job, being relatively low-powered but with additional traction designed to get heavy cars rolling quickly. Switching is hard work, and heavily used switch engines wear out quickly from the abuse of constant hard contacts with cars and frequent starting and stopping.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the 21004 was that it was really the American Flyer Locomotive 263 built as a prototype but was not ever moved into production. The five digit numbering was the result of the switch to IBM mainframe technology and part numbering.