American Flyer Locomotive 290 Postwar Pacific
The Gilbert American Flyer Locomotive 290 Postwar Pacific is modeled after a New York New Haven and Hartford Locomotive. It was designed to provide maximum visual impact and play value in a die cast locomotive while having a very simple valve gear and connecting rod assembly to reduce cost. The buyer got a locomotive equipped with smoke, choo-choo, headlight and three sets of drivers.
This model of a New Haven railroad Pacific style locomotive entered the Gilbert American Flyer product line in 1949. The valve gear was simplified from previous models and the one piece die cast boiler was less expensive to produce. Interestingly, for the first few years of production this locomotive only had “AMERICAN FLYER” on the tender and did not include the New Haven Railroad marking. The 290 included smoke and choo-choo as features. This was the low end “die cast” Pacific locomotive in the product line.
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For Gilbert it didn’t have much more cost than the Atlantic series of locomotives but had a huge promotional value. This American Flyer Locomotive 290 Postwar Pacific, the earliest of this series as introduced in 1950 has a sheet metal tender and link coupler with black weight at the rear of the tender. The 290 was also cataloged in 1951 along with the 295 (equipped with an “electronic” whistle in the tender). This style of locomotive disappeared from the catalogs in 1952 (possible due to shortages from the Korean War effort) and returned in 1953 as the 293 now equipped with a plastic tender and knuckle coupler. (Sorry – no whistle in the tender)
The 293 is cataloged in 1954, 1955, and 1956 where it is cataloged as a 296 with the “electronic” whistle in the tender. In 1957 Gilbert introduced its five digit numbering system to accommodate the installation of an IBM computer system for inventory management. The locomotive in this series as produced is still numbered 293 but is cataloged as a 21024. In 1959 it bears the number 21099 with a 21098 showing up as uncataloged. All production after the 293 was introduced has a knuckle coupler at the rear of the tender. Some 293’s are found with a simulated coal stoker on top of the coal pile.