Monday, February 05, 2007

AF Classic Period Gems

Whew! I've been busy as I can be here with a ton of different projects...everything from selling trains on EBAY to repairing newly acquired trains to working on Tinplate Times, to...I don't know, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to. How did I ever find time to work?

Every once in a while I stop and just look up at the shelves in my room at some of the trains that live there quietly year in and year out, waiting patiently for a little attention, or maybe even a chance to see some duty downstairs on the layout. Here's a beautiful American Flyer Wide gauge stock car. What's not to like about AF Wide gauge? What a beautiful line of locomotives and cars. I'm fortunate to have a small but representative collection of these great looking tinplate trains.

We think of the period of the late 1920s through the mid 1930s as the "Classic" period of Standard gauge. This period was characterized by the big, bright, colorful Standard gauge trains made by Lionel, American Flyer, Dorfan, and IVES.

A.C. Gilbert, who would later come to own American Flyer (just after AF stopped producing Wide gauge trains) marketed a spectacular series of Erector sets during roughly this same period. These sets were the biggest and most spectacular Erector sets ever made. Erector collectors refer to them as "Classic" era sets. They came in beautiful red painted wood boxes, and boys could build spectacular models of trucks, trains, and even Zeppelins. Pictured here is a N0. 7-1/2 "White Truck" set from 1931 that I am just finishing up on - taking inventory and organizing it - in an attempt to make it look like it did, as closely as possible, on the day it left the factory. It's like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle because invariably when you buy these sets they're a jumble of hundreds of parts all loose and disorganized in the box. Pieces are missing and it takes time and patience to sort everything out. However, when you're done you have a wonderful looking display set. The Erector "Classic" period dates are 1924 until 1932. As with our beloved Standard gauge trains, economic realities after the crash of 1929 put an end to these large Erector beauties. Luckily, we can still enjoy some of them today.


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