Introducing the Gilbert American Flyer HO Index
A Catalog Reference with Photos and Commentary

How The Website Developed

This website was originally conceived to be a simple reference to the Gilbert American Flyer HO trains that appeared in the catalogs, with links to the online catalogs from the MyFlyerTrains.org website.  Chuck Harrington, who created that site, and those who contributed catalogs, have provided a great resource for collectors of the trains manufactured by the A.C. Gilbert Company.  From that modest beginning things sort of took off.  Several Gilbert HO collectors began offering me photos of their collections to put on the website.    After much work by these individuals taking the pictures and by me putting them on the website, it grew into an almost complete photo collection of all the HO items manufactured by the A.C. Gilbert Company.   At present, there are only 10 items (8 Track & Power items and 2 Accessories) that do not have an accompanying photo and

Gilbert HO Catalogs As A Source

While this website relies heavily on the Gilbert HO Catalogs, I should note is that the catalogs played fast and loose with the illustrations, using similar models to illustrate other items.   For this reason, you will see a 443 shown in the listing for a 446, a B&O 433, something that was never made in that road name, in an illustration of a set that actually contained a 31031 steam switcher, and a 31013 illustrating a listing for a 31021 industrial switcher.   So if you think I have the wrong catalog illustration, if you check the link to the actual catalog, you will probably find it is the illustration used by Gilbert. 

When change from 3 digit to 5 digit numbering took place around 1957, many items cataloged as 5 digit items were illustrated with 3 digit items.  In some cases, the 3 digit item used to illustrate the 5 digit item had never been cataloged itself as a three digit item.  It is quite likely that some 5 digit item may have never been produced as factory inventory of 3 digit numbered items was sufficient to satisfy the demand for the items.  As possible examples, see the 31003 and 31006 locomotives.  In many cases 3 digit items are found in 5 digit boxes.  Sometimes they are the only items that have been found in those boxes.

Production Prototypes & Variations

More recently several collectors have provided information and photos about production variations and these have also been added on the individual item pages.  In addition, we also have photos of some production prototypes and other one of a kind or unusual items and we now showcase these in a special section. 

Cataloged Sets

One thing that was missing was information concerning uncataloged sets.  After obtaining a copy of Maury Romer's list of 5 digit production, I have created a list of potential uncataloged sets based on what was planned by Gilbert.  Thanks to Bill Cucchi, Bob Bretch and other generous collectors, we have documented several of these sets and now have photos of many of them in their own section on the website.

Gilbert Imitators & Reproductions

For some reason, Gilbert items have been imitated by many manufacturers, even down to using the Gilbert catalog numbers on the cars.  The HO examples have also been documented, with the assistance of Joe King and several other collectors.  Joe has also provided us with information on his own reproductions and fantasy items he produced in the early 2000's.

We Still Need Guidebooks to Gilbert HO

This index is not intended as a replacement any books that are available on the subject of Gilbert American Flyer HO.  One thing I do not even attempt to cover is current values.  For that you will need to go to the guidebooks, some of which are not easy to obtain.  To my knowledge, there are 3 publications available that cover the subject of Gilbert American Flyer HO.

The first of these works is Gilbert American Flyer HO, 1938-1963 by Gary Klein.  This book, which is now in its 5th edition, is available as a Kindle book at Amazon.com.   You can click here for information on how to order this book.  The first edition was in hard bound form and the second edition was available on CD ROM, complete with color photographs and 3 dimensional views.  The 3rd & 4th editions were spiral bound with plastic covers.  A 6th and possibly final edition is being planned.

The second book covering Gilbert HO is The Standard Catalog of American Flyer Trains, by David Doyle, which devotes a chapter to them, but lists only rolling stock and accessories with no separate listing of the sets.  This book is currently available from many bookstores and online merchants.

The third book is American Flyer HO - Price Guide and Checklist by Charles Sommer, which is out of print.  It is surprisingly short, consisting of only 38 pages in text only format, but contains a lot of detailed information on the individual pieces which is not available elsewhere.

All of these books are valuable references and I strongly recommend them to anyone with a serious interest in A.C. Gilbert HO trains. 

Contributors

I wish to thank Chuck Harrington for allowing me to use images from his website to illustrate the items on this website.  I also wish to thank Daryl Olszeski whose contributions of photographs of his collection helped this website to become more than just the catalog index it started out to be.  I also wish to thank Gary Klein and Paul Beno who helped immensely by providing photos of some of the harder to find items.  It was their work that transformed this website in its early years.  Dom San Giovanni also contributed a great deal to the coverage of variations and oddities with photos of his collection.  Joe King's contributions were significant, not only as to his reproductions, but as to production variations.  Bill Cucchi helped me create a major section on the uncataloged sets.   He diligently photographed various items that were not illustrated with a photo which is what has brought us within 10 items of having a photo of everything marketed by Gilbert.  Finally, Jay Stelzenmuller and Bob Bretch provided me with photos of some very rare items.  Without Bob's photos of the Sohio and Cities Service uncataloged set boxes, we would probably never have learned how these unusually boxed sets were delivered.

As you can see, this website has grown far beyond what it started out as and now serves as a place for the recording and preservation of the vast storehouse of information possessed by a community of dedicated Gilbert HO collectors and enthusiasts.  It is really their website.

With each new photo, I learn more about these interesting trains and will attempt to share that new knowledge with you.  I welcome your contributions in the form of additional photos, new information, or correction of errors.  Even though the pages were thoroughly checked before putting them on the web, there are bound to be errors.  You can contact me at gilbertafho@att.net.  I hope you enjoy using these pages.

 

Dale Smith