Collecting Gilbert Tru-Scale Cars

This is a very confusing area as these Gilbert marketed products are not marked in any way as being Gilbert merchandise and the Tru-Scale products are very similar differing only in minor ways. Usually the Gilbert products are distinguished by color or numbering, but there may have been exceptions to this.

For example, the Gilbert version crane, which is generally thought to be made only in reddish orange, has been found in black in a Gilbert Kleer Pak with a number thought to be typical of Gilbert version cranes, but also used by Tru-Scale on their own merchandise. Also, reddish orange cranes with a variety of numbers can also be found but have generally been thought to be Gilbert versions and this is confirmed by noted Gilbert historian, Dave Garrigues.

Ballast cars with numbers typical of Tru-Scale marketed products have been found in Gilbert packaging and even if they are not in Gilbert packaging, are easily mistaken for the Gilbert version.  These cars were derived from the wooden craftsman type of kits marketed by Silver Streak, which was later taken over by Tru-Scale.  Some of these cars bear the same numbers, but can be distinguished by the fact that they are made of wood, rather than plastic, but this may not be apparent in Ebay or other online sales.

Even Tru-Scale crane tender cars, which have a flat side rather than a bay window have been found in Gilbert Kleer Paks, but with a removable smokestack, which is the only way they will fit into the Kleer Paks.

To further complicate matters, these work cars have also been issued by Train Miniature Products and can be found in their sales lists from the early to mid 70’s. In short, one should be cautious about items bearing numbers other than the generally accepted Gilbert number. They may indeed be variations of items sold by Gilbert, or they could be lesser value Tru-Scale or even Train Miniature items placed in Gilbert packaging. It is impossible to tell if these apparent Tru-Scale items “found their way” into Gilbert packaging at the Gilbert Factory or in someone’s basement.

Dale Smith