More About the Index

When I started the database that forms the basis of this index, I wanted it to be based on the primary sources, rather than the already existing secondary sources, such as the Klein and Doyle books.  Unfortunately there is far less documentation of the HO line than there is for the S gauge trains made by A.C. Gilbert, so the catalogs are about all that is left.  Those catalogs, however, are not as precise as one would wish them to be and a few complications ensued in how to organize the index around them.

The first problem is the lack of identification of set contents by item number.  In many cases I assumed that the identical items offered for separate sale in the same catalog would be in the contents.   In many cases I was wrong and only realized this when an identical car with a different catalog number showed up, usually in a photo provided by Daryl Olszeski.   In cases where the identifications in the catalogs were unclear, I referred to either the listings or the photos in the Klein book.  In some of these cases, Klein had gotten it right but in other cases, he too had made the same mistake I had.  I am sure this will be an ongoing problem for some time, but which will be corrected on a case by case basis.   If you have any information that conflicts with what I show on these pages, please bring it to my attention so that appropriate corrections can be made.   You can contact me at

The second problem came about through the 3 digit to 5 digit numbering change that took place around 1957.  The items cataloged that year and in some subsequent years are cataloged as 5 digit items, but illustrated with 3 digit items.   In some cases, the 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 other cases, the 3 digit item used to illustrate the item cataloged as a 5 digit item was never cataloged itself as a three digit item.  To solve this problem, I combined both the 3 digit and 5 digit item together on one page which appears twice, once in sequence with the 3 digit items and again in sequence with the 5 digit items.

One final problem 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 roadname, in an illustration of a set that actually contained a 31031 steam switcher, and a 31013 illustrating a listing for a 31021 industrial switcher.   While I did do some retouching of the catalog images used as illustrations, it was only to cut out extraneous material from other listings.  I did not mix up any of the illustrations and advertising copy from the catalogs.   That was strictly the work of the catalog editiors at Gilbert, who figured it was probably close enough to use a handy and accessible illustration instead.

With this said, use the index as a guide for a tour of Gilbert HO production.  At various places you will find links to the old catalogs.  If you find any errors, please let me know.

Dale Smith