According to Charles Sommer's
American Flyer HO Price Guide and Checklist, the silver stamping on the
bottom identifies the unit as being from early 1955 production.
time of the transition of the entire American Flyer line from 3 digit to 5
digit numbering, there was also another transition going on in Gilbert HO
and that was the transition from cast drivers with the familiar white
sidewalls and steel rims to plastic drivers with cast aluminum rims. This
affected the 433, 443, and 446. In theory, these should all have had the
cast drivers with white sidewalls and steel rims, but numerous examples have
been found of 3 digit locomotives with plastic drivers and aluminum rims.
Given Gilbert's penchant for always attempting to utilize old stock before
producing new, this suggests that the factory may have run out of old
mechanisms before they ran out of shells. It could also indicate
that Gilbert was experimenting with chassis revisions.
to be 4 variations of this locomotive.
The first two
constituted the bulk of production and vary only in that the Type 1 has the
Gilbert stamp on the bottom and Type 2 does not. Type 2 is by
far the most common. Type 1 locomotives would be date stamped in 1955
and Type 2 in 1956 and early 1957.
The aluminum driver 433's are of
Type 3 has the old Gilbert motor, a slightly modified
chassis with "ears" beneath the motor mounting area, and aluminum rim
drivers on plastic wheels without Pull-mor. The rims have a tendency
to separate from the plastic wheels. Date stamps would be from late
1957 (October in examples found)
Type 4 has the new Pitman motor,
further chassis modifications under the motor mounting area, and aluminum
rim drivers on plastic wheels with Pull-mor tires on the geared axle wheels.
Date stamps are usually from late 1957 (October in examples found).
Recently, however, a type 4 locomotive has been found with a 1958 date
stamp, but the month is not readable.
the photo below for distinctions in the various types.
A 433 with plastic drivers and aluminum rims (Type 3) is also pictured below.
A photo of a Type 3 (based on appearance of motor in photo) can be found on page 242 of David Doyle's book "Standard
Catalog of American Flyer Trains." No mention is made in that book that this is a
Special thanks to Joe King and Dom San Giovanni for the
research to complete this page.