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Catalog No. 443
Category Steam Locomotive
Description 4-6-4 Hudson NYC (DC)
Catalog References at 1955 1956

Smoke & Choo-Choo both with and without headlight.  Charles Sommer values the locomotive without headlight higher than the one with the headlight, based on his belief that the locomotive without the headlight is rarer.  Collector Dom San Giovanni has found that the locomotive without the headlight is more frequently found than the locomotive with the headlight, leading to the opposite conclusion.  Also, Dom has found unlighted 443's with 1956 date stamps in the boiler casting, which indicates that the unlighted version was not confined to 1955 as indicated in the Sommer guide.

At the 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. These plastic/aluminum driver 3 digit locomotives may either be a variation or the result of a hobbyist modification or repair depending on the date stamped inside the shell. The shells were not date stamped until used so shells with 1955 or 1956 dates are likely to be modifications or repairs, rather than variations. Late 1957 dates, such as September and October 1957, would indicate variations. 

Most plastic/aluminum driver 443's have Pull-mor drive wheels.

443nonlighteddo.jpg (165705 bytes)
Daryl Olszeski Collection

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