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How many Aerotrains did American Hi-Rail manufacture and did they appear in magazine ads?

Makes one wonder why Gilbert didn't consider adding it to their American Flyer line.  Ditto with the Alco RSD-7 which was only produced in HO scale.  I call this Gilbert's Big Blunder because had it been offered in S gauge it would have been perfect competition to go up against Lionel's O gauge Fairbanks-Morse Trainmaster.

Say what you want, but the GM Aerotrain was indeed, a Clean Machine for it's time.

Joe

How many Aerotrains did American Hi-Rail manufacture and did they appear in magazine ads?

Unknown and no, but it would have been small quantities.

Tom didn't advertise, although would get mentions in the S Gaugian or NASG Dispatch from time to time.  He made his products when he wasn't working as a private pilot.  He was point of sale at swaps and S Fests.  His powered stuff was mostly BTO, although he would usually make an extra or two.  He also made various locomotive bodies and rolling stock.

Rusty

It would have been a horrible decision for Gilbert to produce this set. A too limited appeal and lack of dual service for play value would have been a sales disaster.  An RS design was likely too narrow for the drive used at the time. More likely candidates might have been a Trainmaster, RDC, Alco DL600 or a low nosed GE or GM unit. All were capable of using the diesel drive of the time and could have been made in various roadnames.

@richabr posted:

It would have been a horrible decision for Gilbert to produce this set. A too limited appeal and lack of dual service for play value would have been a sales disaster.  An RS design was likely too narrow for the drive used at the time. More likely candidates might have been a Trainmaster, RDC, Alco DL600 or a low nosed GE or GM unit. All were capable of using the diesel drive of the time and could have been made in various roadnames.

The RSD-7 wouldn't have been that bad a choice.  Gilbert did the GP7 after all.  It would've been the same basic design: PA motor block under the cab, non-powered truck under the long hood. Just add different sideframes.  It wouldn't have looked any worse than the stretched Blomberg sideframes the GP7 used.

Three roads along bought the RSD-7, with the Alco Demonstrators, all marketable in the 50's: Santa Fe, C&O and Pennsy.

And they could have "stretched the truth" and toss in roads that bought the externally similar RSD-15: DM&IR, Cotton Belt and Southern Pacific.  After all, how many prototype Santa Fe blue and yellow freight PA's were there?

Rusty

@richabr posted:

It would have been a horrible decision for Gilbert to produce this set. A too limited appeal and lack of dual service for play value would have been a sales disaster.  An RS design was likely too narrow for the drive used at the time. More likely candidates might have been a Trainmaster, RDC, Alco DL600 or a low nosed GE or GM unit. All were capable of using the diesel drive of the time and could have been made in various roadnames.

I don't know about that.  Lots of one-off models have been made multiple times and been very successful, consider the PRR S2 Turbine #6200 made by everyone under the sun in every scale imaginable!  There was exactly one prototype, not exactly a super successful design!

I've wanted an Aerotrain ever since I saw Tom Hodgson's version years ago, but never got a chance to buy one.  As to other things Gilbert "should have done" is the RDC.  Classic Toy Trains did an article years ago on a prototype that was made as a proposal.  It exists in a private collection, and was simply a streamline car with ends from the New Haven car attached.  It was powered by a Baldwin power truck.  I scratch built a "what if" of the RDC that Gilbert could have made, and I think it came out well.   I even used Gilbert window silhouettes to complete the project.  I think it would have sold well...

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Jerry did a great job on his RDC.

I've got a pair of American HiRail clones of the Athearn HO ones.  They were BTO's, unlettered with scale wheels.  Both are powered with AHR's motor block.  I think they 1/2 of the scale wheel production RDC's.

They came without couplers or any way of mounting them.  I rigged up brackets for AM's Snap-Lock couplers as I usually ran them as a pair.

Rusty

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Jerry did a great job on his RDC.

I've got a pair of American HiRail clones of the Athearn HO ones.  They were BTO's, unlettered with scale wheels.  Both are powered with AHR's motor block.  I think they 1/2 of the scale wheel production RDC's.

They came without couplers or any way of mounting them.  I rigged up brackets for AM's Snap-Lock couplers as I usually ran them as a pair.

Rusty

Did they come as a pair? I have the powered unit but not its companion

Jerry did a great job on his RDC.

I've got a pair of American HiRail clones of the Athearn HO ones.  They were BTO's, unlettered with scale wheels.  Both are powered with AHR's motor block.  I think they 1/2 of the scale wheel production RDC's.

They came without couplers or any way of mounting them.  I rigged up brackets for AM's Snap-Lock couplers as I usually ran them as a pair.

Rusty

This is my one, 1904, did they make multiple numbered units of each or just two? If only two which one am I missing and I guess they are like hens teeth to find.

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@Ukaflyer posted:

This is my one, 1904, did they make multiple numbered units of each or just two? If only two which one am I missing and I guess they are like hens teeth to find.

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Don't know.  I ordered mine unlettered and eventually decaled them for my own railroad.  I initially received two RDC-1's instead of the 1 and 3 that I ordered.  It was over a year before I was able to exchange the erroneous RDC-1 for the RDC-3.

Rusty

@Ukaflyer posted:

That’s interesting because looking at the box it is in shows a pencilled marking as below.

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Don't forget.  Tom Hodgson was doing this on the side. He w as a one man band when he wasn't working at his real job.  I recall he used a simple receipt pad for orders.  He made a mistake with mine and corrected it.

Mine are buried in a tote so I can't check what my boxes say.  I think I have two in one box, though.

Rusty

Don't forget.  Tom Hodgson was doing this on the side. He w as a one man band when he wasn't working at his real job.  I recall he used a simple receipt pad for orders.  He made a mistake with mine and corrected it.

Mine are buried in a tote so I can't check what my boxes say.  I think I have two in one box, though.

Rusty

That’s OK, i did know that Tom was a pilot and this was a hobby industry on top of his day job. I just feel privileged to have this and a heavyweight car from his work over the years. I just need to find a #1 RDC now

Jerry did a great job on his RDC.

I've got a pair of American HiRail clones of the Athearn HO ones.  They were BTO's, unlettered with scale wheels.  Both are powered with AHR's motor block.  I think they 1/2 of the scale wheel production RDC's.

They came without couplers or any way of mounting them.  I rigged up brackets for AM's Snap-Lock couplers as I usually ran them as a pair.

Rusty

I had a Pennsylvania Heritage Models Reading RDC once upon a time.  As a model, I was pleased, but it didn’t like AM turnouts and the sideframes fell off. I returned it and used the money to buy an Epiphone Casino.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Jerry, I really like this. Could you take the shell off and show a photo of how you configured it inside?

Thanks

Bill,

I made this car 20 years ago!  It still runs great.  I bought a AM RS-3 chassis, lengthened it and used the AM reverse unit.  I had to extend one driveshaft using a long brass tube.  It has bi-color LEDs in the marker light position and interior lights with directional headlights.  I have no good photos of the interior, but given some time, I could take the shell off and post them some day.  It was the shell that was completely scratched built from styrene shapes.  It was featured in the March/April 2000 S Gaugian.

I'd answer Bill off list, but can't find a way.  Sorry, guys...

Here's another Thank You Jerry, for sharing your building skills with the rest of us!

That's what makes this forum so fantastic and why I intend to keep my subscription to O Gauge Railroading active until I join the rest of the gang who have departed, and are now playing train in the Roundhouse in the Sky, just beyond the Big Rock Candy Mountains!

This is yet another reason why model railroading is called The World's Greatest Hobby!

Joe

American Models: Take note and why not take a survey to see how much interest there is in producing an Aerotrain, Pioneer/ Yankee Zephyr, and RDC?

Joe

One thing I've observed about American Models over the past 36 years is that Ron marches to the sound of his own drum.  It's apparently served him well.

Back in 1984, AM attended TrainFest in Milwaukee.  I talked with Ron a bit and suggested he make a caboose, which wasn't in his line at the time.  His answer was: "Yeah, everyone wants me to make a caboose, but I think I'll do a tank car first."  Well, the caboose (bay window) didn't come until 1990, and that was with the financial assistance (prodding) of a New Jersey club.  The wood caboose came 10 years later.

And the tank car? 1996...

I'm sure he's been hit with requests for SD40's, more modern rolling stock, reruns of the SD60's and other ideas over the years.

Rusty

American Models: Take note and why not take a survey to see how much interest there is in producing an Aerotrain, Pioneer/ Yankee Zephyr, and RDC?

Joe

Other than new tenders for their Pacifics which have been delayed almost 2 years now, Ron has demonstrated no real interest in producing anything new in many years. A new paint scheme here and there on an existing product, but not any altogether new rolling stock or motive power. In Bill's interview a couple years ago, he mentioned having new things in the works, but all we have seen since is the aforementioned tenders and a few new paint schemes.  I haven't heard him say this, but from all the clues, I believe Ron is very comfortable doing what he is doing and doesn't feel compelled to start new projects. The added difficulty he has had since COVID of getting his orders delivered from China, has likely furthered this view.

Thanks Chuck for posting the rest of the story regarding American Models.

Like it or not, it appears that COVID will continue to dominate the media as well as the model railroad industry for the forseeable future.

Then there's MTH, but that's another story altogether.

Joe

MTH has essentially left the building.  Once the F7's and EMD switchers come in, they're done.  I'm given to understand the cabooses and boxcars in the 2019 catalog were cancelled.  Probably to open up slots for their swan song O gauge production.

So now we wait to see how Scale Trains handles S:

Rusty

Subject: Scale Trains S scale production plan:

What to do?  For beginnings, perhaps a man can hold his breath, eat a jumbo bag of popcorn, take a dip in the Fountain of Youth, or sing, "When you wish upon a star"...?

Personally, I'm betting that Scale Trains will come through sooner than anyone expects they will.  Afterall, the ink hasn't even had time to dry on the sales contract yet.

Joe

Subject: Scale Trains S scale production plan:

What to do?  For beginnings, perhaps a man can hold his breath, eat a jumbo bag of popcorn, take a dip in the Fountain of Youth, or sing, "When you wish upon a star"...?

Personally, I'm betting that Scale Trains will come through sooner than anyone expects they will.  Afterall, the ink hasn't even had time to dry on the sales contract yet.

Joe

There's a built in 18-24 month delay because that's how long their current production schedule stretches out to.  Scale Trains will also be evaluating all of the MTH HO tooling.

I've worked during my career for several companies either directly or indirectly integrating acquired products into the fold.  It's never easy and takes more time than imagined.

Rusty

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