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Since posting about my repair and slight restoration of a 1680 Hudson from 1938 raised a  number of questions about the American Flyer Hudsons, I thought I would post the differing variations of these engines.

The engines pictures are 100% original, with the exception of leading and trailing wheels and the picture of the 1938-1939 motor, which has 2 new drive wheels.

The 1680 was introduced in 1936 and that version features a number of differences from the later versions

The 1936 version features the streamline tender with whistle.  This is the only version that features the whistle, due to a patent infringement lawsuit raised by Lionel.  However, there are some other minor differences as well.

Note the unusually long and oddly shaped drawbar on the tender.  This drawbar is correct for the Hudson only, as the 1936 Hudson tender attaches to the trailing truck.

Note the 1936 trailing truck features a pin extending upward near the center top of the truck.  This is where the tender attaches.  Additionally, note the trailing truck features 2 wheels only.  The forward journal box is for decoration only and like the Hiawatha truck, does not feature a hole for an axle in this position.

Also note the short rim/flange on the drive wheel.  The short rim/flange drive wheels are 1936 versions only (for Hudson, Hiawatha, UP City of Denver, and other locomotives with the tall drive wheels).

The 1937 Hudson got a new cast aluminum tender with coal load, tall rim drivers, and 4 wheel trailing trucks.

Note the green stripe on the tender.  The tender lettering is the main method of dating the tenders.  1937 only gets the green stripe decal.

Note both the 1936 and 1937 versions have gray cab windows.

The tender has a more normal looking drawbar that connects to the rear of the cab.

Since 1938 marks a number of changes, including ownership of the company, it should be noted that the motors change slightly between the 1936-37 versions and 1938-39 versions.  Below is a 1936-1937 type motor.

Note the rear of this motor is clean with no attachments.  The reverse unit for the 1936-37 motors are a pendulum type reverse unit, which has a lockout that slides up and down, between the rear and middle drive wheel, a moveable pendulum at the top of the field at the center, and an attached pendulum at the front of the motor, contained in the box attached to the front of the motor.

The 1938-1939 motor is pictured below

Note the 1938-1939 motor still has the box at the front, where the pendulum reverse unit would be on the earlier motors, but it no longer has a mechanism.  The reverse unit is now attached to the rear of the motor.  This is a 1939 model, which has a lockout that is below the unit and sticks out the side of the body.  The nickel plated bracket below the reverse unit is the bracket that holds the motor into the body and essentially requires removal to get the motor out of the body.

The following is my 1680 Hudson that came with my 4 chrome cars.

Note the engine has a 1680 decal below the cab window, instead of the American Flyer decal found on earlier versions.  The cab window is red in 1938, instead of the gray color of the earlier versions.  The drive wheels also have a white stripe.  Additionally, all of the trim is painted black.  I noted that the bell on this engine is black below, so I suspect that someone cleaned the paint off of it at some point in its past.

Note the 1938 tender has white lettering on it.  This lettering is a decal with a clear background and white letters.

Below is the 1939 version

Note the 1939 version is all black, with no coloring to the cab window or white stripe along the cat walk.  The engine is also now lettered 447, with silver rubber stamping, instead of a decal.

The tender also receives silver rubber stamped lettering in 1939.

The only other thing that is different between the 1938 and 1939 versions, is that there are now either freight tenders or passenger tenders, as Gilbert began changing the couplers used on freight cars, first to a sheetmetal type knuckle coupler in 1938 and then to the link couplers in 1939.

Hope this helps to clarify the differences between the various 1680 - 447 Hudsons.

NWL

Last edited by Nation Wide Lines
Original Post

I noted something else different about the early versus late motors.  Note the location of the firebox (red light).  The early version has the firebox light attached to the platform in the cab that the cab weights are mounted to and the light points down.  The late version has the light mounted to the bracket that holds the motor in place and the light points to the rear.  The difference appears to be necessary due to the late reverse mechanism that would take up the area occupied by the light on the early version of the motor.

NWL

 Interesting that some tenders were diecast aluminum, instead of the usual zinc alloys often subject to crazing due to impurities. AF was apparently ahead of their game in that regard. 

 

Flyer prewar has very few items that were cast in aluminum.  Other than this tender, the most common would be the Zephyr, which was cast in two halves and then joined together (the roofs of these sets are polished to hide the joint).  Flyer also did the 9915 engine in aluminum and like the Zephyr it was cast in two halves and joined together, with a polished band down the top of the roof.  

The technology obviously was there for using aluminum as a casting material. Was it a matter of cost to use the problem-prone zinc alloys? Of course, aluminum would soon be increasingly utilized for military aircraft production.

 

Actually, the technology for aluminum casting was not quite advanced at that point, at least for the production of American Flyer trains.  I know that the Zephyr sets and 9915 engines were cast using sand casting molds, as opposed to dies.  Not sure about the tender bodies, but I suspect it was somewhat crude technology also.  

Nice write up!

One thing I'd like to add to your data is that in 1938 there were two different trim versions of the Hudson.

One has the blacked out hand railings and piping along the bottom (as correctly came with your 4 chrome cars in set #20)

The other version has copper piping and brass railing trim (Not "blacked out") and came with 4 red passenger cars, in a slightly cheaper set #17  ($6.00 less for red cars instead of chrome).

You can also see in the catalog picture that both versions are shown.  The trim difference is mentioned under the description for set #17.

This image is from the dealer catalog, fyi.  The consumer version does not mention it, but does show it in illustrations. Hard to say if Gilbert was religious about making sure the correctly trimmed loco was always put into the correct set or not, but both versions of this locomotive exist and I have seen examples of both sets that are catalog correct.

6751D718-55F4-4E84-B87D-F5622F6E6487

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@Ives1122 posted:

Nice write up!

One thing I'd like to add to your data is that in 1938 there were two different trim versions of the Hudson.

One has the blacked out hand railings and piping along the bottom (as correctly came with your 4 chrome cars in set #20)

The other version has copper piping and brass railing trim (Not "blacked out") and came with 4 red passenger cars, in a slightly cheaper set #17  ($6.00 less for red cars instead of chrome).

You can also see in the catalog picture that both versions are shown.  The trim difference is mentioned under the description for set #17.

This image is from the dealer catalog, fyi.  The consumer version does not mention it, but does show it in illustrations. Hard to say if Gilbert was religious about making sure the correctly trimmed loco was always put into the correct set or not, but both versions of this locomotive exist and I have seen examples of both sets that are catalog correct.

6751D718-55F4-4E84-B87D-F5622F6E6487

Thank you for the information.  I was unaware of this and had to get my 1938 catalog out to review, but do not have a dealer's catalog, where you have taken your information from.  I do see that the 1938 catalog image shows the freight set as having the copper/brass trim and the passenger set as having the blacked out trim.

A couple of questions for you, as you mention having seen both examples of the engines:

1) I cannot quite read the details of your image from the dealer's catalog, so what version of the engine is described as coming with the freight cars (copper trim or not)?

2) do both versions that you have seen, with the brass versus blacked out trim, have the 1680 decal?

3) if not, does the version with the copper/brass trim simply use a left-over earlier version of the engine that has the older style motor/reverse unit?

4) how was the tender decorated?

I ask, because I have always wondered why the Hudsons with the 1680 decal are so difficult to find and did recently purchase a 4 car Hudson set with red enamel cars, which would be from 1938 and I thought the engine was incorrect for the set, as it is the pre-Gilbert version of the engine, which has the older pendulum style reverse unit and the tender with the green stripe decal.  The set also came with individual boxes, with the red cars featuring the cowboy and indian decorated boxes and the engine featuring the older style Chicago era box (plain brown with top and bottom) and the tender coming with no box.

If the version that you observed was also the earlier style engine, this would make sense as Gilbert purchased American Flyer from W.O. Coleman in early 1938 and there certainly could have been leftover engines from the Coleman era.  I know that I have heard reports of set #12, the green streamline car set with 43224, as coming with both tender and cars in the pre-Gilbert type boxes, which would signify they were selling leftover inventory from Chicago.  If they had leftover cars from the pre-Gilbert Hudson sets, they certainly should have had leftover engines from these sets as well.

NWL

Last edited by Nation Wide Lines

 

A couple of questions for you, as you mention having seen both examples of the engines:

1) I cannot quite read the details of your image from the dealer's catalog, so what version of the engine is described as coming with the freight cars (copper trim or not)?

-There are no details given for the freight set.  This clip from the dealer catalog is the only place I have ever seen mention of the different locomotives.  Basically they were just describing what made the red set different than the chrome, so if you were a dealer looking to buy, I guess it answered the question about the price difference and what was included.

 

2) do both versions that you have seen, with the brass versus blacked out trim, have the 1680 decal?

3) if not, does the version with the copper/brass trim simply use a left-over earlier version of the engine that has the older style motor/reverse unit?

-Great questions that probably need further review to be answered properly.  At this point in time, I believe that the answer might be yes to all, in that you can find both decals and both motors if you look around long enough.  I would speculate that there were some  leftover locomotives used up (perhaps they repainted the window red in some cases???) as well as some new locomotives being made.  I unfortunately don't really collect these.... yet (LoL).  But I'm rather fascinated by Gilbert production of the leftover Chicago equipment.  Thus I don't have immediate access to sets to provide you with info as I haven't been visiting too many friends lately.   I think it's definitely important to keep in mind that collectors often swap pieces in and out of sets that may not be correct, so it becomes very hard to say what originally came in a set unless it has good provenance and some boxes.  To be honest, I didn't even realize there was a motor change on the Hudson until I read your post.

Obviously Gilbert recycled, changed, and reused items, as evident by some of the blue and light yellow six wheel truck streamliners being rebuilt from 4 wheel truck cars at the factory (you can see where the screw holes on the bottom were tapped/threaded for belly pans and paint disruption at those screw holes, along with  paint disruption at the truck mounting location for the old 4 wheel truck when it was moved inboard for the six wheel truck.  I can only assume they were using leftover motors, locos, and tenders in the same manner.  I don't believe any parts were getting thrown away or not used.

 

4) how was the tender decorated?

-I think both white lettering or green stripe lettering decals could both be correct in 1938, as leftovers were being used up.  I think it would be very unusual to ever find a green decal tender in the chrome set though, as this wouldn't look so good.  With the Chrome #20 set being top of the line, it probably was given the best/newest equipment and assembled with more attention to detail.

I ask, because I have always wondered why the Hudsons with the 1680 decal are so difficult to find and did recently purchase a 4 car Hudson set with red enamel cars, which would be from 1938 and I thought the engine was incorrect for the set, as it is the pre-Gilbert version of the engine, which has the older pendulum style reverse unit and the tender with the green stripe decal.  The set also came with individual boxes, with the red cars featuring the cowboy and indian decorated boxes and the engine featuring the older style Chicago era box (plain brown with top and bottom) and the tender coming with no box.

-I think your answer here is because it was only a one year production with the 1680 decal.  I feel like many of the 1938 locos / sets are harder to find correct, where someone hasn't messed with it, or repainted it because the decal flaked off.  Once again, I would bet that they used up everything they got from Chicago first and that in 1939 when everything went to flat black and rubber stamp lettering, they had more or less used up their stock of assembled locos or at least decorated shells that came from Chicago.

If the version that you observed was also the earlier style engine, this would make sense as Gilbert purchased American Flyer from W.O. Coleman in early 1938 and there certainly could have been leftover engines from the Coleman era.  I know that I have heard reports of set #12, the green streamline car set with 43224, as coming with both tender and cars in the pre-Gilbert type boxes, which would signify they were selling leftover inventory from Chicago.  If they had leftover cars from the pre-Gilbert Hudson sets, they certainly should have had leftover engines from these sets as well.

-Agree

-Another great thing to keep in mind is why did Gilbert create an all new tender in 1939 (433A).  Could it be that they were not producing / buying the large tender shell castings at all and thus didn't have enough in their stock that came from Chicago to keep supplying all the various locomotives?  Perhaps they needed to save their remaining large tender shells for the Hudsons in 1939.  The large Hudson body loco and tender disappeared after 1939, as 3/16 began to take over in 1940.

 

 

It's definitely fun to examine this era of production in detail.  I included a couple pics of assumed 1938 red window Hudsons without blacked out trim that I found from searching through past auctions, whatever that's worth.   . One has an AF decal and the other a 1680 decal.  It's always possible that a 1680 decaled red window loco could have a repro AF decal put on if the owner wanted to fix a flaked decal, without restoring the entire piece.

As soon as I can get eyes on some of the local sets I know about, I'll update with what I find.

88B6421E-6BA7-4F11-BF96-0FAE55C33C8B_1_201_a918F37A2-DE73-49FF-A3D0-456D000899B3_4_5005_c

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Last edited by Ives1122

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