Flyer prewar O gauge diecast passenger cars

I recently acquired a three-car set of American Flyer prewar O gauge diecast passenger cars, a 521 Club Car and a pair of 524 Pullmans. From the Greenberg Flyer Prewar O Gauge book by Schuweiler these were produced 1939-41 as the start of the new 3/16" scale line of rolling stock embarked upon by new owners A.C. Gilbert Co. After World War II this product line would be retooled as S gauge. So basically these cars are S gauge bodies on O gauge trucks. Despite their relatively compact size (12" long), these things are heavy! 1 pound, 14 oz. as compared to a much larger Lionel Madison heavyweight passenger car at 1 pound 10 oz. They're beautifully proportioned and have a unique look to them. They have spring-loaded opening vestibule doors, and neat-looking window shade inserts. They also have an interesting coupler system which looks really bulky when you see one exposed, but the cars couple together quite closely making for a good looking train.

I put them on the layout and tried pulling them with various engines, most of which just spun their wheels. A Lionel postwar 736 Berkshire with Magnetraction would do it, but just barely. With their relatively small wheels and slightly narrower wheel spacing, they're not exactly "free rolling". Now I'm curious to see what Flyer engines of the same period will actually pull these things! In the same era Flyer also produced a series of sheet metal passenger cars, they also had 6-wheel trucks and similar proportions. That series featured a nice-looking No. 497 open platform observation car. 

The cars are in nice condition, although there are two journal box covers missing; does anyone know if these were common to other Flyer cars (e.g. postwar S gauge) ? Also on the Club Car, one of the baggage doors has fallen inside. Turning the car over, the underframe and body are not joined together with screws, but rather with peened-over studs, so taking the body off to fix the door looks to be a bit more involved.

Flyer 1939-41 diecast passenger cars 521-524 2Flyer 1939-41 diecast passenger cars 521-524 3Flyer 1939-41 diecast passenger cars 521-524 4Flyer 1939-41 diecast passenger cars 521-524 5Flyer 1939-41 diecast passenger cars 521-524 6Flyer 1939-41 diecast passenger cars 521-524

 

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that is a beautiful set.  i only have a small collection of the diecast freight cars... only 4wh and no pickup and even they are VERY difficult to pull.  you might want to check the squareness of the frames.  these cars can apparently warp simply by sitting on their trucks.  i have seen many freight cars with a visible concave shape to the frame.

the #500 series larger engines were heavy enough to pull these cars.  i would think the 4-8-4 would have likely been paired up with their longest passenger sets which were probably no more than 3-4 cars.  to make these cars run well would probably take an overhaul of the trucks that would destroy the collector's value.

Some of the larger 3/16" engines had worm drive motors and vulcanized traction tires. They were bonded to the wheels and could not come off. AF called these pullmor power in the post war era.

When Lionel bought what was left of AF, they took the name, changed it to Pulmore and used it for their open frame, series wound AC/DC universal motors.

RoyBoy

Those are nice looking passenger cars in great condition! Gilbert sold those passenger cars in sets pulled by a 561 Pacific, a 570 Hudson or a 571 Northern. All these engines are diecast. Only 2 of the heavy weight cars were included in a set, the other cars were the light sheetmetal design. Postwar these cars were made in bakelite, and in later years a lighter plastic.

Tom

Finding those Flyer diecast passenger cars that are undamaged (no zinc pest/frame and/or body warping, no missing steps, lettering not rubbed off) is quite a nice trick. I'd scrub the axles and wheels thoroughly and then use some Marvel Mystery Oil to lube them up. The cars are hefty and without traction tires on the loco you're constrained to short consists (and don't forget that the Flyer 3/16ths O locomotives lug diecast tenders, some with chugger mechanisms adding additional weight and slider shoe pickups to add to the drag). My friend Art Shifrin loved the 3/16ths O Flyer trains and had a machinist mill out grooves so he could add traction tires to his Flyer engines. Adding the large stack postwar motor to a 572/570/561 would add some horsepower as well. Here's one of Art's creations:

 

 

These cars came in sets of various forms (3 car all Heavy weights, 4 car 2 sheet metal-2 die cast HW, 3 car 2sheet metal - 1 die cast HW) from 1938-1942. I dont know that much about them as far as variations go.  They were pulled by K5s, Hudsons and Challengers (Northerns) all 3 number 500 series locos. e.g.- 559 & 561 K5s,  564 & 532 Hudson, 568 & 534 Northerns.  Ive found that properly lubed these run quite smoothly despite the heavy weight of them.

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

Greg J. Turinetti posted:

This is the 561 

 

 

And here is the 570.

Mine came in a set with the tuscan sheet metal cars.

 

I don't have 571 in the collection.

Congratulations on acquiring a beautiful set of the diecast cars.

Northwoods Flyer

Greg

Greg- thanks for posting the photos of these engines- I'm definitely going to have to find one of those 570 Northerns, very nice!

And thanks also to everyone else for their replies on this topic, great info.

And in case you haven't seen them, the Eli Whitney Museum has all of the Gilbert catalogs scanned and available online in high res: https://www.eliwhitney.org/catalog7/content/welcome

Looking through the 1939 catalog again just now returns me to my question about how to separate the floor from the body in the diecast coaches. I see they were also available as kits; has anyone ever seen a diecast passenger car kit unassembled? Presumably the instructions to the kit builder for attaching the floors were to peen over the studs once you had the floor in place.

American Flyer Trains 1939, page 24American Flyer Trains 1939, page 25American Flyer Trains 1939, page 31 

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RoyBoy posted:

Some of the larger 3/16" engines had worm drive motors and vulcanized traction tires. They were bonded to the wheels and could not come off. AF called these pullmor power in the post war era.

When Lionel bought what was left of AF, they took the name, changed it to Pulmore and used it for their open frame, series wound AC/DC universal motors.

That is the key the RDC engines had tires

Dennis Holler If its old and broke, I like it

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FRENCHTRAINSSummerdale JunctionSteve SteamerGreg J. Turinettioverlandflyer


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