Gilbert American Flyer
I Have been collecting Gilbert
American Flyer Electric Trains since 1951

when I received my first set. It was a 302AC with

smoke and choo-choo, a red reefer, gray hopper and red
caboose. I was excited since the set was uncataloged
and the Atlantic engine had the smoke feature!
A year later, my dad and I searched
out the “returns” section of a local
department store (Edwards)

and found a 342 with

the wires between
the tender
and the engine that
were severed. We bought
it for $10. That was my first repair job!


I became a “serious” collector soon after my daughter
Audrey was born in 1970. I added a 293 Pacific
and later a 336, 4-8-4 Northern to my
steam consist. When I sold my
collection, keeping only

the trains I had as


a child and the Sante
Fe diesel. I had over 60 steam
engines, 25 diesels 70 passenger cars,
250 freight cars, and 180 accessories. As with any collecting
hobby, some participants treat it purely as an investment activity.
I was disillusioned by the cutthroat nature of the train
dealers when I decided to sell one engine to
finance a new video camera.
It was no longer
fun, so I sold the
whole thing.


Today I have a layout of modest size with two
levels. It’s modeled after the picture in the Gilbert
“Pike Planner” Booklet. I can run 3 trains at the same
time on three different loops. I kept the oil drum loader, seaboard
coaler, log loader, cattle loader and electromagnetic crane accessories.
These are the fun things! I believe that collecting and
operating trains is a hobby to be shared freely
with others who have the same
interest. While my book is
for sale, I offer free
help to those who need just a word of advice or encouragement.
My reward is the letters of thanks AF operators send to me for
writing the book and helping them to get back on the right track.
If you have a question on Gilbert American Flyer repair or operation,
ask away in the space provided below. Please provide your e-mail
address so I can answer you. If you need a length
of nichrome wire, send a self addressed
stamped envelope to
1223 Lake Point Dr.
Webster, NY 14580.

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Tom Barker

updated September 29, 2012

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