American Flyer Circus Flat Cars

Manufacturer:American Flyer
Manufacturer ID:643
Category:Flat Cars
Road Name:American Flyer Circus
Year Introduced:1950
The model in the back of the photo is the typical die-cast metal variation which Gilbert produced in 1950-51. In the front is a 1952 pressed wood variation. The pressed wood variation lacks the details such as steps and brackets on the side. The Korean War caused several material shortages, which created a challenge for Gilbert as their toy train line was in high demand. To solve some of the problems Gilbert turned to the use of pressed wood and/or Bakelite for the manufacture of certain flat cars. The substitution did create some issues, such as paint not adhering to the pressed wood and Bakelite bodies as seen in the photo. Once the paint chipped off it exposed either a black chassis typical of a car made of Bakelite, or a brown/tan chassis that is typical of the pressed wood version. There were only four cars produced by Gilbert using either pressed wood or Bakelite. The cars are as follows: 1952-53 #628 CNW flat car with a log load; 1952 #636 Erie/AFL flat car with a yellow cable reel load (wood); 1952 #643 American Flyer circus flat car with circus cages and tractor load (wood); 1952 #928 CNW flat car with a log load (Bakelite).
The second photo by John is the flat car with link couplers, manufactured for about two months in early 1950, then the design was changed. This version (Type A) held the load in place using riveted box car door guides instead of the later wooden blocks. John wrote about his find in the May 2014 issue of the S Say (Rocky Mountain Hi-railers newsletter), and in the November-December 2014 issue of the NASG's The Dispatch. These contain more photos. John has sold the car to another collector since taking the photo.
Photo #2
model owned by Ted Hamler
photo © Ted Hamler

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