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One of the Most Sought Out American Model Trains is the American Flyer

A large amount of those trains were the American Flyer brand. They were considered by many to be the top grade. Lionel and Marx had good trains, but the American Flyer was in a different class.

Once the American Flyer first appeared in 1908, it had been not the very best train set. The honor of number one belonged to the trains produced by Ives Manufacturing Company. William Coleman and his friend William Hafner pooled resources to start the toy train business, in Chicago, circa 1906. Hafner had developed the clockwork mechanism for the train, and Coleman had a tooling company for the production. The American Flyer name began to be well known because Hafner could contract with retailers like Montgomery Ward to transport it in their stores. In 1910, the tooling company changed its name to The American Flyer Company.

Eventually, Coleman and Hafner split ways over a disagreement, and the Flyer began to decline in market share. Coleman died in 1918, and his son, William O. Jr., took control. The worthiness of the company further decreased following the senior’s death. W. O. didn’t really care much for the toy train business.

In 1938, Coleman basically gave The American Flyer Company to his friend Alfred Carlton Gilbert. When A.C. took over, the Flyer started to gain momentum, probably due partly to Gilbert’s expertise in advertising. The company was moved from Chicago to New Haven, Connecticut, where in fact the trains were produced that collectors still seek today.

The 2nd World War curtailed production for the Flyer along with other toy makers, but it 1946 they were underway again. For two decades the American Flyer tried in vain to top Lionel for the marketplace, eventually bankrupting in 1967. Most of the models available to collectors were from the years following the war.

American Flyers are called S gauge, derived from sixty-forth, the ratio of the train fully size prototype. Alanis Morissette This is not the most popular size for model trains. The smaller HO scale is the most popular worldwide, but the S gauge still includes a following. One American company began due to inability of the owner to find quality parts for his personal American Flyer. American Models is producing its own rolling stock, tracks, and engines to greatly help preserve the Flyers that are still in operation.

Lionel collectors may say that the Flyer is second rate, but also for every one of them there seems to be another who feels the opposite. The best thing is that there still are lots of the old American model trains running the rails today. What would you like for Christmas?