The Gilbert American Flyer HO Index

What's New  

1/3/2024 - I added pages to cover 3 new cars that were brought to my attention by Lonny and Paul Beno.  They consist of a paint sample of a planned lighted version of the Sunset Limited observation car as well as two very nicely done reproductions of lighted Sunset Limited dome and observation cars.   For the paint sample, click here and for the reproduction cars, click here.

5/2/2023 - I added photos of a fantasy HO Washington set I saw at the Flyernut meeting at York in 2014.  Gilbert, of course, never made an HO version of the S Gauge Washington set.

5/2/2023 - I added photos of a fantasy HO Washington set I saw at the Flyernut meeting in York in 2014.  Gilbert, of course, never made an HO version of this S Gauge set. I added a new photo and discussion of the truck insulation on the 133 and 135 cars.  These cars had a unique fiber insulating strip in the coupler arm which enabled these cars to be illuminated, solving a short circuit throught the coupler problem that had resulted in the predecessor cars from 1940-1941 (121 and 122) being non-illuminated.  Click here to go to the 133 listing

4/7/2023 - I just got a new photo of a very hard to find car, the 33536 Pennsy Flat Car with stakes.   It is especially hard to find with the stakes.   Daryl Olszeski just sent me a really great photo of a car he had been looking for for a long time complete with stakes.  Click her to see it.

10/16/2022 - After some discussions on the VintageHO group on concerning the possibility that the Gilbert/Tyco hybrid cars marketed by Tyco may have continued in production in 1960 with Santa Fe and New Haven road names added, I revised that section.  I don't think it is likely, but some custom decorated models may have been produced for the photo shoot for the 1960 catalogs.

8/16/2020- Bill Cucchi has added a few more uncataloged set photos.  We now have another un-numbered set as well as photos of the 30067 set  Bill also provided new photos of the 30110 Cities Service Set and the 30115 Sohio set.  He also gave me additional photos of a 446 locomotive in packaging labeled as both 446 and 31006.

6/15/2020- Bill Cucchi has provided photos of another uncataloged set, the 30058, which has now been added to the website.  In addition, he has provided new photos of the 30057 and 30111 sets.

1/20/2019 - The website now has been modified to use simplified dropdown menus, which should make finding things a lot easier.  It also minimizes the space on the screen taken up by menus, allowing you to see more of the content instead.  This should be especially helpful if you access this site on your mobile device.  I hope you find this a help in navigating the site.

8/6/2017 - Bill Cucchi recently provided me with some excellent photos of the set box contents of many of the cataloged HO sets, which have been added to the Sets section.  He also gave me photos of some variations of Pikemaster era cars, which I have also incorporated into the listings.  He is also helping me fill in the gaps where photos of the items were lacking.  

4/16/2017 - I have added a section about the authenticity issues involving Gilbert Tru-Scale cars.  Click here to read it.

4/10/2017 - I have added information about a variation of the 33509 Riss Piggyback car.  Several examples have shown up with a Riss trailer and non-operating mount on a 33555 Illinois Central flatcar, which normally is a multipurpose car.  The information is on the 33509 page with a link from the 33555 page.

4/5/2017 - Joe King's reproductions and fantasy items can now be viewed in a slide show complete with captions describing the items.  Also, the 35105 (105) pages have been expanded to include photos of a sample version of the maintenance car.  Included is a photo of the underside showing the power unit.

3/25/2017 - Thanks to Bill Cucchi, I was able to add photos of many uncataloged sets as well as one new item on the "Unusual Items and Production Prototypes" section.  I have even redesigned that last section to include a page for each item as I was getting too many items for it to be manageable on one page.  Joe King has also given me some new photos of some of his reproductions so I will be adding to that section shortly.

3/13/2017 - First an update on two items mentioned below.  The section on distinguishing Pikemaster F3's from Marx F3's was completed some time ago.  You will find it by clicking here.  I am still seeking information on the origins of Gilbert Pikemaster HO track.  We have all seen the "Made in Japan" stamp on the bottom, but beyond that little is known.  I have found some indications that the source was Daimaru, which was a retail outlet in Japan.  In Japan many retail outlets such as Daimaru also controlled the manufacturing side of the supply chain so it is possible that they made the track.  If you have any information on this, please let me know at

Most recently though, I have been able to add several photos of some items, thanks to Joe King, Bob Bretch and Bill Cucchi.   You will now find an illustration of the number HO-12 tunnel.  The only accessory not illustrated with a photo is now the HO-13 curved tunnel, which is extremely rare.  The 30440 set from 1958 has been rumored to be non-existent, but thanks to Bill Cucci and Bob Bretch, I now have photos of two different examples of the 30440 set in factory packaging.  I have also made some modifications to the 31006 page and added some remarks based on having seen other examples of this locomotive.  I have also added more descriptive information and catalog links to the pages covering the "Flyer style" track offered in 1950.  Finally, I have expanded the pages covering the 30110 (Cities Service) and 30115 (Sohio) uncataloged sets by adding illustrations of the set boxes.  The Cities Service box photo shows the contents.

4/28/2016 - A lot of information has been added since the last entry below, including new sections on Gilbert Imitators and Gilbert Reproductions.  In addition, more information on variations, particularly as to the 433, 443, 446, and 31039  locomotives.   There is also a new section on uncataloged sets.  Currently in the works are pages on how to distinguish Pikemaster F3's, hoppers, and gondolas from similar Marx products, and a page on the origins of Gilbert Pikemaster HO track.   i also hope to have more illustrations of some of the rarer items, so keep coming back for new items.

5/1/2015 - The website is now "Mobile Friendly," which means it should flow better with larger type on small devices, such as smartphones and tablets.  Let me know what you think.

3/4/2015 - Since I last updated this page, I have added some more variations of cars and locomotives.  Included are the Monsanto tank car, listed under Unusual Items & Production Prototypes, several early 3 digit cars with silver "Gilbert" stamping on the bottom, as well as thick step variations found on late 3 digit cars.  I have also documented the packaging of the 151 smoke in tender locomotives which were marked on the bottom to indicate whether they had a piston or bellows smoke unit.

The biggest change, however, is a new index that enables you to switch from one category to another or from the numerical indexes to type indexes quickly without returning to the home page to select another index.  If you like things the way they are, the old indexes are still available.   I urge you to give the new indexes a try, though.  You might like them.  I think they make browsing through the items easier.  The new indexes are not included in the frames version of the website as you can already change indexes quickly with that format.  The trade off for that convenience in that format, though, is the smaller viewing window. 

1/2/2015 - Needless to say, I have been a bit remiss in the frequency of updates to this page.   No major changes have occurred since I migrated the website to a new non frames format for the reasons noted below.   That's about to change as I am embarking on a project to document as many variations of the Gilbert HO items as I can.  Fortunately, I have help from collectors Dom San Giovanni and Rick Tonet who are providing photos of many of these items.

The frames format is still available, but I sometimes miss updating the links on the pages that are only used for the frames format.   I will try to keep the two versions up to date, but if you want to be sure to catch the latest changes, use the new format.  If you are still using the frames version, be sure to use only the "Home" link in the header.  If you use "Home" links that appear in the main window, you will see the non-frames home page in your viewing window, which could get confusing.  If you do hit the wrong "Home" link, the fix is easy, just hit the one in the header.

11/9/2011 - Say goodbye to the old frames style format for the website!  Instead of viewing three windows in one when you log on to the website, you will see only one page which contains everything you need to navigate the site.  The advantage of this new format is improved performance on mobile devices using touch screens.   I recently bought a Barnes & Noble Nook and found that it was difficult to move from one side of the page to the other because the device thought the entire page was within the screen, when only one of the frames was.    Other advantages are a larger display window for the content and better caching of content by web search engines.   One final point is that if you prefer the old frames style of viewing the website it is still available simply by adding " /f " after the website url, as in

5/16/2010 - A new link to Gilbert American Flyer HO repair diagrams at has been added and a new article has been created discussing the absence of Gilbert American Flyer HO in the years from 1951-1954.

4/15/2010 - A new index to sets by set number has been added.  It is accessed through a new link in the header.  This index also lists the set name in the far right column, which is exposed by dragging the frame border to the right.

4/5/2010 - The color scheme of the website has been changed from the blue-yellow that was more typical of American Flyer S gauge merchandising to the Maroon/red-grey-white that were the colors most of us associate with Gilbert HO of the 1950's.   I hope you all like the new colors.   Also, the photo coverage of the "virtual sets" is now complete for all years.   For the 1957 sets, where both Varney and Gilbert Versions of cars exist, I have included photos of both versions in the "virtual sets."  If anyone can provide information as to which car versions were actually included in the sets for that year, it would be greatly appreciated.

1/29/2010 - Paul Beno has provided photos of some of the harder to find items, including the 31006, the Tru Scale Cars, and the Sohio tank car. 

1/28/2010 - Photos of set contents for 1960 thru 1963 have been added.   Photo coverage of these "virtual sets" is now complete from 1955 - 1963 except for a few missing item photos and the photos for the 1957 sets which will be added once I can determine whether Gilbert or Varney cars were generally included in these sets.

1/20/2010 - Thanks to Gary Klein, the website now includes photos and coverage of several uncataloged items that were previously absent.   The new items are Northern Pacific passenger cars C-1002 thru C-1004, Diesel Locomotives L-1001 and L-1002, two hoppers, C-1006 and C-1007, and the 33006 Great Northern Stock Car.  Also, set contents photos have been updated for 1958 sets though we still need photos of some of the items in those sets.

1/18/2010 - Photos from the collection of Gary Klein, author of "Gilbert American Flyer HO - 1948-1963" have been added.   Many of these are from the prewar era, a period for which we previously had few photos.

1/16/2010 - Photos of set contents for 1959 have been added.   That means that the photos of set contents for the years 1955, 1956 and 1959 are now complete.

1/13/2010 - Track, Power Equipment, and Maintenance Items have been added to the website.  Contributions of photos from your collection would be appreciated, especially for items for which we have no photo illustration.

1/10/2010 - Accessories have been added to the website complete with catalog illustrations and photos of Daryl Olszeski's collection.   A final section covering track and power equipment will be added later, which will also be illustrated with both catalog images and photos of the items.