American Flyer Prewar 6.5 Inch Freight Cars Circa 1919
By Leon Sweet
American Flyer first introduced its 6.5 inch freight cars in their 1919 catalog. These new freight cars were sold in 3 sets that first year, Set 106; Set 115; and Set 116.
The cars were also available for individual purchase.
The most interesting item shown in the catalog artwork is the 1114/1117 caboose, which is shown as a caboose with no platforms on the end and includes the word “Caboose” in the lithograph. The early 1114/1117 caboose differs significantly from the later 1114/1117 cabooses, and while many might think that this is an artist drawing only, these early cabooses do exist.
Although difficult to tell from the black and white catalog artwork, the early 1112 and 1115 boxcars also differ from the later box cars.
The c. 1919 boxcar bodies, along with the c. 1919 caboose bodies, have holes in their sides near the top to accommodate reinforcing bars to keep the bodies spread apart, similar to the early passenger cars of the era.
Additionally, I noted that the c. 1919 boxcar bodies have unusual colors as compared to the later bodies. The 1112 American Flyer boxcar is most commonly found in red; however, the c. 1919 body is lithographed in orange.
In contrast, the 1115 American Flyer boxcar is most commonly found in orange; however, the early body that I have found with the slots for the reinforcing bars is lithographed in red with white lettering. This odd lithograph for the 1115 boxcar appears to have been re-issued in and around 1929-1930, as an orange boxcar with white lettering, as opposed to the more commonly found orange boxcar with black lettering.
Other than the color of the lettering, the actual lettering differs between the cars, which is how one knows it is a different lithograph plate.
The early caboose is only reported with the 1114 lettering and is not described in the “Greenberg’s Guide to American Flyer O gauge”. The body used on this caboose is the same body that is used for the 1112/1115 boxcars, as it is joined in the center of the end instead of on the corners of the ends.