model train set on track

American Flyer Prewar Accessories Series – Article 5 – No. 231 Coaling Station

e*Train Issue: Nov 2011   |   Posted in: ,

By Leon Sweet

The American Flyer #231 coaling station, which is a tin lithographed item, was introduced in 1935 and was included in cataloged sets of that year and uncataloged sets of 1936.  One interesting note about the coaling station is that it was never cataloged for separate sale and the only reference I have seen to its number of 231 is on the copy of the original operating instructions that I have.  This may also be the reason why it is not included in the “Greenberg’s Guide to American Flyer Wide Gauge” (and accessories).

Coal Loader Front
Coal Loader
Coal Loader Back
Coal Loader Side Closeup

The coaling station is very simple to assemble and operate, one just has to slide the legs in the slots on the side and put track through the legs to assemble it, and then pull the lever to release the chute.  The moveable portion of the roof (which coincidentally is the same piece of metal as a 500 series caboose cupola roof), slides to reveal an opening to which the unit can be loaded and the lever on the end releases the chute to unload it.

Coal Loader Variations

There are at least two variations of the coaling station that exist, with the differences being very minor.  One of the towers has an all black sliding roof portion; and the other has a black and yellow sliding roof portion; and one tower has a black chute and black lever; and the other has a red chute with unpainted nickel/chrome lever.

1935 Daniel Boone Set

In 1935 it was cataloged with the following sets:

  1. 1349-RT Daniel Boone, a freight set that included a 3313 locomotive and tender as well as 4 enameled 6.5 inch long 4 wheel freight cars.
  2. 961-T Coal Loader, a freight set that included an electric 614 engine, 121 tender, and three 500 series freight cars
  3. 831 Coal Loader, a freight set that included a windup engine, 119 tender, and three 500 series freight cars. 
1936 Uncataloged 7377 T Set

In 1936, two sets with the coal loader are shown in a catalog from the Levin Bros., of Terre Haute, Indiana.  The sets are as follows:

  1. N961-T Coal Loader, a freight set that included an electric 614 engine, 121 tender, and three 500 series freight cars
  2. N7377T Five Car Streamlined Coal Loader, a freight set that included the New York Central / Minnehaha one piece tin engine and tender combination, five 6.5 inch litho freights (1112 boxcar, two 1113 gondolas, 1106 log car, and 1114 caboose), a semaphore, and a warning sign.

I am also aware of the coaling station being included in a freight set similar to #2 of 1936, with the exception that it was sold with the smaller 500 series cars.  I am unsure of how many cars were included in this set or what year it was offered.