model train set on track

Thomas Ray Arden, Inventor

e*Train Issue: Jul 2012   |   Posted in: ,

By Leon Sweet
(Summer 2012)

Cover Photo: Popular Science May 1939
Read the full article here.

I discovered Thomas Ray Arden when researching Prewar American Flyer patents.  I was astounded when I read the biography for Mr. Arden and “Googled” patents attributed to him.  Although he is best known for his fuel powered airplane engines, he held hundreds of patents related to toys and other items.

My research was mainly related to American Flyer and I discovered that he held patents relating to a 1928 application for the motor used in the odd 1094/1096 engine that I wrote an article about.

See his patent of the motor here.

However, I also discovered that he had designed American Flyer’s toy typewriter in 1933, a clock operated circuit controller (not sure if it was produced), and a toy airplane that may have been the basis for American Flyer’s 1928 Empire Express plane.

See the patent of the typewriter here.  

See his toy airplane patent here.

Other patents I found associated with Mr. Arden included toy cranes for Chein Co, a gun site, an electric flashlight, a toy telephone for Chein, a toy airplane motor, a wire printing mechanism for IBM, a scalpel, an adjustable peep sight, a mechanical dancing toy for Louis Marx, a mechanical golf toy for Ferdinand Straus, a toy steam shovel for Buddy L, an airplane on a tower for Chein, a toy tambourine for Chein, a see-saw, a toy pop gun, a toy truck for Chein, and lastly in 1917 he patented a “Liquid Projecting Apparatus” or squirt gun.  If you would like to learn more about him, I suggest a Google Patent Search, with the keyword TR Arden or Thomas Arden.

This biography of Ray Arden is from the AMA History Program’s modeler history collection. See this and more on the AMA’s website at
“Used with permission”

Additional information from The Internet Craftsmanship Museum is available here.

“Here Arden is using a cathode-ray oscillograph to measure the efficiency of one of his power plants. Such tests have shown that his latest product, which weighs only an eighth of an ounce, is more efficient, for cubic inch of cylinder space, than the best modern two-cycle motor-boat engines!” Photo and text: Popular Science.