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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I think it is time I pick up a guide for AF trains. I have heard of the Greenberg guide.
Which guide might be best for me. Some of the info I would like would be-
Years of production
A rarity rating
variations
A price range
And any other info that might be useful to me
Give me some suggestions on what you use.
Is a guide even important to have. It don't smoke, choo choo, or roll.
I would like the guide to include cars made by Lionel
From other hobbies I have done, guides tend to be a little high on prices.
Any and all responses are appreciated. LOL, do not hold back.
 

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The Greenberg Guides are cheap, the 2021 edition was just released. You should buy one. The pricing in them is only indicative of relative pricing between items and retail purchases at train shows. Mopac, so far you have not paid the Guide price for anything that has shown up in your mailbox.
The only book that has well researched rarity ratings was written by Bob Bubeck and Dave Garrigues. It is long out of print. Bob tells me the final updated version is still available from some sellers. I refer to mine frequently but I am purchasing high value items and so I need multiple checks on the true rarity and value of some of these items. For most of what you are purchasing the indicated pricing in the Greenberg book is fine, and it does list the variations that affect price.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info Tom. Every once in awhile I see items that I did not know existed.
A guide might help with them. The 801 B&O hopper was one I had never seen. I looked
on ebay and it looks like the 2021 Greenberg can be bought for around 22.00 plus shipping.
The Lionel cars are in there also?
 

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Mopac I have one of those 1946-2021 Greenberg price guides. Got it a couple of months ago. I paid $15.09 with tax from Kalmbach Publishing. Go to the CTT site, click on "Shop", then to the left a drop down box appears. Click on "Books". It looks like the price is a little more than I paid which was $14.20, now, $15.99. No shipping, at least not when I got mine. Beats the $22 plus shipping you were going to pay. It is good for price comparison for the manufactures Tom listed but not Gospel.
I just pulled my invoice out and it is dated April 29, 2020 so I got it farther back than I thought.

Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Kenny, I will look for one there. I am all about saving money.
 

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Mopac, I also use all the Greenberg's Guide to A.F. books although they are from 1997 and earlier and I use them for picture and description reference mostly. I do use the Greenburg pocket guide for current pricing. I found that David Doyle's 2007 " Standard catalog of American Flyer Trains has in it's listing a Scarcity reference as well. It is a little pricy though. Amazon has listed some of Bob Bubeck and Dave Garrigues 1946 - 2000 publications but I'm not sure which one's are best. The Gilbert Heritage publications can have some hidden comments and information on the trains which can at times be useful in searching items.

Building a broad reference library can be almost as much fun as collecting the trains. Just my penny's worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thanks guys for all the info on AF guides. From all my time on ebay I feel I have a good idea on prices. I don't buy high end cars. I use Gilbert Gallery for a decent reference of what year a car was made. I do not think Gilbert Gallery goes into variations well. Some but not anywhere near all. I kinda like that Lionel puts the year of production on the box and on the car. The rarity thing is what might interest me. Another thing that would interest me would be production numbers. That would go along with the rarity thing. No books for that though. Gilbert kept the production numbers to them selves. You would think some Gilbert exec would have done a book on numbers. Maybe they signed an oath in blood. I am thinking some of
the Gilbert items were made in the millions. Few items would be considered really rare. Maybe compared to a 630 caboose. Thanks again.
 

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Gilbert had accurate production records. They were destroyed during the bankruptcy process in 1967. There are some ballpark production run sizes from old interviews with Maury Roemer. I can go back and find those. Just based on the total Gilbert annual revenue it is likely nothing was ever made in the millions.
 

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Doc, I have a copy of Doyle's book. I think it is a good book, especially with the scarcity ratings listed. I also have a copy of "Gilbert American Flyer Factory Memos to All Service Station Technicians" which contains all sorts of production and engineering production notes meant for factory in-house as well as dealers, of production changes and fixes. That is a good book for what I just described. Then I have a copy of "American Flyer Factory Parts Department Exploded Views and Parts List". Also been very handy. I've also got all 3 repair books written by Thomas B. Barker not to mention 5, 3 ring binders of all sorts of "how to fixes". All very handy. I have yet to spring for the more expensive out of print Greenberg full size books that some people have. For now I have a pretty good library going. I always been able to find what I need to know in one of those sources.

Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Kenny, you have a nice library there.

Tom, they sure made alot. Not many toys from the 50s are still for sale. There are gobs of Gilbert stuff for sale.
In the 50s almost every little boy had a train set. Mine was not new but I had one. Still got it. I know most of the
Gilbert stuff was durable but still so much out there.
 

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I think a surprisingly high percentage of the Gilbert trains have survived to today. This coupled with a relatively (compared to Lionel) small number of collectors allows for a lot of the trains to be available for sale. I know that Gilbert's entire revenue in 1962 from all products was only $11.1mm and only $1.5mm of that was from S gauge trains. I do not recall the exact year and number but in the mid 1950's the highest ever corporate revenue was around $21mm. At peak, S gauge trains were likely around 60% of corporate revenue. Being generous and attributing half of the S gauge revenue to sets (it was less), peak year set revenue was not more than $3.3mm. If the average wholesale price of a set was $20 then the most sets Gilbert sold in one year was 160,000. There were about different 18 sets. If the common cars were used in four of them and they sold 25,000 of the cheapest sets that would be 100,000. Double that to add in separate sales is 200,000. That would be pretty close to the maximum number of a single numbered car made in a year. Engines are a bit harder because of all the variations (smoke, no smoke) and far fewer separate sales but 100,000 was likely the peak of any one engine. Expensive engines were made in the thousands but not in the tens of thousands/year in the peak sales years.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I agree with all you say Tom. Like me boys kept their train sets till mom gave them to someone. It does seem like alot of stuff out there. And I would say there are less S collectors than other scales. Not sure why. If you try it you like it. I like the size. Something about running 70 year old engines. I hope one of my sons gets the bug but not betting on it. I bet alot of original owners have passed on.

Not to get morbid. My wife and me agreed on cremation. With her funeral package her urn was a wood box. She did not like that at all. I had to get her a brass urn. They would not give me any credit on the wood box.Well my funeral package comes with a plastic urn. I asked if I could use the wood box. Sure. They told me it
comes engraved and gave me some choices. One choice was a cool steam locomotive. Yep I picked that. It has been engraved with the steamer, my name, and birthday. It just needs one more date. We will worry about that later. Its a nice box. I have it, they did not want to keep it for me. My sons know where it is when needed. I bought my
wife a tomb indoors. In a mausoleum. Stays high and dry, no bugs or worms. It is in a beautiful room. Heated and cooled and they play music all day. Sky lights and at a certain time of day a beam of sunlight goes right across my wife's name. Her package included a big funeral. And it was big. What she wanted. People from all parts of the US was there.
Funeral home said it was the biggest funeral they had had. Cars were everywhere. She kept all her friends. I blew through friends like they were kleenex. LOL, my package does not include a funeral or showing. I don't want to bother people with crap like a funeral. Ruins your whole day. I will be buried in same tomb along with the wife and urns of our 4 dogs. The stone over the tomb has our names,
a doggie paw and the names of our 4 dogs under the paw. They have a place for urns but 6 urns do not fit together.
So I bought a casket tomb. Plenty of room for all. its all paid for it just takes a phone call. It actually cost less than 2 graves and caskets outdoors.
 

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It sounds like you will be "Steaming" to the afterlife.
My son definitely wants all the trains, the layout and all my cars and wine collection. And he prefers the house be included so it can all stay where it is.
 

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Tom maybe your son sees the train layout as impossible to move, or at the least a giant pain, so just leave all as is and include the house. Sounds like common sense to me.
I don't know what will happen to my layout and collection. My daughter has a passing interest in trains but would know nothing about any of it and would probably sell all of it at auction. My son in law has zero interest as well as my 22 year old grandson who lives in Florida. My 3 grand daughters also have zero interest and most certainly will end up in Florida as well. They all got this Florida thing.
As mopac pointed out, there are so few S collectors. There are none in my area, at least none I know of. There are several down state but I only see those guys when we HAD train shows down that way. Even though I went to Du Page a lot, I never got acquainted with any of the collectors and only a few of the venders. Denny from Denny's Trains and Things from Oswego, Ill, is the only vender I really got to know because of his store. Not sure if he even has the store any more. He talked about closing it 5 years ago and I haven't seen him since. I forgot about John Heck too.

Kenny
 

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The next time there is an S Fest I plan to attend, assuming it is not before fall of next year.
 

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I am supposed to get a paid entrance fee to the next S Fest in my 2 hopper shipment. I will see where and when that is and let you know.
 

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That's a nice part of the hopper package. They did not offer plane fare from California for us out of state member/purchasers.
 

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Yes wouldn't that have been nice? I just hope it goes off at all and in Tinley Park. I should have asked Roy when we were on the phone.

Kenny
 
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