American Flyer Complete Railroad System

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Catalog illustration courtesy of
This illustration is from the 1946 American Flyer Consumer Catalog.
Click on the illustration to examine it in greater detail.

The Dealer Display Suggestion

"Moreover, experience proves that there is virtually no limit to the amount of cars, track, equipment, etc., the scale model railroader will buy once you have planted the "system" idea in his head. The more he has, the more he still wants."
- A.C. Gilbert Co. - 1947 -

The "Complete Railroad System" was a set containing two complete trains headed by new "Electronic Propulsion" DC powered locomotives, a 4-8-4 Northern and an 0-8-0 Switcher. In addition, several accessories, including action accessories, were provided.  I have included it as a promotional layout because it was presented to dealers for use as a display to increase sales. While Gilbert intended to include the set in its 1946 line, production difficulties delayed its introduction until November 1947. This delay came about because of labor problems, material shortages, the diversion of resources to the development of the smoke in boiler units, and production problems related to the number 14 Rectiformer, which was essential to the operation of the DC Northerns and 0-8-0's. In fact even AC Northerns and 0-8-0's were rare in 1946 with the only supply being the models that were made for the 1946 New York Toy Fair and the Gilbert Hall of Science. In order to produce a two train set, the factory did release an uncataloged 4624 set in 1946, substituting a Hudson and a Pennsy K5 as motive power with a few car and accessory substitutions.1 In addition, the remote control switches shown in the illustration above were not included with the substitute set. The originally planned set was promoted in the consumer catalog and also in the dealer advance catalogs of 1946 and 1947, where its virtues as a store display were were presented. The illustrations below are from the 1947 Advance Catalog and give you and idea of the pitch Gilbert made. It looks like he had us pegged.

One major drawback to Gilbert's suggestion is that it required a bit of work on the part of the store to make a display that rivaled the artist's conception shown in the above illustration.   Of course the stores had a wide latitude and could make the display simple by just setting up the equipment in the 4622 Complete Railroad System set on a table.  Of course, the most major drawback to this display idea was the fact that the set was not available in 1946.

I think it is possible that one or more stores tried something along these lines, probably in 1947. If anyone knows of any relics of such a display, please let me know, so we can perhaps feature it on the website. In any case, this display idea could be the inspiration for a recreation with a classic touch. Build your own faux history.

Here is how the idea was presented in the dealer advance catalogs.

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Catalog images courtesy of Lonny Beno

Ad Mats for the 4622 and 4624 sets and illustration of 4624 set
Illustrations courtesy of Lonny Beno
Click on the images to view in full size

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4622 Ad Mat



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4624 Ad Mat

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4624 Illustration

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4622T Wiring Diagram for 4622 Set
The original wiring diagram for the Complete Railroad System is a large negative blueprint.
Click here or on illustration for larger view - Click here for larger black on white version


1 In The Almost Complete Guide to American Flyer S Gauge Sets, by Robert J. Tufts, Flyernut Publishing, Chantilly, VA, 1999, Mr. Tufts has noted that the 4624 was also referred to as the 4622A (Page 8), but does not list that nomenclature in his full listing of sets. (Page 48) After considering other information provided by collector Lonny Beno, it appears unlikely that the 4622A nomenclature is a reference to the 4624 substitute set. While an A suffix was normally used to indicate an AC powered set, as the 4624 certainly was, that set contained totally different locomotives and also some different rolling stock and accessories. The nomenclature of 4622A can be found on a late 1946 version of the Eastern zone price list but it is unlikely that the set referred to on that price list was the substitute 4624 set, as the price shown was much higher than that charged for the substitute set. In that price list, the 4622A had a price of $187.50. An advertising mat for what is obviously the 4624 set shows a price of $139.50. Since an "A" suffix was generally used to indicate an AC set, it is possible that Gilbert had planned an AC version of the 4622 set, but never produced it, settling instead on the 4624 substitute set for the rest of 1946, with the DC 4622 set released in 1947.

I am grateful to Lonny Beno for his assistance in developing this page.