Model Railroads/AC Gilbert


QUESTION: Hi Frank...just curious..are you the Frank Edgecomb that worked for Gilbert in the late 1950's..Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi!  Dave.  Yes I am the Frank Edgcombe who worked for A C Gilbert at both the Gilbert Hall of Science and at 200 Fifth Avenue.  I worked for them from 1958 till 1961 as I recall.  Subsequently worked for Polk's Model Craft Hobbies and American Hobby Center and then saw the light, being there was little future in being a hobby salesman and went to college.  Still a hobbyist though, for some time in N gauge and more recently in British OO gauge.  Nostalgia has set in. Have been an academic librarian since 1970.   Thanks for asking. Where do you know me from?
Frank Edgcombe, Associate Professor, Hampton University.

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QUESTION: Wow! Glad to meet you Frank!...I'm a diehard American Flyer collector..TCA member for 30 years and have been repairing/restoring American Flyer trains in the Upstate NY area for 25 years..I attend the TCA York meets regularly and twice a year on thursday nights at a local York firehouse we have a Gilbert get-together...last spring a few of the guys gave a presentation on the 50th annivesary Franklin set...they had said that Gilbert took special care in developing the set to celebrate the 50Th..after all was said I raised my hand and said I had read that Gilbert Had stolen the idea from Lionel..I believe it was you that had keys to the Toy fair room and took the pictures of the Lionel General..well when said this...I was just about booed out of the ..Most of these guys have not been members of the TCA as long as I have...I'd love to know if this was true?  Thanks again for your response...and Glad that your a train enthusiast! Best regards, Dave

Hi!  Dave.  You were right! When A.C. Gilbert moved out of the Gilbert Hall of Science to 200 Fifth Avenue, they still had a workshop in the basement.  As their resident man-of-all-trades I used the basement workshop to maintain items for Gilberts layouts in 200 Fifth Ave; Gimbels, Macy's etc.  I had keys to the building.  Bill Sethre , my manager heard that during the  1960 Toy Fair  (February# the Toy Guidance Council #who occupied the former building# had samples of Lionel's proposed new models.  I had a Kodak 828 camera #a 35mm camera that used roll film# and during lunch time, while no one was around, I took pictures of Lionel's trains, including a mockup of the General and an aquarium car and others#some of which never were actually made or sold that year#.  The films I shot were rushed to New Haven by special courier and a mockup of the Franklin was made overnight for display at the Toy Fair.  As I recall the factory kitbashed an Atlantic, minus the trailing truck #under the firebox) to make the Franklin mockup.  I didn't think the Franklin looked as good as the final General, but I couldn't say that to the company's ears.  At the same time Gilbert negotiated a deal with Tyco to produce a HO version for the forthcoming American Flyer HO train collection.  This was a fairly accurate model formerly made by Mantua.  I guess I was an industrial spy that year.  Frank.  

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Frank Edgcombe


I CAN NOT DIAGNOSE equipment problems or ESTIMATE DOLLAR VALUES of your equipment, by email. I have been active in model railroading for forty years. I can answer, or find answers, to questions on most aspects of model trains, railroad equipment or buildings. I have a good knowledge of prototype railroads. I have been employed by five model railroad equipment manufacturers/suppliers and worked for a prototype railroad. I have served, twice, as the president of a local model railroad club. I have been employed as a Reference Librarian, at a university, for the last fifteen years and am used to tracking down resources for patrons.

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