Operating Accessories (Page 5 of 8)
In addition to adding visual interest and realism to a train layout, Operating Accessories allow you operate it like a real world-railroad rather than simply running trains around in a circle.  Gilbert made 62 distinct accessories as listed on a little over seven pages of the TM Guide, not counting the variations on some of the 62.  Lionel made a few more up under the American Flyer name.  Because there are so many, I have split them up over four web pages:

Gilbert accessories #561 through #588 are on
page 1
                           #591 through #752A are on
page 2
                           #755 through #762 are on
page 3
                           #766 through 785 are on
page 4
                           #787 through #23601 are on this page
                           #23602 through #23786 are on
page 6
                           #23787 through #23830 are on
page 7
Lionel accessories #2300 through #49807 are on
page 7
                           #49808 through 49819 are on
page 8
                           # 49820 and above are on
page 9

In 1957, Gilbert computerized and changed from a 3-digit numbering system to a 5-digit system.  (Volume II of Greenberg's Guide contains a detailed discussion of 5-digit numbering from its inception.)  During the transition, the unsold inventory of 3-digit accessories was sold in 5-digit boxes.  After that stock ran out, Gilbert continued manufacturing similar or identical accessories. Some items changed little, if at all, in the years that followed. Therefore, it is often impossible to tell whether the accessory you're looking at was originally sold as a 5-digit unit or a 3-digit unit, unless you have the box it came in.  A unique exception is the #23789 Station and Baggage Smasher which had the 5-digit number molded into the plastic underneath.  Accessories that had a green base (like the  23589 station) changed from a light green to a darker green base. The font changed on operating buttons and the 5-digit buttons had slots on the side. You need to know what to look for if you want to tell the difference. There are clues, but they are subtle!

Unless otherwise specified, the pictures on this page are from the collection of The Upstairs Train.
#787 Log Loader made in 1955 & 1956.
(Photo courtesy of
Rick Dunn.)
Mine is the reproduction of Gilbert's #787 Log Loader by Mike's Train House (MTH).
The little man in the blue overalls rides the carriage down under the building, picks up a log, carries it up over the waiting #914 log car, dumps it in the car, and returns for another log.  Here's a little closer look:
After a spin around the layout, the #914 log car tips up and dumps the logs back under the log loader so the process can be repeated.
#789 Station and Baggage Smasher (the operating baggage man) made in 1956 & 1957.
(Photo courtesy of
Rick Dunn.)
#799 Talking Union Station (similar to 793) made in 1954 thru 1956.
(Photo courtesy of
Rick Dunn.)
The back of the Talking Union Station ...                                        and its player.             
(Photos courtesy of
Rick Dunn.)

In 1958, Gilbert switched to a 5-digit numbering system and made 17 more operating accessories, most being versions of the earlier accessories above.  with the items In general, you need the box to verify whether an item is the 3-digit version or 5-digit version. The are some differences that are clues,such as black accessory shed roofs and dark green bases, though this is not good on very early items before they switched paint colors.  Some differences are more subtle, like the small notch on each side of the red button, and the lettering is different than earlier buttons.  Bottom line: get the box!

#23561 Billboard Horn with plastic base; the 5-digit version of #561, made in 1958 & 1959.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
#23568 Whistling Billboard; the 5-digit version of #568, made in 1958 thru 1964.             
(Photo courtesy of
Ronald W. Durst.)

#23596 Operating Water Tank painted sheet metal construction made in 1957 & 1958.
#23598 Talking Station Record made in 1957 thru 1959.  Its recording is the same as #598.
  There is no way to tell whether it is a 598 or 23598; the number appears only on the envelope it came in.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)

#23599 Talking Station Record made in 1957.  Its recording is the same as #599.
  There is no way to tell whether it is a 599 or 23599; the number appears only on the envelope it came in.
#23600 Crossing Gate w/Bell; the 5-digit version of #600 made in 1957 & 1958.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
#23601 Crossing Gate with roadway made in 1959 thru 1962.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)

Show me the rest of the Operating Accessories.

It takes time and money to maintain a website like this.  If this site is interesting and helpful to you, please contribute financially to its ongoing success.  You may
send a contribution via PayPal using theupstairstrain@yahoo.com as the payee. Both credit card and direct transfers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

If you or your friends have some American Flyer trains and would like them to go to a nice home where they'll be loved and cared for, this is the place!  Email me: theupstairstrain@yahoo.com.  See my
Wish List for the items I need most.  Thank you very much.

On the other side of the coin, I post pictures from time to time on my
For Sale page of surplus items I have for sale.
This gallery will continue to grow and become more comprehensive as I collect more equipment, and as visitors send me pictures of the items I don't yet have.  If you have a car, engine, accessory, or set that you would like to share with the world, email me a picture:   theupstairstrain@yahoo.com.  Click here for a list of the pictures I need to complete the Gallery.

The books I am using for reference are listed in the
Bibliography page.  All the writing and all the pictures on this website are, however, my own, except where cited.  No copyrighted materials have been included and all pictures provided by others are used by permission.

Now show me:                                                                                                                                    
The Gilbert Gallery Home Page  
Engines      Passenger Cars      Freight Cars      Accessories      Infrastructure  
Operating Accessories      Buildings      Bridges & Trestles      Landscape      People  
Pictures Needed     Useful Links     For Sale     Wish List     Bibliography     The Upstairs Train
visitors have viewed this page