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Erector Classic Period Special Models

1929 No. 10 Manual CoverHi folks, Doc here. Recently, Girders & Gears reader Dave Emery wrote in regarding the Special Models section in the back of his reproduction No. 10 manual, curious about the models shown there. He was kind enough to send scans of the pages from that section, as well as the cover of the manual (thanks, Dave). I don't own a No. 10 set myself (probably never will), and this was the first time I had seen a manual from that set. For me, those scans were a revelation, for there on the upper left corner of the cover were the words "No. 10 & 12 Deluxe Master Engineer's Set"! I had never heard of, nor seen any reference to a "No. 12" set from the Classic Period. I quickly grabbed Greenberg's Guide, though not expecting to find anything there, as I had read through the book several times. Sure enough, no mention of such a set was to be found, with one exception: in a photo of a No. 10 set, I could just make out the words "No. 10 & 12" on the manual cover, just as they appear in Dave's photo (see image above).

In addition to the Special Models, Dave also sent scans of models that were noted as being "...Built With No. 12 Erector." Most Erector manuals contain sections showing models built with higher numbered sets, and the No. 10 is no different, except that it showed models built with a set that was never produced! Suitably intrigued by all of this, I immediately contacted people more knowledgeable about Erector history than myself. I learned that, not surprisingly, there never was a No. 12 set. Nor, I am told, is any mention made of such a set in any other official Gilbert literature of the time. What I do know of Erector history suggests that A.C. Gilbert was always thinking about the next bigger and better thing, and this is likely a great example of that very thing.

Giant Double Cylinder EngineIt is unclear whether Gilbert's plans for a No. 12 set ever went beyond these drawings in the No. 10 manual. However, the designation "No. 12" appeared both in and on the No. 10 manual from 1928 to 1932. This, and the sheer number and complexity of the No. 12 models, suggests that Gilbert fully intended to put the set into production. And, if we are to believe that any of the models shown in the illustrations below could truly be be built with such a set, then it would have been remarkable indeed!

As these images show, all of the so-called No. 12 models are large and elaborate, and three in particular (the "Giant Double Cylinder Engine" model, shown at right, and the "Portable Steam Plant" and "2-Drum Hoisting Engine," shown below) are enormous, easily among the largest and most complex models ever to appear in an Erector manual. A quick look at the required parts list for the Double Cylinder Engine indicates that, among other things, the model uses 80 EA flat base plates! Of course, Erector manuals were not always accurate in terms of their content and descriptive text. A bit of exaggeration by Mr. Gilbert notwithstanding, the phantom No. 12 set would have been something to see!

As for the models in the Special Models section, apparently no detailed instructions for any of them were ever printed, only the single drawings of each one that are shown here. Of these, The Leviathan is one of the most impressive, I think. One of the No. 12 models, the Walking Beam Engine, actually appeared in a number of manuals from the period, including the No. 7½ and No. 8, in a Special Models section. That particular model, shown below, is featured in my pictorial "Evolution of an Erector Model: the Walking Beam Engine" - you can check it out in the Model Gallery. Also in the Gallery are photos of the same model built by one of my readers, Bob Galler: look for his "Double Beam Engine."



The Leviathan

Scenic Railway

Double Cylinder Power Plant

Railroad Scene and Loop-the-Loop