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1929 No. 8 Zeppelin Erector Set

Hi folks, Doc here. The set featured in this pictorial is one of the high points of the Classic Period of Gilbert Erector. It marks the first appearance of the Erector Zeppelin, one of the two most famous and fondly remembered of the special models designed during this period, the other being the Hudson locomotive. In 1929, Gilbert completely revamped the No. 8 set, previously known as the Trumodel set, to feature the new Zeppelin model. He named this new version the "Trail Blazing No. 8". To build the Zeppelin model, the set included 15 new specialized parts (see below); none of these parts survived the Classic Period, which ended four years later.

Box lid, with the red and black Classic Period color scheme

The 1929 No. 8 was a large, heavy set. The box measured 25½" x 10¾" x 6", and fully packed it weighed in at a hefty 35 pounds. The wooden box was finished in the manner of all larger, late Classic Period sets: red paint with black corners, brass handles inset in the box ends, and brass side corners and latches (see photo above). However, this box was special in one way: it featured a full color poster pasted to the inside of the box lid that depicted the Zeppelin floating from its mooring mast with a cityscape in the distance (see photos below).

Inside, showing the poster and metal parts tray

Poster detail

In addition to the new special Zeppelin parts mentioned above, the No. 8 set contained all parts found in lower numbered sets for building other special models, including the Steam Shovel and the White Truck. This was in keeping with Gilbert's standard packaging scheme. Inside the No. 8's handsome box, these parts were arranged in a manner similar to other large sets of the period (see photos below). On the top, selected parts, including gears, pulleys, and big channel girders, were displayed in a removable, black painted metal tray; t-clips were used to the parts in place. Beneath the metal tray, three deep cardboard trays held the P58 motor, White Truck hood and fenders, scoop shovel, and boiler, as well as the Zeppelin fins and nose and tail cones. In the left front corner of the box a fourth, shallower tray held most of the remaining girders and strips, along with three of the four DM wheels and DR rubber truck tires. This tray rested on top of the inverted White Truck bed; under the bed were stored Steam Shovel roof panels, longer axles, and various sizes of base plates. In the right front corner of the box the three Zeppelin gondolas rested on top of a fifth cardboard tray that contained all remaining larger parts, as well as four spoked wheels. Also under the gondolas, screws, nuts, and the smallest parts were packed in three red parts boxes.

Removable metal upper parts tray

Under the metal tray: cardboard trays, gondolas, etc. Note the White Truck hood and fenders in the rear center tray; the truck bed, plus other parts, are stored beneath the front left tray.

The tires and gondolas removed to show the parts beneath

Special Parts

The fifteen special parts used to build the Zeppelin model are shown in the photos below; all parts except the cloth bag are shown in relative scale. A detail of the gondola is also shown; this part is difficult to find in good condition today, because it was made from very thin, flexible metal that is easily deformed and is not much stronger than a soft drink can. The new parts are listed in the table below.

 Part No.  Part Name  Quantity 
HEtail cone1
HFbutt end plate2
HGnose cap2
HIgondola strut12
HK5" girder, formed25
HLleft rudder1
HMright rudder1
HOcloth cover1
HP6" ring2
HQzepplin support rod1
HSpropellor rod, 3"1
BAXbull wheel center, ¼" hub2

Special Zeppelin parts; the cloth bag is shown at a smaller scale than the other parts

Detail of the gondola

     P58 Electric Motor
The No. 8 included four DM wheels with DR white rubber tires and a P58 electric motor

Three pages in the No. 8 instruction manual were devoted to the new Zeppelin model. These pages are shown below.