Archive for the ‘Buildings & Landmarks’ Category

March 15, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Buildings & Landmarks, Erector Sets, Worley, Larry

This model is built by the #0521 Space Center Erector Set of 2005 pictured here. Like all “Special Edition” sets, its 688 parts including screws, nuts and washers builds just this model.

The rocket and capsule is about 25 inches high. The entire model from the base of the gantry to tip of the crane is just under 30 inches. (Note Larry’s Walking Giant in the background.)

· by David Gilbert · Buildings & Landmarks, Erector Sets, Ware, Dave

The Space Needle was built for the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962. It is 605’ high and has a rotating restaurant at the 500’ level. More info (

The Gilbert version shown here (next to the real one) is from the 10094 (12 1/2) set of 1962.

The top rotates on a TC/TB ball bearing assembly, driven from a motor on the bottom. A series of 6 axles connected with 4 P15 couplings and 2 CJ gears acting as a 5th coupling runs up the center of the tower. The axles are 10”, 12”, 12”, 7 1/2”, 7 1/2” and 10” respectively. Maintenance of this 59” axle is a problem. Once the models is assembled, it is very difficult to get to the P15 couplings to tighten any screws that may loosen.

There being no connection included between the motor mount and the base, it was difficult to move the model. To remedy this, I strips were added to join them together. Three washers were needed on each connection point to make up for the extra height of the motor mount.

10/29/2012 – ACGHS member Randy Sauder at the recent June 2012 Train Collectors Association National Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. His “Tool Shop” creation with over 1,000 continuous moving parts won “Best Model Builder” at the recent 2012 ACGHS National Convention in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo credit: Herbert Alfred Mayer)

This 1920’s tool shop was built over a 2 1/2 year span (2009-2012) in about 900 man hours. There are roughly 1,000 continuous moving parts including thousands more parts. Most parts are from early 20th century wood box A. C. Gilbert erector sets. However, some are from like era Meccano, Marklin and other sets. The homemade oak shop frame is similar to the earlier shop that was fortunate to win Best Model at the 2011 national ACGHS Convention in Chicago. Both employ about 500 Popsicle sticks of various length glued on 1/4 plywood to make the first floor. However, that is where the similarity ends. This version is far more complex with some 30 different working tools and machinery. The tools are interrelated using a series of gears and pulley systems. All are powered by one modern Dayton gear motor located under the metal shear on the first level.

Like on my first shop, regular erector motors in series could have been used. However, more space was required and dependability to run for several hours without overheating was a concern. There are over 100 period advertising signs in the shop. The wood portion of the water wheel at the end of the shop was made using Popsicle sticks. The drive bands are ladies hair bands and rubber o-ring material. The o-rings work best and (thanks to Dave Blood’s tip in a recent ACGHS article on how to make them) all the drive bands will eventually be converted to that version. The shop and all tools are of original design. However, I’ll be the first to admit that hundreds of hours over a 2-3 year period were spent on the Internet researching and looking at pictures of real tools and shops of that era to get ideas. This shop is dedicated to my grandkids and all those who love erector.

Special thanks go to my Dad who in the 1950’s gave me his boyhood erector set and thus set in motion my journey into the wonderful world of A. C. Gilbert. And to my mother’s creativity that somehow spilled over in my direction. Also, special thanks go to all the great erector builders whose many projects can be found on this ACGHS website. Their mass of work helped inspire me to build. And hopefully, this will have the same effect on others. Lastly, thanks to the genius of A. C. Gilbert, Frank Horby (Meccano) and others who gave us the magnificent erector sets.

The shop in the early stages. On the lower left is a small circular milling machine that was eventually discarded and not used in the shop. Nor were the two stacks on the right that I was thinking of incorporating into a large steam engine.

Look closely at this mid construction photo (back upper level left) and you’ll see a four cylinder steam engine that was ultimately scraped. Numerous tools and prototypes were discarded along the way before the final finished version was adopted. You can see the Dayton motor under the Metal Shear at lower left.

Early stages of the somewhat complex drill press gearing. Allowing the drill to turn while at the same time going up and down was accomplished by filing down two round stock axles and then inserting them into a small tube as shown. This created my own gear box. As the axle halves turn (driven by a pulley at the top) against each other they also slide up and down. A separate action on the top rack with the two round BT’s turning (tied together with an offset screw) lift and drop the press using the strip bracket.

During construction various tools were constantly being moved to different locations to determine where they would best fit. None of the three tools shown (Drum Sander, Compressor or Punch) ended up at this location though they look good there at the time.

Looking through the front door at the Metal Shear which ended up at this location (slightly elevated). The Dayton gear motor (power for everything in the shop) was a perfect fit to hide under the shear.

View of the shop during mid-construction. The black and red gearing assembly directly behind the pole on the first floor took about a week to build. It was intended to gear down the revolutions of the water wheel visible just behind the wall. However, a different gearing approach was used and this one trashed. Ultimately, the air compressor ended up at that location.

The shop beginning to take shape. Type I (1914-1924) wide girders were used on the wood frame while Type II (1924-59 era) girders were used internally. Note the different red Marklin girders running length wise near the top of the shop which were used to hide the trolley hoist left right left running mechanism.

  • Watch a video of the Amazing Tool Shop II

Randy writes: This 1924 tool shop has approximately 1000 continuous moving parts including 138 individual gears, wheels and pulleys. The shop is powered by four A-49 engines (1 for the hoist and 3 for everything else). It has 18 drive bands, 97 Type I wide girders, 95 various size base plates and thousands of parts overall. Most are Gilbert erector parts from the 1920’s but a few are later. A minor few parts are not Gilbert. This project was built over a 3-year span and has 35 period advertising signs. The wood flooring was made from approximately 500 Popsicle sticks glued to 1/2” plywood. The red wood frame inside the Type I girders is oak. The most technical and challenging part of the build was the hoist. It required several different prototype gearing efforts before one was finally found to work.

The final version (on the back of the shop) allows the hoist to independently and continuously move in three dimensions (forward/back, left/right, and up/down). All this takes place from one individual motor working in one direction with no reverse. The shop also has a working table saw, drill press, power press, grinder, band saw, lathe, two wall fans, and a steam hit and miss engine outside on one end. Real steam engine sounds with whistle are also incorporated. The project is dedicated to my father and mother. To my father who in the late 1950’s gave me his boyhood Erector set thus starting my journey into the amazing world of A.C. Gilbert. And, mother for nurturing my feeble early artistic talents.

It was a big hit with my two year old grandson. This picture shows the wonder of Gilbert.

  • Watch a video of Randy Sauder's Tool Shop

Bill Klein writes: You can pull a train engine and tender onto the turntable in the round house, then turn it 180 degrees and send it back out on the same track going the other direction. Or a train and tender could be pulled in and parked temporarily while the turntable is turned 15 degrees to take on another train engine and tender to be pulled into the Round House. (When the ACGHS National show was in Alabama a few years back, I believe the dinner and meeting was held in a Round House at the train museum park.)

Bill Klein’s Eiffel Tower

Bill Klein writes: The tower is 8 foot 8 inches tall and has a 3 foot square base. An elevator runs from bottom to top powered by an A49 motor. There are lights on top. I am presently building a 4-foot top for it. The restaurant will be on the old top.

Bill Klein’s Machine Shop

Bill Klein writes: The shop features a table saw, overhead shop fan, lathe, drill press, and band saw. It is powered by either an AC or DC motor.

Bill Klein’s Skyscraper Tower

The tower was built with Erector girders and skyscraper panels.

Bruce Hansen writes: In 1935, Erector Building Sections or more commonly termed Skyscraper parts were added to the No. 3 1/2 – No. 9 1/2 sets.

Included here is the 3 Story Apartment House – Brick Construction” front, rear and inside views. Angle girders and strips were used as the framework with the cardboard panels held in place with NT snap rivets or screws/nuts.

Pictures include the other 11 models shown in the manual. The cement construction panels generally have the angle girders on the outside of the cardboard panels while the brick construction is shown with the girders on the inside.

The tower is 8 1/2 feet high. Gerald holds the model he used to make his model in the last picture.