[4]

Gilbert Erector set part number GN airplane swivel

[3]
[10] Like what you see?
Click here to donate to this forum and upgrade your account!

BGHansen

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 23, 2014
Messages
928
Likes
2,302
#1
Yeah, still reproducing old Erector set parts . . . This one is pretty esoteric, the part number GN airplane swivel. First the obligatory history lesson . . .

Gilbert introduced an Erector set in 1928 that built a number of different airplanes. The set came with a fuselage, two wings, horizontal/vertical stabilizers, propellers, a 110V motor and other parts to build up different styled airplanes. The components were sheet metal and NO, the plane models did not actually fly. The child could simulate flight by hanging their model from the ceiling and power the motor through the part number GN swivel unit. The swivel base was wired to ground, a hot wire tied to a brass disk and a rotating wiper to carry power to the motor on the bottom of the swivel. I chuckle at the original design of 1928 where the model was suspended directly by the 110V power wires to the motor. I’ll have to goggle when UL became an entity. The design was changed by 1930 to suspend the model by a cord, so no more house fires playing with the airplane at that point.

The swivel unit was made from common Erector set parts and a few “no part number” pieces. The main working components were CI brass segments (see another post of mine for the construction of these), CM fiber disks and a npn brass wiper.

First step was making the CM fiber disks. These are 1 ¼” diameter and made from a non-conductive insulating material. I made a punch and die for these years ago which cut a lot of time from my previous method of punching a center hole, stacking a number of rough band sawed disks on a bolt arbor and turning to diameter on the lathe. Invariably the cutting tool would catch on a disk which stopped it while the rest of the stack on the bolt arbor were spinning. That method required a lot of slow pecking to get the disks to diameter. Knocking them out on the Roper Whitney #218 press goes much quicker.

I use a RW No. 5 Junior to punch out a center 9/32” hole. I made a transfer punch guide a while back from an aluminum round with a tapped hole and a steel arbor. The CM disk has 8 holes on 1” spacing across the circle. The fixture goes pretty quickly, slip a disk on the arbor which is screwed into the aluminum punch guide. Set the assembly on a bench block and transfer punch the holes. The eight holes are then punched with an 11/64” punch in a RW No. 5.

The CM disks get a 5/16” OD brass hub for attaching to an axle. I make heavy use of hardened drill bushings when making these parts. The hub has an 11/64” hole up the center which I do with a drill bushing that fits over the 5/16” brass and guides the 11/64” drill bit with a central hole. This allows me to skip the center drilling step.

After center drilling, a shoulder is cut to 9/32” OD. This fits into the fiber disk. The hole is countersunk to aid in peening the brass hub onto the disk. A second drill bushing is used to locate a 6-32 tap drill hole which is done on the lathe with a hand drill. Then the hole is power tapped with a cordless drill. Next step is to part the hub off. The tap hole bushing is the same width as the length of the hub, so it does double duty by indicating the length of the hub. I hold the hubs in a little fixture with a center knock out pin for cleaning up the ends from parting on the belt sander and grinder with a Scotchbrite disk.

The hubs are peened onto the disk using a Delrin block with a pin for holding the hub in place. The hub is set on the pin, disk set on top and the hub peened over using a large ball bearing and a whack with a hammer.

Next component is the brass wiper. These have a raised area for a point contact with the disk made from Erector part# CI’s. I made a simple die from a couple of pieces of CRS which were pinned together with ¼” dowels. One of the plates was drilled and reamed to 0.249, other to 0.251 so the dowels locked to one plate and slipped on the other.

Looks like I forgot to shoot a picture of it, but the two plates were set in the mill with a piece of paper between the two and a 1/16” hole was drilled through both at the center. My plan was to set a piece of 1/16” drill rod on one half, set a brass strip between the two plates and give it a whack with a hammer to form an embossed area in the middle of the brass strip. After drilled, I used a die filer to open up one side of the die for clearance between the brass and die side opposite the 1/16” drill rod. The set up works pretty well though in retrospect I could have put some pins in the dies to locate the edge of the brass strip for quicker alignment than just eyeballing it. On the other hand, the world wide need for this part is probably 10 in the next 5 years, so eyeballing a few should be fine.

Next step was punching an 11/64” hole for attaching to a CM disk, and a 90 deg. fold with a Pexto 793 flange tool.

The GM uses a 5/16” brass spacer bushing 0.200” long with an 11/64” hole. Used a drill bushing to knock in the center hole, then parted to length. Used the same holding tool for cleaning up the parted ends as with the hubs.

Rest of the work was just screwing together the rest of the common Erector set parts to make up the swivel assembly. Not a huge money maker as they sell for $30 - $50 when listed on eBay, plus not a huge market as the Gilbert Airplane sets are few and far between. But adds to my list of stuff for sale at toy shows.

Thanks for looking.

Bruce

1928 C page 01.jpg
1930 no. 45 & 75 page 09.jpg
20181026_150653.jpg
20181026_152752.jpg
20181026_154603.jpg
20181026_162233.jpg
20181026_163418.jpg
20181026_163728.jpg
20181026_164020.jpg
20181026_173648.jpg
20181026_183102.jpg
20181027_133229.jpg
20181027_134527.jpg
20181027_135019.jpg
20181027_135504.jpg
20181027_141629.jpg
20181027_143106.jpg
20181027_143841.jpg
20181027_202900.jpg
20181027_204541.jpg
20181028_121133.jpg
 

Eddyde

Bronze
Registered
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
1,398
Likes
1,174
#2
Bruce, I aways enjoy being your posts of your excellent work.
Interesting to noice, the cost of the motor kit in 1928 was $5.65 which is probably close to $100 today. Certainly not a cheap toy!
 

BGHansen

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 23, 2014
Messages
928
Likes
2,302
#3
Bruce, I aways enjoy being your posts of your excellent work.
Interesting to noice, the cost of the motor kit in 1928 was $5.65 which is probably close to $100 today. Certainly not a cheap toy!
Hi Eddy,

Thanks for the complements. Boy, you are about spot on for the current cost of the motor and swivel. The Erector set toy market is really soft right now so a decent P56G 110V motor can be had for under $50, they used to bring $75. I saw an original swivel unit sell on eBay 10 years ago for $300.

Bruce

p.s. Boring to anyone whose not interested in this toy, but Gilbert sold a set in 1931/32 that was advertised as the "Climax of Erector Glory". It was labeled a "#10" set and weighed 150 lbs. It retailed for something like $70 in 1931 during the Great Depression. The collecting community knows of only 9 or 10 of these in existence as $70 was really big bucks back in the day. A collector in Minneapolis now owns the "holy grail" of these sets.

Story is a hardware store owner in New Haven, CT had one on display in his store at Christmas time but it didn't sell. So he took it home to his son. They built a train model, took it apart and put everything back in the box. The box ended up under the kid's bed. Flash forward 60 years or so when the kid is now a man and owns his childhood home. A member of our collecting club hooks up with the guy and buys the set, essentially untouched from 1931. The collector in MN paid $25,000 for the set.
 

hman

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
1,802
Likes
1,424
#4
I always enjoy your histories/stories, as well as your builds. 150 lbs ... wowsers! I assume it was in a wooden box, given its age. The set I had when I was a kid came in a steel box.
 

Eddyde

Bronze
Registered
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
1,398
Likes
1,174
#5
$25K! Dang, I I had quite a bit of Erector set stuff, wish I hadn't given all my to my cousin...
I even had part of that commutator, the fiber disc with the holes and the brass bushing, never knew what it was for.
 

BGHansen

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 23, 2014
Messages
928
Likes
2,302
#6
$25K! Dang, I I had quite a bit of Erector set stuff, wish I hadn't given all my to my cousin...
I even had part of that commutator, the fiber disc with the holes and the brass bushing, never knew what it was for.
Hi Eddy,

Could be you had parts of a 1950 - 1954 No. 5 illumination set. Gilbert also sold American Flyer trains and frequently tied the two product lines together. The illumination set included a fiber disk and wiper for carrying power (7 - 15V AC from a train transformer) to a moving model. The bulbs and sockets were straight out of the AF line.

Bruce

1950 #5 Illumination kit.JPG
 

BGHansen

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 23, 2014
Messages
928
Likes
2,302
#7
I always enjoy your histories/stories, as well as your builds. 150 lbs ... wowsers! I assume it was in a wooden box, given its age. The set I had when I was a kid came in a steel box.
Hi John,

I don't have one of the 9 or 10 out there but have all of the parts to one. The 150 lbs. set (shipping weight) was a 1929/30 #10 set plus a 1931/32 #8 1/2 Hudson locomotive and tender. Below are a couple of photos of the 150 lbs. sets.

Bruce


1541547684929.png

1541547733355.png
 

Eddyde

Bronze
Registered
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
1,398
Likes
1,174
#8
Yep, that was probably it, I remember those colored lamps as well... My collection was a combination of several hand-me-down sets, I doubt any of them were complete.
 

hman

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
1,802
Likes
1,424
#9
Absolutely beautiful ... as were many of the great toys from that era.
 

eugene13

Active Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2014
Messages
314
Likes
317
#10
Gilbert also made chemistry sets and microscope sets, I had one of each plus an American Flyer Train, it all disappeared sometime after I left home in '64. I bought an erector set for my kids 30 years ago, they played with it until high school it's in my basement, my grand kids ain't the least bit interested. Really great build.
 
Last edited:

hman

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
1,802
Likes
1,424
#11
I have a vague memory of having read somewhere that Gilbert also sold an atomic/radioactivity learning set, that included such fun things as a sample of radium. Or was that somebody else???

Anyway, it was definitely NOT the kind of thing that you could sell to kids today.
 

Eddyde

Bronze
Registered
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
1,398
Likes
1,174
#12
I have a vague memory of having read somewhere that Gilbert also sold an atomic/radioactivity learning set, that included such fun things as a sample of radium.
Indeed they did, I had it when I was a kid. It was a hand me down but had most of the parts including the Uranium ore, which I still have someplace...
 

BGHansen

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 23, 2014
Messages
928
Likes
2,302
#13
Gilbert sold an Atomic Energy Lab in 1950 and 1951 for around $50. Picture of one is below. It came with a Gieger counter and included some very low level radioactive sources. The one in the picture sold for $3500 . . .

Bruce

1542027481646.png
 

hman

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
1,802
Likes
1,424
#14
Thanks for finding this. Wowsers ... a cloud chamber and everything! Of course, fifty 1950 dollars was quite a pretty penny.
 
[6]
[5] [7]
Top