Friday, September 26, 2014

Collecting -- and collecting information 19

Linemar GE Courier Car
Assembling pieces of the Linemar set has been difficult. While I'm interested in learning more, it's not an overriding passion. So when pieces come onto the market starting at $80, I'm content to just look at the photos. But occasionally, one comes along a much more modest price, and even more rarely, I'm able to purchase it.

Such was the case with the GE courier car. While not in mint condition, it's still in reasonably good shape -- and the price was right. I now have five of the ten vehicles offered in this set, and I'm leaning towards the opinion that this a set created to get rid of existing inventory. When I last wrote about this set (Collecting -- and collecting information 14), I wasn't so sure.

What changed my mind?

A little hands-on comparison.

Below is a photo of the five vehicles I currently own. It's pretty easy to see that the coal truck and fire engine were made one way (with the chassis crimped to the body), and the other three made differently (with the bodies held to the chassis with tabs).

Top row (L-R): NYC fire engine, Central Coal & Coke Co. coal truck.
Bottom row (L-R) Potomac Electric Power Company truck,
General Electric courier car, Bond Bread delivery van.
 Below is a photo of the underside of the vehicles. Note carefully the differences in the chassis in the first row. From left to right are the Bond Bread truck, the GE courier car, and the PEPCO truck. The second row is the fire engine and coal truck. (click on image to enlarge).

There's almost an evolution in form from left to right. The Bond truck just has a single indentation for the friction motor. The GE car has the same, plus an additional groove. The PEPCO truck has a second distinctive circular indentation. If the motor didn't change design, then there's no need for these variations. After all -- every time you alter a piece it costs time and money. Companies like Linemar operated on a very thin margin, so it's not something they would do lightly.

These variations further convince me that these three vehicles were made at different times, perhaps using three different friction motors (perhaps from different suppliers?) that required the modifications. That's my current conclusion, anyway.

I should just open up those three cars and see if, in fact, the motors are different. There's always a danger in bending and rebending those fragile tabs, tough. That's something I"ll have to think on a while. For now, I'm happy to go with what the external evidence is suggesting to me.

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