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Red Forney Trains

History

Forney Standard gauge 1970's freight cars, includes PRR box car, 2-bay hopper and caboose Willard L. 'Red' Forney founded this company in Carlisle PA, in 1975 to manufacture realistic looking Standard gauge steel trains. The firm operated during a 10 year period from 1975 to 1985. In prior years, Red Forney had apprenticed in the McCoy shops at Kent, WA, where he learned the art of making stamped steel standard gauge car bodies.

Wide or Standard gauge toy trains were popularized in the United States during the early part of the 20th century by Lionel. Other US manufacturers such as Ives, American Flyer, Dorfan, and Boucher adopted this gauge shortly thereafter. However, the trains made during this period were tinplate toys and were not necessarily modeled after actual protypical trains with any degree of scale or accuracy to detail. By the 1940's the Standard gauge had disappeared from the marketplace as the consuming public demanded more realistic prototypical models of trains, and the lack of space in most homes now dictated a smaller gauge be employed to better utilize any available room for an operating layout. 'O' gauge became the new 'standard' for the toy and model manufacturers of the mid-twentieth century. 'OO' and HO gauges also became very popular with hobbyists who had limited layout space and desired more prototypical realism.

Forney Standard gauge Chessie System caboose In the 1960's and early 70's there was a resurgence in the demand for the Standard gauge from collectors who had grown up running such trains and wanted to relive their youthful memories. However, early 20th century Standard gauge trains were now very rare, and those that were still around were now more valuable and thus, operators were hesitant to run them with regularity. A couple of craftsmen and manufacturers such as McCoy, Model Engineering Works, Williams, the Treasure House, and Varney & Sirus started to create and sell reproductions of some of the more famous early 20th century Standard gauge toy trains. Soon thereafter, other manufacturers such as Classic Model Corp., Jerry Brown, Rich-Art Manufacturing, The Thorley Hoople Toy Company, JAD Railway Lines, John Kresse, John Daniel Railway Lines, and even McCoy started producing their own new lines of Standard gauge trains. Many of these new products were modeled after real prototypes and many were original designs, but there was clearly a movement away from the older, whimsical, early toy-like trains that were produced in the 1920's and 30's.

Forney Standard gauge Baltimore & Ohio box car Forney produced a line of scale-like Standard gauge freight cars that included box cars, hoppers, tank cars, gondolas, flat cars (some with loads), a trailer train and a caboose. The primary road names utilized to decorate these freight cars were the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Reading Railroad (RDG), Chesepeake & Ohio Chessie System, Baltimore & Ohio (B&O), Railway Express Agency (REA), and Union Pacific. Smaller quantities of box cars with AT&SF, N&W, NP, Conrail, NH, and Penn Central heralds were also produced. During the course of production, the length and width of these cars varied greatly. The first cars made were 3½" wide. The majority of freight cars (cabooses, flatcars) were built in a 14" length. Some flatcars were 15" long. The hopper and boxcar were 16" long. In 1980 Forney started making his cars in a 4" width. Cabooses were shortened to 12" long and boxcars were shortened to 15". Gondolas, hoppers and tank cars now appeared in lengths varing from 13" all the way up to 16" long. The gondolas featured dreadnaught ends and ribbed side panels. Forney freight cars were manufactured in small batches and Red Forney was known to have made changes in car design from batch to batch. The earlier boxcars have wider doors than later production. Since Red Forney learned his trade at McCoy Manufacturing, he used McCoy trucks on some of his early freight cars. Later, Forney made trucks of his own design.

Forney Standard gauge RDG Reading Railroad #86008 2-bay Coal Hopper Around 1977 Forney had a brief partnership with Glenn Gerhard, founder of Glenn Toy Trains. They combined Forney built sheet metal freight car bodies with Glenn cast aluminum frames and trucks. They built several hundred gondolas, boxcars and cabooses for Bob Schuster, who put them on G gauge trucks to sell with his Delton Locomotives. Red Forney also created about 10 stamped steel diesel switch engine bodies in Standard gauge for Glenn Gerhart, who fitted them with Glenn power trucks. These locos have been found in mining train sets that included Forney built small 4-wheel ore cars. The bins of these cars do not tilt, and the four wheels of each car are located inside the frames. The cars are labeled 'gold', 'sllver', and 'gems'. Red Forney patterned these ore cars after the Carlisle and Finch mine train ore cars from the early 1900's that were in his personal collection.

Forney Standard gauge 16 inch Christmas box car dated 1979 Forney Standard gauge 19 inch Christmas tank car

Some Forney gondolas and several box cars in a 22" length have appeared in collections and in the marketplace. These were custom made from unpainted and modified Forney stock by modeler C. K. 'Ed' Carlson and other's. A few Forney hopper bodies have also turned up that have been lengthened and fitted with a 3-bay frame casting made by Glenn Gerhard. The resulting size difference between all of these Standard gauge cars and the smaller 12" #200 series Standard gauge freight cars produced by Lionel is significant. During the middle period of Forney production, cars were decorated and lettered by Pleasant Valley Printing and Newbraugh Brothers Toys. These cars are considered to be some of the best looking, and close to prototype scale, modern era Standard gauge production. However, the box cars are still too short to be true 1:24 scale models of the 40 foot full-sized prototypes. They do require wide-radius track curves to run on. A popular box car is the 3 Mile Island car that denotes the 1979 incident.

Red Forney built standard gauge trolley with a horizontal postwar diesel motor with an E unit. Trucks are constructed from postwar 'O' gauge parts Red Forney also produced electric powered Standard gauge trolley's, General Purpose (GP) diesels and a GG-1 locomotive. The trolley utilized a postwar horizontally mounted motor and was equipped with an E-unit for reversing direction. The trucks were constructed from post-war 'O' gauge parts. The Geep's were 23" long and were powered by two 4-wheel trucks. The GG-1 had a fiberglass filler over steel body and can be found with 2 or 3 Bild-a-Loco reproduction motors. It was scale in appearance, and weighed 22 pounds. It could pull 25 16" long freight cars using a 25 volt transformer.

Red Forney passed away in late 1985. Manufacturing was taken over by Duane Eberhart of Lewisburg, PA after he acquired Forney's dies from his widow Janet. Eberhart only produced the popular Forney 4" x 22" 4-bay hoppers on special order. In more recent years, Forney hopper cars with solid metal frames (no bays) were available from Bob Thon of Roberts' Lines. Thon also created gondolas that had smooth ends, instead of the dreadnaught ends, using the original Forney tooling.

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