McCoy Manufacturing was a small American toy train producer based in
Kent, WA, founded by Bob McCoy Sr. and his family. McCoy was known for creating larger scale stamped steel trains,
and was part of a group of modern era Standard gauge train manufacturers.
Between 1957-61 McCoy Manufacturing specialized in crafting Standard gauge and 2⅞" gauge reproductions
of Lionel's train line from the 1900's-20's, and select American Flyer
pieces as well. Along with Model Engineering
Works and the Treasure House, McCoy also had a very successful business manufacturing Standard gauge parts. By the
1960's the major manufacturers like Lionel and
American Flyer had long ago abandoned production of Standard gauge trains and parts.
But train enthusiasts and collectors who owned and operated their pre-war era Standard gauge trains
had a strong need for repair and replacement parts for these treasured items.
The flourishing demand for Standard gauge parts facilitated the ability for McCoy to begin funding the
manufacture of the reproduction Lionel and American Flyer products.
McCoy reproduced Lionel's #5 Special 0-4-0 and the #7 Standard gauge 4-4-0 steam outline locomotive in brass and tinplate, as well as the
electric outline #408e and the #381 4-4-4. An American Flyer prewar 4-4-2 Standard gauge #4694 steam outline loco and tender were also
reproduced. McCoy also made reproductions of the Lionel early 1900's 2⅞" gauge trains. Unlike the originals, these came unpowered,
but could be motorized. McCoy Manufacturing ceased building reproduction Lionel 2⅞" gauge and Lionel and American Flyer
Standard gauge items in 1965 after its owner, Bob McCoy, learned that people were artificially aging them and then selling them as originals.
Molds and tooling for the 2⅞" gauge reproduction products were later acquired by James Cohen.
In 1966 McCoy introduced its own Standard gauge line of trains. First
issues were freight and passenger cars.
The operation was financed by making pulleys for rock
tumblers. The inital catalog was only six pages, but by 1974 the catalog was
up to 32 pages. In 1969 the first electric locomotive was made in the form of The Cascade Railroad's #1 4-4-0
"Chief Seattle" steam engine.
This engine was modeled after the Lionel pre-war Standard gauge #7 locomotive. McCoy also built their own
electric motors. Eventually diesel and electric outline engines were also produced. The Chief Jeremy 4-4-2 steam outline locomotive
was modeled after the American Flyer #4694. The 0-4-0 Little Chief steam outline loco was modeled after the Lionel #5.
The McCoy Pacific Northwest electric 4-4-4 was modled after the Ives #1764E 4-4-4.
By 1974 McCoy Manufacturing
had made over 2,000 locomotives and 35,000 cars. By 1978 they were manufacturing 11 different loco types,
70 freight car types and 5 passenger types. Locomotive types in steam outline included the 0-4-0 Little Chief,
the 4-4-0 Chief Seattle, a 4-4-2 Chief Jeremy (American Flyer type) and a 4-6-0 Chief Cle Elam. Electric
outline locos included the 0-4-0 mini-brute, the 4-4-4, a Steeple Cab, and a 4-4-4-4 E-2 Cascade electric type.
Various individuals had input into the design of the McCoy trains. Herb Morley created the caboose, tank car,
hopper and passenger cars. Morley also designed and built the E2 Prototype 4-4-4-4 locomotive
using hand cut and riveted parts with modified Lionel motors. Bob McCoy developed the box car, gondola, stock car, log
car, bulkhead car, flat car, pipe car,
reefer, and drover caboose. George Templin also did designs for McCoy.
McCoy also offered a couple of different types of trolleys, a cable car, a hand car and
a very popular interurban set. Over the years McCoy also manufactured tinplate Standard gauge track
in both 14⅜" and 16" straight sections as well as 42" radius 18" long and 72" radius curved
sections. In 1978 they produced a detailed operating 30 horse carousel accessory with hand-painted
horses and figures.
Over the years McCoy offered complete train sets in both freight and passenger
consists. Freights included a rare Great Northern set and a Black Diamond Shortline logging set.
Passenger offerings included a McCoy family set with coaches named for each McCoy family member,
and a Cascade railroad set. A McCoy product that is very popular with collectors is their
28-car TPC (Tin Plate Collector) circus train.
|McCoy TPC Circus Sets - Freight, Passenger and Motive Power
McCoy production differs from earlier vintage tinplate standard gauge production
in its use of thicker steel and its use of silkscreening processes, rather
than lithography, decals, rubber stamps, or brass plates, which were the methods of lettering
cars in the 1920's. However, McCoy kept with the simplicity of the vintage designs, choosing not
to add large amounts of detail to his trains. They were very colorful and ran the gambit from having
actual real prototype liveries of actual train lines to bearing humorous road names and designs.
Many of the train items were almost whimsical, and provided a great amount of play value. McCoy
even incorporated operating music boxes manufactured by Sankyo in Japan in some cabooses, the
circus bandwagons, and of course, in the carousel. Early cars employed trucks with solid side frames, while
later ones were fitted with open side frame trucks.
It was a family operated business, with Bob McCoy acting as the brains of the
outfit (as per Margaret McCoy), Margaret McCoy as expert spot welder (also as per Margaret McCoy),
Bob McCoy Jr. as painter and Kevan McCoy as worker on everything. Pat Fowler individually
handpainted the comical character figures that appeared on the McCoy motorized hand cars.
McCoy had special relationships with the Train Collectors Association and the Toy Train Operating
Society, creating many Standard gauge convention cars, club cars and locomotives for these organizations. Between
1966 and 1981 and then between 1988 and 1998, McCoy manufactured a series of freight cars for the various divisions
and chapters of TCA that hosted National conventions. From 1982 to 1987 they made a series of 6 different passenger
cars for the TCA National conventions. These cars were built by McCoy but were only sold directly to club
members via the TCA. Many of these cars are displayed here on this page (below). McCoy also
created several one-of-a-kind pieces for the TCA that were given away as door prizes at conventions. These
items have become quite sought after and collectable, especially the ones made in an all chrome finish.
Bob McCoy, the company founder,
died in 1995. His wife and son, Bob Jr., ran the company until 1998, when they
ceased operations and permanently closed the factory in Kent. Bob McCoy, Jr. moved east
to Otis Orchard, WA. This small town near the eastern border of Washington became the new
home to McCoy Trains as Bob Jr. set up a new shop there. In the new shop, Bob Jr. made repairs to McCoy and
other trains and continued to produce a limited line of new 2nd generation McCoy trains and parts.
Although not widely known, McCoy offerings have a following with Standard gauge collectors,
particularly because the company often did very small production runs of its cars. The series of McCoy
cars that is the most cherished and sought
after are the Christmas cars. These cars were made by hand
in very limited quantities (12 or less) starting in 1966, and were given by Bob and Margaret McCoy to their closest friends
McCoy also had a whimsical side - creating a "Wappid Wabbit"
rail bus and an animated #45 handcar. McCoy Manufacturing was the largest producer of Standard gauge trains
subsequent to the golden age of Lionel Standard gauge.
They produced tens of thousands of pieces. In fact, the McCoy
family fabricated Standard gauge trains for just as many years as Lionel did sixty years earlier.