Track Identification

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  1. The information on this page has been largely assembled from observation of the track in this museum. It is recognized that this is only a fraction of what was made, although I hope that the track in this museum is reasonably representative. It needs to be noted that it is often necessary to "connect dots" in arriving at a conclusion, and it is recognized that this can have limitations for totally accurate information. Any viewer who has new information or corrections to offer, is welcome to contact me, and I would be most happy to correct or update any information presented here.
  2. The identification of Gauge 2, Standard, Wide and Gauge 1 is usually made readily from embossed, stamped or decalled  markings, or distinctive design features,  on the track pieces.
  3. With the advent of Gauge 0, most manufacturers ceased to mark their track with embossed or stamped markings, with the result that its identification often becomes deductive based on one or more identifying features. "Track identification" is therefore substantially a toy train era Gauge 0 (and 027) issue. For additional identification information for Gauge 0 track, visit the Museum itself and scroll down to "Gauge 0". 
  4. Inevitably, there are pieces that are a mystery in one way or another. Please check the Mystery Department

INDEX
Manufacturers
    Embossed Manufacturer Identification
    Labels and Nameplates

The Track itself
    Track Pins
    Embossed or stamped Track Identification
    Tie (sleeper) Design
    Tie Design (Camber)
    Turnout Throws
    Distinctive Tie Holes
    Distinctive Track Clips
    Distinctive Third Rails
    Turnout Baseplates

Manufacturers

Today, all manufacturers of track imprint the make somewhere on the track, and with plastic as a major component of all types of track, this is of course much easier. In the toy train age (down through to Gauge 0), however, when tin ruled the rails, identification can be rather more difficult. Some major manufacturers, such as Märklin, Bing, Lionel, Ives and Hornby did use a variety of means to identify their track, but the American Flyer family (Hafner, Edmunds-Metzel, Chicago Flyer, American Flyer)  is substantially by association (other than for American Flyer's Wide Gauge), although some versions of the American Flyer turnouts and crossings had labels, from which it is possible (in some cases) to make deductions about their track designs. Similarly Dorfan turnouts had distinctive throw-levers, and again by association it is possible to identify their track. A complication is that early manufacturers freely copied each other's designs, and also some toy firms, notably Bing, had alliances with other firms such as American Flyer, Ives, Hornby and Bassett-Lowke that can make real origins difficult to trace without reference to early catalogs that are now very scarce, if not nigh impossible to obtain.

Embossed or stamped manufacturer identification:

This form of identification was almost universal with all major manufacturers with the exception of American Flyer (other than their Wide Gauge), Lionel 027, Marx and Dorfan, although all of these usually identified their turnouts and crossings, from which it is often possible to deduce related track design by the shape of the ties and clamps holding the rails. It was less usual, if not rare, with lesser manufacturers.

European Manufacturers:

Very early Märklin logo GM "Gebrüder Märklin" (Brothers Märklin)

Very early Märklin logo GM "Gebrüder Märklin" (Brothers Märklin)

Modified early Märklin logo - see left

Modified early Märklin logo - see left

Märklin "bicycle" logo GMC (Gebrüder Märklin Cie [Company])

Märklin "bicycle" logo GMC (Gebrüder Märklin Cie [Company])

Early Bing logo GBN (Gebrüder Bing Nürnberg [factory location])

Early Bing logo GBN (Gebrüder Bing Nürnberg [factory location])

Bing "combo" logo, consisting of both the early logo and its replacement (see right) ca 1923/4.

Bing "combo" logo, consisting of both the early logo and its replacement (see right) ca 1923/4.

Bing: Later logo BW "Bing Werke" (Bing Works), and also stamped "Germany" as an identifier for its considerable export market to the UK and the USA.

Bing: Later logo BW "Bing Werke" (Bing Works), and also stamped "Germany" as an identifier for its considerable export market to the UK and the USA.

Bing Gauge 1 for export "Patent G.B." (Gebrüder Bing [Bing Brothers]) "Bavaria", courtesy Nicholas Lee

Bing Gauge 1 for export "Patent G.B." (Gebrüder Bing [Bing Brothers]) "Bavaria", courtesy Nicholas Lee

Beckh KG logo courtesy Menno Kornfeld, identified by Peter Marendy

Beckh KG logo courtesy Menno Kornfeld, identified by Peter Marendy

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