I like these French AS trains! I am partial to 3-rail, steam locomotives that are good representations of their prototype and, as I think I have illustrated in this article, AS trains meet this criteria. I note also that AS produced a range of locomotion for the French model railroader, from international travel to commuter service to yard operations.
I have known about AS trains for many years; I have AS catalogues and advertisements in my files from the mid-80s. But it wasn’t until last year, while researching my article about PAYA trains, that I “discovered” the trains on the French eBay site and started searching for more information on them. They are fairly rare. I expect some of their rarity is due to their relatively low production numbers and lack of marketing in the 80’s. But given the realism of many of the trains I am surprised that word of them has not spread beyond France.
Although AS trains have existed for thirty three years there is surprisingly little reference material available about these realistic trains. In his book “Encyclopedia du Train”, renowned author on French toys Clive Lamming only provides a two sentence description of the business and products of AS. On-line internet sources are almost non-existant. I have only found the web sitehttp://www.binnsroad.co.uk/railways/as/index.html which has all the pages of an early AS catalog. The web sitewww.blechzuch.lu/etr.htm displays many of the freight wagons produced by ETR.
The book ““AS une lègende en images”, reference #1 below, however is an outstanding reference book on the history of the AS marquis. It’s only “issue” is that it is published only in French and if you cannot read French, translation can be laborious. Measuring 10 inches by 13 inches, with 190 pages, the book uses full color, large format photos to illustrate the products of AS, La Rotonde, and ETR. As best I can tell it has a comprehensive and complete catalogue of the AS ‘0’ gauge and HO gauge products. It is still available for purchase and I highly recommend the book if you are interested in collecting this unique ‘0’ gauge marquis.
Reference #2 is a four page article from 1998 in the French toy collector’s periodical “La vie du JOUET” (The life of a toy). Also only available in French, its focus is only AS trains and has far fewer illustrations that are in black and white. The article, however, provides a good overview of AS trains and can still be purchased.
References for this article:
1. “AS une legende en images”
L’integrale du materiel en 0 et HO
Written by Jean-Noel Becherie, Michel Fort, Jacques Perraud
Published by La vie du Rail, Paris, 2011
2. “La vie du JOUET” (The life of a toy)
Issue Number 35 – September 1998
Article title: “La gamme AS en ecartement 0, De magnifiques jouets a l'ancienne” (AS range in spacing 0, Beautiful toys of the old)
Pages 28 – 31
3. “Brilliantly Old Fashioned, The Story of ACE O Gauge
Trains” by Allen Levy
Published by New Cavendish Books in association with ACE Trains, 2005
4. Wikipedia: 4-6-2 , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-6-2#France
One of the pleasures of writing these articles is meeting and communicating on-line with new individuals who share my interests in toy trains. I am always impressed by how willing people are to share what they know, discuss what they have, and offer to assist me in my search for some relevant piece of information. With an article such as this on AS trains, where there is virtually no information on the internet, being able to “talk” to collectors and operators on the subject is essential. This article would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of several individuals:
From France: Michel Fort, Laurent Sockeel, Jean Pierre Vergez-Larrouy
From Germany: M. Koblischka
From The Netherlands: Fred van der Lubbe
From the UK: Tom Dunstall, Graeme Eldred, Kevin Finch (The Station Masters Rooms), Robert J. Kaufeler, Bob Leggett (SAS), Allen Levy, Bryan Pentland
From the US: Robert Schreyer
In particular I want to thank Robert J. Kaufeler for his support.
Robert, an avid collector of AS trains, took many photographs of his collection
for me to “pick and choose” from. He has a good understanding of
history of the train marquee and he patiently responded to my many questions.
I appreciate very much his support.
Do you collect and/or operate European 3-rail trains? If so, I'd like to hear about your interest. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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