When I got back into American Flyer in 1998, I had already been involved heavily with computers for 20 years. I thought about how I could make a contribution to the Flyer hobby, and came up with the idea of scanning the Gilbert Catalogs and putting them online so that everyone could access them. In 1998, I had 30mb of website space, that cost me nearly $15 a month. This was not even enough space to put up one catalog. It took some years for price of hosting space to drop, but in 2002 it was finally a practical project. I scanned the catalogs that I had, and all of the catalogs that my friend Tom had, and that started the site. To get more content, catalogs were loaned to me by people from as far away as South Africa! I scanned them all and returned them to their owners. Some of the catalogs I just had to buy to scan.
The 1946 catalog was a hard one to find in really good condition. Finally I got one on eBay for around $125. When it arrived, I was shocked to see how big the catalog was! It was so wide it hung off the flatbed scanner by inches. I tried to find a bigger scanner that I could afford to buy, but no luck. I even put the catalog on the floor with a camera above it mounted on a tripod, but the results were poor. Finally I decided to try scanning each catalog page twice, and hand splice them together, and this worked. This is also the reason that the scans of the 1946 catalog have had the vertical lines top to bottom, just left of center. (These vertical lines also make my scans of this catalog easily recognizable!) The original 1946 catalog took weeks of work to get online, but it was worth it.
Now, the 1946 Gilbert catalog has been refreshed. I used my panoramic photo stitching software to splice the two halves of the pages together, resulting in scans with no vertical lines! The largest photos are line free, the intermediate sized ones on facing pages are still the old scans that were hand spliced, so they still have the lines.