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Dorfan model trains & toys history

Dorfan was an American toy company based in Newark, New Jersey, specializing in O gauge and Wide gauge toy trains. It was founded in 1924 by Milton and Julius Forcheimer, two immigrants from Nuremberg, Germany, whose family was involved in the production of Fandor trains. The name was made from the first names of Milton's and Julius' mother's sisters, Fanny and Dora.

A Fandor engineer, John C. Koerber, helped to get Dorfan started and Dorfan opened for business at 137 Jackson St. in Newark, N.J. 1924 was a good year to start making and selling trains - business was booming and the stock market was on a roll. Dorfan was the first U.S. train manufacturer to use die casting in its manufacturing process. However, Dorfan's alloys suffered from impurities, which weakened the metal and caused the trains to disintegrate over time. Dorfan replaced the damaged parts, but at great expense.

Dorfan logoDorfan trains were promoted as being educational in that they were easy to disassemble and actually encouraged customers to take the trains apart and learn how they worked. Dorfan was the first U.S. train manufacturer to use zinc die casting methods on a large scale in its manufacturing process. Their trains were made primarily of a copper-zinc alloy termed Dorfan Alloy, which was strong and light weight, but impurities in the alloy oxidized over time causing the metal to expand and crack.

At its peak, Dorfan had about 150 employees, but the Great Depression wiped out the company. It ended production in 1934, although old inventory was sold at least until 1936.

Few Dorfan trains survive today, making them among the rarest and most valuable of toy trains.

Some of the Dorfan tooling was later used by Unique Art to make its tinplate trains in the early 1950s.

Dorfan trains

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Gary Breitag - March 1, 2014

My wife has a complete Dorfan train set in very good shape. We would like to know the value of the train set......Thanks Gary
►reply: Hi Gary! Best is to check out eBay (if you have an account, you can search through ended listings) to see what your set or similar ones fetched.

Carol Bell - October 24, 2013

I have a Dorfan freight train, engine and six cars, but no caboose. It has "June 24, 1924" on the engine which of course needs re-building. It has lots of paint chips and scratches. What is the value?

Ted Wachs - November 25, 2011

I have a set of O gauge passenger cars with roller bearing wheels. I think they may be Dorfan. They have a plate on them that says "West Chicago Limited. Car numbers are 5379, 2854, 5421, 3245, 8524, 4265. Tender number is 5748 no engine.

Fred J Rydman - December 25, 2010

I am interested in info on these trains - anything about them.
►reply: I have updated this page with more info.

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PREWAR DORFAN WINDUP ENGINE 2 DORFAN LIGHTED
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Vintage Dorfan Lines 610 Crane 0 Gauge
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24 REPRO STD GA DORFAN FREIGHT WHEELS MEW
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Set of 6 Dorfan Freight Cars 0 Gauge
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Three Prewar Dorfan O Gauge Coaches Nice
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Dorfan 211 O Gauge Freight Set Boxed 51
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Pre war standard gauge Dorfan tank car
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Pre War Dorfan Train Lines 607 Caboose 0
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vintage german painted tin$19.99
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DORFAN 51 O GAUGE ELECTRIC LOCO TWO 5402
dorfan 51 o gauge electric$175.00
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VINTAGE DORFAN LINES COAL TRAIN CAR MARKED
vintage dorfan lines coal$7.95
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O GAUGE PRE WAR DORFAN PULLMAN OBSERVATION
o gauge pre war dorfan pullman$9.95
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DORFAN O GAUGE TRAIN CABOOSE
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DORFAN TRAIN BRIDGE ACCESSORIES
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O PRE WAR DORFAN UNION PACIFIC BOX CAR 126432
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Dorfan pre war standard gauge caboose
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MTH 10 5039 Dorfan 4 Car Standard Gauge
mth 10 5039 dorfan 4 car$425.00
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DORFAN STANDARD GAUGE LITHOGRAPHED TAN GREEN
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O DORFAN IVES PRE WAR WIND UP 0 4 0 ELECTRIC
o dorfan ives pre war wind up$34.95
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Dorfan GIRDER BRIDGE Decal is rough Play
dorfan girder bridge decal isends in 14h$12.00
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DORFAN 3930 STANDARD GAUGE 4 4 4 CROCODILE
dorfan 3930 standard gauge 4 4$995.00
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Dorfan Lines Freight Passenger Toy Railroad
dorfan lines freight passenger$499.00
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