I've been following this thread for a while now, and am enjoying it thoroughly! Whatever your decision, remember that it's YOUR railroad and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Since you said you're not a rivet counter and you don't like the bear claw couplers (BTW the hard core guys refer to them as "lobster claws") the hi-rail route sounds about right for you.
With that in mind, I agree with Rusty's confession on using AM's code 148 track. There are a number of well respected model railroaders out there who have used it with great results. One disadvantage with it is that the turnouts aren't all that "scale" friendly, in that trains taking the diverging route with scale wheels will pick the frog point. However, a simple fix is discussed in the directions with the turnouts. The fix, however, will render the turnouts unfriendly to the Flyer wheels (which the hard core scalers refer to as "pizza cutter" wheels). Some big pluses on the AM track system are that it's practically bullet proof, looks good, comes in section varieties and flextrack, and is made in the USA. On my new layout, I used SHS's flextrack which is labeled as code 125, but measures .135" or 137" depending on how well you can read a micrometer. My turnouts are made with a Fast Tracks jig using SHS rail. However, with the recent sale of SHS to MTH, the track isn't available any more, but may soon be. Exactly when is the question. Why did I go with SHS track? I guess it was a toss up between the two. I decided on SHS because I'm a cheapskate, and got a few boxes on a great sale. I also am a DIY type guy and like making things, so the turnouts were a fun challenge. They follow the style of Tom Stoltz' turnouts and can accommodate both scale and hi-rail wheels. Do a search on his products. But he cannot get any more rail, so he's in a bind now as to making more turnouts. Besides, he's also very backed up on orders since he isn't in business to make a lot of money, and has a real day job. As to making turnouts on the FT jig, I used a small belt sander to rough in the taper on the rails and finished them off in the FT filing fixture. I made 20 of the turnouts and got to a point where I eyeballed the taper on the frog and closure rails instead of using the jig.
As far as detailing AF stuff for use on a scale layout, guys have been doing it for years before the advent of American Models and SHS. However, the new rolling stock from AM and SHS is great right out of the box. I have to admit to being in the "close enough" school of model railroading. I enjoy counting rivets from time to time, but don't dwell on it. I also enjoy seeing and running my old AF items, and bashing new ones. So as far as scale detailed trucks, either SHS or AM's are just fine with me. Adapting them to AF can be done. With the smooth running of AM and SHS locomotives, why re-power them? Unless you're referring to Flyer steamers. Can motor conversions are available for them at a reasonable price and it's a drop in swap. Something a MoPar man can appreciate. ;>
Thanks for bringing this whole thread up. It's made us all stop and realize why we're in S, and livened up this forum.