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Saw a thread with an AF "smoke in tender" question.

I had never heard of a "smoke in tender" AF steam engine before, so, being curious, I hit the thread to see what that was about. Smoke in tender? Weird. I hit eBay and sure 'nuf, they had some. The "smoke in tender" concept looks sort of funky. However, that's beside the point.

While I was at eBay looking at the results for "American Flyer steam engine", I looked at some of the listings for AF steam engines. I had to admit to myself that AF made some mighty handsome postwar steam engines.

Got me to wondering: Would it be possible/practical to take an AF PW-type approach and do a "hi-rail" layout with and portray a semi-sincere* "1940s" look? That is, AF PW-type steam engines, rolling stock comprising of boxcar red, mineral red, black, browns, etc. running on a better looking track system than the old AF system.

* "Semi-sincere": As in structures/scenic treatment/etc.

In other words, can a look similar to the pic below be practical in S scale with the bulk of the equipment being "traditional" equipment?

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Lastly: How would it run? Do the AF steam engines perform decently for rudimentary switching/etc?

Again, just curious.

Comments most welcomed.

Andre

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I don't see why not, Andre.  I've seen some pretty respectable traditional O railroads on the forum, and it should be no different than with traditional Flyer.  Particularly as Gilbert did mostly prototypical paint schemes.

It pretty much boils down to the scenery treatment and not using or careful placement the out of scale accessories.   However, it would be pretty hard to do the slow speed switching, as I recall, the Flyer e-unit needs about 5v to trip.

Rusty

Scenery is the key to giving a layout a hi-rail/scale look. A 1940's look with Gilbert diecast steam is very possible with realistic scenery. The tuscan, brown and red colored rolling stock produced by Gilbert is limited, after all color cars sold better, but tons available by AM and SHS. There is always the airbrush. Rudimentary switching is difficult as Rusty explained. One solution is the use of Legacy/TMCC control with a Powermaster. You then have the ability to operate conventional engines with the handheld controller which allows for slow speed operation of units with original drive and reverse units. Another solution is a can motor drop in conversion with an electronic reverse unit. You will get the slow speed operation although with a conventional transformer, start up's and reversing smoothness might be dependent on the transformer used.  A combination of both, drive conversion plus operation with Legacy/TMCC handheld would probably be the smoothest. Definitely doable.

Rich

Andre

I agree with Rusty. Decent scenery and cautious use of accessories should result in a nice layout. For simple running, the PW Gilbert steamers are very good: smooth and quiet. Gargraves, although not really "scale" looking, is a reasonable, affordable option to the old Flyer track. And it's made in the US, which is kinda cool.

Wait: I thought you had "given up" on S and was back to HO scale! 😁

Mark in Oregon

Thanks for your thoughts, Rusty.

I figured it would be possible, as it would be in Lionel traditional PW and PW-like traditional equipment. I also figure actually trying to switch with the stuff would be about the same as switching with PW and PW-type equipment: Doable, but not at "realistic" speeds. However, if it came to me doing a layout in either PW or AF... likely by that time I won't be as picky?

Anyway, to my eyes there would be a very BIG plus:

* The AF stuff is very nicely proportioned. The engines don't look foreshortened, the rolling stock is in proportion with the engines/etc. Thus if it a target piece for acquisition is "AF traditional", it's essentially "safe" to purchase for it will match proportionally to the other equipment. This isn't always the case with Lionel PW and PW-type equipment.

However, for me there would be some "cons" along with the above.

* The "as delivered" coupler options aren't very palatable. The hook 'n loops look really bad, and the "knuckle" version is more visually intrusive than 3-rail knuckles. Thus, now I'd be talking coupler conversions of some type.

* NONE of the true tinplate AF track would be appealing to me. I would have to use a different track system that would be more conducive to the overall goal of such an approach. (Goal: Nice looking AF equipment in a semi-serious scenic setting.)

* I suspect there may not be much variety among the steam engines, however it could be on par with Lionel PW. In Lionel PW, there are three basic "traditional" steam models that I like: The Berk boiler Hudson's, the "Santa Fe" boiler Hudson's, and the Berkshire. (Well, possibly a fourth: The little 2-6-4 boiler as pictured above. But it's really small.) Given the number variations that Lionel produced these in, there would a "fair" amount of number/model selection. That may not be the case with AF's steam offerings.

However, for now this is all just a thought excersise for me. At this point my dexterity and eyesight are still up to the rigors of HO modeling. My interest is Lionel PW, or even AF, would be for when the time should arrive that HO is just too demanding.

BUT... I had not considered AF as an alternative until now. I highly suspect the end result could be more visually appealing than the same approach using Lionel PW (and similar offerings)?

All fer now.

Andre

Hi Mark!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, too!

As mentioned above in my reply to Rusty: This is just a mental exercise at this point.

The saving grace would be that I'm not talking scale S.

Scale S opens up different cans of worms that my quirks would have to address. Instead, by mentally looking at traditional AF... then this mental exercise becomes an alternative to the same idea of mine that I have for Lionel PW.

Namely: Traditional trains (be it Lionel PW and its ilk or AF) within a sincere scenic approach. (Smaller rail that's painted/ballasted/weathered, close to scale structures that are weathered/etc.)

Another observation: Seems that good AF stuff can be had at, or below, the prices Lionel PW are commanding right now.

Andre

Last edited by laming

That was the criteria for my layout. Operate original Gilbert and modern S highrail in a scale appearing environment. Just use MTH, FVM or FasTrack, all are solid NS .138 rail. That is the smallest rail that Flyer wheels will run on.
Here are a couple of pictures. The last picture is during construction prior to detailing and ballasting the yard. It shows how uncouplers were integrated into the track system.

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Last edited by AmFlyer

Andre,

With original Flyer, the sky is the limit for what you can do. If you like switching, I would recommend converting to DC for track power. A simple full wave bridge rectifier from Radio Shack (used to cost about $1.79) in the engine and another on your transformer along with a DPDT toggle and you will improve operation tremendously.

If you’ve caught the fever, the next step is to convert your switching engines to can motors like the ones from SNS. Doug Peck also sell another brand, but I don’t recall the name. My 342DC operates close to what a can motor will do, without any conversion

I agree with you, I do not like the Flyer style knuckle couplers. They are terrible for switching ops… you have to hump the car at about 20mph to get them to close. An unloaded gondola will never close, it’s too light. I use a mix of Flyer link and Kadee #5s with my own magnetic uncoupler for the #5s. My afore mentioned 342DC has a #5 on the front and a link on the tender.

I will also second Tom’s suggestion for track. SHS or the new MTH flex is fantastic. Fox Valley also makes code 138 flex. FV also has a #5 turnout for Hi-rail/Flyer. I find I mix American Models .148” flex and #4 turnouts with the .137" without a problem (I have no trouble running scale wheels across the joints, either).

As for scenery, I’m sure you have seen Brooks Stover’s layouts. His first was AM .148” rail and turnouts with modified Flyer engines and rolling stock.

There is a ton of Flyer to be had and a lot is ready for repaint and details as far as you want to push it.

My 2¢,

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Wow guys! Some great replies. Let me get started...

First off, this is another tangled web I'm weaving for myself! My first inclination was, should the time come that I want to up size and simplify, to do so with a PW-type traditional 3-rail with semi-sincere scenery and call it good. However, taking the same approach and applying it to AF-type S trains is a whole new ballgame for me.

AmFlyer Tom:

That is EXACTLY what I see in my mind. The scenic examples you've shared make the AF stuff look fantastic. Thanks for sharing those. Also, what track system am I looking at in your photos?

Chuck K:

That is a great looking scene you've got there, too. What track is that?

Tom S:

DC, eh? You bring up and interesting point, Tom! So, if I installed rectifiers in the engines, would that mean I could use conventional DC power (i.e. not an AF transformer)?  I still have a Troller walk-around or two left over from my previous HO years, and MRC Tech2 stationary throttle power pack, that sort of power/control sources?

prrjim:

Trying to do scale S was fraught with frustration for me after a few years. I would want to avoid falling into that pit again. Also, I will need to keep some type of contact with the "toy train" aspect. Otherwise, I wouldn't be simplifying anything, but I would be doing scale modeling again, only trying to do so in S. That's not what I see for me should the time come for me to make a change from HO. Instead, I would want minimal time at the workbench doing exacting work... trading such for more time tinkering with the layout.

RoyBoy:

Good point: AF was always scale sized. My thinking tendency comes from my exposure to Lionel PW. As for the rubber road bed: I've seen it in pictures and it is a definite improvement. However, at this early stage in the thought process, my thinking would be to use the smallest rail that the AF flanges will accommodate. However, if I get too close to scale... then I may end up bringing in the things that would be causing me to be leaving HO: Drilling tiny holes and adding tiny details, etc, etc. There will need to be a "toy train connection" in my mind for this idea to ever have a chance in the future.

I really appreciate the replies, and I love the pictures!

All fer now.

Andre

My track is MTH flex track. It uses .138 rail. Chucks layout uses Lionel S gauge sectional FasTrack. As you can see when detailed and ballasted it looks great. These layouts run any Gilbert Flyer ever made plus all modern Lionel Flyer, SHS, MTH, and American models. The track will also allow operation of scale wheeled equipment within the limits of the track radius.

My layout uses Legacy as well as conventional operation. If you decide to use DC track power be aware that only the newer Lionel Legacy engines will work with DC. The older Lionel Flyer Legacy and TMCC engines require AC. All original Gilbert plus all American Models will run with DC track power.

I've considered the same approach - blending AM and Lionel steam with AF cars - in an otherwise mostly-scale layout application.  It's the darn freight rolling stock that's been the issue for me in my desire to do scale S -  the SHS / PRS boxcars / reefers are so hard to locate for early 40s railroading - especially ATSF - but there seems to be plenty of the AF rolling stock out there that would "work". 

Jacobpaul:

I understand.

If I were to ever do this, I would hope to avoid the need to paint/decal in order to get what I would like to have in rolling stock. Besides, decals in S scale are not exactly plentiful.

As with this idea I had for Lionel PW, my target era would be the late 1940s. That would leave the door open should I decide to do a PA powered passenger train and such.

If this idea goes much further, there will be much to explore and learn. I don't even know what types of steam engines AF made, nor do I know if most of them smoke/etc. I don't think any of them have whistles, correct?

Andre

I think I left a misimpression about the AF by Lionel. All conventional AF from Lionel will run on DC. I believe all the FlyerChief engines will run on DC. When Lionel introduced TMCC to S gauge in 2005 they required AC track power as did the subsequent Legacy engines through about 2012 production. Newer engines with the Legacy system are now made to use either AC or DC track power. In S gauge Legacy engines made beginning in about 2012 will also run with DCC.

@laming posted:

Jacobpaul:

I understand.

If I were to ever do this, I would hope to avoid the need to paint/decal in order to get what I would like to have in rolling stock. Besides, decals in S scale are not exactly plentiful.

As with this idea I had for Lionel PW, my target era would be the late 1940s. That would leave the door open should I decide to do a PA powered passenger train and such.

If this idea goes much further, there will be much to explore and learn. I don't even know what types of steam engines AF made, nor do I know if most of them smoke/etc. I don't think any of them have whistles, correct?

Andre

Andre, if you want to do some quick research on what Gilbert made, MyFlyerTrains has most of the catalogs from 1938 to 1967 online.

Rusty

@laming posted:

Tom S:

DC, eh? You bring up and interesting point, Tom! So, if I installed rectifiers in the engines, would that mean I could use conventional DC power (i.e. not an AF transformer)?  I still have a Troller walk-around or two left over from my previous HO years, and MRC Tech2 stationary throttle power pack, that sort of power/control sources?

Andre,

To a certain degree, if you use rectifiers in the engines, they will run on anything that produces DC.  However, it comes down to amps.  I have an old Tech2 and it just didn’t have the amps to move the older open frame motors of the original Flyer.  They moved, but not very fast.  But with the Flyer converted to can motors, no problem.  The old open frames run very well when you use a Flyer transformer with a rectifier.  Again, it’s the amps.

I gut the electronics of any Lionel engine that won’t run on DC.  Once all the boards are out of the engine, they are DC.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

@laming posted:


<snip>

Got me to wondering: Would it be possible/practical to take an AF PW-type approach and do a "hi-rail" layout with and portray a semi-sincere* "1940s" look? That is, AF PW-type steam engines, rolling stock comprising of boxcar red, mineral red, black, browns, etc. running on a better looking track system than the old AF system.

* "Semi-sincere": As in structures/scenic treatment/etc.



Comments most welcomed.

Andre



Well, yes. This was done very well for the times (with Gilbert's rubber roadbed) about 70 years ago.

unnamed

Behold, a Gilbert Hall of Science layout!  Sorry, but someone had to mention this.

One cannot but not notice how much better 2-rail track looks compared to the 3-rail track in the OP's picture.

Have fun, Andre!

Bob

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I've been enjoying my dive into Flyer. I plan on switching my layout over at some point. I still prefer O but I see the layout advantages. More things in the same space. The O will go on shelves and get brought out for floor layouts until some day I can build a large enough layout.

I plan on using fastrack since I like the wider curves. I don't dislike the tubular stuff but I prefer wider curves. I know K Line offered wider curves but not turn outs to my knowledge. Plus the rubber roadbed seems tough to find at a decent price for the wider stuff.

HO just always seems too small. I think S is the best compromise.

AmFlyer Tom:

I think I have it now. Only issues with DC would be the command control Flyonel engines.

Rusty:

Thanks! (I think? I really shouldn't be tossing this idea around!) I'll bet that place will be good for some browse time!

Tom S:

I gotcha. I figured it was the same: Gut the electronics and it's pure-dee ol' DC.

Bob:

Well, I ain't even anywhere near the sharpest tack in box when it comes to AF. I didn't have a clue (but should have figured) that AF had expansive display layouts. Previously, AF was never much appeal to me until this hair brained idea that I started kicking around.

RamblerDon:

I understand your enjoyment of diving into Flyer. The hi-rail pics I'm seeing of AF look very nice.

All:

Looking back, I still very much feel that I might have survived my S scale foray had I gone the hi-rail approach instead of frustrating myself in expecting scale S to be like HO with variety and horns of plenty from many mfg'ers. Just ain't there for scale S.

All fer now!

Andre

Last edited by laming
@RamblerDon posted:

I've been enjoying my dive into Flyer. I plan on switching my layout over at some point. I still prefer O but I see the layout advantages. More things in the same space. The O will go on shelves and get brought out for floor layouts until some day I can build a large enough layout.

I plan on using fastrack since I like the wider curves. I don't dislike the tubular stuff but I prefer wider curves. I know K Line offered wider curves but not turn outs to my knowledge. Plus the rubber roadbed seems tough to find at a decent price for the wider stuff.

HO just always seems too small. I think S is the best compromise.

The fact of bypassing Kline track is wise. I had found when I did my layout which is all tubular track that the Kline gauging is narrow. It's not a problem if you only run Flyer but, you will have issues when you try running American Models locomotives, they will ride up on the flanges. Ask me how l know.

Ray

@laming posted:

Bob:

Well, I ain't even anywhere near the sharpest tack in box when it comes to AF. I didn't have a clue (but should have figured) that AF had expansive display layouts. Previously, AF was never much appeal to me until this hair brained idea that I started kicking around.

Andre

Andre, your question is a very reasonable one, indeed, for which an answer in the affirmative was in the Gilbert playbook and DNA from the get go. Gilbert was early into HO, too, in 1938. I was just providing a friendly little reminder.

Have fun!

Bob

Last edited by Bob Bubeck
@laming posted:

Looking back, I still very much feel that I might have survived my S scale foray had I gone the hi-rail approach instead of frustrating myself in expecting scale S to be like HO with variety and horns of plenty from many mfg'ers. Just ain't there for scale S.

Andre

Well, with HiRail (the horn of not-so-plenty???) it's slightly better than scale because you then have access to the newer scale detailed locomotives (and one freight car) put out by Lionel/Flyer that you can throw a Kadee on if you desire.

At it's most basic level, the only real difference between S Scale and S HiRail is wheels and couplers.

Otherwise, S is still predominantly American Models, secondary market SHS and MTH, DesPlaines/S Scale America and what ever ScaleTrains is going to eventually produce.

Rusty

So far I'm sticking to only early link coupler items. I want tk keep myself undercontrol. I just got a 332 in the mail and I love it. I haven't been this excited since I got a 763e.

I think if you give Flyer a shot you will enjoy it.

I also now understand why folks get attached to the smoke fluid scent. It has a unique quality I can't quite place but it is oddly enjoyable.

Well... y'all have given me a lot to think about.

Later in the year, I "may" pick up one of the more "premium" steam engines (love the Hudson's) for a look see, and perhaps an oval of track. You never know? (Perhaps it can share Christmas Tree duty with my mini-collection of PW 3-rail?)

This much I'm convinced of: One can have a very nice looking layout using AF-type equipment.

AmFlyer Tom's layout, and Carl Tuevson's (sp?) layout, and others have amply proven that to me. (I think I recall a "richbar" or some name like that having a nice S scale hi-rail layout, too?)

Anyway... this may just be a mental exercise on my part. Could be I can model HO to the grave?

But... if not, and I want to up size and simplify, then S hi-rail would be right there as an option alongside my similar idea of using Lionel PW and PW-type equipment for doing the same.

Anyway you slice it, having only two rails is a visual plus... but may be a bit of a detriment to me? (For some reason that center rail reminds I'm playing with trains, so I don't need to be so picky and counting rivets!)

Anyway... we shall see!

In the meantime I will continue to oogle you guy's layouts that are S hi-rail.

Andre

Last edited by laming

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