I renewed my train interest in January by resurrecting my 1950s era American Flyer diesel engine set with its Gilbert #16B transformer, Gilbert track, and Gilbert 720A remote control switches.  Since then I’ve added a lot of s-gauge rubber backed track, more 720A switches, a couple of vintage AC locomotives, and new MTH Z4000 transformers.   Have been on a fast and very interesting learning curve and the OGR forums have been helpful in my seeing new opportunities.  Over the summer I discovered the new FlyerChief Berkshire offerings of Lionel and was pleased with the added features that came with that.  I really like the sounds, Odyssey Speed control, etc that come with FlyerChief.  The mobility of the FlyerChief handheld remote is a nice feature, but not essential on my modest 10ft x 10ft layout. 


After a good bit of research and pondering, last week I added a Legacy Command Set along with a couple of Legacy-configured locomotives.  I was somewhat concerned that I’d have some trouble getting the Legacy system and Legacy engines to operate correctly on my vintage Gilbert track, switches, reversing loops, block wiring, etc.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that everything operated without a hitch.  So, I thought I’d share my experience and layout configuration with others who might be considering adding Legacy to a vintage Gilbert layout.  It worked for me. 


I have attached a pdf summary of my high-density layout to help someone else know what has worked.  A photo of my layout is also attached below.  My current layout has no scenery or landscaping; it is merely an operational layout.  For now, I am more interested in running my trains than building scenery.  Maybe sometime in the future I’ll add a tree or two. 


Hope this is of some value to others considering adding a Legacy Command Set as I’ve learned a lot from the OGR forum and other online model train sites … Tuveson, Lionel videos, Portline, etc.  I will emphasize that running modern engines on vintage Gilbert track and Gilbert 720A switches is a daily challenge.  Switches require frequent retuning, track requires daily checking of connections. level, etc.  Also, seems the newer Legacy engines are not as forgiving as vintage locomotives to vintage Gilbert track/switches irregularities.  But, I’m still able to ‘make it work’ by tweaking here and tweaking there.  I have found that the heavier the locomotive, the better it operates on my vintage Gilbert track and switches.  Of course, my R20 curves are a challenge too, but my platform is just too small to go with a larger radius. 


Couple of months ago I bought an MTH EMD F-3 with ProtoSound 3.0 and have been running that engine conventionally with my Z4000 throttles and accessing its nice bell/whistle/dialogue via the Z4000 included buttons.  It’s heavy so runs well on my vintage track.  I don’t have DCS so currently unable to use all of the ProtoSound 3.0 features.  Considering adding DCS in the future, but that’s a ‘maybe’ at this point.   More research needed to sort out running DCS on a vintage Gilbert layout like mine. 




Photos (1)
Files (1)
Original Post

Tom, Really good to hear that all is well with the Gilbert tracks and switches. Yes the Legacy system is great. My layout is all Gilbert tracks and switches, the switches have been modified by moving the motors below the table. I have been using, first TMCC, and now Legacy for probably 8 to 10 years, maybe longer with very little trouble with tracks or switches. We have run most all locomotives from 0-6-0 switcher to the Big Boy pretty much without a hitch, seems like all but my AM PAs and SP coaches run fine. Like you I have a few Flyer Chief engines and these are all good. You don't mention if you are using Powemasters or not. Those will allow you to run your vintage Gilbert engines with the handset without modifying the locomotives.

Flyer forever



One thing I did not mention is the K- line track that Mark mentioned has a little tighter gauge than the Flyer track, I had a few pieces of K-line on my layout and found that American Models engines would ride up on the rails.


 Glad you have shared the layout with us.   And glad you have joined us here at OGR.  if you Ever wish to tweek  your great track layout, As a 3 rail fan I definitely recommend Gargrave track and switches.  My curves are 42. The Company is not too big to take care of the small operator. At least in  O Gauge.😉 

I would think in your S as well. Just saying.

Good Thanksgiving to your family.  Trains deliver great times with family involved.😀

John s.


Great layout!  You should be commended for creating the layout description pdf.

I have a question about grades for classic Flyer trains.  I have build several AF S layouts over the years. They have all been flat tops without any grades. I noticed the use of the trestle set on your return loop. Do you experience any great speed build up on the downward leg and will this lead to catastrophic derailments?

I am considering building the 28141 display layout from 1959-60 which fits in a 4x8 board. My concern is a train running off the track.  Any advice?


Ref JIM Z:  "I noticed the use of the trestle set on your return loop. Do you experience any great speed build up on the downward leg and will this lead to catastrophic derailments?"

Yes, this is the standard Gilbert trestle set.   My experience is:

    - Conventional AC engines: I am right on the throttle 'boosting' voltage going up to maintain speed and as soon as the loco heads down, I ease the throttle back to avoid overspeeding.  Easy to do though standing right at the Z4000 throttles on my layout ... I throttle back a bit just before heading downward then ease the throttle back some more as the loco gets on the downslope then advance the throttle again as the loco levels out on the main flat layout. 

    - Constant Speed Lionel Legacy/FlyerChief, or MTH Protosound engines:  A real delight as the loco electronics maintain their speed going up, coming down, and going around my reverse loops.  No need to nurse 'em with the Z4000 throttles. 



FlyerRich posted:

I haven't had to take any precautions on my #351 display layout which is operated conventionally. I set it and forget it. However it only has 90 degree turns where the #28141 is a figure 8. Still, I don't think I'd worry about it too much.

Thanks Tom and Rich!

Jim Z

Add Reply

Likes (1)
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653