Here's a small update on the American Flyer Auto Carrier cars.
(Sorry I don't have any layout pics to accompany this post.)
My club had our modular layout displayed this weekend on Sat. and Sun. at a local train show. I thought it was a good time to try out my personal Lionel O27 auto carrier conversions from earlier this year with our club's newly modified Gilbert turnouts. The results weren't so good but it was entirely my fault. When I converted the O27 cars to S gauge I tried to limit the height of the car to match the height of the prototype-(ish) car. Well that didn't allow me enough room under the floor of the car to properly raise the uncoupler tabs to a height where they would not hit the moving point rails on a Gilbert turnout. Many of my conversions had the tab hit the rails and then uncouple. They run fine on my home layout but then again I am using AF Fastrack and have zero turnouts on my home layout loops. To run my cars on the club layout would require raising the car body above the trucks to a height that allows me to bend up the coupler shank. I think I'll pass on that.
But... to my surprise today another club member showed up with a fresh DOZEN of new AF Auto carriers he just received from Charles Ro yesterday afternoon! The cars look good to me. Scale guys will pass on them as they are much wider than an ordinary S gauge car. But they look good in a long string of cars being pulled by an SD70Ace. The graphics on the cars are very good as you would expect from Lionel. Some of the micro printing is so tiny that it's probably close to scale in size. The cars ran smoothly over the modified Gilbert turnouts with a few exceptions. Some of the cars needed the coupler arm bent slightly upward so the uncoupling tab would not hit the point rails. It was easy to do. We rotated the truck 90 degrees so the coupler shank stuck out to the side of the car. Then the arm could be easily bent up a bit. Making sure the newly raised arm did not touch the end sill of the car all was well.
EDIT: I might note here that Lionel did what I expected them to do with the trucks on these cars. The original O27 cars obviously used O gauge trucks. They were riveted or screwed to the floor of the car where shown in this picture:
During my conversions the S gauge truck I used mounted forward of that hole into an added piece of plexiglass. That way I could use an unmodified S gauge truck/coupler.
On the new cars Lionel used the original O27 mounting hole for the S gauge trucks. But they also had to extend the truck coupler arm so that the coupler could clear the end sill and have enough swing for r20 curves. What they did was to fabricate an ~ one inch long extension piece for the coupler arm. One end of the extension is riveted to the original arm and the coupler is riveted to the other end of the extension. It is a good compromise and allowed Lionel to use the original truck mounting location. The new trucks are also riveted to the car floor.
The interior of the car still has the raised bumps on both floors. This allows 6 S scale autos (such as M2 machines) to be installed inside of the car if desired. Shown below is an auto in one of my converted cars:
One obvious fault we found was the end doors on the cars. The cars come fully assembled with the doors and ladders installed from the factory. However while the door on the right (facing the doors) has a tiny nib on the bottom edge it is not big enough to provide the friction (with the floor) necessary to keep the doors shut. The process is...shut the left door first and then the right door overlaps the left door and the nib keeps them closed. In motion nearly all the doors swing open and at times touch those on an adjoining car which are also swinging open. This happens mostly on curves and I'm sure some time this will lead to derailments. That's bad.
So my friend decided to put a tiny dot of sticky-tac putty where the doors overlap in the center. That will keep them closed. Lionel should have found this problem out in testing if any was done. You could keep the doors fully open sliding them around the sides of the car but then your asking for trouble what with the hobo problem and all that folderal.
So, if you are a scale oriented person you already know your position on these cars. Personally I like them. Will I buy some? Probably not as I have thirteen O27 conversions now. That's enough for me. If anyone else has received their cars please tell us your experience.