Postwar American Flyer 336 Northern wiring

I finally got a chance to take a closer look at the 1950's American Flyer 336 Northern that I recently acquired.
I am wondering whether the wiring between the engine and tender was redone.

The American flyer service manual indicates that the locomotive should have a terminal plate on the back of the engine, with a cloth covered wire bundle running from the tender to a fiber board plug assembly. (As I believe is common on Flyer steam).
The engine I purchased has a wire bundle, running directly from the tender to the loco, no terminal board. The wire has it's individual conductors insulated with colored plastic, which is then covered in a clear plastic, similar to what I've seen Flyer use in other places, like the 760 whistle control. 
I see absolutely no sign that a terminal board was ever mounted to the back of the engine.

Looked on EBay. All but one engine seemed to have the traditional cloth covered wire and a terminal board.
One engine did seem to have the same setup- plastic coated wire bundle going directly from the tender to the loco.

What say the Flyer folks...... rewired or factory?

C.W. Burfle
Original Post

I have at least one 336 like this, if I remember correctly some of the wires are grey and somehow green comes into possibly being another one. 

Can you check the date stamp inside, I bet it will be a late production one and part of a possible cost cutting exercise.

i also have a 326 Hudson like this as well

Many engines were produced with direct connected rainbow wiring. I have a 282, 287 and 326 with rainbow wire, they are original. We would need to see some close up pictures to determine if that specific engine is original or rewired. I have not personally seen a 336 with rainbow wire, but I was not really looking for one.

Tom

Can you check the date stamp inside, I bet it will be a late production one and part of a possible cost cutting exercise.

It's my impression that I will have to separate the chassis and shell to see the date code. I am not ready to do that yet. This is my first AF Northern.

 

C.W. Burfle

Other than my 282 these engines are not quickly accessible, but at least for the ones I have the 282 with metal tender was 1952 production only. The 287 was 1954 production only. Not at all sure about the 326, it was not in a wrapper or box. As was said earlier, it may be later production such as 1957. 

Tom

CW,

When Gilbert first moved the e-unit from the locomotive to the tender, they used a 4-conductor wire to a jack panel at the back of the locomotive.  This allowed the tender to be disconnected from the locomotive.  This resulted in the headlight being off and no current to the smoke unit when the locomotive was in neutral.  When the locomotive first began to move, it took the smoke unit a few seconds to heat up instead of smoking immediately.

To correct this problem, they added a fifth wire that provided a direct hot lead from the track to the headlight and smoke unit.  They still used the jack panel, however, which didn't make sense because you still have to un-solder the fifth wire at the a jack panel if you want to disconnect the tender.  In 1955-1956, they ditched the jack panel and went to the direct wiring that you have.  

Alan

I had a quick look at some of the 336's on eBay and from what I can see, the direct wired ones also have the deep flanges on the drivers which I believed was always a later change. 

What is curious is that your 336 is direct wired and looks to have the smaller flanges on the drivers. The question to ask is which year did Gilbert change from small flanged drivers to the deep/larger type?

I suspect that there has to be some documentation around when Gilbert went to direct wiring and flange changes which will explain some of these anomalies floating about.

Also, does anyone have a spare tender for a 336, I picked up an engine about a year ago but someone had taken the tender.

Lastly, what is the reason for Northern tenders commanding high prices as a separate item? Is it because of the earlier ones suffering frame rot or people wanting them for pre-war O gauge Northerns?

The Northern was the top-of-the-line steamer, and was a lower production item. Therefore, separate pieces, like tenders, are hard to find. I am surprised your direct wired loco has a 1954 production stamp, I thought the direct wiring didn't start until late 1955 production, but I am just now realizing that my childhood 307 was 1954, and it was direct wired.

S'incerely,

David "two rails" Dewey

PS Set boxes in good condition are hard to come by too!! BTW, your loco has the large motor, another plus. Doesn't look like much mileage, if any, on those trailing truck wheels. Do you also have the cardboard rolled cover for the engine?

S'incerely,

David "two rails" Dewey

Typically, ACG really packed the set boxes, track would have been in boxes, sometimes plain white ones, although that occurred more often in the later production (1956 on). Yours being a top-of-the-line set makes its scarcity higher. I can't quite read your set number (on the box), if you supply it, I should be able to look it up and tell you just what all SHOULD be in the box--I say "should" because substitutions often happened; I have a set (in the box) that was supposed to have two 925 tank cars, but instead has 926 ones; almost the same car, except the 926 has 3 domes, not 1. Hey, short on one item, substitute and get the merchandise out--it's "just a toy."

S'incerely,

David "two rails" Dewey

Thank you TrainDavid.

The set is a K5358W.
I only have a small number of American Flyer catalogs, but I do happen to have an early 1950's one that includes this set, so I do have a contents list.

The set came with one yellow straight track box, and one yellow curved track box. Also enough curves to fill the curved box, but I could not get the track to fit. (I think some of the track is bent) There were only four pieces of straight track. I do not have the catalog in front of me. I think the set came with 12 curves (one box), but I don't think it came with a full box of straights. Would they have included a partially filled box?

I didn't mention this earlier, but I know the person from whom I purchased the set. It was his childhood set. His wife rescued it from his parent's basement, and hoped he'd set it up. Never happened. They are downsizing now and needed to find it a new home. None of his family wanted it, so I offered to buy it.

Still, being that I am not that familiar with American Flyer, I have had questions about the items (and extras) that came with this train set. I appreciate all the help I've been receiving here.

 

C.W. Burfle
OK, from Bill Tuft's book on sets: "The Challenger 9-unit Freight" 336 engine, cars: 922,921,931,947, 924, 929, 930. Accessories: 12 -702 (curves) 4-700 (straights) 706 (remote control uncoupler, usually in small yellow box w/button), 690 (track terminal, usually envelope with two wires), 20-693 (track locks (in envelope stamped "20"), 708 (air chime whistle control & tube, in box). The set box should be number B1N787. Note that this set did not come with a transformer, it was to be purchased separately. Oh, not listed in the Tuft's book; a small white envelope containing a pipe cleaner, a small funnel and a red gel-tube of smoke fluid for filling the smoke unit. It has a number to it, but I don't have one handy to check it out. Yes, ACG used a trick to fit the 12 tracks in the box: track is stacked, rail-to rail & tie to tie. The four pieces in the straight box would be rail to tie to fill the box, although I have also seen them by themselves in the box. Your friend's parents could have purchased more track. Also in the box would be an instruction book, an inspection tag (oftentimes more than one), usually an order form for accessories (ofttimes pink, one page), the locomotive would have a tag on it, held on by a string tied to a side rod, "Do not turn wheels by hand. . . ." explaining the worm-drive feature. Hope that helps! Oh, you might have a separate sheet explaining hooking up the whistle control. BTW, the ACG "air chime whistle" is mostly a "growl" -- as a kid, I was very disappointed in it.

S'incerely,

David "two rails" Dewey

Set K5358W is pictured on p70 of Greenberg's Guide to American Flyer S Gauge, Volume III Sets. At least in the set pictured the 4 straight tracks were not in a 700 yellow box, they were packed loose. If you do not have access to that book I could post a copy of p70.

Tom

Set K5358W is pictured on p70 of Greenberg's Guide to American Flyer S Gauge, Volume III Sets. At least in the set pictured the 4 straight tracks were not in a 700 yellow box, they were packed loose. If you do not have access to that book I could post a copy of p70.

I don't have that book.
I have the first edition of the Greenberg Price guide and the David Doyle book.
I did not see anything about large and small motors, different flange sizes, or direct versus plug board wiring in the books I have. All stuff I learned here.

C.W. Burfle

Thanks for the photo.
It looks like there are seven boxes for the rolling stock, and one box for the curved track.
I think the small yellow box is for the uncoupler.
I cannot make out what the eighth box is for..... perhaps the whistle control?

This train set came with a #18 transformer.
 

 

 

C.W. Burfle

The 8th box should be for the Steam Whistle controller. Note that the engine wrapper is not shown in this picture. The 5358W did not include a transformer. In this era all sets with transformers hat a set number ending in WT or T.

I have visited Dennis many times over the years at his Altadena home and purchased one of the sets photgraphed for the Deger book for my personal collection. All the sets pictured were subsequently sold by Dennis to Gilbert collectors. In my first visit to Dennis’s home I saw this specific set but did not purchase it.

Tom

Tom pointed out what I was going to mention: the engine wrapper isn't in the picture. While the picture is a good guide of what equipment is in the box, it cannot be relied on to show EVERYTHING that was in the box. Set 5358 was sold in 1953 and in 1954; the '54 sets would most likely have the plastic wire, no plug feature. Some 1953 sets might also have the small motor version. This set, like most of the upper level sets did not come with a transformer. Sets ending in "T" usually had a transformer (that's what the T means). A "W" in the set number indicates a Billboard Whistle included in the set. I do have this set, but no boxes--and the caboose had a cigarette burn in one window--the owner was, um, a bit of a "roughneck"--although a good guy. My set came to me with a 16B transformer, as mentioned, the buyer had to also buy a transformer. This helped keep the "set purchase price" down.

S'incerely,

David "two rails" Dewey

My 336 is a latter production direct-wired version.  Always been a fast, strong, smooth, and smoky runner.  What made it even more fun to run was when I updated the reverse unit to a Dallee #400 and put a smoke on/off switch in under the tender.  Now you can reliably change directions well before the engine starts to move and turn its voluminous smoke production off when so desired.  

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David Horn

 

 What made it even more fun to run was when I updated the reverse unit to a Dallee #400 and put a smoke on/off switch in under the tender.

LOL, the collector in me says: "Oh no, how could you do that?".

But if you want to run your engine, replacing the American Flyer reverse unit with an electronic one makes a lot of sense to me. I have always found the American Flyer units to be finicky.

My 336 doesn't run, I am almost positive that the problem lies in the reversing unit. Hopefully just a little cleaning...........

C.W. Burfle

I have the same 336, and the engine would start moving before the e-unit would cycle.  So I placed a bridge rectifier in series just before the motor.  Now, since the motor requires 1.5 volts more to start, the engine does not jump before the e-unit cycles.  Also, a side benefit is that the smoke unit output puffs more, and the headlight shines brighter.   

 

Dave

 

 

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