American Flyer Sets
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Author:  winced36 [ Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets


They did make an S-gauge "Comet", but it was an Alco PA unit:


I seem to remember there was a tin streamliner manufactured by AF before WWII called the "Comet". I've only seen pictures of that...I don't know if it was an electric or mechanical set, or perhaps offered as both.

You may be thinking of the S-gauge AF 356 "Silver Bullet":


This was a plastic-boilered version of the 350, plated in chrome. I've seen a few of these at meets...they seem to usually be in pretty beat-up condition. The chrome-plating didn't appear to adhere to the plastic very well.

There is a red die-cast version of the 350 as well that was the locomotive on AF's S-gauge circus train.


Author:  paulrace [ Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

I might be thinking of the red 350. Thanks.

Author:  winced36 [ Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

I did a bit of research. The AF circus locomotive was the 353:


It had a die-cast boiler similar to the 350, and came in a set that must have been awesome to receive Christmas morning (or anytime, for that matter):


A really nice train set for a lucky kid. Years ago I recall someone offering a reprint of the die-cut circus insert...should have jumped on that.


Author:  paulrace [ Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

Agreed, that would have been nice to have, even if you had to cut it out yourself. :-)

Author:  winced36 [ Fri Apr 05, 2019 2:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

A mate of mine picked this up for from a local (to him) antique mall. It's a postwar Flyer 581 girder bridge, made for S-gauge:


While intended for S-gauge, it's plenty wide enough to accommodate O-gauge. Heavy die-cast girders on a sheet-metal base. It has its original box, along with the inserts. I don't usually pay attention to such things, but in this case, it's kinda interesting.

Paul II

Author:  winced36 [ Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

A postwar Flyer crossing warning found recently:
File comment: Postwar Flyer crossing signal
AF crossing signal.jpg
AF crossing signal.jpg [ 161.39 KiB | Viewed 4401 times ]

The Flyer signal is much closer to a proper "scale" for both O-gauge and S-guage. The Lionel version towers over the trains. This S-gauge accessory includes a warning bell (housed in the watchman's shed). I'll have to make a pair of contacts for the track connection. I've seen the Marx version and Louis' contacts work brilliantly as compared to those of Flyer and Lionel. You can vary the distance between the contacts, making the intermittent flashing a bit more realistic, although they still don't alternate. There's a way to wire this so you can get the alternating flash, but I don't have a write-up on how it's done. A bit of research is warranted...

Paul II

Author:  winced36 [ Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

American Flyer had their own version of the operating boxcar, the 734:
File comment: American Flyer 734 operating boxcar
Flyer 734.jpg
Flyer 734.jpg [ 143.43 KiB | Viewed 1847 times ]
The car came with a small packet of metal boxes which were loaded onto a ramp behind the left-hand door. The boxes would move down the ramp where they would be jettisoned one at a time by a rubber dude behind the right-hand door. Press the operating button, the right-hand door opened, a box kicked out, and the door closed. Press the button to repeat the cycle.

The car also came with an outside "third-rail" which clamped onto a straight track section. A shoe jutting from the underside of one of the trucks would contact the rail to provide power to the car for unloading. It worked best on a siding; if installed on the mainline, the shoe would bump over the outside rail, occasionally resulting in a derailment.

I always loaded the car manually, but there was a merchandise-loading accessory made by AF that would load the car "automatically" (#770). I don't have one, but here's a look at one illustrated on the Lionel website:

A neat accessory as I recall, but it didn't work very well.

Author:  winced36 [ Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

Here's a Flyer 633 B&O boxcar in rather poor condition, but once a valued part of the collection:
File comment: AF 633 boxcar
Flyer 633.jpg
Flyer 633.jpg [ 147.94 KiB | Viewed 1531 times ]
It's old and dirty, hasn't seen the light of day in many years, but it's value was that a previous owner had taken a 600-series link-coupler car and converted one end to a knuckle-coupler. The point of doing this was to make it possible to assemble a train that consisted of both link and knuckle-coupler cars. It saw a lot of use back in the day.

As can be clearly seen in the photo, the car suffers the fate of many early postwar Flyer rolling stock in that the bakelite shell has distorted over time, producing an unsightly hump in the roof-line. Bakelite, an early plastic, doesn't hold up too well, at least when American Flyer used it in making their postwar trains. It was used for many other things as well - electrical junction boxes, jewelry, casings on appliances, automobile parts. One occasionally sees the warpage in those as well (but not as often as I see it in Flyer trains).

Everyone frets over zinc-pest, the rot that afflicts some metal diecasting, perhaps because that typically manifests itself in the pricier toy locomotives. Interestingly, everyone knows what causes that, yet it still happens today (primarily due to carelessness, or even shortcuts taken, in the manufacturing process).

But I've not seen anyone despair over the warpage of bakelite in Flyer trains. Perhaps that's because there are so many fewer S-gauge fans.

Author:  javinda [ Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

Love that circus!

Author:  winced36 [ Wed May 05, 2021 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: American Flyer Sets

Here's a head-spinning video a guy posted of the Flyer Mountaineer set I had as a kid:

A good shot of the 977 action caboose. Unfortunately in the intervening fifty-plus years, mine was lost, and a replacement can be tough to find (and expensive).

Last time I had the 283 on the track, the smoke had diminished to just a wisp. Repacking a Flyer smoke unit is a bit fiddly, but I've done it once on a Flyer 290. I might have to add the 283 to the project pile.

Paul II

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