This actually came in on our Garden Train e-mail, but it relates to AF so I'm posting it here:
A reader with lots of experience with RC airplanes writes:
If some AF trains are AC, would it be possible to operate with onboard power and not haveto worry about continuity of the track?
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I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. Are you wondering about adapting RC controls from airplanes, cars or boats to trains? The principles are the same, but the voltage and amperage are different. A setup designed specifically for trains will generally give you better results unless you have some electrical engineering background.
Regarding AF, the motors will run on AC OR DC. Either voltage had to be transformered down to 16 volts. I used to run them on DC, though I had to be careful, because my DC power supplies could go up to 20 volts and I could overheat the motors if I wasn't careful. There's no compelling reason you couldn't run an AF loco on battery power, but I'd want a battery combination worth 16 volts, and maybe at least an amp output. My old AF transformers could handle 3 amps if I remember correctly, and I needed to go pretty high when I ran really long trains.
Are you thinking of running Flyer trains outside? The biggest problem with that is that nobody makes weatherproof S gauge turnouts. You can buy Gargraves track with stainless steel rails and plastic ties, but it's not cheap. Whatever you use, I would recommend using a high track profile and original AF flanges, not scale. In fact my friends who've tried to run O scale outside (with scale track heights and semi-scale flanges) have found it close to impossible to keep their trains on the track. O gauge with big flanges and rails works pretty well from a mechanical standpoint.
Hope I've at least addressed some of your questions. Please let me know how things are going and if I missed the point of your e-mail altogether.
Have a great week - Paul