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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone, I have a few questions about S scale trains. A little background about me first. During my entire life, I have owned trains in N scale, 2-rail HO (Athearn, MDC, Atlas, Kato, Bachmann, Tyco, etc), 3-rail HO (Marklin), and 3-rail O gauge (Lionel, Marx, MTH, K-Line, etc), and also G scale (LGB). I will be 45 years old very soon, and because of my changing eyesight, I don't like working on N scale anymore. It is just getting too small to comfortably model with.

Yes I can use my reading glasses, and my OptiVISOR magnifying glasses, to help me see better.

I currently only have a small collection in each scale. Only a few locomotives in each scale, small amount of track, and a handful of freight cars in each scale. I'm planning on selling all of my N scale, probably all my HO scale (both 2 and 3 rail), and possibly all of my O-27 trains. Going forward into the future, I would like to concentrate on one scale, instead of my assorted collection.

I have never owned or operated any S scale trains, never in my life. But I'm considering selling all my other trains, and concentrating exclusively on S scale. I have been doing a lot of research lately about S scale. Reading many websites, forums, and blogs, and watching videos on YouTube. I have also ordered a few S scale specific magazines from eBay, but still waiting for those to arrive.

I plan on running both vintage American Flyer (1946-1967) along with the more modern S scale trains from Showcase Line, American Models, SHS (S Helper Service), MTH, Lionel-American Flyer, Des Plaines Hobbies, etc. Right now I own nothing in S scale, which is why I need to ask a few questions, before I start purchasing S scale trains.

Because I will be running both hi-rail and scale wheels, I know I will need at least code 125 rail, and closed frog switches. But I will probably begin with vintage post war American Flyer track, because of my budget. Vintage S gauge American Flyer track comes in a 19 inch radius curves, had a 90 degree crossing, and 19 inch closed frog switches (turnouts). I know all the post war American Flyer trains will operate fine on their post war track, as long as I keep the truck mounted, talgo couplers. But what if I want to body mount Kadee couplers on some freight equipment? And I believe some S scale come equipped with body mounted couplers anyway (like brass).

I'm only talking about 50 foot and shorter freight cars, not any passenger cars. Will the typical 40 and 50 foot freight cars, equipped with body mounted Kadee 802 or 808 couplers (or the SHS coupler), operate reliably on those postwar 19 inch radius curves and turnouts? What about the Kadee HO couplers? I know some S gaugers use the Kadee 5 couplers, because they were available before Kadee made the 802 and 808 couplers, specially for S scale.

Another question. How reliable are the original American Flyer trains, especially the motors, reversing units, and couplers? Do the original AF couplers randomly uncouple on the track (like some O-27 lobster claws), or do they stay coupled reliably? Yes I know AF had three types of couplers. The original link in 1946, later knuckle (in 1952, 1953), and later the Pikemaster couplers and track. And I know they made some changes around 1957 in their numbering system, from 3 numbers to 5 numbers. And changes in where the reverse unit was located (either inside tender or later the locomotive body).

In general, how well do the original AF trains run and operate? What about the newer equipment from all the other brands, with the can motors?

I have read that all S gauge trains can operate fine on code 125 and larger rail, and closed frog switches (turnouts). What about the various brands of crossings, how well do the hi-rail and scale wheels work on them? Can modern scale wheels run reliably in vintage post war American Flyer crossings, without frequent derailments?

By the way, I have seen American Flyer trains (and many of the other S scale brands) many times, because I have seen them in hobby shops, for the past 25 years. I just never bought any yet. I know the differences between the various scales and gauges, 2 rail and 3 rail trains, AC vs DC, analog vs DCC. I also own a lot of hobby magazines and books, and have been active on model train internet forums for many years.


Howard
 

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You have asked a lot of questions I can not answer. I will explain why farther down in
post. We do have a gentleman here that can answer most of your questions. He has
original AF and newer equipment you mentioned. His name is Tom, handle AmFlyer.
He is very knowledgeable in S scale. Most of us do either old or new stuff and not both.
I mainly do original AF. I do have some AF produced by Lionel in say the 1990s. Most
of the guys here know what I think of that stuff. I do not like it. They do not run as good as Lionel O scale stuff. Look under my name and you will see I do all scales also. The
last 3 years has mainly been S scale. I like the size also. Tom will see your post and he will comment. He is helpful. Welcome to the forum and hope you get the answers to
your questions.

Keep your O scale transformer. it will work on S scale. I use a Lionel ZW transformer.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You have asked a lot of questions I can not answer. I will explain why farther down in
post. We do have a gentleman here that can answer most of your questions. He has
original AF and newer equipment you mentioned. His name is Tom, handle AmFlyer.
He is very knowledgeable in S scale. Most of us do either old or new stuff and not both.
I mainly do original AF. I do have some AF produced by Lionel in say the 1990s. Most
of the guys here know what I think of that stuff. I do not like it. They do not run as good as Lionel O scale stuff. Look under my name and you will see I do all scales also. The
last 3 years has mainly been S scale. I like the size also. Tom will see your post and he will comment. He is helpful. Welcome to the forum and hope you get the answers to
your questions.

Keep your O scale transformer. it will work on S scale. I use a Lionel ZW transformer.

Thank you for your reply, I appreciate it. I'm not exactly sure what kinds of trains I will purchase yet, but probably both vintage flyer and newer S scale trains. I have two MRC Tech 2 2500 DC power packs, which are fine for any DC trains. I also own a post war Lionel RW (110 watts) transformer, which I know will be fine with any post war AC flyer trains. I will be keeping both of my MRC DC powerpacks, and my Lionel RW transformer.

I don't need any of the DCC, DCS, TMCC, or Lecacy locomotives. I prefer straight analog trains. If I bought any command equipped locomotives (used), I would probably remove all the electronics, rewire it, and run it on straight DC - since they all have can motors. And keep any vintage flyer AC as analog AC. I have a Lionel RW, perfectly fine for those vintage AC motors.
 

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There are a lot of ideas and questions here, it is challenging to reply to everything in a logical order. To begin the discussion, I have travelled the road you are thinking of taking. It is challenging to design and build a layout that will allow operation of all equipment, high rail and scale. I recommend that to begin, you narrow down what you want to buy and operate in the learning phase. Will it be scale or high rail? Forgetting about track there are differences in the electrical and controls. Conventional AC, DC, DCC and Legacy are all in use, not completely compatible and represent expensive choices.
Almost all scale motive power, think River Raisin, is DC with plug in DCC provisions. These engines are in the thousands of dollars each price range and many require a minimum 36"radius track with either #5 or #6 minimum turnouts.
Scale track systems in S gauge are all code 100 or Code 80. These will not allow operation of high rail equipment. There are some Code 125 rail track items available premade in S but even though most (but not 100%) high rail equipment will run on the rail it will not go through commercial code 125 scale turnouts and crossings, the wheel flanges are too wide.
If you want to try out some nice track that will allow both scale and high rail wheels use .138 rail. This is used on SHS/MTH track, Lionel S gauge FasTrack and by Fox Valley. The .138 works better and it looks better than .125, the reason is the railhead on the .138 is narrower than the .125 track so it looks more "scale." On my layout I have .138 track with long sections of .125 guardrail on bridges. The .138 rail looks better and the height difference is not discernable.
Even on my layout which will allow flawless operation of both scale and high rail I compromised on the minimum radius so it would work in the space I had available. It has a 30" minimum radius, so far everything I have works on it but I know there are River Raisin engines that will not. There were no commercial turnouts or crossings that would work so I had all mine custom made. Fox Valley now makes #5's with .138 rail but they need to be slightly modified to use both scale and high rail flanges over the same turnout. But they only make #5's and all of mine except the freight yard are #6 and #8. Only Lionel makes a 27"R turnout, they might work with scale wheelsets (I have not tested them) but then you have a 27" minimum radius, fine for high rail but not for scale.
I recommend you get some Gilbert track and a few Gilbert or American Models engines and see how you like it. Everthing made by Gilbert, American Models, SHS, MTH and Lionel runs on Gilbert track except the AM engines that were ordered with scale wheels. AM's scale 80' passenger cars will not work either but there are very few of those around.
While it is possible to get equipment with scale wheels to run on Gilbert track it is a lot of work to lay the Gilbert track accurately and evenly enough for reliable operation.
Body mounter couplers work on the 19" radius track as long as a body mount is not coupled to a truck mount. Problem is they will not couple reliably on curves. I elected to stay with the standard truck mounted couplers on my layout. I personally do not notice the bigger couplers when the trains are running and having all those electrocouplers I can fire with a Legacy Cab2 handheld adds to the operating fun.
The new O gauge engines have features not present on their S gauge counterparts but the S gauge Legacy engines are pretty close. Keep in mind there are aftermarket wizards like Ed Goldin and Carl Tuveson who have developed retrofits and improvements for all the S gauge engines. Its only money, but the cost of an S gauge engine with all those mods is still way less than on O gauge equivalent.
 

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Howard, here a a few reposts of some pictures to help visualize things.
First is a view down part of the freight yard that shows a crossing and some #5 turnouts.
Second is a closer view of a scale/high rail #5 turnout plus a Legacy Sensor Track and an uncoupler.
Third is a view that shows on the top track a scale wheel PA/PA set that was modified by Ed Goldin to run with the Legacy system; a new Lionel Legacy Y3 is on the middle track and an old Lionel TMCC Mikado that was extensively modified by Carl Tuveson.
The fourth picture is a poorly taken shot of a new Lionel Legacy Challenger.


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Discussion Starter #6
There are a lot of ideas and questions here, it is challenging to reply to everything in a logical order. To begin the discussion, I have travelled the road you are thinking of taking. It is challenging to design and build a layout that will allow operation of all equipment, high rail and scale. I recommend that to begin, you narrow down what you want to buy and operate in the learning phase. Will it be scale or high rail? Forgetting about track there are differences in the electrical and controls. Conventional AC, DC, DCC and Legacy are all in use, not completely compatible and represent expensive choices.
Almost all scale motive power, think River Raisin, is DC with plug in DCC provisions. These engines are in the thousands of dollars each price range and many require a minimum 36"radius track with either #5 or #6 minimum turnouts.
Scale track systems in S gauge are all code 100 or Code 80. These will not allow operation of high rail equipment. There are some Code 125 rail track items available premade in S but even though most (but not 100%) high rail equipment will run on the rail it will not go through commercial code 125 scale turnouts and crossings, the wheel flanges are too wide.
If you want to try out some nice track that will allow both scale and high rail wheels use .138 rail. This is used on SHS/MTH track, Lionel S gauge FasTrack and by Fox Valley. The .138 works better and it looks better than .125, the reason is the railhead on the .138 is narrower than the .125 track so it looks more "scale." On my layout I have .138 track with long sections of .125 guardrail on bridges. The .138 rail looks better and the height difference is not discernable.
Even on my layout which will allow flawless operation of both scale and high rail I compromised on the minimum radius so it would work in the space I had available. It has a 30" minimum radius, so far everything I have works on it but I know there are River Raisin engines that will not. There were no commercial turnouts or crossings that would work so I had all mine custom made. Fox Valley now makes #5's with .138 rail but they need to be slightly modified to use both scale and high rail flanges over the same turnout. But they only make #5's and all of mine except the freight yard are #6 and #8. Only Lionel makes a 27"R turnout, they might work with scale wheelsets (I have not tested them) but then you have a 27" minimum radius, fine for high rail but not for scale.
I recommend you get some Gilbert track and a few Gilbert or American Models engines and see how you like it. Everthing made by Gilbert, American Models, SHS, MTH and Lionel runs on Gilbert track except the AM engines that were ordered with scale wheels. AM's scale 80' passenger cars will not work either but there are very few of those around.
While it is possible to get equipment with scale wheels to run on Gilbert track it is a lot of work to lay the Gilbert track accurately and evenly enough for reliable operation.
Body mounter couplers work on the 19" radius track as long as a body mount is not coupled to a truck mount. Problem is they will not couple reliably on curves. I elected to stay with the standard truck mounted couplers on my layout. I personally do not notice the bigger couplers when the trains are running and having all those electrocouplers I can fire with a Legacy Cab2 handheld adds to the operating fun.
The new O gauge engines have features not present on their S gauge counterparts but the S gauge Legacy engines are pretty close. Keep in mind there are aftermarket wizards like Ed Goldin and Carl Tuveson who have developed retrofits and improvements for all the S gauge engines. Its only money, but the cost of an S gauge engine with all those mods is still way less than on O gauge equivalent.


Thank you for your long reply, it is much appreciated. I can see I have more research and experimenting to do, before I make any expensive decisions. I don't have a lot of space for a layout, because I live in an apartment. And I don't have a large budget, so I need to keep to less expensive locomotives. I can't afford $1,000 dollar locomotives. I'm used to cheaper locomotives from Marx, post war Lionel, or blue box Athearn. I don't mind getting a couple of quality diesel locomotives, in the couple hundred dollar range. I know that is what the new stuff costs (such as SMS or American Models).

For the time being, I will purchase some vintage flyer track, and play around with that. It is the cheapest option for track, to test equipment with (just using on the carpet). I don't have a layout now anyway.

Later in the future, when I build a layout I will be staying with closed frog switches. If I decide to run both hi-rail and scale wheels, I would probably hand laid all my switches, in nickle silver rail, either code 138 or 148 rails. And use flex track for the rest of the track, or hand laid if needed. Either way, I would use closed frog switches, (designed like post war American Flyer) to allow smooth passage of all hi-rail and scale wheels. The only big problem I can for-see, are the crossings. If I need to, I will hand laid all my crossings also, to (hopefully) make sure all wheels roll thru the crossings without derailment.

I already knew about the coupler problems, between body mounted and truck mounted. On tight radius track, I would make sure body mount is not coupled to a truck mount. That same problem happens in N scale a lot. Anyway, I would probably keep all vintage flyer equipment stock, with their hi-rail wheels and truck mounted couplers.

Sure, if I decided some day to only run ONLY scale equipment, I would use code 100 and 83 rail track, body mount all couplers, and use all scale wheels. Most freight cars are easy enough to convert. And wide enough curve radius, such as 30 inches or larger. Then I could hand-laid dual gauge track, with S and Sn3 together. For instance.

But right now, I'm still considering all of my options. I will not be purchasing any trains for the time being, because I have my collection of N scale, HO and O-27 stuff to sell first. After everything is sold, I will begin to buy a few pieces of S scale trains, and experiment with it. Maybe at first, just a few freight cars (both hi-rail and scale wheels), and some pieces of commercial track, including crossings and switches. And test by pushing the cars thru the switches and crossings. Later get a locomotive.

I still need to decide on what exactly I want, either analog or digital controls, hi-rail or scale wheels, etc. I can't afford the high end trains.

Thank you,

Howard
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Howard, here a a few reposts of some pictures to help visualize things.
First is a view down part of the freight yard that shows a crossing and some #5 turnouts.
Second is a closer view of a scale/high rail #5 turnout plus a Legacy Sensor Track and an uncoupler.
Third is a view that shows on the top track a scale wheel PA/PA set that was modified by Ed Goldin to run with the Legacy system; a new Lionel Legacy Y3 is on the middle track and an old Lionel TMCC Mikado that was extensively modified by Carl Tuveson.
The fourth picture is a poorly taken shot of a new Lionel Legacy Challenger.


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View attachment 528160


Wow, I like the looks of your track and trains. And I love that layout, it looks so realistic, and still allows you to operate scale, and hi-rail wheels.

Thank you,

Howard
 

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Howard, we have a great group of people that operate and collect S gauge. Each of us has different skills, experience and knowledge about S gauge. Combined we can answer and provide expertise in almost anything S gauge.
Based on your replies here a few more pictures that may help visualize an apartment sized Gilbert layout.
The first is a simple oval on the carpet. Next is a slightly larger layout on a platform. Third is a larger Gilbert layout with more detailing and Snow Village, this one is 54”x 96”. Finally the last picture is a similar layout but it uses SHS track rather than Gilbert track. All these are simple transformer control.


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Howard1975, welcome to the community. I concur with everything that Tom told you. What you will find in S gauge are layouts like his and everything in between. My layout and equipment is mostly 100% Gilbert American Flyer with a few exceptions. If you elect to go the American Flyer track route, try the switches, (turn outs), as well. They can be manipulated to do different things not readily noticeable at first glance. As far as the track goes, yes the standard track has a small radius. However, that can be rectified by using compatible K-Line curved track which has a much broader curve compatible with any engine or car length. The down side to that however, is that K-Line is no longer produced. It can be bought on eBay or at train shows. It won't be cheap compared to the everyday AF track however.
You asked about the engines and their reliability. All I will say about that is most of my engines are 1946-1956 and run problem free. They are well made in the beginning from the factory. Remember, engines from that time would be 60-70 years old and still run well. They are easy to repair if needed. Plus parts are easy to come by. It sounds as though you have the capability to do repairs. For the most part, they are pretty simple electronically. Tom's the electric expert here but most of us have had enough experience in repairing that most any problem or question can be answered here.
You also asked about coupler reliability. I am assuming you are referring to knuckle couplers and not the link couplers. On solidly laid track I have never experienced a coupler failure. Keep in mind that means making sure all working parts of the coupler are lubed as well as the axles of everything so they roll freely. If you use the AF switches, buy good ones since ones that are not in perfect operating condition, will cause uncoupling since the uncoupling block under the coupler can snag on any part that is not laying perfectly flat, particularly in the frog area. From my experience you need well maintained switches. Here again they are pretty simple to work on. Flyernut on here has restored a number of them and probably encountered most every kind of issue. I have done several myself. Like all things old, age can take a toll if not maintained.
Bottom line, I suggest to get your feet wet, start out with the AF track and switches, and a good running 302 type engine, since they are about the cheapest in price and will run forever. As far as cars and cabooses, anything in the 3 digit series will be the cheapest with some exceptions. The 5 digit stuff is a bit more.
Lastly, I have several different AF transformers of different sizes but my main one is a Lionel 275 watt ZW. My recommendation for now is use the Lionel you have. Eventually you might want to consider the ZW. If you opt for one of these, you won't be sorry. Just make sure it was tuned up by somebody who knows what they are doing. To me that is the best for straight AC operation with excellent slow start.
Since you stated you had no desire to delve into anything more complicated I will only say that I adapted Lionel's TMCC to my layout strictly for ease of operation to power the track and switches to save me steps. I don't own any of the newer Lionel/American Flyer engines nor will I. Way too pricey for what you get. While you can spend a lot on the older AF engines, at least with those you will have something that will run reliably for years and hopefully retain it's value. I am partial to steam engines and that era anyway.
In my opinion, you made the right choice by going to S gauge and American Flyer. Good luck.

Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you AmFlyer and mopac for your answers, to my many questions. I also have enjoyed looking at the pictures of your S scale trains and layouts, (and other members) on other threads of this forum too, such as "Photo of the day!!!".

I have been doing more thinking. I know I want to run vintage American flyer trains, from 1946 - 1967, both freight and passenger operations. With both steam and diesel locomotives. With the passenger cars, I will naturally keep them all stock, with their original wheels and couplers. That way they can easily handle the sharp curves (such as 19 inch), I will be forced to use. Like I have said, I'm an apartment dweller. I plan to someday have a home with a nice basement, but at this time, I live in an apartment.

Even with freight operations, I will keep the vintage American flyer trains original (hi-rail wheels and couplers) at first. And I know most of the other brands (Showcase Line, American Models, SHS (S Helper Service), MTH, Lionel-American Flyer, Des Plaines Hobbies, etc) come equipped with high rail wheels, and flyer type couplers, to be compatible with traditional flyer track.

So, I will probably keep everything stock at first, since this will be a learning process for me. Later I can experiment with scale wheels, Kadee couplers, and other brands of track. I like the looks of the SHS/MTH track. It looks like a bigger version of the Kato Unitrack I have used in N and HO scales. And I like how the SHS turnouts have the moving frog point, but I don't know how dependable they will be long term.

I have experience with body mounted Kadee couplers in HO and N scale.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Howard1975, welcome to the community. I concur with everything that Tom told you. What you will find in S gauge are layouts like his and everything in between. My layout and equipment is mostly 100% Gilbert American Flyer with a few exceptions. If you elect to go the American Flyer track route, try the switches, (turn outs), as well. They can be manipulated to do different things not readily noticeable at first glance. As far as the track goes, yes the standard track has a small radius. However, that can be rectified by using compatible K-Line curved track which has a much broader curve compatible with any engine or car length. The down side to that however, is that K-Line is no longer produced. It can be bought on eBay or at train shows. It won't be cheap compared to the everyday AF track however.
You asked about the engines and their reliability. All I will say about that is most of my engines are 1946-1956 and run problem free. They are well made in the beginning from the factory. Remember, engines from that time would be 60-70 years old and still run well. They are easy to repair if needed. Plus parts are easy to come by. It sounds as though you have the capability to do repairs. For the most part, they are pretty simple electronically. Tom's the electric expert here but most of us have had enough experience in repairing that most any problem or question can be answered here.
You also asked about coupler reliability. I am assuming you are referring to knuckle couplers and not the link couplers. On solidly laid track I have never experienced a coupler failure. Keep in mind that means making sure all working parts of the coupler are lubed as well as the axles of everything so they roll freely. If you use the AF switches, buy good ones since ones that are not in perfect operating condition, will cause uncoupling since the uncoupling block under the coupler can snag on any part that is not laying perfectly flat, particularly in the frog area. From my experience you need well maintained switches. Here again they are pretty simple to work on. Flyernut on here has restored a number of them and probably encountered most every kind of issue. I have done several myself. Like all things old, age can take a toll if not maintained.
Bottom line, I suggest to get your feet wet, start out with the AF track and switches, and a good running 302 type engine, since they are about the cheapest in price and will run forever. As far as cars and cabooses, anything in the 3 digit series will be the cheapest with some exceptions. The 5 digit stuff is a bit more.
Lastly, I have several different AF transformers of different sizes but my main one is a Lionel 275 watt ZW. My recommendation for now is use the Lionel you have. Eventually you might want to consider the ZW. If you opt for one of these, you won't be sorry. Just make sure it was tuned up by somebody who knows what they are doing. To me that is the best for straight AC operation with excellent slow start.
Since you stated you had no desire to delve into anything more complicated I will only say that I adapted Lionel's TMCC to my layout strictly for ease of operation to power the track and switches to save me steps. I don't own any of the newer Lionel/American Flyer engines nor will I. Way too pricey for what you get. While you can spend a lot on the older AF engines, at least with those you will have something that will run reliably for years and hopefully retain it's value. I am partial to steam engines and that era anyway.
In my opinion, you made the right choice by going to S gauge and American Flyer. Good luck.

Kenny

Hello, thank you for your reply AFGP9. I like your advice, along with the advice from the other posters.

Just like you, I like the simple rugged reliability of the vintage trains, I find them easier to repair. And based on my limited research so far, it looks like the older flyer trains (like you said, 1946 - 1956) will generally be more dependable, compared to the later stuff made in the 1960's. I know Gilbert ran into financial problems in the 1960's and was sold in 1967.

Any of the modern locomotives I purchase, will be very simple analog DC units, without any command control. I don't mind if they have DCC quick plugs, that is fine with me. But I like easy to repair and rugged trains.

That is good to know about the AF knuckle couplers, that they stay together for you. Also thank you for your advice to look into getting a good running 302 type engine.

Yes I will make sure, any track I purchased was in good condition. I don't want badly rusted, junk track. I could add the K-Line track for the wider curves they made, and Gargraves flex track on any layout I built. But for the time being, I will just get vintage flyer track in good used condition, because I will be playing with my trains on the carpet.

I like to look for bargains, because I don't like spending lot's of my money. I prefer rugged and reliable trains, that are easy to repair, and have lot's of available parts for repairs.

I could probably also buy cheap O-27 freight cars, because I know the smallest ones, are very close to S scale in size. They just need a change to flyer trucks. The Marx are usually 1/64 scale, as are many of the Lionel Scout freight cars. And the older K-Line freight cars, because they were made from Marx molds. And some of the Industrial Models (now sold as Atlas Industrial Rail) are also close to 1/64 scale.

Someday I will certainly get myself a Lionel 275 watt ZW. I would love to have one or two. For the time being, my Lionel RW 110 watt, should be fine for my needs.
 

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Hello.. There's enough knowledge here to keep you above water for the rest of your life. I do only post-war AF..They are plentiful and fairly cheap, and parts are easily obtainable. I also do repairs for all my friends here on the forum if needed on the cheap.I can't add any other info as the others have pretty much summed it up. I may add that the are differences in the 3 digit engines/cars.. The 600 series cars, 633, 642, 645, etc, are link coupler cars, and the 900 series engines/cars such as 925, 944, etc, are knuckle coupler cars. Link coupler car seem to be a little finicky at times with uncoupling but once you get everything lined up properly they do a great job. Knuckle coupler cars seem to perform flawlessly. As for track, GarGraves makes a beautiful track for S scale, check them out. Also, as another poster pointed out, a 302, whether it be a 302AC, a 4-piece boiler unit, or a plastic version, are bullet-proof engines!!! Great way to start out with AF. Very easy to fix with parts accessible from various suppliers.You mention your eyes are bad, and I will surely help with your maintenance and repair problems at anytime. Welcome aboard..E-units can be finicky, but with help you should be ok... After reading your posts it sounds like you have enough knowledge and experience to get you going without too much trouble....And that is indeed one nice layout AMFLYER has!!!!!!Loren
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hello everyone,

Thank you for all the replies and helpful advice. My eyes are still pretty good, but I'm soon to be 45 years old. I can't stop the aging process. I used to have perfect 20/20 vision, I never needed any glasses or anything. Now I just use reading glasses, to help me read books, and my cellphone. And they help when working on tiny parts, such as N scale trains.

I don't need glasses when watching TV, or driving a car, or any other normal activity. It is only for reading, starting about 3 or 4 years ago. I know that is quite common, when people get around 40 years old, they can't read as well, as they used to.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hello everyone,

Just a little update about my plans. I have decided I want to build a hi-rail layout in the future, of course in 1/64th S scale. I will be combining original vintage American Flyer trains, along with the newer models from SHS/MTH, American models, Lionel-Flyer, etc. That is depending on my budget, since the vintage trains are generally cheaper.

I can also include small O gauge freight cars I find inexpensively (for the frames and body shells) from O-27 Marx, Lionel Scout type freight cars, smaller K-Line, Industrial Rails, and other small O-27 cars. They are usually around 1/64 scale, or very close. Many of the Bachmann On30 freight cars are also close to 1/64 scale in size. Plenty close enough for me. I could even buy junkers at shows, ebay, hobby shops, garage sales, estate sales, etc. Fortunately there is a lot of vintage AF, Marx and Lionel O-27 on the used market. Sometimes at very reasonable prices.

Well as long as the bodies are in good condition, and reasonable enough in price. I would need to purchase S scale trucks, for the wheels and couplers.

I will be keeping the deep flanged wheels on all equipment, and code 138 or larger rails, to make things easier for me. For any permanent layout I might just combine vintage flyer switches and crossings, with gargraves flex track. Or otherwise handlaid the switches (code 138 or bigger) for more realism and larger sizes. With handlaid turnouts, I could do #5, #6 frogs or bigger. And handlaid is much cheaper then anything from SHS/MTH, Lionel fastrack, etc.

But I have decided to use only, the deep flanged wheels exclusively on all equipment. And avoid all the scale wheels. It will give me fewer problems that way, from turnouts and crossings.

Regarding couplers, I will keep some equipment with the original couplers (both link and AF knuckle). And some equipment might get body mounted Kadee couplers, assuming I have enough space for decent curve radius (like 30, 36 inch, or larger).

I would also weather some of the equipment (as long as it's not rare or valuable). And include realistic looking scenery and weathered buildings. And weathered automobiles, and other accessories. I prefer the more hi-rail or scale look, but I will keep the deep flanges and hi-rail track, for compatibility with vintage flyer trains.

But this is all in the future, because I can't build any large layouts in my apartment. I don't even have the space for a 4x8 foot table. I'm stuck with narrow switching layouts, or running my trains on the floor temporary.

Howard
 
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