American Flyer 21165

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by larsonbe, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. larsonbe

    larsonbe New Member


    My son just got a hand-me-down train from his grandfather. It has been in a box, in a closet for years. It's an American Flyer 21165.

    Anyway, we had it cruisin around the track on our first attempt. But, now it seems the wheels of the engine only go in reverse.

    This question may sound silly, but I'm real new to this. What happened??

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Welcome to the-gauge! :wave: :wave: :wave:

    I think we have some flyer fans here, and I hope one will be along to help you shortly :D

    I'll bet that train brings back some fond memories! ;)
  3. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    I'm not familiar with AF sets or numbers. There are two types of AF and that being some are AC powered and the rest DC. If they are AC, then they have a reversing unit in them. If they were like Lionel’s reversing unit then there is a switch the shuts if off. When that happens it will only go in one direction. Beyond that, somebody who is an AF collector and operator could be of more help.

  4. larsonbe

    larsonbe New Member

    Thanks for the warm welcomes!

    My son is a huge train fan, and this is his first electric train. He is pretty bummed that it doesn't work, anymore. Hopefully we can figure it out soon!

    Thanks again, guys!
  5. Climax1880

    Climax1880 Member

    American Flyer trains

    Welcome Larsonbe to one of the two best forums on the net. If you're looking for good advice and communication with a lot of humor thrown in for good measure, you've come to the right place. A lot of the guys here are also registered on That's the other forum. If you can't get info and/or help here, it can't be gotten:) :)

    Don't know too much about AF trains, I was a Lionel guy myself until I switched to HO so I can't help you there other than to reiterate what Greg said about that reversing switch. If that is NOT the case, take it to a REPUTABLE dealer and have them look at it. Also, treat it gently. If it's the age I'm thinking of, it could be an antique.

    Have a great day
  6. larsonbe

    larsonbe New Member

    Nevermind guys! I figured it out! We've got it going, and my son is happy. Guess I overlooked the simple things!

    Thanks for the help!
  7. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Larsonbe:
    Sorry for the late reply but i've been working a lot lately. My Flyer book has this to say about your 21165:

    1961-62, 1966: 4-4-0 American, unpainted black plastic loco; white lettering, “21165” on cab, simulated glass reflections painted on cab windows; “American Flyer Lines” and “Erie” painted in diamond herald painted on tender. This loco has been reported with several other road names on the tender, “PRR”, “Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific” Non operating headlight, removable boiler front. Black plastic drive wheels w/ “Pull-Mor” traction tires on front drivers (these may look like rubber bands on the wheels). Casey-Jones type motor; four wheel pilot truck. Two position reverse unit mounted on rear of chassis in cab. Drawbar attached to chassis, no smoke or choo-choo sound. Tender has sintered iron side frames on trucks with knuckle coupler or it may have Pike master trucks and couplers. (The coupler will be all plastic with no moving parts if it’s one of these). This is one of the last engines that AC Gilbert brought out. Gilbert ceased production in 1966 and went out of business in 1967.

    This unit uses a universal AC motor. It can run on AC or DC voltage. The Flyer transformers typically run between 3volts AC and 21 Volts AC. I wouldn’t run this one on more than about 18V. The motor isn’t as strong as some of their earlier units. You need to lubricate the motor, axles and sidearm assemblies before you run it very much. These units aren’t as ruggedly made as the earlier units and the axle holes will wear into an oval. When this happens the gears do not mesh as well and they bind up. Put some gear lubricant on the gears after you remove any old stuff from them. The old lubricant tends to harden.

    The “two step” reverse unit is also called an “e-unit”. By cutting the current on and off you can step the unit from forward to reverse to forward. It tends to stick in one direction or the other. Do not lubricate this unit with oil. It is helpful to spray some radio shack tuner cleaner into the unit (try to keep the spray off the plastic) as this will lubricate it and clean off the contacts. Don’t forget to lube the tender wheel axles as well as any rolling stock wheel axles.

    There’s lots of folks out there running old Flyer equipment. I’m one of them. Check out to find one in your area. If you need repair help Joe’s Train Repair is a good source. (I’m not Joe but I get a lot of parts from him) You can email him at Joe is also selling “American Flyer” starter train sets for around $150.00. Comes with a reconditioned Flyer engine, some brand new K-Line cars, circle of track and a transformer. Some sets also have a track accessory, like an uncoupler. There’s a Yahoo group for Flyer also:

    Lionel bought the Flyer name back in the ‘80s and in the last two years they have brought out a lot of new equipment. Mostly remakes of original Flyer stuff but it’s all new, not 60 years old. Also, K-line has brought out a bunch of reasonably priced rolling stock. You don’t mention the age of your son but if he is young then the K-Line stuff is a good way to expand you “empire” with sturdy, reasonably priced equipment. And it looks good!

    Well, I’ve rattled on long enough. Give a yell if there’s anything else we can help you with. Y’all have fun with them trains!

  8. acflyer322

    acflyer322 New Member

    the 21165 is a 4-4-0 Eire Casey Jones , built from 61-62 and again in 65-66. Sounds like the reverse unit which has a little tang you need to pull it down this allows it to cycle.

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