S Gauge Trains

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by 59_LesPaul, Aug 26, 2006.

  1. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I'm kind of wondering how the original poster is able to reconcile toy-train American Flyer stuff with "realism": toy trains are made primarily to look like toy trains, especially if they are three-rail, running on too-small curves with obviously mechanical animated accessories and colorful/fanciful buildings. Of course, much S scale equipment is modeler-oriented rather than toy-train American Flyer, but the original poster doesn't seem to make that distinction so I wonder how much research they have done.

    Craftsmanship in the context of model railroading has more to do with the modeler than the model: an amateur can take a "craftsman" kit and build something that looks like a three-year-old made with Popsicle sticks, and a master modeler can take a cheap knock-off model and make something eye-poppingly realistic out of it. The most expensive and detailed model motive power and rolling stock still looks like a toy if it's going round and round on a sheet of plywood, but a low-end Bachmann trainset with horn-hook couplers can look pretty good rolling through a detailed layout.

    "Most realistic scale" isn't really an effective questions either: small scale models are for people who want to model long trains and realistic scenery, and larger scales are for people who are more interested in the trains themselves--or have gobs and gobs of room. Large-scale equipment does look good close-up, but small scale looks equally good at longer distances because an effective scene "frames" the trains. S scale is a good compromise between detail and compactness, but it's not the only solution.

    "6 to 8 lanes of track"...I'm not even sure what that means. Typically the only time one sees 6-8 tracks in parallel is in a yard. It is apparent that the original poster is still learning--hopefully they will take the time to learn more.
  2. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Everything you just said is exactly what I wanted to say before and didn't for fear of sounding too harsh.
    That's certainly enough room for a good large S scale layout. (I'd model N scale in that space, but that's just my obsession with long trains and long runs.)
  3. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Prewar Flyer was primarily 3-rail O gauge. By the time the company was sold to Gilbert, it was exclusively 3-rail O gauge. Gilbert phased out the various designs the Colemans did in favor of 1:64 scale cars and locos running on O gauge track with a 20-inch radius (40" diameter). After the war, Gilbert dropped O gauge entirely and went to S.

    American Flyer did do Standard Gauge (the large-scale Lionel standard, not to be confused with S gauge), from about 1928 to 1934 or so if I remember right. But once the Depression hit, these didn't sell well, so they got phased out pretty quickly.

    Post-war Flyer steamers usually got the power from the tenders. They'd have metal wheels on one side of one truck, and plastic on the other, and feeder wires would go from the tender to the locomotive. The drivers on the locomotives were plastic. It sure confused me the first time I tried to fix a postwar Flyer unit! Normally cleaning the drivers is the first thing I do to an old train, and that didn't do any good at all on that Flyer, for obvious reasons.
  4. Grant B

    Grant B Member

    One more maker of track is S Helper. I am almost done switching over from flyer & K line track and it looks and works great.
    Check them out here
    You rarely see the track on ebay but today (9/17 ) someone is selling 4 or 5 boxes of it which is a good deal.
    Have Fun
  5. Grant B

    Grant B Member

    Concerning : reconcile toy-train American Flyer stuff with "realism"
    I reconciled it by having something that pleases me.
    One reason I came back to trains is the lack of rules or what I can or can't do.
    It's my little world and no matter what you do, it's not real.... it's a model!
    I Like moving things from the 50s; the vibrating stock yards, missle cars and fun 'toy' stuff. Most people who come over talk about those things more than a train going around in a circle.
    My little realistic toy train layout stradles it's own little dimension and best of all I like it
  6. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi all:
    The information i have shows that the first American Flyer catalog came out in 1910. They arose out of a desire by a man named William F. Hafner to make trains, and the deal he was able to make with Will Coleman to make them in his factory. These early trains had cast iron wind up engines with speed govenors and tin plate cars with lithographed details. Hafner had a falling out with Coleman over money in 1913 and left to make trains on his own. He did this up until the 1950's. Coleman kept making AF trains and after WWI built his first electric train which ran on No 1 three rail track just like some of Lionel's equipment. The story of track guage and equipment sizes/scales between 1920 and WWII is too complicated to state here. Go to the library and check out "American Flyer Classic Toy Trains" by Gerry & Janet Souter. It's a great book to have if you are interested in toy trains as it includes some information on all the other early train makers in relation to what was going on at AF.

    Like Dave F. said, after AC Gilbert got the company in 1937 he became enamored of making more realistic trains so he jumped into HO trains first. But he moved forward by retooling his O-gauge line and in 1939 introduced most of the engines we later came to know in the S-line. These were all made as 3/16 scale O-Gauge equipment. WWII sidetracked train production and Gilbert made the switch to 2-rail in their 1946 catalog. The engines though 3/16" scale have slightly too wide boilers. This concession to scale was required in order to fit the O-gauge chassis under the boilers and cab. Gilbert didn't retool his castings when he went to S-Gauge track and so, viewed head on, AF engines look a little too wide. But from the side, i think they look lovely for a "non-scale" piece of equipment. They are far closer to scale length than most of the comparable Lionel equipment of the 50's and 60's.

    So, AFlyerGal, your train is likely an O-gauge 3/16" scale unit, but i need a little more info to tell you much about it, and i'm really a post-war AF guy. See if there is a middle pickup this indicates 3-rail track, and then measure the distance between the flanges. If it's about 1 1/8" it's O-Gauge.

    Dave, Most of the Flyer equipment came with metal tires with white plastic "whitewalls" separating the tires from the wheel hubs to insulate the engine chassis from the track. Only the later engines like the docksider, the "game train" and some of the "end of the line" production had plastic wheels on the engines.

    Y'all take care, and remember, all trains is good,
  7. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Jetrock:
    I think in 59-LesPaul's 8/30 posting he stated that he was going to go with S-Helper Service and American Models equipment. If you check out their websites i think you will find they produce pretty good ready-to-run products. In fact, "pretty good" really doesn't do some of their work justice. They are not comparable to the brass engines made by the likes of River Raisen Models, but then, they don't cost a thousand dollars either. You ought to check out the websites of these manufacturer's. You might find some equipment that you could then take to the "museum piece" quality level of detail.

    I believe all of us who are not making model railroads for a living, i.e. earning our keep with it, are amatures in one sense of the word. Since most of us are amatures, it seems our best course of action to keep our hobby vital is to encourage the work of others as we all learn how to put our vision for our "empires" into workable, runable, model railroads.

    Realistic scenery is not a factor of scale. Take a look at this website: http://www.cooncreek-and-tumbleweed-springs.co.uk/ I think the level of detail is "pretty good" for an O-Scale layout. I agree with you that "S" is not the only solution when trying to build a "scale" railway. I don't think there is a best/only solution, just a lot of good ones. Maybe the best one is the one you choose for your own enjoyment and relaxation.

    I don't know what "59" means by 6-8 tracks, but i expect he does. Why don't we point him towards John Armstrong's book, "Track Planning for Realistic Operation". If he is really going to fill up a 45' x 35' space with a railroading empire he may find this book useful. I did and i only have four, four-foot modules to play with. I'm SO jealous of "59's" wealth of space.

    Oh, and just to help all of us keep our hobby in perspective, we all "play with toy trains". Well, everyone except Greg, HE gets to play with the real ones. Again, i am SO jealous!

    Y'all be good,

Share This Page