American Flyer model railroad

Wayne’s been in touch with his American Flyer model railroad:

“Al, I am a regular reader of your layout plans and gained a number of ideas which I incorporated into my project.

I began in my extra garage in January with two four by eight foot platforms plus a two foot extension between them front and back.

That enabled an open center section for me to be able to access the rear corners of the layout.

Subsequently I covered the access section with a cardboard based painted lake which then waterfalls into the front of the layout where three trains bridge over the river valley.

The trains are from my childhood when my father began collecting the Christmas layout we set up each year starting in 1955.

I saved the trains, Plasticville buildings, and lights so the layout provides a lot of special memories.

I am now retired in Florida and have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and fun of recreating so many memories. All of the trains are operating despite their almost 70 years age.

American Flyer S gauge trains are less popular now, but were a significant contributor toward model railroading in the 1950’s.

They now provide me hours of fun as I add 1950’s era vehicles and operate my trains.

It has become a project that will go on forever😊.



american flyer bench

american flyer track work

american flyer model railroad

american flyer model railroad

american flyer model railroad

A big thanks to Wayne for sharing his American Flyer model railroad.

There’s quite a few on the blog now. Here’s a few more:

Ken’s American Flyer.

american flyer model railroad

Jay’s Amercian flyer

american flyer loco

Cecil’s American flyer layout.

american flyer diesel loco

Cecil’s layout is pretty big – 13×27 feet!

That’s all for today folks.

Please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your own model railroad adventure.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

model train answers

39 Responses to American Flyer model railroad

  1. Ken G says:

    So cool!
    I was recently watching a YouTube episode of The Toy Man Television where they went to look at a few “Toy Train” layouts in the Salt Lake City area (posted last Sunday I think). They focus on mostly model railroads as well as operating narrow gauge railroads in the Utah-Colorado area. You should check it out!

    One of the vintage model railroads, I think Lionel had many Plasticville buildings, cars and people, all in original condition like yours. He mentioned how you should never paint them to look more “realistic” or weathered – The charm is their simplicity and that they were meant to be more toys than serious models. I guess now this whole Lionel / American Flyer toy train collecting and reliving one’s childhood is huge and the prices have soared. So you after so lucky to have had the foresight to keep these. I wish I had my Lionel trains from the early 1960’s, but I still have all of my HO trains from the late 60’s to mid-70’s!

  2. Jeff says:

    That’s definitely one of the more nicely scenic’d American flyer layouts. Great job.

  3. jack masarie says:

    My story is similar to Wayne’s but with Lionel instead of “Flyer”. Still working
    (since 2008) to “complete” my own layout. BRAVO Wayne !!!!
    Shlack in NC

  4. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Where’s the ‘moving cows’ cattle yard, and the ‘moving people’ passenger station?!

    When I was 7 or 8 years old (back in ‘63 or ‘64), I somehow became the recipient of my teenaged cousin’s fairly extensive, and essentially never used, American Flyer train set. It had the above-mentioned animated features, as well as an operating mail bag car. Although it never ended up in a formal layout, it endured many years of repeated set-ups & tear-downs on the rec room floor and provided hundreds of hours of fun for my younger brother and I.

    Some 55 years later, I sorted through the big old cardboard box holding the not so pristine array of remnants, and ended up giving it all to an AF vendor at a local train show, in exchange for a few N scale pieces. The old train had more than served its purpose in my custody … it was time for someone else to make use of it.

  5. Ben says:

    As a railroader for 35 years and as a past modeler , I want to say Wayne’s layout was very nice , my problem with Lionel and American flyer guys and some HO guys ,they run their trains do unrealisticly so fast , wish they would just chill out and let them look real even though they are toys .

  6. stef Loisou says:

    quite a handsome, idyllic layout especially with the surrounding mountain/sky background. wish for more close in photos as there is so much to view on this layout. Yes, American Flyer along with Lionel from the fifties bring us back to a simpler time and era. again, Wayne, thanx for sharing this beautiful time capsule.

  7. Tim Smolinski says:

    Wayne! Thank You for the “Trip Down Memory Lane”. My first train set was an American Flyer. I’m thinking that they were associated with a company that also produced Chemistry sets for kids. Gilbert?? But anyway, I liked them better than Lionel because of the double rail versus the triple rail scenario. Have fun playing with a good piece of Americana!!!

  8. John Duryea says:

    Great planning a layout look good. So many fkyer layouts are so busy with plastic it doesn’t look organized. I too have flyer I have changed track to American Models code .148 and running legacy most of the time. I can and do run conventional also. I’m sure you enjoy running your layout.

    Happy railroading

    John D

  9. My grandfather bought me an American Flyer train set for my first birthday.
    Dad mounted the oval track on a board. Yrs of fun.
    Family house was sold and we all moved to different states.
    I left the board but dragged the engine and cars with me.
    Eventually found a hobby shop that had others on display.
    I did sell them. I wanted them to actually be used.

  10. George Zaky says:

    Wow! Love the narrative and layout. I stumbled unto S scale late in life and I think it is the BEST scale hands down. The visual detail is easier to see and build and the American Flyer sets running, smoking, and chooing ( in their old way ) is a testament to their ruggedness. The history of AF is amazing.
    S scale is hanging on by threads, becoming too expensive to model and there is no marketing from the retailers. As a result if you want updated stuff, various themes and selections of buildings and scenery you have to go HO. So sad for me because I love the Shay, Climax and Heisler logging themes and there are none in S scale.
    However the S scale Polar Express roars around the Christmas tree every year. I still cant part with my S scale and AF, wonderful, awesome sets in boxes and hope to make a layout somewhere.
    I am trying to create an N scale layout for my Grandkids-long story- and it is tormenting me to bits.
    Big AL thanks for this great sight.
    To all- Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakah, Ramadan, and whoever I missed!!
    Be safe
    George from LI, NY

  11. Erick says:

    Looks neat.!!!!

  12. Thomas Busler says:

    I am wondering what it is that looks like three passenger cars zipping around without a locomotive?
    (S Scale)

  13. Jim Robinson says:

    I have the American Flyer “Royal Blue!” So exciting to see it in a well-designed and constructed layout!

  14. Dan Hulitt says:

    Wayne, one of the nicest AF layouts I have seen. Many memories of our AF and Lionel sets. My PA was the blue comet as well as a Silver Bullet loco. We had many of the same buildings. Our airport used the old bubblers as runway markers. I still have a couple of the vibrating people.

    Enjoy your time and thank you for sharing.

    Mn Dan. With a fresh coating of 7″ of ❄.

  15. Lou Caputo says:

    That 3 car red demon running w/o a loco was a urban RR or commuter train.
    At least I think it was — got whiplash watching everything dashing by at warp speed!!

  16. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Very Nice s scale layout very nice video, Way to go enjoy!

  17. Wayne Hoffman says:

    A response on two comments.
    My biggest problem with the original engines is inability to control their low speed. I assume a talented electrical expert could modify them. Clearly huge progress with Legacy power controls in subsequent years have resolved this problem on newer engines.
    The three red cars are original New Haven which I modified the front trucks from normal to a modular DC motor chassis. Therefore, they are not original from AC Gilbert.
    Thanks for your support and encouragement. Wayne

  18. $100 Bill says:

    I remember the S gauge. I had a 4X4 Lionel 027 but friend had the American Flyer. What I always loved about his layout was the fact there was no 3rd rail. Glad to see they are still relevant in the train world.

  19. Charles Eyster says:

    It was really nice to step back into a time machine and see the past again. We all set up such simplistic layouts then. Thank you for the memories! Keep steaming away!

  20. So cool. My dad and I ran Flyer for many years. We had a 10 X 10.
    You can fits lots of action on that size with Flyer. I was a Gilbert kid. Erector, Flyer and science sets. During Christmas season the Erie Lackawanna guys would put on a huge layout in Edgewater, New Jersey that ran through walls, mountains, etc..
    All I had to do was walk with dad down the hill from our house to see it. I was there almost everyday because dad had worked for the Erie for years.
    Brutal job on the Hudson River front in nasty weather back in the 40’s, 1940’s that is. Thanks for letting us in on your great layout.

  21. Roger says:

    I have Flyer also, it’s always great to see others running AF trains. My parents and relatives gave me my first trains when I was only 3 years old. i still have some of the early trains from my childhood, and I’ve added a lot over the years. My newest is a Flyer Polar Express for around the Christmas tree…

  22. Erick says:

    Look good, Keep up the good Work.

  23. Philip Pridmore says:

    Nice setup. Living in England as a kid in the fifties, I had a Hornby tin plate 0 gauge clockwork set in its original box. Four wheel Loco and tender in BR lined green, three four wheeled tinplate coaches in blood and custard livery and a large oval track that filled the front room. It was in perfect original condition in its original box. I never knew what happened to it. Now it’s 00 gauge that has been 40 years in the making, but nothing like what I have seen here. Please keep up the good work Al.

    Philip, East Liverpool, Ohio.

  24. Tony Fryer says:

    HO. Wayne . . . your dad’s memories are alive with this American Flyer setting. YOU KEPT the trains and buildings fir 1955 . . . they don’t make ’em like that . . . I appreciate your layout and how you explained the design ideas within it. Thank you. Con una sonrisa. Tony

  25. Bob says:

    Congratulations on a very nice job. Your background scenery fits in beautifully I still have my American Flyer from the ’50s (Super Chief and New Haven engines). I always wanted to do a layout with it for the grandkids but didn’t have the space I really needed. Decided to do HO instead. Probably need to sell it to finance the HO!!!

  26. David Schaffner says:

    Slow the trains down and I might watch. Unrealistic!

  27. Mr. Ron from So Mississippi says:

    It’s too bad AF didn’t get the attention that Lionel got. AF is an ideal size, not too small and not too large. Detailing is easier at 3/16″ to the foot. It doesn’t take up as much room as Lionel. AF started an HO line and I remember seeing them at the AF display in NYC at their 47th street location (I believe) before they moved further downtown. Their HO trains were all metal and heavy for their size. They never really took off as more companies were coming up with new HO products.

  28. JIMMY ROBINSON says:

    Wayne: the third photo down shows the “Royal Blue,” which was under the Christmas tree when I was eight! It still runs quite well; although, it has a few chips in the paint. Great memories. I also had a depot with some of the figures and carts, etc. Thanks for the memories.

  29. Dave Karper says:

    All your comments bring out one thing. The statement “New and improved” means it’s downgraded and the price is raised. They still don’t make them as good as they used to. How many of the new ones will still be around fifty or more years from now?

  30. Robert Burke says:

    Nau mihi (Greetings) from a warm and dry Aotearoa New Zealand
    Regarding the speed of some videos where the trains seem to be racing, I just go to settings and reduce the playing speed to a preferred level. Plays havoc with any music or voice-over, of course, but I can always replay it at normal speed if I want to hear a commentary.
    As always, thank you, Al, for the great service this site provides, and the camaraderie of the contributors and commenters, great suggestions for those of us just taking up the hobby..
    Bob in NZ

  31. Scott in Florida says:

    It is unfortunate some are critical of your layout here – it’s very nice and very rare to see American flyer Represented for us all to enjoy. The way you have cascaded bridges and held them up with abutments is very nice – lots of other details too. Tell me are the scenic backdrops from Gilbert ? Hard to tell from the pictures, but coloring wise they look to be “excerpts” from the Train-O-Rama scenic panels Gilbert produced in 1953.

  32. Don says:

    great setup & well lite at night, well done

  33. Steven Porcelius says:

    SORRY but I need to say this
    Every time I see a great layout that I’m very impressed with is until I see their video’s of trains running at a million miles an hour, I stop watching.
    Trains DO NOT run that fast. If you take your scale and actually apply it to actual size these trains would have the ability to fly
    I am 71 years young and been running trains from my Lionel to my HO’s to my current G series
    I run “G” series trains indoors and outdoors and would NEVER EVER run them that fast
    Happy running at the right speed in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois

  34. Sgt J Toscano says:

    It’s great to see an old style American flyer come out of the closet and put back to use with great scenery and multi tracks. Great job fantastic layout

  35. Steve Ruple says:

    Very nice layout, it’s good to see another old train layout.

  36. robert dale tiemann says:

    really nice layout. lots of action.

  37. Larry Kenneth Schweitzer says:

    My American Flyer set is some place in the basement. Hasn’t been set up since the early 50’s. Maybe the Gkids will like it when I go.
    I’ve got some N scale that I thought I’d set up when I retired. Bought in Germany in the very early ’70s. Still in their original display boxes. I move slower all the time.

  38. David Schaffner says:

    See a lot of Plasticville and some engines I had at one time, but time and raising kids takes priority. Trains are running unusually fast for me, but nice layout and thanks for bringing back memories from yesteryear…

  39. Mike Thomas says:

    Your layout really looks great. I liked the switch tower that was lighted with opaque walls.It takes a special skill set to make plastic walls truly non-translucent.My grand children all want to see how fast the trains can run, so what! They are still toys Please keep spreading the joy.
    Thanks for renewing the memories.

    Mike T. Baltimore

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