More from Alan

“Al, I grew up doing model railroading with my Dad, mostly American Flyer from his childhood.

After he passed away, the stuff was packaged up and sat in boxes for more than 20 years. I started a layout two years ago and to my shock, most of the engines still ran. Most of my engines and rolling stock from my Dad and are more than 50 years old.

Anyway, I have now started to work on scenery and the coaling plant is my beginning. I also plan to have an ore mining area that should be completed soon.

Keep the emails coming. I really do enjoy them.






“Hi Al,

I can only run trains for a limited period of time before I get bored, so I’m always looking for something else to do, such as filming or photographing it.

I also like making up cameo poses, and my latest is a tablet exchange for single line working and a lorry (truck) which has just made a delivery. The driver is seen rolling up the sheet prior to roping down the load. The rope can be seen lying on the ground.

keep up the good work









Another fine installment from Alan. And I love the fact that Gene is using his late father’s engines and rolling stock – the pics look great too.

That’s all this time folks. Please keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to take that very first step on your own layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

45 Responses to More from Alan

  1. Brian Messenger says:

    Gene, I think that the weathering on your buildings and layout is absolutely brilliant. It is great to see that some modelers do fantastic weathering jobs. Keep it up. Brian

  2. Deano says:

    Gene: Nice work with your Dad’s flyer… All too often these legacies are sold off. It’s refreshing to see the memories and skills revived as you have! American Flyer has always had a special place in my heart. Its so rarely given its due as a great Brand and gauge.

    Just a thought from personal experience. Beware of Lionel’s version of American Flyer… Their freight cars in particular use Lionel frames. I’ve found they do not track well and are prone to coming out of the larger frames in use.

    Happy Railroading y’all… Deano

  3. john says:

    Your Flyers layout looks great, I’m also working S gauge layout. However I’m moving and will be taking it down soon. Your photos are inspiring me to set mine up in my new house. Your weathering looks great,

  4. john galla says:

    is this coaling facility a kit i can purchase ??? absolutely well done !!!

  5. jim morris says:

    Great job. enjoyed .

  6. how nice the S gauge American Flyer layout is..
    .the weathering is superlative and the detail is waaaay koool
    also the HO layout is exquisite detail
    keep it runnin fellas

  7. bullfrogeh in Ontario says:

    Very nice coaling station, with great weathering. I too am working on an abandoned, and overgrown mining scene from the 1940’s era in backwood’s Ontario. I look forward to seeing yours.

  8. dewaine says:

    great job on the coal mining building, that stuff was dirty business, clothes and skin and buildings well laid out and well painted to look dirty and drab. nice.

  9. Herb Ahrens says:


  10. paul Otway says:

    Good to see old models still being used.

  11. Ken Gokdenberg says:

    Gene, how great you were able to get out your old trains and give them knew life, not to mention the memories of your dad it must bring back!

    And Akan, I love the setup poses you did, it really brings life to a model railroad!

  12. Ian Mc Donald says:

    nice work on the coaling plant. the photos of the 2 cameo poses are great.

  13. Dennis says:

    Yes, it is nice to see an American Flyer layout, and the coaling station is awesome. I’m building an A/F layout myself complete with the Rubber Roadbed you have and a Coal Mine. Had A/F as a child in the late 40’s and early 50’s then it all went away in the 60’s when my folks had to move while I was in the service. Came across a set about three years ago and got re-hooked. Maxed out a 4’x8′ table and my expansion is in progress. I’ll be sending in pictures soon. Keep on with what you are doing, we will all benefit from seeing future showings.
    Flyer4ever – Dennis

  14. Gene Ploeger says:

    Al, wow. Really appreciate all the positive comments. One of the comments asked if the coaling plant was a kit. It is actually three kits – – all kits are Lehigh Valley Models. The largest building is the Coal Breaker kit LVM14. The Mine Head and Conveyor are kit LVM15. Finally, the Powerhouse and Water Tank is kit LVM16.

    Hope to provide more pitures as I go.


  15. good looking layout
    vintage American Flyer stuff is priceless!
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  16. Franklin Waller says:

    Sure do like Gene’s coal facility. The weathering is great. I have lived around coal fields all of my life. I’m 68 and been model railroading for 50 years.

  17. Gene, Excellent work, on the coaling station. I remember going through Coalville, PA., several years ago, and most everything was covered in coal dust – very gray – looked a lot like that.

  18. Brian Messenger says:

    Great photos from Gene and Alan. Very nice cameo photos Alan. Absolutely fantastic weathering on the mine buildings Gene. Keep them coming. Brian – Knysna – South Africa

  19. Paul says:

    Is this American or British AF?
    That CP. Coal car looks recent paint job

  20. Paul says:

    Us or British ad?
    The co paint job and logo not 50 years

  21. Ron Bunch says:

    Gene: Tank you for sharing your experience with your Dad’s AF. My first trains were AF in the late 40’s continuing to mid 50s when high school, girls, and a ten year younger brother supplanted my involvement. He has shared one loco with me and I keep it on prominent display with my current Fleischmann HO. Looking forward to seeing more photos of your AF layout.

  22. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great job do enjoy notes on the past. the rolling up of the tarp is outstanding.

  23. Aidan Thomas says:

    Wow, that is some fantastic wheathering. .enjoyed the pics thanks!

  24. Max Dosser says:

    The coaling stage is superb as is the rest of the scenery.
    In your cameo photographs you show the loco driver and station hand exchanging a safe running token. I was surprised to see this method of exchange.
    A little bit of trivia.
    In Victoria, Australia the locos have a pigtail hook and clamp assembly in a recess in the drivers side cab. When approaching an exchange point the safe running “staff” is attached to the clamp. The exchange point has the same set-up so the pick up and drop off are done automatically without the loco needing to slow down, the pig-tail picking up and the clamp allows collection.

    Max D

  25. RL says:

    Doh! Gene’s excellent pictures fooled me at first glance – thought the settings and rolling stock were the ‘full size’ trains!!!! Well done young Lionel

  26. Austin Wilson says:

    Both Gene and Alan have awesome layouts. I to run a lot of coal cars on my HO Scale Layout. Thanks so much for sharing. Austin.

  27. Rod Mackay says:

    One of the hazards of being a signalman in steam days was that if you managed to upset a loco crew in some way on their outward journey you might find that when they returned, the hoop that carries the electric token for the single line had been laid on the shovel just in the firehole door to get unpleasantly warm, and if it was offered to you with the fireman holding his end in a spongecloth you knew to stand well back and let them drop it!


  28. Perry Torregano says:

    I have all modern “S”. Back when I was a kid I had Lionel “O” gage..

  29. Gary Manganiello says:

    To Gene and Al……… Your attention to scenery detail is amazing……. your weathering…… I am really jealous of…… I wish mine were half as good.

    Great Job.……

    Gary M

  30. Bob Amling says:

    Nice work on that mining facility Gene. Not surprised the engines ran. They are better constructed and easier to maintain than the new ones. Looking forward to more pictures.
    Bob in Colts Neck Crossing NJ

  31. I have a sad story about my American Flyer my dad bought me when I was in grade school. He made me a train board that hinged to vertical and locked into place. I had to put the train in a box when it hinged up. Here comes the sad part:
    When I was married and had 2 kids, a girl and a boy, my wife lent my train to a guy that was a salesman in a local furniture store. I’ll bet several of your followers have lived this: when he brought it back to me, it wasn’t my train. He had bought a cheapie train set, and stolen my American Flyer. That was my first lesson about loaning things that are valuable.

  32. John Duryea says:

    love seeing vintage flyer layouts, im also into American Flyer but changed my track to code .148. Really like the ore mine building. Is that scratch built our purchased? . Keep them old trains running.

  33. george zaky says:

    Awesome work and artistry. I think S gauge is the best size in all aspects of the model train hobby. Sadly it is cost prohibitive to do a reasonably sized and up to date layout compared to HO. I cant think of parting with my old AF & newer S scale stuff ( in a box) while I am tormented by the tiny but affordable HO stuff. So many things to consider like DCC, deadrail, computer control, sounds, & scenery. My AF engine was dead when I got it so scoop up those old engine parts from ebay as spares. Again great work.
    To me you are at the top of the list for Incredibly talented modelers.
    Big Al
    Thanks for this. A joy with my morning coffee.
    George from LI, NY

  34. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Gene great job on that mine, well done!!

  35. Will in NM says:

    Gene, Your S scale coal mine and weathering are superb. One of the tihings I liked best about your photos was the beautiful photo backdrops that set the site as being in the western Rocky Mountains. I’m not an AF modeler, but I can appreciate others work in that scale.

    Alan, What a lovely set of photos that tell a story! Beautiful work! Thanks for sharing them.

  36. Erick says:

    Pretty kool layout.

  37. Tony, Kitty Hawk, NC says:

    Alan- Cameo poses are a great idea! Not only are they interesting in themselves, but they can inspire upgrading individual areas. Thanks for sharing!

  38. Andrew Aves says:

    Thank you Gene and Alan – Superb modelling.
    Gene – I am modelling with my Hornby Dublo 3 rail with all locomotives and rolling stock all over 60 years old.
    Alan – I too have limited interest running trains on the same track so I dismantle and rebuild about every two years.
    Best wishes to one and all
    Andrew in Oz

  39. Terry Sipe says:

    Great work. Legacy trains handed down from generation to generation must be a special thing. I always enjoy seeing layouts from from around the world. I had to Google the “token system”. I learned something new today. Thanks Alan.
    Terry in PA

  40. John M. Madigan Jr says:

    Glad to see some American Flyer S Gauge content here. Great job on the Coal Loader. I am pulling together the remains of my AF Trains and hardware now 50+ years old. Still needs some work to get everything running but with one good engine the grand kids are enjoying it.

  41. Thomas Busler says:

    Thanks to Al and all who contribute.
    Alan, I am also in S gauge, in early stages of a layout. I am changing trucks and couplers and getting some newer S scale (yes, it is available). I also have some not yet built Lehigh Valley structures. Nice work.
    On another subject, I have been looking for soundproofing material for roadbed.
    I found USG brand ceiling tiles, 2′ x 2′, for $0.79 per square foot. They have a sound reduction coefficient of .55 as opposed to around .2 for foam insulation.
    Tom in Mississippi

  42. robert dale tiemann says:

    nice layout i like the detail.

  43. Don Schaupp says:

    Al, thank you for continuing to share these inspiring/instructive posts!

    I need your assistance: I purchased and downloaded you Beginners Guide just over two years ago, just before my diagnosis of cancer. undergone chemo, radiation, surgery, follow-up chemo and as of February 2023 have been declared cancer free, PTL!!

    Chemo Brain is clearing and I’m ready to start building/rebuilding my layouts and I can not find my downloaded copy of your Guide. Could you give me a link so that I can download it again or do I need to rebuy it?

    Again thanks for all you do to assist “all of us” with the continued posts.

  44. Don Schaupp says:

    AL, Thank you so much for continuing to provide so many instructive examples for all of us.

  45. Gary Hildebrandt says:

    Don Schaupp, Congrats on your medical victory. May God continue to bless you.

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