Lionel 113 Station AF 4689 Lionel Trolley Ives 1764

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My Experience Servicing an American Flyer Wide Gauge Reversing Unit

By Mike Isenberg

I've gotten quite interested in the big, bold freight trains American Flyer built in the "Classic" era of Standard Gauge, or Wide Gauge as Flyer called it. I decided to buy three lots of Flyer trains & parts that came up for sale, assemble a consist that suited me and sell off what was left. I ended up with a 4692 steamer, with the great looking IVES 1134 boiler style, a 4693 Vandy tender & a few of their freights. I am an operator, so a train has to run reliably to be a keeper. When I got the 4692, the reversing unit was fussy & then quit completely. I didn't think much about it, but it turned into a real pain! After I pulled the motor from the shell, I looked it over carefully. The reversing unit was riveted together. NOT service friendly.

I tried to "uncrimp" the heads of the rivets on the outside of the motor frame. Not a chance. I sat it aside trying not to make a snap decision on this. Maybe I could grind off most of the head & then use just a touch of epoxy to reassemble it? Nope, that did not work either. The rivets also function as the spacers. Next I thought about pop rivets, but drilling enough to allow a pop rivet to clear would machine away too much of the spacer shoulder. I decided the only quality way was to drill all the way through the rivet/spacers and then use #4 machine screws, lock washers & nuts to reassemble it.

Getting enough clearance to get between the motor and r-unit up on the bed of the drill press was tough. I broke one original wire in the process. OK, I got all four rivets/spacers drilled just enough to allow a #4 machine screw to clear. I then re-tensioned the contact fingers, polished them & all contacts on the fiberboard side of the unit.

Reassembled I thought I was home free, not so. It is still very sensitive about positioning, so I got it running forward reliably & fixed both levers in place with a touch of epoxy, easily removed by some future owner. I don't generally back up trains on my simple layout, anyway. My conclusion is American Flyer did not care about long term service, as Lionel did, we're spoiled by the big Orange L.

The motor alone has circled the test loop for about an hour today, I think it's ready for another few decades. Feel free to email any questions or comments to:

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