How to Repair an American Flyer Train

By Ron Bechtel
American Flyer Rio Grande

For over a century, American Flyer trains have captured the imagination of generations of model train enthusiasts. They remind us of our past and inspire our appreciation of true craftsmanship. Owning model trains can be a rewarding experience. However, like any finely tuned mechanism, they require continuous maintenance and periodic repairs. Having the ability to repair your American Flyer train will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, but will save you money while adding to the enjoyment of this worthwhile hobby.

Repair Procedures

Secure the car in an upside down position and clean with lint cloth. Unscrew the carriage and remove the housing. Blow out dust and any loose particles with a pressurized air can, making note of any broken parts.

Look for evidence of rust which can prevent electrical currents from completing the circuit. If rust is evident, sand it off using a fine sandpaper. Blow excess dust out with your pressurized air can. Strip and reattach lose or broken wires.

Press pick-up roller pins to be certain they are moving freely. Apply two drops of oil for every 15 to 20 hours of operation. Lubricate side rod bolts and crosshead in the same 15- to 20-hour interval. Wipe off excess lubricant oil with Q-tips. Place one or two drops of oil on coupler knuckle pins to complete lubrication. Inadequate lubrication will make your train inoperable.

Run your palm across all wheels to be certain they are free moving. If a wheel locks, remove any debris with pressurized air can or tweezers. Lubricate wheels with one drop of oil each. Be certain wheels roll free once cleaned.

Check gear box to see if it moves freely. Inadequate greasing can freeze gears. Grease the gearbox with lithium grease after every 50 hours of operation. Apply a small amount of grease to exposed gears every 20 to 50 hours of operation.

Reassemble the housing to the carriage, being certain that all roller pins and wheels still move freely before tightening screws. Place the train on the track with wheels properly aligned. Power up the transformer and test your train.

Tip

Preventive maintenance and repair go hand in hand. Many repairs can be avoided entirely by putting your American Flyer train on a reliable maintenance schedule.

For more advanced repairs, you can purchase a repair manual for your American Flyer Train online or visit your local train shop

Warning

Be careful not to over lubricate. Excessive lubrication will cause dirt to adhere to parts and cause clumping in moving parts that may cause your train to stop working.

While most repairs are usually simple, it is important to know when you have exhausted your repair options and need to bring in a qualified professional. This is particularly important when dealing with electrical issues.

About the Author

Ron Bechtel is a Los Angeles author, screenwriter and lecturer. He has appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows, including NBC, FOX, and KABC radio Los Angeles. Bechtel's writing encompasses a wide range of subject matter from entertainment to health and medical related issues. Bechtel holds a degree from the Temple University film school.