S Gauge or 1/64 scale trains have a history going back to 1938 when the toy maker A.C. Gilbert purchased American Flyer O Gauge trains which had been manufactured in Chicago. Gilbert moved the production of trains to Connecticut and redesigned the line to 1/64 scale proportions the following year. Although never as popular as Lionel trains, American Flyer touted its realistic two-rail track and closer to scale locomotives and rolling stock. Therein lied the intense competition between American Flyer and Lionel fans throughout the fourties, fifties and sixties.
The declining market for electric trains and the passing of A.C. Gilbert in 1961 led to the sale of the firm to Jack Wrather, producer of the Lassie and Lone Ranger TV series. However, lack of experience and continuing decline in toy train sales resulted in ceasing production of original American Flyer trains in 1966. A year later Lionel gained ownership of the tooling and brand in exchange for liquidating the remaining inventory of American Flyer trains.
Since 1979, Lionel has offered a few American Flyer items almost every year and more recently has increased the production of American Flyer S Gauge trains and accessories, much of them nearly identical to the ones produced by A.C. Gilbert. Today, Lionel’s “Flyer Chief” line of trains brings both radio control and Blue Tooth control to American Flyer trains, one of the best things to come to the toy train market in decades.
The club’s S Gauge layout shares a room with its arch rival O Gauge layout in the Chase Sports Center Building. The layout consists largely of original American Flyer track, locomotives and rolling stock that were either donated by American Flyer fans or purchased by club members. A few S Gauge items are from S Helper Service and American Models as well as current Lionel production.
The layout consists of two mainline ovals that allow for continuous two-train operation. We have constructed several sidings, with a yard and engine house. The club has also acquired several original American Flyer accessories including a whistling billboard, cow-on-track train stopping device, road crossing signals, remote control uncouplers and turnouts, operating water tank and several other pieces.
If you are an American Flyer or S Gauge fan you need to come and visit us at the Chase Sports Center Building.
This was the S gauge layout at our former home beneath 190 Glen St. It featured a 1950's theme.