I did a Google search and just ended up confused.
Can an American Flyer boxcar run on Lionel's O gauge track? Obviously I
know S gauge is two-rail, but what about the rolling stock. Are they
O gauge is 1-1/4" gauge, S gauge is 7/8" gauge.
O scale is 1/4" to the foot, S scale is 3/16" to the foot.
American Flyer rolling stock is built to S scale.
Lionel is a mixed bag. The quality stuff is built to 1/4" scale. Most of
the toy stuff was/is built to 3/16" scale, not 1/4" scale. But it's
mounted on O gauge trucks. Lionel did this many, many years ago to be
able to offer trainsets that would fit on a dining room table (the O-27
line). The smaller cars and locos could handle those very tight curves.
So if you change the trucks and couplers, you can run that Lionel
rolling stock on American Flyer S gauge track. And vice versa.
Not that changing trucks and couplers is easy.
Confusing, isn't it? :-)
Gauge & scale are vastly different when talking about toy trains.
Many Lionel items are close to 3/16" scale, or "S" scale, running on "O"
track. Just prior to WWII, Flyer was marketing 3/16" scale trains for
three rail "O" gauge track.
The gauge is not the same for Postwar Flyer, which is 3/16" scale
running on two rail "S" gauge track. The bulk of Lionel production is
three rail "O". Prewar Flyer runs just fine on Lionel "O".
Want to confuse the issue even more? Lionel has been cataloging &
producing "S" gauge American Flyer train items since the 1970's. They
acquired Flyer in 1967 just before Lionel Corp got out of the train
business themselves & licensed the manufacturing.
The corporation then sold the licenses too in the '90s. It's all owned
by Wellspring now.
Not too bad. The great thing about standards is that there are so many to
choose from... ;)
I had just seen an American Flyer box car that looked cool and was
wondering if it would work on O/O27 track. I'm not sure I want to get into
attempting to change trucks though. At least not because my wife likes
Winnie the Pooh. (Don't tell her I said that... she'll stick my Woody
Woodpecker boxcar in my face and say "Oh yeah?")
I've seen the variations in Lionel rolling stock that I have. But I'm not
big on wanting all the cars to be the same height or anything. It actually
looks kind of cool to have an eclectic consist.
"Where on earth is that train hauling Comet Cleanser, Jack Frost Sugar,
Rocket Fuel, a Woody Woodpecker boxcar, and three AEC Reactor Fluid tank
I'm still working on a likely story. It's headed to Lionelville, obviously,
but what those Lionelvillans do with the stuff is anybody's guess. We might
want to get the Homeland Security Department in on this...
I recall reading something about Neil Young being a major investor who
pulled Lionel out of the last bankruptcy. Is Wellspring the company he
I wonder what makes the business so unstable. Too small a market requiring
high prices? Too much time playing with the trains instead of running the
business? To much time in court with MTH?
I've heard two areas of faith in the latter. Some say MTH will buy out
Lionel, and some say Lionel will buy out MTH.
Either way, the Lionel name has to stay. It's ingrained in the American
Neil Young is a small minority investor w/ Wellspring. None of them
"pulled Lionel out of the last bankruptcy"... it was a court decision.
Young also has interests in the firm that provides technology to Lionel
Assuming facts not in evidence.
Too small a market requiring
Niether of these will happen, the way Lionel is structured.
trainfan1 spake thus:
... which stems from the fact that Young's son is developmentally
disabled, and Young discovered toy trains assisted with his treatment,
thereafter taking a great interest in Lionel.
and Young discovered toy trains assisted with his treatment,
Both of his sons, Zeke & Ben, have CP. His daughter does not.
Neil's interest in trains, Lionel in particular, predates the birth of
Ben(1978), the one who is most severely affected, & Zeke(1972).
Yes, obviously the bankruptcy court's trustee pulls the company out of
bankruptcy. I meant that he invested in creating the new company.
Several bankruptcies from the days of Joshua Cowen to the present. Not too
Now that's a great story. I doubt MTH has any such stories. Other than
maybe a clandestine piece involving Mike walking out on Lionel and taking
some designers - and apparently some designs - with him.
In the old days, toy trains were made in the USA or imported from a few
manufacturers in Europe at great cost.
Today, the vast majority of the toys are made in China. This means prices
can be very cheap relative to what they might have been.
To be popular with the mass toy market, it means being cheap and not
necessarily very good quality.
To be popular with the collectors and layout operators, it means having
collector quality products and many of those would prefer they be made in
the same old USA factory that they always had been.
Thus, these manufacturers are pulled in two different directions.
LGB attempted to solve the problem by creating two lines of products: a
battery powered plastic track train that was aimed at the children's
market (are they still making that?), and the hobbyist trains we all know
of. Both could operate on the metal track, and rolling stock had similar
enough couplers that some types of rolling stock were shared between the
two product lines.
However, the toy market is a volatile thing, particularly with such heavy
hitters as Mattell doing mass marketing to children every moment they
It has been that long ago hasn't it? I still have a 1981 LGB catalog
somewhere (the only one I ever owned) that had the plastic track trains in
In O27, there was Lionel, and there was Marx. For a while in the 1970s,
Marx made a version of its locomotive with a wind-up mechanism and plastic
track. This would also operate on the same O27 track as their electric
This type of thing strikes me as being a good way of introducing a toy
that can be upgraded slowly into an adult hobby.
A minor investor, w/ Wellspring. This was in 1995, has nothing to do
with any bankruptcy. There was no new company, they bought it in
entirety from Richard Kuhn, who had recently acquired the licenses from
Lionel Corp., while having owned the rights, & Lionel Trains Inc., & had
been making trains, for 10 years.
This last one had nothing to do with stability, it was the result of the
MTH lawsuit verdict.
Lionel's decline began soon after the War. It was clear by 1950 that the
majority of model railroaders wanted both scale and standards, so that
products from different manufacturers would work together. The "scale vs
tinplate" debate raged, often acrimoniously, in the model press.
Eventually, the tinplaters left the "serious" model railroad community,
which was then dominated by model builders, not by operators. But even
now, there are occasional articles about tinplate layouts operating as
model railroads. (There is still a divide between builders and
operators, with the builders moaning about the decline in standards, the
dumbing down of MR, etc, as shown on some threads on this forum.)
Lionel did build 1/4" scale models (they fetch very high prices on the
collectors market these days), but refused to conform to NMRA standards,
and so lost this segment of the market. The fact that the small
post-ware houses and large post-ware families encouraged people to
choose HO over O didn't help either. Nor did the fact that almost all HO
worked well together. (The exceptions were, significantly enough, the
European imports from manufacturers that each built to different
When Lionel did offer HO trains, they once again refused to conform to
NMRA standards. I had a couple of their cars - nice enough mouldings,
but I had to change the trucks, as the Lionel wheels hiccupped (to put
it nicely) over the turnouts. I think I still have two or three of those
trucks in my scrapbox. I also had their version of the 4-wheel Plymouth
diesel. Execrable modelling, horrible wheels, and gears that made the
durn thing run at around 400 scale mph.
Lionel just didn't understand that captive markets didn't work anymore.
Pity. Their trains were tough as Mack trucks, and were and are a lot of
fun to play with.