The Upstairs Train

Welcome to The Upstairs Train. It is an American Flyer S-Guage model railroad on a 10' X 11' table in our upstairs "bonus room" - thus its name. I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I've enjoyed building it.

The layout has places for up to 14 trains on the tracks at once, with up to four moving independently at once, plus short sidings for a hand car and spare engine.  (Actually, there is room for 17 trains on the tracks at once, but that results in gridlock and no train can go very far.)

The Upstairs Train doesn't simply go around in circles.  There are seven intersecting loop routes on two levels, passing over, under, and around one another, for a total of 127 feet of track.  There are four bridges, three tunnels, and trestle slopes up and down between the levels.  The layout has three roads with five grade crossings controlled by flashing warning lights, a bunch of automobiles and trucks, twenty one buildings including eight towers, and six operating accessories.

The Upstairs Train from the southeast corner

Overall, the collection provides a pretty representative sampling of the trains made by American Flyer over the years.  Most are from the 1950s, but a growing number are from the other decades from 1946 to the present day.  Most of the trains and accessories are American Flyer made by the A. C. Gilbert Company, though a growing number are the later American Flyer made by Lionel since 1979.  And there are two complete trains from
S-Helper Services and a couple of cars from MTH, American Models and Crown Models.

This is my first train from S-Helper Service, my Western Pacific Freight.
Click here to see my second S-Helper train, my
Chessie Freight.

At last count, there were sixty five engines (50 powered and 15 dummies), eighty four passenger cars, four hundred and fourteen freight cars, and a handcar.  (I keep adding engines and cars so these counts are badly out-of-date!)  There were sixteen steam engines and forty nine diesels: seventeen Geep diesel engines (fourteen powered and three dummies), a Baldwin diesel, an SW-1 switcher, an NW-2 switcher, three single unit Alco powered diesels, two Alco dummy B-Units (for which I need the matching A-Units), four dual Alco diesels (powered unit plus dummy), and four ABA Alco diesels, and the Lionel Flyer Southern Pacific Alco ABBA diesels.

There were five old-style passenger cars from the 1800s in the Frontiersman set, seven New Haven style cars in two trains, fourteen Pullman Heavyweights in three trains, and thirty nine streamliners in eight trains.  That makes up fourteen passenger trains.  In addition, three streamliners (a chestnut 963 and unstriped satin 960 & 963) were the beginnings of two more passenger trains.

In the fall of 2005, I set myself the goal of collecting at least one variation of each of the hopper cars that Gilbert made, and I have almost achieved that goal.  Around Christmas time, I got fascinated by the Christmas/Holiday cars that Lionel made in their American Flyer line, and I have now collected all of them. That got me started collecting freight cars.  Up to that time, as a kid and even as an adult, I was more interested in passenger trains.  As I got into freight cars and sets I discovered that I could no longer count how many freight trains I had because I could assemble so many of Gilbert's sets from the cars in my collection.  Take a look at my freight sets page and you'll see what I mean.  In addition to those, I run a couple of favorite freight trains that Gilbert never sold as sets.

I suggest you start by taking
The Grand Tour.

Perhaps the most unique thing about the layout is its two operating modes which are described on the
Operating Modes page. That page also tells how I overcame the complexity of the layout to make it all work

Then check out the
Lessons Learned, Trains, Engines, Operating Accessories, Towers, Grade Crossings, Bridges, Buildings, Construction, Landscaping, Lighting and the History of the layout.

Another section of the website began as a place to display the individual cars in my collection, both for fun and for insurance purposes.  As I built it, however, a new vision emerged, that of a reference tool for the American Flyer community, "
The Gilbert Gallery"  if you will.  I decided to collect pictures of the cars and engines that I didn't have in my collection.  At this point, the site lists all of the S-Scale American Flyer products produced by The A. C. Gilbert Company from 1946 to its demise in 1967, and by Lionel since 1979.  It provides individual pictures of almost all of the engines, freight cars, passenger cars, and accessories, including some very rare ones, though I don't yet have pictures of all the significant variations of each item.  At present, it lists them all and shows pictures of over 90% of them. I am in the process of collecting pictures of freight and passenger sets and adding them to the gallery.

At Christmas time, the Upstairs Train has a little brother downstairs:

I thought the green motif of the Silver Rocket set would go well around the tree.  Something in me insisted on putting in a bunch of curves rather than making it a simple loop.  And it goes under the chairs on both sides because every train needs a tunnel or two.  It's amazing how quiet a train is when it's running on plush carpet rather than on a table!

Here's my grandson Brandon with his Frontiersman train.
Click the picture to see more.

Now for more pictures of the Upstairs Train.

From the Northeast Corner

From The Central Exchange

Upper Loop from the north

Town and rail yard in the Lower Loop

If you or your friends have some American Flyer trains and would like them to go to a nice home where they'll be loved and cared for, this is the place!  Email me:

On the other side of the coin, I post pictures of surplus items I have for sale from time to time on my
For Sale page.

Now show me:          Overview      Grand Tour      Lessons Learned       Modes of Operation
Trains      Engines      Operating Accessories      Bridges      Towers      Buildings    
Crossings      Construction     Landscaping      Lighting      Semaphores      Control Panel
The Gilbert Gallery     For Sale     Wish List     History     Useful Links

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