model train set on track

Flyerizing Thomas, Part 4, Improving the Atlantic Version

e*Train Issue: Oct 2021   |   Posted in:

Thomas Loves His Smoke Unit

By John S. Halajko (TCA 84-20653) and Carl Giambrone (TCA 83-19674)
 Fall 2021

In Part 1 of this series we outlined how to convert the Schylling Thomas Whistle to make an American Flyer Thomas that can be converted back to a Flyer Atlantic. FlyerizingThomas, Part 2  and FlyerizingThomas, Part 3 show the whistle shell surgery and how to use an American Flyer six-wheel motor/tender. Following Parts 2 and 3 instructions, the engine produced cannot be converted back to the original Flyer Hudson or Pacific due to the custom painting.

Over a series of months, we refined the Atlantic version by installing a PUL-MOR traction tire, adding LED Lighting, adding brackets and screws to secure the chassis to the shell, and installing a Bachmann Smoke unit. Disaster fell upon our upgraded Thomas when we tried to run him once more on the Atlantic Division Layout. He used to run well before the PULL-MOR tire installation. Afterward he simply derailed on the first turn while running the loop counter- clockwise.  What we did not notice is that the four-wheel drive had two different size flanges on the engineer’s side (see below). The additional speed of the new PULL-MOR tire on the same side as the smaller flange caused the engine to derail when going around the Atlantic Division Layout which has minor imperfections in track alignment.

Here is shows the Engineer’s Side Flange Difference
Upgrade included adding brackets and screws to secure shell to engine frame. See added weight hanging down in the front.

There were two ways to solve the derailment problem. Replace the smaller flange wheel with a deeper flange or add weight to the engine nose. We chose the latter as an experiment and added weight to the nose to help balance the engine. From the photo which follows, you can see that there is lots or room in the shell nose. Use as much weight as you can fit inside. Take advantage of the space and install some weight to hang down to help counterbalance the motor (see above).

Lots of room in the shell nose.

Here are the videos of the testing using Carl’s layout.

We tested our experiment on the Atlantic Division Layout at the Greenberg Show at Oaks, PA in late August, and found that the layout track had warped. Thomas would derail when running in either direction after a few loops. When Carl had a chance to examine Thomas he found that the wheels wobbled a bit and that the PULL-MOR wheel was larger in diameter than the others. This caused Thomas to rock a little when going down rails. Carl elected to make all the drive wheels the same size using the only parts he had available, smaller flanged wheels. After wheel changeout Thomas did not rock on the track, and ran well on his layout. Remember Thomas ran great without a PULL-MOR wheel. We will retest on the Atlantic Division layout and advise. See Parts 2 and 3 for details on installing smoke unit, LEDs, and brackets/screws. When building your Thomas check/repair wheel wobble and use consistent flange size. If you are going to run on a portable layout like ours, use only six-wheel drives. If you have a six-wheel chassis that does not have the benefit of the smoke unit, consider adding weight to the shell’s nose.