A reader writes:
Hi! You mention on your Introduction page that you have information on running American Flyer outdoors. I'm building a mining-themed layout in the garden in 3/4n2 and I have a LOT of 2-rail AF track that I'd like to adapt for the mine complex itself. Is it possible to adapt the track for outdoor use? I'm not concerned about rust, but the paper insulators Gilbert used look dicey. I'd appreciate any information you might have to hand.
Thanks, and congratulations on a wonderful site!
Thanks for getting in touch.
One problem with recommending AF-compatible track solutions is that manufacturers come and go, and even if they stay in business, they may drop specific lines.
Unfortunately the AF track will go to pieces very fast outside.
Gargraves used to make S gauge track with stainless steel rails and plastic ties, but now they only seem to be available with wooden ties. The wood is Basswood, which breaks down quickly outside, although if you could soak it with a preservative first, that might help.http://www.gargraves.com/sectionaltrack.html#scurve
You might could call them and see if the plastic tie versions are available on special order, although I doubt they are.
American model trains makes brass track with plastic ties, but the ties are NOT UV protected If you want to try to use these, plan on masking the rails and spraypainting the ties with at least two coats of SOMETHING (I'd consider a coat of indoor/outdoor primer, followed by a coat of indoor/outdoor dark brown, flat paint (you might have to settle for "satin.")
Even if you get your track situation in order, you need to make certain you keep your AF trains someplace dry and temperature controlled when they're not running. And protecting them from too much exposure to direct sunlight. I suppose you could spray the cars with a satin indoor-outdoor acrylic finish, but I wouldn't do that on anything with "collector's value" and I'd be VERY careful if painting any locomotives.
Hope this helps. I've only kept one AF train and I've thought about setting up a section for that on my outside GR, but I haven't got around to it yet.
Best of luck - Paul