Rubber Road Bed for Original Style American Flyer Track

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Rubber Road Bed for Original Style American Flyer Track
Posted by SeabeeBrad on Wednesday, June 09, 2010 7:42 PM

 Hello All,

 I am new to American Flyer (I restored a Flyer set that I found in my parents closet). I am looking for road bed that goes with the original style track (I have quite a bit of it). I have bought some on eBay but I found it to be hit or miss on the condition, price, and availability. My question is, is there anyone out there that makes new AF road bed or sells original road bed. I know that I can by new S-gage track but i want to give my layout an original feel, plus I already have plenty of track. I'm only in my 30's with three small kids so I need to be smart with my spending on the layout.

 Regards

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, June 09, 2010 7:54 PM

Brad,

          R. Johnson, who advertises in CTT, makes reproduction roadbed.  I don't have his contact info at the moment.

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Posted by Timboy on Wednesday, June 09, 2010 8:11 PM

 

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Posted by aflyer on Monday, June 14, 2010 8:20 PM

I have purchased several lots of roadbed on eBay, watch the bids sometimes you can get a good deal.  I use Krylon semi flat black and give it a couple light coats.  The Krylon claims it can be used on rubber and I can tell you it does not seem to have any negative affect on the flexibility.  It has stayed looking good for over two years.

I washed the road bed in dish detergent and a stiff brush, let it dry for a couple days before painting.  I have done both blak and grey, and even the grey that was looking green.

 Good luck,

George

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Posted by RockIsland52 on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:34 AM

So even the really old original roadbed doesn't get brittle or starts to disintegrate?

Jack

IF IT WON'T COME LOOSE BY TAPPING ON IT, DON'T TRY TO FORCE IT. USE A BIGGER HAMMER.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 6:23 AM

Timboy

Whatever route you go, it's most likely gonna be pricey - per section - for excellent quality.  Now, if you need just a little, so what.  However, if you need a lot...  Repro roadbed isn't cheap.  Quality vintage roadbed isn't cheap.  I have seen "junk" roadbed at York, but then you have to usually de-paint it and try to get some color bloom back into it.  There have been many, many discussions over the years on various forums of what to use to "restore" it.  Some have reported that just a simple wash is good - and that probably will not hurt.  Others have advocated Armor-All or WD-40 and some have gone ballistic over those suggestions, reserving a special place in hell for those who apply those products.  There is ONE way to get it ALL a uniform color and that is to wash it and spray-paint it.  That is also very provocative.

-Timboy    

I agree with Timboy.   I have made several eBay purchases to supplement my original rubber roadbed which I acquired in the 1950s.  I paid anywhere from $1.00 per piece to as much as $4.00 per piece. 

The best quality rubber roadbed that I purchased was not quite equal to my original road bed which still looks terrific, remains soft and pliable, and has no nail holes or paint marks.  Some of the worst quality rubber roadbed that I purchased on eBay has some tears on the bottom where the rubber is thinnest but it doesn't show when it is down on the layout with track inserted in it. 

Incidentally, the pieces that I purchased on eBay with paint on it was easily cleaned off with a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol.

Timboy will not pleased to learn that I used Armor All on one batch of roadbed which appeared dull after cleaning and too shiny after applying Armor All.  Trying to wash off Armor All with soap and water is a challenge but I was able to remove enough shine to make the eBay roadbed llook as good as my original roabed.

One batch of rubber roadbed that I purchased on eBay was the original AC Gilbert roadbed but it was gray in color, not black.  The seller stated this, but I overlooked it when I bid.  The quality of this particular roadbed is the equal of my original rubber roadbed but it differs in color so I plan to resell it.  If anyone is interested, send me a PM. I will make you a deal that you can't refuse.

Rich

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Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 6:37 AM

Rich,

I sent you a PM

Jim

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Posted by Timboy on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 6:56 AM

 

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Posted by arkady on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 2:10 PM
RockIsland52

So even the really old original roadbed doesn't get brittle or starts to disintegrate?

I can't speak for every single piece, but I've got a box of AF rubber roadbed that I bought back in the Seventies, when it was cheap. None of it has gotten brittle or begun to disintegrate, which I find gratifying but surprising.

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Posted by SeabeeBrad on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:23 PM

 All of you have given me some good advice. Thank You. Now I need to acquire 29 pieces of curved roadbed and 28 pieces of straight roadbed for the layout I am planning on building. Is there a reason some roadbed is gray and some is black?

Brad

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 17, 2010 6:04 AM

SeabeeBrad

 Is there a reason some roadbed is gray and some is black?

Brad

Brad,

I wish that I could answer that question for you. 

My original rubber roadbed from the 1950s is black and I thought all of the AC Gilbert rubber roadbed was black.  When I bought that one batch on eBay, as I mentioned, the seller said it was gray but I ignored that assuming that it was the same color as mine especially from the photos.  When I received it, I immediately noticed the difference in color.  The same numbers are on the bottom of the straight and curved pieces as on the black pieces.  So, I have no idea why Gilbert produced two different colors.  In some ways, the gray color looks more prototypical than the black. 

Maybe one of our AF experts can provide the answer.

Rich

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Posted by Northwoods Flyer on Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:35 AM

richhotrain

Maybe one of our AF experts can provide the answer.

While I don't consider myself an AF expert I can look up information as well as the next guy.  Here is a quote from Greenberg's Guide to American Flyer S Gauge , Volume II edited by Joe Deger.  Page 101:

Rubber Roadbed Development

The idea for rubber roadbed started with a letter to the Gilbert factory from a man who owned a restaurant in Denver, Colorado. The letter stated that there was an American Flyer train running on track built on a shelf completely around the restaurant (out of the reach of children).  Unfortunately the train created an objectionable level of noise and the owner wanted to know what Gilbert had available to quiet the rumble.  According to Dr. Edward Bernard, Maury Romer in an effort to help the Colorado man out, started to cut some strips of sponge rubber and bevel the edges.  While he was in the process of working on this idea, a salesman and part owner of the Bond Rubber Company of Derby Connecticut, visited him in engineering.  The Bond Rubber Company already did some rubber molding for the Gilbert Company (primarily) the rubber tires for Pull-mor Power.)

After Romer explained what he was up to, the salesman offered to mold what he was working on. $500.00 was authroized to construct a single mold, instructions were given that the edge should have a stone effect, and that the track should nest in the roadbed without shifting.

A single cavity brass mold was mad and, after sever inspections and repeated chiseling of additional freatures into the mold it was accepted.  Ties, in addition to the four track ties, were just high enough so that they could be stampled black. Although intended for this it was never done.

Two 24 cavity straight track molds and two 24 cavity curved track molds were made; the cost was quite high.  Cartons were printed with A.C. Gilbert labels.  Bond Rubber Company produced the roadbed, packed 48 to a carton, and sent them to New Haven.  All Gilbert had to do was slap a shipping label on it and send it out.  Gilbert got the roadbed for seven cents each, it sold for 35 cents in the catalogue.  Profits ranged from fifteen to seventeen cents depending on how it was sold: to a jobber, a wholesaler, or a large department store.

The rubber roadbed was on of the highest profit items the A.C. Gilbert Company ever had. For years it sold by the "millions" since there had been many sets sold in prior years, Gilbert could not keep up with the demand.  It was an item on which Gilbert made a lot of money and served a great purpose on train layouts as well. (This information on the rubber roadbed was originally published in The Collector)"

The numbers for the rubber roadbed were 726 for the straight sections and 727 for the curved sections.  It was cataloged from 1950-1956. It came in Gray rubber with six ties, Black rubber with six ties, and Black rubber with 23 ties in 1956."

Enjoying the World's Greatest Hobby

Northwoods Flyer

The Northwoods Flyer Collection

of

American Flyer Trains

"The Toy For the Boy"

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 17, 2010 1:51 PM

Northwoods Flyer

richhotrain

Maybe one of our AF experts can provide the answer.

While I don't consider myself an AF expert I can look up information as well as the next guy.  Here is a quote from Greenberg's Guide to American Flyer S Gauge , Volume II edited by Joe Deger.  Page 101:

Rubber Roadbed Development

The idea for rubber roadbed started with a letter to the Gilbert factory from a man who owned a restaurant in Denver, Colorado. The letter stated that there was an American Flyer train running on track built on a shelf completely around the restaurant (out of the reach of children).  Unfortunately the train created an objectionable level of noise and the owner wanted to know what Gilbert had available to quiet the rumble.  According to Dr. Edward Bernard, Maury Romer in an effort to help the Colorado man out, started to cut some strips of sponge rubber and bevel the edges.  While he was in the process of working on this idea, a salesman and part owner of the Bond Rubber Company of Derby Connecticut, visited him in engineering.  The Bond Rubber Company already did some rubber molding for the Gilbert Company (primarily) the rubber tires for Pull-mor Power.)

After Romer explained what he was up to, the salesman offered to mold what he was working on. $500.00 was authroized to construct a single mold, instructions were given that the edge should have a stone effect, and that the track should nest in the roadbed without shifting.

A single cavity brass mold was mad and, after sever inspections and repeated chiseling of additional freatures into the mold it was accepted.  Ties, in addition to the four track ties, were just high enough so that they could be stampled black. Although intended for this it was never done.

Two 24 cavity straight track molds and two 24 cavity curved track molds were made; the cost was quite high.  Cartons were printed with A.C. Gilbert labels.  Bond Rubber Company produced the roadbed, packed 48 to a carton, and sent them to New Haven.  All Gilbert had to do was slap a shipping label on it and send it out.  Gilbert got the roadbed for seven cents each, it sold for 35 cents in the catalogue.  Profits ranged from fifteen to seventeen cents depending on how it was sold: to a jobber, a wholesaler, or a large department store.

The rubber roadbed was on of the highest profit items the A.C. Gilbert Company ever had. For years it sold by the "millions" since there had been many sets sold in prior years, Gilbert could not keep up with the demand.  It was an item on which Gilbert made a lot of money and served a great purpose on train layouts as well. (This information on the rubber roadbed was originally published in The Collector)"

The numbers for the rubber roadbed were 726 for the straight sections and 727 for the curved sections.  It was cataloged from 1950-1956. It came in Gray rubber with six ties, Black rubber with six ties, and Black rubber with 23 ties in 1956."

Enjoying the World's Greatest Hobby

Northwoods Flyer

Well, I'll be darned.

Ask and you shall receive.

Quite a story.  Thanks for that, NF.

Rich

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Posted by azflyer on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 6:50 PM
I also purchased several lots of AF rubber roadbed on eBay. I found by just putting the road bed in the washing machine with a bunch of large towels works wonders .... just like new. Then I take the old AF track and clean it with a Tycro wheel, which is attach to my Shopsmith. I can turn the speed dial down on the Shopsmith to it lowest speed setting. It takes about 30 seconds to clean a section of track inside and out. It is just like new! I have a desert southwest layout 5x16 which I covered the table top surface with microfiber, beige desrt color. You can see it on a lot of furniture now days. I sprayed the roadbed with the Krylon textured paint in the travertine tan color, Just put the track in the roadbed and your ready to start your layout. The best part of this, you can run your trains while you are working on the scenery, bridges, washes, and mountains. Three years later I'm still at it....but best of all, I like to run my American Flyer trains for the grand kids They do too. Smoke choo-choo and rail sounds.

 

“Tell me and I’ll forget;Embarrassed show me and I may remember;Smile involve me and I’ll understand.”Big Smile

 

AZ-Flyer@American Flyer Cabinet-top Layout (5'x16'): http://az-flyer.blogspot.com/  

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