S gauge -Battery Conversion

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S gauge -Battery Conversion
Posted by af1949 on Thursday, August 08, 2019 8:55 PM

Has anyone converted an American Flyer Postwar engine to battery power? would like to know if it is possible and what I need to convert an engine.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Friday, August 09, 2019 12:32 PM

If all you want is battery power, you should be able to get that just by connecting the battery in place of the track pickups.

If you also want to be able to control the locomotive direction and speed, I suggest you search the forum for posts by Dave Vergun.  He posted under the name "FJ and G" and he consistently misspelled "blog" as "blogg".  He modified Lionel-style locomotives to add batteries and control electronics meant for model airplanes.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by bobhwalker on Friday, August 09, 2019 6:48 PM

Conversion of S and O scale engines to battery power is taking place much more frequently these days. But, keep in mind that at the same time you need to go wireless as you will not be using the track for power and/or control. The only other caveat is that Postwar engines with universal motors are somewhat more complex to modify than later engines with can motors. 

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Posted by emdmike on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:22 PM

I remember an ad in the magazine a few years ago that offered a bolt in can motor for American Flyer S gauge locomotives to replace the open frame job that would just suck battery power quickly.   A modern can motor would be a requirement for any battery conversion.  I plan to do one of my Bassett Lowke/Corgi reissue O gauge locomotives to battery in the future.   All of my G scale non live steamers are set up with onboard battery power.   Mike the Aspie

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:16 AM

I've been looking in on this, and I have a few questions.

First, how is it possible to convert post-war American Flyer (and Lionel, for that matter) to battery, that is, DC power?  I thought those AC motors wouldn't work on DC.  Wouldn't you need to put a rectifier of some kind between the battery and the track?

Second, why would you want to do this to begin with?  To quote Ben Franklin, it seems like you're "...going from white sugar to brown."

Third, how big of a battery would you use?  

Not mocking or crtitisizing mind, just asking.

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Posted by Laurastom on Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:39 PM

All Gilbert S gauge engines work with DC. The 3 pole open frame motors are not very efficient. For battery sizing assume each will draw a continuous 2A pulling a string of cars. Dual motor diesels are at least 3A.

SnS makes drop-in can motor conversions for many of the Gilbert steam engines and some diesels. I would do this before converting to battery power. The power pickup for Gilbert steam engines is the tender so a wiring harness already exists. The tender should be large enough to hold a reasonable sized battery plus the electronics, the existing harness can be used. For diesels just tether the powered unit to a dummy A or B unit to hold the battery. Battery size depends on how long you want the engine to run between charges. If you do the can motor conversion a 12V battery is adequate. My experience with Gilbert engines and open frame motors on DC is you need at least a 14V DC source.

If the original motors are used, a dual motor diesel with PulMor can draw as much as 6A pulling a string of cars up a grade. A large motor steam engine with PulMor will draw 4A under the same conditions. Make sure the batteries can supply this much current continuously without overheating.

As Bob Nelson advised, the electrical side is easy, the issue is the the controls to operate it. There are products available, you neet to investigate physical size and Amperage rating.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, August 15, 2019 3:29 PM

Thanks!  I'm planning on doing any of the above, I don't do AF, but that's an interesting explanation.

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Posted by emdmike on Thursday, August 15, 2019 5:15 PM

The Crest Revolution and the Airewire system are both excellent wireless controlers.  Both have boards that will handle those kind of amps and much more as they are designed for multi-motored G scale diesels, some of which can have up to 4 motors in them on the 6 axle diesels(two per truck).  Its fitting them and a decent size battery(there are 14.8vt ones out there, very common to use them in G scale).  I find it takes far less actual voltage to run a single can motored locomotive pulling an average size train.  I use either a 7.2vt, 5000mah Nimh battery or the 8.4vt version in my G scale trains.  Run times exceed 3 hours on a single motor locomotive.  But I do not use sound or smoke, both of which would eat up battery power.    Mike the Aspie

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Posted by bobhwalker on Thursday, August 15, 2019 6:35 PM

Welcome to the growing number of modelers interested in and doing battery power. I've converted about 10 OGauge engines and all work well. I have used a number of wireless control systems including LionChief, BlueRail Trains, AirWire and LocoFi. Each of these is quite different technically, but all did the job. The constant type of power source in my conversions has been a 12V LiPO battery ranging in capacity from 1100 to 1600 mah.  

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