AF Sam the Semaphore Man

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AF Sam the Semaphore Man
Posted by gottcent on Thursday, September 11, 2014 2:01 PM

I recently picked up an American Flyer Sam the Semaphore Man, but it did not come with a controller. I'm having trouble figuring out how to wire it up. There are four wires coming from the unit: black, red, yellow, and green. Since there is no white wire, I think this is the earlier #758 version, rather than the 758A. Also, when Sam comes out of his shack, he returns, once the power is released, via a spring operation, which also suggests the 758.

My layout is 3-rail Lionel, so I'd like to be able to wire this accessory into that system. When I apply power to the black and red wires, the light goes on. When I apply power to the yellow and red wires, Sam emerges (and then returns once power is released.) If I connect the red wire to one transformer terminal and then touch both black and yellow to the other, however, Sam comes out but the light goes off. During all this, the semaphore arm does not move.

I can't get anything to happen with the green wire no matter where I connect it.

I would like to dismantle the unit to see what's happening inside, but I can't figure out how to do it. There is one screw on top of the base which I removed, but everything still seems pretty tight.

Any advice would be appreciated.


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Posted by TrainLarry on Thursday, September 11, 2014 4:02 PM

This is for AF track and transformer, from AF service literature. You need an insulated block. Yellow to 15volts. Black to base post of transformer. Red goes to one side of switch, other side of switch goes to base post. Green goes to #707 track terminal inside insulated section. Transformer variable voltage gets connected outside insulated section.


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Posted by stebbycentral on Thursday, September 11, 2014 7:31 PM

I have a Sam that I rebuilt a couple of years back.  As indicated in  the previous post the accessory is designed to use with an isolated section of track.  It will automatically interrupt the track power when the semaphore is in the stop indication, bringing the train to a halt.  When you release the power to the accessory the track power is restored and the train can continue. There is an electronic device in the track circuit that somehow acts to prevent the reverse unit from cycling, insuring that the locomotive proceeds in a forward direction. This function is why there are so many "extra" wires.

AS to the question of whether the semaphore moves; yes it is supposed to change indications as the figure moves in and out of the shed.  The connection is mechanical and is driven by the same solenoid that moves the figure. The semaphore arm is controlled by a sliding rod inside the signal's shaft.  As the figure moves forward a metal strip in the base pushes up on a plunger that in turn raises the rod and rotates the arm downward.  As power is removed and the figure withdraws the metal strip retracts and the plunger drops, returning the arm to an upright position.  There is a whole lot that can go wrong with this process, and the only way to discover what is wrong is to take the thing apart. 

I have figured out what is wrong with my brain!  On the left side nothing works right, and on the right side there is nothing left!

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Posted by gottcent on Friday, September 12, 2014 9:17 AM

Thanks, guys. Any hints on how to get the unit apart?


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Posted by lionelsoni on Friday, September 12, 2014 11:45 AM

Here are the American Flyer instructions:

Gilbert American Flyer Semaphore Man 758

As Larry described above, yellow is the accessory voltage.  Black is the common, or "base" in AF jargon.  So, with black to common and yellow to accessory voltage, the lamp should be on.  Further, connecting red to common should operate the solenoid.  I believe that the solenoid operates a normally-closed contact that disconnects green from common, to stop the train.

For 3-rail use, I would avoid stopping the train that way, since metal carbodies, couplers, and trucks can maintain the connection to the isolated outside rails.  In particular, Lionel couplers are inclined to conduct current through the tiny coupler springs, which burns them out.

I recommend finding a pushbutton with both normally-open contacts, for connecting common to the red wire, and separate normally-closed contacts, for disconnecting an isolated center rail from the track voltage.  (Don't use the green wire.)  A suitable switch may be a momentary DPDT.  I would not use a regular DPDT, because of the risk of leaving the solenoid activated and overheating it.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by BobsAFatSLE on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 1:02 PM

Try buying the controller from Portlines hobby in Mass.  I just bought one 24.00  Bob

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Posted by Laurastom on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 5:31 PM

Lionelsoni's directions are correct with the following additions for a 758 one button "Sam." The black wire connects to the control button, the other side of the control button connects to the transformer Base Post. The green wire connects to a 707 track terminal in the Flyer world which connects the green wire to an isolated section of Base Post rail in 2 rail track. Holding the button down stops the train, releasing it allows the train to restart.

As Lionelsoni says, better in Lionel 3 rail to interrupt the center rail power. That requires a rethinking of the accessory wiring.

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