BUYING an electric train is an important step for most people. It frequently represents a sizeable investment, not only in dollars but in hours of future happiness for that boy of yours and for you.

The train you purchase now is the heart of your boy’s own railroad line, the equipment he will work and play with for a long time. That’s why you should consider carefully the merits of each brand and decide which one will give him what he is looking for - a toy train or a real railroad. For there is a big difference between one electric train and another.

DO YOU WANT REALISM? Several years ago all electric trains ran on three-rail track with the current carried in a third rail running down the middle. All trains but American Flyer still use that system. But no one ever saw a real railroad with a track in the middle, so in 1940 we changed to two-rail track. We knew from experience that boys want trains which are accurate copies of the real thing, not trains which no one ever saw in every-day life. So we not only designed two-rail track but shaped the rails correctly, making them ‘T shaped and flat on top, rather than round rails which have only a point contact. The “T” shape looks better and IS better, because it provides greater traction which means more pulling power - just like real railroad tracks.

SCALE MODELING Once we had decided on two-rail track, it was unthinkable that the equipment should be anything but authentic scale models of real trains. Of course back in the early days all electric trains (including our own) were made without any thought to accurate reproduction. Even today (except for expensive hobby equipment) all trains but American Flyer are still made that way. Locomotives are too high for their length and too wide for their height. They look sawed-off and out-of-proportion instead of long and low, like real trains.

Naturally, there’s a reason for this. These big-gauge trains cannot be made to scale because they would be too large for the average home or apartment and would be far too expensive for most people to buy.

We didn’t like this stumpy, squat look in electric trains so we selected a new gauge which would permit us to make true scale models. This gauge is called “S”, which was midway between “HO” (too small for youngsters) and “O” (too big to make scale models). In “S” Gauge every 3/16-of-an-inch in a car or a locomotive is equal to a foot in a real train.

The result was everything we had hoped for. Our trains in their new scale and on their two-rail track were scaled down versions of the kind seen on America’s big railroads. American Flyer trains have been used in miniature movie sets and on TV shows to represent real trains moving across the countryside. No other make of electric trains could have possibly been used in this way.

Most people like the smaller size not only for its realism but its convenience. They know that “bulk” does not necessarily mean quality and that precision manufacture is best regardless of size.

American Flyer trains have many other features, too, and on the next 3 pages you can read all about them. But the most important are the two about which I have talked: TWO-RAIL TRACK and TRUE SCALE. If you want not just a toy train but a realistic train, there’s honestly only one kind in America today that you can buy: American Flyer.

A. C. Gilbert