Gilbert American Flyer made a variety of train motors based on the various train models they were manufacturing.  In general, the motors were designed to match the type of locomotives they were modeled after and had a variety of features. It appears that there were approximately 6 different types of American Flyer Train motors as well as a variety used in accessories and other components.

There are two main power sources for Gilbert motors, AC and DC.  For the most part most are AC motors.  There are a handful of other variations across the locomotives including where the whistle and smoke units are located.

American Flyer Steam Locomotives entirely used worm drive motors. The advantage of worm drive motors is that they allowed the model train to start slowly without being lurchy. Effectively a smoother start as the engineer provided power made for a more realistic toy train model experience. In addition, worm drive motors enable the locomotives to pull longer trains.

American Flyer Worm Drive

This is a Lionel manufactured diesel locomotive chassis

American Flyer Basic AC Motor
Basic AC motor with brushes at the rear of the locomotive and armature/field laminations about 3/8 inches thick.

American Flyer 300AC Motor

American Flyer 300AC Motor

This picture shows motor mounted to a chassis for a 300AC Atlantic from the late ’40’s. from the left: chassis, field coil, brush holder and housing. unit on the left with the coil and wires is the reverse unit, sometimes called the e-unit. The e-unit likely came from prewar where there were both mechanical reversing and electrical reversing – m-unit and e-unit. The armature shaft extends from the housing on the right, then has the armature plates and coils, then goes through a thrust bearing in the chassis and then the shaft has a worm cut into it. The worm engages the worm gear that is mounted on the axle of the right side drivers. Connection with the left side drivers is using the actual drive rod linkage to provide driving force to all of the drivers.

These earlier locomotives had the reversing unit mounted on the chassis and in the boiler. These locomotives have a two wire connection to the tender with a plug and socket at the top of the back of the locomotive cab.

When the smoke/choo-choo units were put into this location, the reverse unit was moved into the tender. Now there are four wires connecting the tender for the locomotive. Two wires for the field winding and two for the armature. However this arrangement results in the headlight not operating when the locomotive is in neutral.  To make the headlight operate when the locomotive is in neutral a fifth wire was added to power the headlight independently from the motor and enables the headlight to be on in the neutral position.

All of the above use cloth covered and very flexible wires. After this the connector was eliminated and the wiring changed to vinyl covered ribbon cable.

Eventually a new two position (forward/reverse) e-unit was designed and is mounted to the back of the motor. The connection with the tender became a two pin plug/socket.

 Lastly as a cost cutting measure the connector was eliminated and the wires are permanently connected from locomotive to tender.

American Flyer Train Pacific Motor

American Flyer Train 312 Pacific Motor

This one has smoke in boiler with the four position reverse unit in the tender – and a four wire connector from the tender to the locomotive. Only the piston rod and piston for the smoke unit is shown. The smoke unit housing and wiring are not in this photo. This is from a 312AC and probably dates to the 1950-1952 time frame.

American Flyer Super Motor

AC Super motor used in some locomotives with catalog number ending in 3×6. 316 Pennsylvania Pacific, 326 New York Central Hudson, 336 Union Pacific Northern. Brushes at the rear of the locomotive and armature/field laminations about 1/2 inches thick.

Casey Jones 4-4-0 motor

There may be a different motor in the Old Timer/Franklin-Washington 4-4-0 locomotives, I don’t have one available to look at at the moment. The 0-6-0T locomotives may also have a different motor – again, no reference material at this time.
American Flyer Casey Jones Motor

American Flyer DC Motor
DC Motor. Same structure as the basic AC motor, but field is permanent magnet instead of AC coil. Armature is wound slightly differently and the brushes are a different material. Only in 332 DC and 342 DC locomotives.

American Flyer Diesel Locomotives
All worm drive and all AC

American Flyer Train Dual Motor Diesel
Dual motor diesel types. All are PA type of locomotive.

American Flyer Dual Engine

This photo is of a Lionel manufactured S gauge diesel locomotive

Single motor diesel types. GP7 and single motor PA diesels

American Flyer Field Coil Assembly

This is the field coil assembly and the armature assembly from the GP7 series of diesel locomotives, also used in the single motor PA’s and the handcar (74x series).

American Flyer Baldwin Diesel motor

The primary difference here is that this is not a can motor and is a bit more industrial. This gave the engine additional pulling power – much like real diesel engines when compared to steam locomotives.
American Flyer Baldwin Motor

American Flyer Fx

(argued as to whether x=3, 7 or 9) diesel motor – may be same as Baldwin diesel – again don’t have example to look at or source materials that reveal the info.

American Flyer Handcar Motors

The Handcar, Track Maintenance Car and rocket sled motorized units all have AC motors as well. The handcar motor structure is similar to single motor diesel. Other two are unique.

All other American Flyer Motors are AC

The American FLyer 314AW motor has the whistle in the tender.  Others have tender mounted smoke unit motors.