American Flyer's Mikado
A review by Carl Tuveson

My two new AF Mikados

It's been a long time coming but they are finally here after decades of waiting. American Flyer has a new fleet of steam locos. Lionel has done a great job engineering  the new American Flyer Mikado. No loco is perfect and there are some minor compromises but overall it is a very impressive engine. We will not attempt to do a rivet counter review here. In my opinion the finish and level of detail is fabulous.
Conventional mode of operation requires a 9 volt battery in the tender for Rail Sounds to work at lower voltages.

Smoke unit operation is marginal in conventional mode due to the lower track voltage. A Seuthe™ smoke unit is used due to the limited space in the engine and it will not really get smoking until track voltage is about 12 volts.

I suggest trying A-Normal-1's smoke fluid if running in conventional as it will smoke at lower heat or mix it with Lionel's Smoke fluid. 


In the TMCC command mode of operation it had good response and no signal problems.

It performed as expected with all features.

The smoke unit provided copious amounts of smoke in command mode.

The battery could be optional in command mode since the track power is usually above 12 volts and It had no loss of power that disturbed the Rail Sounds on my layout.
Good points.
Magnetic hatches for controls make changes easy.

Attention to Detail and finish was top notch.

Power pickup is on drivers and trailing truck. I experienced no stalling on my American Models turnouts.

Absolutely terrific sounds. Whistle, bell, brake sounds, steam chuffing modulated according to labor, blow down etc. and Crew Talk if desired

Full lighting including marker lights, backup light, cab light.
Adequate pulling power of 12 ounces.

Manual explains operating features and options.
Short Comings:

Gearing is a bit fast for my taste.

Smoke unit is a Seuthe™ type due to electronics space needed and will need more frequent refilling than old AF smoke units.

Flanges are available in High Rail only.

Pilot truck may need washer added to prevent climbing on some turnouts (see below *).

Detail parts such as bell etc can be knocked off but that is the price you pay for such great detail. Not an engine for the kids to play with but that goes with out saying.

The coal casting in the tender could have been a bit crisper.

The wireless tether allows the engine to be run without the tender if you want. 

Look Ma no wires!

This is the tender hatch for the Rail Sounds controls. It is held in place with a couple of small magnets. Works nicely.
Lots of stuff in the tender so the battery replacement takes a bit of care not to pinch wiring when placing shell on frame.

If using a battery you should be sure to do an engine shut down (Aux1+ 5 ) to conserve the battery at the end of the running session

Don't try this at home but I thought I would save  you the trouble so you can see what is crammed inside the engine. It uses a stock receiver on a newly designed driver board. There is no extra room left. This engine was designed around the electronics.
Here is the large can motor with it's flywheel. The gearbox is on the left.
This is the Receiver end of the electronics. You really need to add TMCC to your layout and have a ball with this loco.
The smoke box also has a magnetic latch to expose the smoke on/off switch. These hatches are a very nice feature. 
The run/program (or lockout in conventional mode) switch is in the cab and easy to get to. The wireless tether between the engine and the tender is another great item. 

The cab also has two crew members and lighting.

  *  I had some problems with the pilot truck riding up in my American Models turnouts and discovered that Lionel used a flathead screw to attach the pilot to the frame. This allowed the pilot the ability to run askew.  By adding a small washer on the flathead screw it makes the pilot track better and not twist vertically as much. The washer has to be small enough to fit in the recess in the pilot's hole. The screw appears to be a 1mm and could be replaced with a binder head screw instead of using a washer to achieve the same result.

In conclusion, It is a winner. I look forward to more of these great engines in the future. For more information on TMCC in "S" gauge see the link: on my web site.