The American Flyer 594 animated track gang is an interesting accessory. A.C. Gilbert released it in 1946 and 1947. Lionel reissued it in 2006. Although Gilbert marketed it for its S gauge trains, you can easily use it with 3-rail O gauge track. I’m actually disappointed that Lionel didn’t say how when it reissued this accessory.
What about scale, you ask? The figures are about 1½ inches tall, so they are much closer to O scale than S scale. So there’s no need to worry about that. It looks fine with O gauge trains. For that matter, it looks equally good with prewar or postwar O gauge trains. And it doesn’t look bad with S gauge trains either.
Connecting the animated track gang to O gauge track
You need three pieces of wire and an insulated track section to activate it. If you don’t have an insulated track section, you can make one.
With the connectors facing you, connect the connector on the far left to your hot post. Connect the connector on the far right to an insulated rail on an insulated track section. Connect the middle connector to your common post.
Figuring out which transformer post is which
If you need help figuring out which post to use for hot and which post to use for common, see my collection of Lionel transformer pinouts. Lionel recommended 14-18 volts. I find it works better at 18 volts. Rather than using accessory pinouts you may be happier using a cheap transformer and using the throttle so you can adjust the voltage.
Fixing problems with the animated track gang
When Lionel reissued the 596 in 2006, a number of people expressed disappointment that it lacked the air hoses the original had. Lionel issued instructions for installing hoses here. I’m sure you can’t buy the official Lionel kit anymore. But you can use twine. Some people also used 20 or 22 gauge black wire for hoses. Either will work, and will make the reproduction more closely resemble the original accessory.
Also be careful not to run the accessory continuously to prevent overheating. Shut it off periodically to allow it to cool.