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What locos did John Allen run on G&D?

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What locos did John Allen run on G&D?
Posted by ChrisVA on Thursday, June 16, 2022 6:57 AM

What "brand" of locos did John Allen run on his layout? Scratch-built? Brass? Other?  In the videos I've seen of G&D they look like they ran very well, and this was before DCC of course.

 

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, June 16, 2022 8:53 AM

A lot of Varney modified stuff. Their is a book out there with lots of details.

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, June 16, 2022 10:54 AM

John Allen's photographs were used in Varney advertising in MR so there are plenty of photos out there of Varney locomotives and rolling stock on the Gorre & Daphetid (including diesels, which Allen did not actually run on his layout).  I assume he had his pick of whatever he wanted from the Varney catalog, which in the early 1950s was more varied than it was to become by the late 1950s when the Dockside 0-4-0T, Old Lady 2-8-0, and "Casey Jones" 4-6-0 were about it for steam.  Now and then the generic Berkshire would be reissued.  I don't think there was one on the G&D.  Allen perhaps also made use of the "1001 Parts Catalog" from Varney -- there are still things from that catalog that locomotive modelers and modifiers look for, such as certain cylinder and cab castings.

But most of the G&D photos show locomotives which are pretty clearly modified brass.  I can think of a Pacific, painted red for the top train on the layout, a 2-6-6-2, probably a Sierra, that was heavily weathered.  The engine that Andy Sperandeo owned, displayed for years at Kalmbach where i saw it, was I think a 4-10-0 that clearly was modified by Allen from some unknown (to me) original, with a tender from still some other source.  I also recall a doodlebug and some small narrow gauge engines.

As to where he got his brass don't forget that when Bill Ryan's Pacific Fast Mail the famous brass importer first got its start, part of its product line was a set of color duplicate slides of the Gorre & Daphetid taken by John Allen.  Also that while PFM did not advertise this very much, they did sell separate brass castings for many of the engines in its product line.  So PFM brass would be a good guess for one of John Allen's sources.

A few years ago the NMRA Magazine ran some articles revealing that more Gorre & Daphetid locomotives were still around than Linn Westott knew about when he wrote his book about John Allen.  Allen's brother had allowed some neighbor boys to basically salvage what they could find from the burned out layout, and for years that stuff just sat in boxes.  Eventually some was obtained by the NMRA for their museum in California, and a talented Japanese modeler whose name I forget had the task of restoring them to the extent possible (anything plastic was melted).  At least one, maybe two, he miraculously was able to restore to running condition and good physical appearance.  Eventually the NMRA auctioned off some of the Gorre & Daphetid remnants that were deemed too far gone for the museum, as a fund raiser for the museum.  It was pretty sad stuff but hey it was a chance for a person (or I should say, a person with a check book) to own some small piece of John Allen's modeling.

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, June 16, 2022 11:36 AM

I believe Kenichi Matsumoto was the Japanese model railroader who restored the 0-4-0 to operating condition. I know I've seen a video of it working, but can't seem to find it now. 

According to the Westcott book, John Allen 'allowed' diesels to visit the layout but he himself only owned steam. Early on he used the 'usual suspects' RTR and (more common back then) kits that were available when he started modelling in the 1940s, like Varney, Mantua, etc. - usually heavily detailed and/or modified, and weathered.

As noted earlier, when brass engines began being imported (around 1960) he took photos for PFM ads. For many years MR always had a large full-page PFM ad (often the back cover) with a John Allen picture of a PFM engine on his layout, and he apparently often took brass engines as payment. (He did do ad photos for Varney at one time too I believe.)

Stix
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Posted by ndbprr on Friday, June 17, 2022 7:50 AM

it depends on which version of the G&D you are talking about.  The original was about 3' x5' wirh 15" curves incorporated into the famous edition and could only handle very small engines.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 17, 2022 11:22 AM

rrebell
Their is a book out there with lots of details.

The book is Model Railroading With John Allen by Linn Wescott.

It contains a full roster of known G&D locomotives and what models were used.

All were modified by John.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by groundeffects on Friday, June 17, 2022 12:00 PM

The California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento, CA) has this John Allen HO loco on display in their Magic of Scale Model Railroading:

Varney Dockside

I'm not sure if any other of John Allen's locos are displayed there.  Anyone visiting the Sacramento area should check out these displays.  I easily spent a hour in this part of the museum itself!

Jeff

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 17, 2022 2:56 PM

GORRE AND DAPHETID Number 34 is in the Kalmbach Media offices in Wisconsin.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

It is a beautiful model to see in person.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by azrail on Monday, June 20, 2022 12:18 PM

I understand he had sharp curves on the "grand layout"..most of his steam locos were small, there were no large length cars on the layout and the trains were all short.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, June 20, 2022 2:45 PM

I've often wondered why some brass importer didn't bring a bunch of the John's Mastodons in. I would have bought one. Still would. I guess they didn't want to pay royalties.

As a side note, the first article I ever read by the mad kitbasher himself, Bill Schopp, explained how he created a moden, heavy 4-10-0 for a customer. It looked like he took the boiler off a ATSF 3800 class 2-10-2, but I misremember where the frame and running gear came from. Date would be about 1963-64 in MR's competitor. Does anyone else remember the article or is able to steer me to an online copy?

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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, June 20, 2022 4:03 PM

Hello All,

SeeYou190
The book is Model Railroading With John Allen by Linn Wescott.
It contains a full roster of known G&D locomotives and what models were used.
All were modified by John.

Indeed...

An entire chapter is dedicated to the G&D roster.

Ten pages of the book cover topics like:

  • Performance Improvements
  • Roster- -With detailed notes on each locomotive, including the Devil"s Gulch & Helengon (HOn3)
  • The concept of Exchangeable Tenders
  • Lighting, Sound Systems & Paint
  • Trucks & Couplers
  • Rolling Stock
  • Maintenance
  • And more topics related to the G&D fleet

Unfortunately, this book is out of print.

It is available to view online- -worth seeking out.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 9:38 AM

The book is excellent - I got a copy a few years back. As mentioned by others, there is a chapter dedicated to the roster. Mostly brass (PFM) and modified Varneys and Mantuas. The list is quite long, but it includes 0-4-0s, 2-4-0, 2-8-0s, 2-8-2, 4-10-0, 4-6-2, 4-4-0s, 0-6-6-0, 2-6-6-2. He added weight to many of them. Also a Shay and a Heisler. A modified MDC (a 0-6-0, converted into a 2-6-0). Three narrow gauge locos, including a railcar. All repainted and heavily weathered.  

Simon

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 3:26 PM

azrail

I understand he had sharp curves on the "grand layout"..most of his steam locos were small, there were no large length cars on the layout and the trains were all short.

 
His original G&D, which was slightly smaller than a 4' x 8' layout, had I think 14"R curves. He later incorporated it as a branchline in the next version and then the final version of the G&D. The large basement final layout otherwise had I think 26" R curves according to the Westcott book - slightly more broad than what was considered "conventional" HO curves.
 
I believe the largest engines were the 2-6-6-2s, one of which was converted to an 0-6-6-0 due to a derailing issue. Not sure if any of his passenger cars were 80' or if they were all shorter.
Stix
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Posted by betamax on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 5:46 AM

John Allen and Jim Findlay quickly determined that by writing articles for various publications, the proceeds could be used to buy brass locomotives.

Tags: John Allen
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Posted by drgwcs on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 6:39 AM

wjstix

I believe Kenichi Matsumoto was the Japanese model railroader who restored the 0-4-0 to operating condition. I know I've seen a video of it working, but can't seem to find it now. 

According to the Westcott book, John Allen 'allowed' diesels to visit the layout but he himself only owned steam. Early on he used the 'usual suspects' RTR and (more common back then) kits that were available when he started modelling in the 1940s, like Varney, Mantua, etc. - usually heavily detailed and/or modified, and weathered.

As noted earlier, when brass engines began being imported (around 1960) he took photos for PFM ads. For many years MR always had a large full-page PFM ad (often the back cover) with a John Allen picture of a PFM engine on his layout, and he apparently often took brass engines as payment. (He did do ad photos for Varney at one time too I believe.)

 

That is correct about Mr Matsumoto doing the restorations. He also completed the restoration of number 8 the Seargent Ennis whose restoration was featured in the March April 2020 narrow gauge and shortline gazette. It was a modified Mantua Belle of the 1880s 4-4-0. He had a Japanese artist duplicate the elaborate scrollwork that John did on the tender. Incredible restoration using an identical motor and even down to matching what figures were used in the cab and melted. I belive it was supposed to go the display in the museum as well but may have missed the opening. There is a web page dedicated to the G&D that has a page on the sachel which shows the story and the locomotives that were salvaged. 

Jim

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