Possible piece of history - Delta Lines power on Ebay?

Folks:
I stumbled across this:
http://cgi.ebay.com/American-Flyer-Engine-4-6-0-Tender-0-Delta-Lines_W0QQitemZ320158225538QQihZ011QQcategoryZ19146QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
Could this be one of Frank Ellison's locomotives? The scale,era, and roadname are right.
Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a legless table.
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On Sep 19, 1:01 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

It looks like this question has already been partially answered in the ebay add. I'd like to add a bit to what is found therein. The engine is from All-Nation. Originally (1946) it was manufactured by Varney. AFAIK, it was Varney's only venture into O scale and was not too successful. All-Nation purchased all parts from Varney at the end of the forties and continued to offer the product into the sixties (at least).
The Delta Lines was outside third rail. The All-Nation folks said their loco could be adapted to this form of pick-up, however, I do not see the appropriate shoes on the model illustrated. All in all, I doubt this locomotive saw service on Frank Ellison's railroad. HTH. Thank you.
Jerry
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Hi Jerry; Now that you mention it, wasn't 'The Delta Lines' what would be referred to today as 'Hi-Rail'? That's what I'm remembering. That would mean the loco had had major re-work on the drive assembly since Frank Ellison's day. I.E. the flanges should be much deeper. I don't remember in detail whether or not the Delta Lines used 'T' rail or not, that too would have an effect on the wheel contour.
Chuck D.
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Chuck:
I'm not sure I can answer your question in a straight forward manner. 'Hi-Rail' is a term which is particularly loaded with subjective meaning. Does one think of equipment, power delivery, trackwork, operation, etc. when it is invoked? The situation for the DL is even more complex since the railroad seemed to have evolved over time. The photos found in Model Builder in the late thirties IIRC show a rather tinplate-like layout. By the time of his final original writings (Frank Ellison on Model Railroads, Arco Publishing, New York, 1954) one sees little of the tinplate heritage. Certainly all track is T rail and the flange depth appears not to be abnormally great. Only the outside third rail shows the railroad's roots.
Having said the above, I hope you won't mind if I add a personal view. I have always considered Ellison to be a 'Scale' modeler because of his focus on operation. That's my bias, pure and simple!
One final point: Ellison was quite militant about the adequacy, if not the superiority, of third rail. To quote - 'But two-rail is still complex for the non-technical man, and I do not believe that the mere absence of the third rail itself is sufficient encouragement for him to take on these complexities, the insulating hazards, and the constant servicing and experiments necessary to produce the simple act of running a train.' As a two-railer, I am amazed at this statement. Yet if one substitutes DC and DCC into the above, I might nod in agreement. Isn't it amusing how we feel called upon to defend the systems with which we've 'grown up'? HTH. Thank you.
Jerry
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Understood! It's similar to "Redneck" when talking about people.

I think of him as primarily a "Railroad" modeler, because of his 'Operation'.

Now that you point this out, I think you are completely right. He (Frank) had zeroed in on a 'little' but sometimes 'quite daunting' problem.

Chuck D.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

(snip)
tj:
As I understand it, "hi-rail" = reworked tinplate, or realistic equipment built to be compatible with tinplate track, or track built to operate tinplate equipment. I suppose it's easier not to try and explain it. I do know that, way back in those supposed dark ages (when the 1920s were considered the 'dark ages', much as Ellison's era is now), hi-rail was often defended and promoted as a very good way to operate with realism, better perhaps than scale modeling, since the toy equipment was rugged and apparently ran better than a lot of scale models, and of course took a lot less work to construct. I like reading the old books about these things; we can still learn a lot from them.
As for Ellison's insistence on third-rail, I don't think it's as reactionary as it might seem. Remember, years ago you had metal trucks, metal wheels, metal axles, metal locomotives, metal tenders, metal everything, insulated with fiber or maybe Tenite or Bakelite, and that complicated things.
A metal boxcar with metal trucks and one truck turned 180 degrees causes a short. Two locos coupled back-to-back (not much of a problem with steam, and the diseasel infection hadn't totally taken hold, but think of all the P5A's and other electrics, and MU cars. With three-rail, no problem exists. Nothing is insulated but the pickup shoe and every metal part and running rail is a ground. With two-rail, you are suddenly faced with an ugly problem: insulate everything (often by having a wooden floor, such as a lot of cars had, and such as John Allen installed in his tenders) or face the challenge of keeping every piece of rolling stock turned the proper way, so as not to short out, and keeping both trucks turned the proper way, for the same reason. That could seem like a daunting task!
Second, again, remember that insulation. The materials they had worked quite well (fiber is good stuff, and still used on driver tires) but it was quite capable of falling out of place, or pyrolizing and causing a short (as a recent poster was trying to fix). Now picture a large model railroad with every metal wheel insulated with this stuff, soaking in oil drips from bearings (no needlepoint axles here; somewhere in my old MODEL RAILROAD ENGINEERING book the author mentions how the oil drips from models eventually improve the realism of ties and ballast :) ), under a great deal of stress from some massive Scale-Craft loco. When you multiply uses of a system, you multiply the chances for a failure -- and fifty freight cars might have two hundred insulated wheels. Again, that's no small problem.
Think about the complications of scratchbuilding switches without PC board to make the throw rod, and all the gapping they need, and that crossings need, that 3-rail track does not.
Even signaling and automatic train control (both very popular back then) were said to be easier on a three- rail system, and perhaps were - you could just double insulate sections of one running rail, and use that to operate relays, as you can see in Hertz's COMPLETE BOOK OF MODEL RAILROADING, which also has basic two-rail circuitry.
Looking into all of this, then, I think it is easy to see Ellison's point, if you try to see it from his point of view. It wasn't just a question of reverse loops. It was a whole set of problems that we have a hard time seeing, because they have been solved so thoroughly.
The analogy you make with DCC might be a good one. The way I see it, DCC is at a similar point - it all works, and the solutions are all there, but we haven't reached a smooth synthesis yet. Maybe in 2037, modelers will look back and wonder what the huge problem was.
Maybe, OTOH, we users have been so conditioned by the makers of technology to accept a continual series of bugs and "beta" releases, patched and replaced with new bugs, over and over, that we'll never reach this comfortable plateau, but perhaps that's an overly cynical view. I wonder!
Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a box of track and a legless table.
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Folks:
Update: I found a very small picture in the Nov. 1955 MR of a Delta Lines 4-6-0 that looks like the one in the Ebay auction, but the magazine photo appears to show number 280 instead of 960, as the Ebay engine is numbered. The article mentions 51 pieces of motive power on the Delta Lines, and only shows a few. Can any of you folks who happen to have other articles or photos take a quick look, and see if the DL had a Varney/ General/All-Nation 4-6-0 numbered 960? I am insatiably curious about this thing.
As for the lack of pickup - I wonder if the strange bit screwed to the frame is the bracket for that.
Cordially yours: Gerard P President, a legless table.
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

I've looked through my copy of Frank Ellison on Model Railroads (Fawcett, 1954). Most of the few locomotives shown had no numbers at all. The photos are rather muddy, so that wheel arrangements are often a matter of speculation. The loco that looked most like the one offered on eBay had no number, but that doesn't prove anything. In one t5he articles about Ellison that have appeared over the years, it was mentioned that he adapted all kinds of motive power to suit himself, sometime even leaving off pilot and trailing trucks if they caused problems.
FWIW, the above mentioned book deals with three topics topics: a) operation, based on prototype, which Ellison describes clearly and concisely (8 chapters) b) high quality benchwork and track, without which reliable operation was impossible (4 chapters) c) scenery, which Ellison saw as the means for enhancing the illusion that one was operating a real railroad (5 chapters)
There is no discussion of motive power or rolling stock apart from their roles in operating the railroad.
That was the first model railroad book I owned, bought with babysitting money (three hours' worth - in those days parents had no qualms about letting a boy babysit.) I read it to pieces, eventually rebinding it in hardcovers made from Bristol board covered in coloured packing paper and a homemade label made with one of those cheap rubber stamp sets. Needs rebinding again... ;-)
HTH
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Good points. My Guess is that this loco was marked "Delta lines" in honour of Frank Ellison. I doubt that it was reworked for two-rail, Charles Dais speculates.
But there does arise the question of what happened to Frank Ellison's equipment after he died.
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I believe the Varney ten wheeler went to General Models Company before All Nation. Roger Aultman
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On reflection I believe you are one hundred percent correct. Thank you for correcting my failing memory.
Jerry
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Google is maybe your friend. There are a lot of Frank Ellisons, though, and I didn't go too far into them.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Ellison "While the Delta Lines was arguably the greatest model railroad of our time, in 1956 this great layout was disassembled and put in storage. In 1959 the layout was sold to a new owner but was heavily damaged in a truck accident during a heavy rainstorm during its transportation to Boston. While the layout is no more, today many original pieces of the layout remain in the hands of private collectors."
From http://www.fredmdole.com/wsrproducts.html.htm This is a site selling cardstock building kits. "The Ob Long Box Co. was built in the 1930s by Frank Ellison for his Delta Lines layout. The photo at the top shows it on the Ellison's New Orleans layout. Fred M. Dole purchased the original building in 2000 at an auction of Delta Lines items. The reproduction building shown above was created by photographing the walls of the original building and printing them on a large four color heavy weight paper. To assemble the building, cut the walls out, mount them on matboard, add wood bracing and glue everything together. Complete instructions are included. You will be proud to display this historic Delta Lines building on your layout."
So, it looks like the layout was destroyed, but bits and pieces salvaged and sold, even after 40 years.
Has anyone heard of the 2000 auction?
--
Bill Kaiser
snipped-for-privacy@mtholyoke.edu
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