Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Fred Gurley, July 1958

If today's images look familiar at all, it might be because one from the same set was posted back in May for my 10th Anniversary post. See it here

These additional photos of the Fred Gurley are very nice as well... just not as nice as the one from May 12th. Once again I tried scanning these using a different color profile than the one I ordinarily use, and I'm not sure I'm loving the results. I just had to try something new, and my hair already has a curly perm (just like Mr. Brady). This narrow-gauge locomotive really is itty-bitty compared to the huge ones at nearby Knott's Berry Farm.

There's plenty of empty seats, how could anyone resist hopping aboard? You would have been able to see the brand-new Grand Canyon Diorama (only about 3 months old); I'm not sure why a diorama brings me so much joy. It's about as low-tech as you can get, but by golly, I do love it.

If you were hoping to see dinosaurs (I hope that, every day), you would have to wait until 1966.


Melissa said...

The lone passenger in the first shot kind of looks like George Bush, Sr. to me.

Scott Lane said...

I think the color looks just fine. They pop, Pops.

Steve DeGaetano said...

I think the color looks great! Nothing out of the ordinary to point out here. In the first photo, the engineer has his left hand on the brake lever as the train comes to a stop; the fireman is ringing the bell.

Just to the left of the bell, attached to the bell bracket, is an "air ringer," which was a small air-operated piston that would ring the bell by the push of a button. This relieved the fireman from the exhaustive and tennis-elbow-inducing procedure of having to ring the bell by pulling a rope. ;-)

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I saw dinosaurs two weeks ago. Went to my high school reunion (35th).

I love how the newness has not yet rubbed off the Fred G. Speaking of low-tech, hip height chain link fence is it baby!

DrGoat said...

The pics are just grand. Our family rode it in '58. Can't remember a thing, too young, but looking good. My 50th reunion is in 2 years....I think I'll skip it.

Anonymous said...

The Disneyland Railroad is not narrow gage. They're 5/8 scale.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I thought that it looked like John Lassetter; it’s probably just the shirt.

Scott Lane, yeah, this one doesn’t look quite as gray as some of the other turned out.

Steve DeGaetano, it’s cool that you can glean so much more from these photos than ordinary mortals! I would think that one of the great joys of operating a steam locomotive would be ringing that bell by hand.

Alonzo.. your first mistake was going to the reunion! I’ve happily skipped mine.

DrGoat, I didn’t hate high school, but I went to three different schools, so I have no ties to any of them.

Anonymous, my understanding is that they are indeed narrow gauge. While the first two locomotives were built in-house and are scaled down, the Fred Gurley, Ernest S. Marsh, and Ward Kimball engines are authentic antique narrow gauge locomotives. Maybe somebody like Steve DeGaetano can correct me if I am mistaken!

Steve DeGaetano said...


The DRR trains absolutely are narrow gauge. Major summed it up nicely.

Scale and gauge are two entirely different concepts.

The gauge is the distance between the rails. In the case of the DRR, that's 36 inches--which also happens to be the most widely-used narrow gauge in the US. "Standard Gauge" railroads in the US (like Amtrak or the Union Pacific) run on track that is 56.5 inches between the rails. So, 36 being less than 56.5, the DRR gauge is in fact "narrow."

"Scale" refers to the overall proportional size difference between a scale model and the real thing. I model in O scale--that's 1:48 scale, meaning that if I use a ruler and measure an inch on my model, that would actually be 48 inches on the real thing. Stated a different way, 1/4" on the model would represent 1 foot on the real thing.

You are sort of correct--and Major did a nice job of clarifying it. The first two engines and the cars are nominally 5/8th scale--they were built as models, and because they were proportioned in such a way, it makes them *look like* full size trains on standard gauge track--that's an illusion, much like forced perspective makes a building, castle or mountain look taller than it actually is.

Engines 3, 4 and 5 were built as narrow gauge industrial locomotives--not built as theme part trains--and they are therefore full-size trains running on narrow gauge track. This is much akin to saying that a single-prop Cessna airplane is full-size, even when compared to a 747. Just because the Cessna is smaller, does not make it a model.

Anonymous said...

@Major, thanks for the great looking pictures, no issues with these scans.

Thanks to the commenters too. I learn so much from all of you.

@Steve DeGaetano: Your explanations of gauge and scale are very informative. As you point out, the other key aspect to these successful reproductions is proportion. If the occupants were not in the pictures, these trains would look just like the big ones. I love how these look with the people, everything looks like it should go back on the shelf when we are done playing with it.


Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how the 5/8 scale number used for much of the Disneyland scale reductions on Main Street building, trains, vehicles and other items was determined, I assumed that maybe it was as small as they could go and still get operators inside, but Steve's explanation of the track gauge makes it all clear.

36 inch narrow gauge / 56.5 standard gauge = 63.7%

5 / 8 = 62.5%

Close enough.


Steve DeGaetano said...

JG, your thought about how the 5/8 scale for the trains was arrived at is spot-on.

Walt - standing just under 6 feet - thought that if he could fit through a six foot tall door, well...anyone could (and I can confirm that the door openings on the Retlaw 1 train set were exactly six feet tall!). Once that measurement was determined, the other proportions followed suit. So, while a real, standard gauge passenger car is about 10 feet wide, the DRR cars are about 7 feet wide.

"Close enough" as far as gauge is correct. It would have been foolish to build track that was exactly 5/8 scale, which would have been 35.3 inches. That would have required a LOT of custom made wheel sets. Moving it to 36" opened up a world of off-the-shelf railroad wheels, parts and equipment that was still being made in that gauge. Basically it was a no-brainer.

Now...whether or not the rest of the Park elements were built to 5/8th scale is a question. I believe it was easier for early news and Park copywriters to just throw that figure around for the rest of the Park, since it had already been determined for the trains.

David Zacher said...

I love the Diorama and the Grand Canyon Suite! And how often do you get to say Ferde Grofé? The diorama is still one of my favorites and to be on a train is even better. Thanks, Major


Major Pepperidge said...

Steve DeGaetano, thank you for the info, your explanation is very clear! The small size of Disneyland’s cabs is especially apparent when you look at the narrow gauge locomotives at Knott’s Berry Farm - they’re huge! if Walt had used engines of that size, they would have dwarfed everything around them. Frankly I’m surprised that the 5/8 scale actually works, seeing as they have to be operated by average-sized human beings (though it looks like a cozy fit).

JG, I think I did receive one comment years ago about how the proportions on the Disneyland trains “ruined” them. I disagree, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I guess if you are a fan of real vintage trains, one might find the Disney trains to be too much like big toys.

JG, interesting, I never thought of that, and am WAY too lazy to do math. Ever.

Steve DeGaetano, Walt was being advised by a bunch of very smart, experienced railroad buffs, and they clearly considered all the “angles” (so to speak) when it came to building and maintaining his trains. I wonder if full-sized narrow gauge trains were ever considered for Disneyland, or if Walt began with the knowledge of the 36” track width. I forget, was Ward Kimball’s backyard train also a narrow gauge?

David Zacher, why, I hardly ever say “Ferde” OR “GrofĂ©”! The Grand Canyon Suite is one of those great pieces for those wanting to get into classical music. I still love it.

Chuck said...

I love it when I check in late. All of the hard questions have already been answered by our resident architect and our railroad author-in-residence.

Steve, I think you may be right about the "5/8" number just being something easy to remember, which led to it being extrapolated to the rest of the Park. You often hear that the Mark Twain is also built to 5/8 scale, but I don't know if that's accurate. Storybook Land definitely isn't in 5/8 scale. Too bad you can't pay 5/8 of the admission fee and still get in.

From the 1972 edition of Walt Disney's Disneyland by Marty Sklar:

"Popular notion is that all Disneyland is 5/8 scale. Actual fact is that only the trains, and some Disneyland vehicles such as the antique autos on Main Street, are 5/8 scale. Main Street itself is several different scales: 9/10 of full size on the first floors of its buildings, and a scale smaller - 8/10 at the second story level."

[Interestingly, immediately before this passage is a discussion on the history of the Lilly Belle, the size of the six-foot door determining proportions on the SF&DLRR, and standard vs. narrow gauge which could have come straight out of today's comments section.]

Steve DeGaetano said...

I don't think, early on, actual narrow gauge trains (aside from smaller "zoo" trains) were ever considered, because most don't look like Walt's "Lilly Belle," which was of course the inspiration for the C.K. Holliday.

Later, when more motive power was needed, they thought they could save some money buy buying used plantation engines instead of building from scratch, though the savings was not as much as they had hoped.

Interestingly, the cabs of the Holliday and Ripley are considerably larger than 5/8th scale, so that the "full size" crewmembers would fit! That is one of the reasons the Holliday doesn't look exactly like the Lilly Belle.

Yes, Ward's backyard railroad was 36" gauge as well. His "Emma Nevada" was larger narrow gauge power, like the C-19s at Knott's, while the "Chloe" was a small plantation engine, like Disneyland No's. 3 and 5.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Chuck, I don't think it's possible to state what "scale" the Mark Twain is.

With railroads, we have a standard baseline to use for all subsequent measurements: The gauge. We don't have a similar baseline with other things, like river boats or monorails. Who's to say that the Mark Twain or the monorails are "scaled down?" Scaled down from what?

Riverboats came in all sizes. Some were small "packets." Some Mississippi river boats were MASSIVE. Even if the Mark Twain was "blown up" from its purported 5/8th scale to "full size," it would be dwarfed by other riverboats.

I think for the Twain and the (DL) monorails, we have to basically just say, again, they are "full size," but smaller than some of their peers.

Chuck said...

Steve, great perspective I'd never considered - you have to have a full-size example of something to scale from. If you're building an "artist's impression" of a notional stereotype, there would be no true scale.

David Zacher said...

True story. A past girlfriend had a dog named Ferdinand who they affectionately called Ferdy. Every now and then her Dad would shout 'Someone pick up the 'Ferdy dirties' from the back lawn'! We would all scatter.


Anonymous said...

@Steve DeGaetano Your point about using an existing track gauge is perfectly sensible. Allows use of off-the-shelf hardware where appropriate.

It's too bad the BART designers didn't do that when that system was designed. As I was told, the BART system has a oddball gauge that prevents use of standard parts or rolling stock from other rapid transit trains, raising costs and making repair difficult. Not sure if that's so, but I can believe it.

I also recall reading in history that some European countries purposely adopted different track gauges from their larger aggressive neighbors to slow down or hinder invasion plans. Rolling stock from the aggressors wouldn't fit the local tracks. Seeming to recall Poland and Spain doing this, but not sure.

@Chuck LOL. It feels good to be the resident architect at GDB. Maybe Major will give me that raise after all.


Dean Finder said...

I've read elsewhere that Disney attempted to purchase the Edaville Narrow Gauge Railroad for Disneyland.

Chuck said...

I'd never read that before, although since Walt was trying to acquire rail equipment from a variety of sources it seems logical. Edaville eventually did lease equipment to C.V. Wood for use at Pleasure Island and Freedomland.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Yeah, I've never read about an Edaville connection either. And I've read a LOT about the Disneyland Railroad!

Mark H. Besotted said...

Ahh, another classic GDB comments section: fascinating minutiae on trains, a great piece of music from one of our best composers, and a poop joke. We really cover all the bases here.

Speaking of that minutiae, Steve, you're so knowledgeable you should write a book.
...oh, well you should write another book.
...oh, well a third one then.
...oh, I guess you're good.