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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Johann 2-8-2 and notes on Guild

I can only work on a big project when I have time, and early this summer I finally had the time to finish rebuilding a model I have had for a few years, a Johann 2-8-2.

Introduced in 1953, this sand cast bronze model of a USRA light 2-8-2 with cast details was the last of its kind in terms of American OO. Produced by William Johann of Westfield, NJ, the original sales flyer was dated October 20, 1953 and is quite interesting to look back on today. He starts,
Fellow OO Gauger:

This flyer is the first public announcement of a new OO loco. DON’T PASS OUT. For some months a light Mike, very similar to the World War I USRA type, has been in development, and the first section will be ready soon. This loco will not be one of the “one evening screwdriver” types. An ability to drill, tap, solder, rivet, and to use your head somewhat, will be in order. Accurate drilling (side rods) and milling (mainframe axle slots) has been done for you.

As most of us in OO know, mass production in our gauge is not feasible due to the high tooling costs as against low volume (in relation to the total number of model railroaders) of sales. This is unfortunate, but only too true. In working up this engine, my principles have been to purchase as many parts as possible, to use French sand castings in place of stampings (art bronze), and to eliminate as many expensive tools as proper design would allow. This makes limited, or job, production possible without getting into customizing, and thereby making the final price exorbitant.
I was told by William Johann that only 50 were produced. His original plan was to produce the locomotive in four sections. The locomotive was sections 1-3, and I have instructions for section 4, the tender -- but I am uncertain if it was actually produced. A later flyer says that “the tender is the Guild of the Iron Horse stock tender,” I believe the one that would have been for their 4-4-2 model. A “hobby kit” was only $46. The “assembly kit” with all holes drilled and tapped and soldering completed cost $75. An assembled locomotive completely assembled and tested but unpainted was priced at $110.

In the case of this model in my collection it had a scratch built tender with it as purchased, and as I had a Nason 4-4-2 tender on hand (very similar to the Guild tender) I used it instead. I think this combination just looks great, especially with the Microscale decals (these are produced for use on HO tank car models of the real Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient RY).

While Johann and the original builder did all the really big work, rebuilding this model was also a bit of a task as it was not operable as purchased. In particular the motor was shot. Luckily, I found another of the exact same Pittman motor on another model that I planned to put a new drive in, so that motor was liberated for use in this locomotive. On the bench it runs great but on the track it still has an issue I hope to fix shortly. Or, I may end up replacing the drive/motor, I really want to run this model. In any event, I am still excited about this model, a real classic and a rarity. [UPDATE--the problem was more with my track than the model. See this article for more, it is running now.]

I mentioned Guild twice in this post, so I should expand on it a little. This is a firm shrouded in a little mystery today. Run by Jerome Bailey Foster of Winchester, Mass in the postwar period, The Guild of the Iron Horse sold in limited quantities sheet and spun brass kits for basic parts for steam locomotives, probably manufactured in Japan. While their PRR E-6 4-4-2 (more finely scaled than the comparable Star-Continental/Nason model) is thought to be most common, they also produced a SP 2-8-2, a B&M 2-8-4, a NYC 2-8-4, and a PRR K-4 4-6-2. All I have in my collection however at this date is this empty box.

UPDATE: For more on Guild and photos and notes on their 4-4-2 locomotive (I now own one) see this article.

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