about switching (the use of American railroad terminology
seems more than appropriate when discussing the
"Timesaver") and it won't be long before
someone mentions the "Timesaver". This small
layout was conceived and built by "the wizard of
Monterey", famous US modeller John Whitby Allen
(1913 - 1973) and introduced in the November 1972 issue
of Model Railroader - in the last
article John Allen wrote.
Although obviously best known for the various versions of his Gorre & Daphetid layout (pronounced, in a twist of humour typical of Allen, as "Gory and Defeated") his Timesaver is a truly classic switching puzzle - devised by Allen as a game to relax and divert fellow modellers who would join him in operating the G&D (you'll find detailed information and insights on the G&D at Peter T. Prunka's G&D Tribute Website). In the end, this little puzzle held a fascination by itself.
|When Allen's layout room caught fire only ten days after his fatal heart-attack, all except a very few smaller structures of the G&D were destroyed beyond recovery. The "Timesaver", however, miraculously survived.|
|Here's the original
"Timesaver" layout built by John Allen and seen
on working display at the NMRA Convention 2000 in San
Jose with Allan Fenton (right; here is a
youtube video showing Fenton explain the rules at that
very same convention).
Fenton, one of the original Gorre & Daphetid operators, took the layout into his custody after rescuing it from Allen's kitchen after the fire, and visited conventions with it, accompanied by Glenn Joeston, another G&D regular operator.
Following Fenton's passing in 2001, the original layout was donated to the NMRA Howell Day Museum in Chattanooga TN for display, whilst the copy twin of the original is currently on display at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum (below).
|Whilst the "Timesaver" concept has certainly had its major impact on American prototype modelling, it ranks among the very small number of model railroading milestones which can be adapted to virtually any scale, prototype and era. It has stood the test of time without the slightest sign of becoming stale - the "Timesaver" continues to inspire modellers to build small layouts and provides as much fun as it did 40 years ago.|