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Jerry Brown Trains


Jerry Brown was one of the most prolific makers of standard gauge streamlined model trains. His admiration for the streamliner started early. A 1934 holiday visit to Robinsonís Department store in downtown Los Angeles sowed the seed. This is where Jerry saw the Lionel 'O' gauge City of Portland M-10000 and he wanted one, but in Standard gauge. He began scratch building one soon after, carving the nose and tail from blocks of balsa wood and utilizing balsa sheets for the body. The cars had wood floors and were wrapped with cardboard sides. The paint job covered it so well that you could not tell what construction materials were used. It was powered by a motor from a radio remote control unit and was stuffed with electronics of that period making it radio controlled as well as conventionally controlled.

Jerry continued making models in his spare time, but it wasnít until around 1972 that he started thinking about remaking the M-10000 City of Portland in metal. In December, with the assistance of his son Bill, the carving of the nose block began. What followed were many months of pattern making, pouring castings, modifications of patterns, more casting, changes in body construction, cutting and forming of sheet metal, assembly of finished parts, painting, lellering, and finally on July 13th, 1975, the development model was completed. This time Jerry used cast and sheet aluminum to create his vision, a bit more robust than his first effort. His model was very well executed, beautifully painted, with seamless fabrication, and smooth running. His attention to detail was exquisite, inside and out. He also fashioned Lionel F-3 Pull-Mor motors to run on Standard gauge track and they pulled the consist with ease. Even though the trains yearned for wide radius curves, they would navigate the standard 42" radius curves with a straight section placed between each curve.

Jerry Brown UP M-10000 City of Portland 4 Car Streamliner Set in standard gauge

Fellow collectors saw the prototype M-10000 that Jerry and Bill Brown had fashioned and they all seemed to covet one. Jerry soon went into production and started selling the three-car powered set at $815 with a diner car available for an additional $230. The production models were based on the development model but had a 19" center car instead of a 16" car and also contained several improvements gained by experiences and feedback. The first three units took almost 18 months to make and were ready by November of 1976. The production M-10000 3 car trains consisted of a 22" power car, a 19" center coach and a 20" rear coach buffet, making total length of 65" for the streamliner. The trains were 5¼" high and 4" wide. They had 3 lights in each car with an extra light for the tail lights. The center and rear cars had painted interiors and during operation the car lights would show off the interiors and seats very clearly. The painted floors had a gold aisle carpet and individual golden colored chairs for each window. The chairs that Jerry Brown manufactured were reproductions of those used in Lionel State set passenger cars.

Due to the aluminum construction the train was lightweight but the castings gave it sufficient weight for excellent trackability. The inside ends of the cars had a felt lining just like the Lionel train to prevent scratching of the vestibules. The engine had a luminated headlight and white marker lights and the rear end had two red taillights. The third rail pickups were installed in the vestibules. The cars coupled in the same fashion as the Lionel model. A clearance of 3" from the inside rail was required for operation on the curves.

Jerry Brown's vision didnít stop with the UP M-10000 City of Portland. It seemed that Jerry always had another train planned or in the works. A few years later, he designed and built the M-10005 City of Denver. There are major differences between the M-10000 and the M-10005 streamliners, but initially Jerry attempted to utilize as many of the patterns from the M-10000 on the M-10005 as possible. However, none were compatible and a complete new set had to be developed. The Union Pacific M-10000 prototype was a little smaller in size with tapered sides and reduced height and width. The M-10005 was a full sized train with normal straight sides, height, and width. Union Pacific made the change to improve stability and comfort at high speeds. Jerry wrote to the Union Pacific RR headquarters in Omaha, NB and was able to obtain a complete set of plans and photos of the City of Denver streamliner. Jerry used the same material and construction methods employed on the M-10000 model. The Standard gauge M-10005 was built completely of aluminum. Castings were used for the forward portion of the locomotive, each end of the bottoms, the structural parts of the cars around which the sheet aluminum is formed, the trucks and the shrouds between the cars. The car bottom end castings had the coupling device cast into them and resembled the Lionel method. Uncoupling was also similar to Lionel's method in that a rod projected from the top of the shroud which would be depressed to facilitate coupling and uncoupling of the cars and engine. Sheet aluminum connected the bottom ends and it looked like one solid casting. The bottoms were screwed onto the cars. Many hours of hand sanding allowed the final finish to be as smooth as glass. This representation was just as good, or better, than Jerry Brown's earlier endeavors.

The M-10005 cars had the same M-10000 interiors using reproduction Lionel State car type seats mounted on a painted floor with an aisle carpet running the length of the interior. Three 6 volt lights connected in series to reduce current consumption illuminated each car and the engine. The headlight and white marker lights would show up very nicely during operation. A plug at each car end plugged into a jack on each side of the articulated truck. This provided a continuous train line and eliminated all flickering of the lights and dead spots for the engine during operation. The engine measured 22" long, the center coaches were 16" long, and the observation car was 21" long. The width of the cars was 4", the same as the Lionel State set cars. The 16" center car length was chosen to facilitate traversing Lionel switches without hitting the switch stand. The articulated cars made a long wheel base. The 19" center cars which were also built would hit the switch stand but they looked better running on wide radius track that was recently made available. When regular 42" radius track was used a straight track had to be added between each curved track. A rubber bumper was installed in the front anti-climber, similar to the real City of Denver. The outside colors were the same as the M-10000 however, there was a red stripe separating the yellow and brown colors and the lettering was red instead of black. There is a Union Pacific shield on each side of the engine, and also on the front, as well as on the observation drumhead. The UP shield used was the one with 'The Overland Route' on it.

The Standard gauge M-10005 was an attempt to produce a tinplate train that matched the original prototype as much as possible. The observation car was named Colores, after the car used by UP. Their other observation used on the M-10006 was named Ogallala. The coaches were not named by UP but were numbered. The Jerry Brown Standard gauge versions were just labeled 'coach'. The Standard gauge engine was lettered 'City of Denver' and 'M-10005'. This was the same as the UP's prototype except instead of M-10005 they used CD-05.

Jerry Brown Illinois Central M-121 Green Diamond in Standard gauge

By the early 1980ís, Jerry had set out for yet another challenge, the glorious Illinois Central M-121 Green Diamond five car set. The Illinois Central ran their five car Green Diamond Streamliner during the same time period as the UP's streamliners were running. It was similar to the UP train as they were both built by the Pullman Standard Company, and the Standard gauge models could be built using the same model castings, but with different window and door configurations, and other minor variations. New dies were made for the doors and windows. Sheet aluminum and castings were again utilized for construction. By 1984, Jerry was delivering these as well. It is one of the best constructed, smoothest running trains ever made. The five car articulated Green Diamond consisted of a 22" long power car, a 19" U.S. Mail Railway Post Office car, two 19" coaches and a 21" observation lounge car. Jerry spent the better part of a year developing the lighted drum head that adorned the observation car end as there were none that were commercially available. The lighted circular drumhead had a diamond center with Illinois Central lettering inside and Green Diamond lettering around the circumference of the drumhead.

Between 1974 and 1983 Jerry Brown was a silent partner in JAD Railway Lines. JAD was formed by fellow craftsmen and Standard gauge afficinados John A. Daniel, Art W. Varney and Richard 'Dick' Battaglia. They built a limited run Standard gauge Hiawatha set, a set of Standard gauge Rail Chief cars and a limited run Standard gauge Union Pacific M-10000 City of Portland streamliner set. Jerry Brown created the patterns for the JAD M-10000 nose and tail castings.

Jerry Brown was planning on creating a Standard gauge UP City of San Francisco non-articulated 9 car streamliner set in a yellow and gray paint scheme for his next endeavor. Sadly, Jerry died of a heart attack in 1985 and one can only wonder what else he had in store for us. To this day, his talent is hard to match.

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