Re: Timesaver in O Scale

John Hagen

I had an O scale timesaver for several years. I used to run a switching contest at Trainfest from 1982 well into the 90’s. Problem was that as the guys who competed every year grew older, most of the operators were children, incapable of actually competing.

So, I decided to build the O scale version using Atlas flex track and the old, 70’s era sorta sharp turnouts. That was much easier for the youngsters to operate and I was able to limit the original HO version for more advance operators.

Worked great and turned out to be my start in O scale.

Being of very limited resources at the time (just like I still am), I used mostly Atlas cars and their 0-6-0 Plymouth industrial switcher for power. As a Timesaver should be operated with a reset, low speed throttle, I had to build a reduction gearbox to allow the Plymouth to not lose speed when moving the cars. I used gears taken out of Athearn 4 wheel HO diesel trucks and it only raised the motor up about 1/8 to 3/16th of an inch, which worked with no problem.

In addition to the two Timesavers, I also ran the WISE Division of the NMRA’s (producers of Trainfest) test track. As my sons also grew older and started their own families, they were no long able to be with for the full shows and I ended up doing it all myself.

After I stopped doing the Trainfest show, and when I some severe financial setbacks, I sold a lot of trains, including much of my meager O scale  holdings, including the Timesaver. The purchaser had no interest it other than the track so he disassembled it.

I still do some O scale, locos and some rolling stock, although I do not have a layout. I do belong to The Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee, Inc. so I can operate at times.

I still have  the Plymouth and it still runs very well with no appreciable wear to the reduction gears.

Because of those old Atlas turnouts, the O scale version was not all that much longer then the HO. I used some 2 ft by 4 ft Masonite shelves I had gotten for free somewhere, used one 2 ft piece and 2 much shorter pieces. I used folding table legs, 20 sets as the shorter end pieces were hinged to the center section. To disassemble the “module” (today’s lexicon) for moving/storing, I simply pulled the hinge pins out. Due to the thick Masonite and the overly heavy folding legs, it weighed a ton. And, took more space then I had in my very small house that it was difficult to set up for any period of time.

All that set aside, it was just as much fun to ruin as it’s smaller cousin, maybe even more so. Any switcher could have been used if had the money to buy them (I now have 2 All Nation NW2’s, but no Timesaver!).

The HO Timesaver is 72” long so I’m estimating the 88” of the Lionel version would be about right. And, it did not have to 24” wide, that was the width of the shelving so that is how I left it.

A true Timesaver is a fun of fun, interesting and challenging o operate. By true I mean the lengths of the sidings and run around must be per John Allen’s original design. It’s those limitations that make it what it is.

John Hagen


From: <> On Behalf Of Ken Vandevoort via
Sent: Monday, May 25, 2020 10:35 PM
Subject: Re: [GandD] Timesaver in O Scale


Coy's Timesaver measures 16 in. x 88 in.  It is unusual to see anything 3-rail in the NMRA Magazine.  He has shown that the Timesaver can be built in any scale and it is a shot in the arm for keeping John Allen's memory alive.  This article will probably be read by modelers that have never heard of the Timesaver and will be checking it out.

Ken Vandevoort

John Hagen

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