William L. Daney
A Remembrance Tribute For
William L. ('Bill') Daney was born in Pueblo, CO in May 1898, and grew up with a deep interest in railroads, and developed a fascination for machine shop & foundry practices. He refined his talents, was employed at the CF&I Steel Mill in Pueblo, and also eventually taught Machine Shop classes at Pueblo Junior College. He was a family man, happily married to Isabela, and they went on to raise two fine sons.
Bill possessed a friendly and generous nature, and enjoyed a deep interest in all things steam, especially in the realms of 36 and 24 inch narrow-gauge railways. Beginning in 1925, Daney became well known for his pioneering shopwork in designing, constructing, and marketing live-steam locomotives in the 7-1/4-inch gauge "Riding-Scale". During the 1940's, Daney's ongoing efforts became concentrated upon the larger 12 to 15-inch "Park-Sized" scales & track gauges. Mr. Daney had early-on joined the Brotherhood of Live Steamers, and became quite well-known and was highly respected in the "Live-Steam" riding-scale and grand-scale railroad realms, for his friendly reputation and generosity in sharing his knowledge & talents with other live-steam aficionados.
Bill is perhaps best known for partnering with his good friend Erich Thomsen of Redwood Valley Railway fame, in the development of the "5/12 NG Scale" design concepts in the early 1950's. From 1956 through 1987, Daney designed and built two steam locomotives and re-built a third, in 5/12 NG Scale, as well as some rolling stock, which evolved into the beautiful 15-inch gauge Paradise & Pacific RR at McCormick Park in Scottsdale, AZ. Also during the mid-1950's, Daney had built, owned, and managed a 4/12 Scale, 15-inch gauge "F-7 Diesel-Powered" railway in the City Park at Pueblo CO, which was eventually sold to, and is still operated by, the City Park. A short biography of Bill was written in Steve Booth's Master Railroad Builder series (published in Modeltec Magazine in the late 1980's).
Bill was always a hard-working, yet very sociable gentleman, and belonged to several clubs & organizations, both in the U.S. and abroad. He was an 'Honorary' Charter Member of the Rocky Mountain Live Steamers (ca. 1950--), as well as a Charter Member of the Colorado Live Steamers (ca. 1969--). Bill was the quintessential life-long Live-Steamer, and was truly a "Master Railroad Builder". He especially enjoyed the fellowship of many steam friends worldwide.
Bill Daney lived a long, active, & steamy life of nearly 98 years, when the grim reaper finally caught up with him in Waco, TX in May 1996. Bill will always be fondly remembered and greatly missed by all of those who were privileged to know him.
- Respectfully written by: Kenneth E. Scheer -- March 2021
- Reference sources:
- 1) Colorado Time-Table, July-August 1996.
- 2) Notes & Personal Recollections of K. E. Scheer, Delta, CO.
Pueblo Model Supply
Steve Booth reported in Master Railroad Builder that Daney owned and operated Pueblo Model Supply for over 65 years.
Early 1.5 Scale
TLS No 147
- William L. Daney started building locomotives in 1925. He built two of the Pacific’s owned by the Tipsico Lakeshore Railroad. His first, TLS No. 688, was started in 1922 and finished in 1925. His largest 1-1/2” scale pacific, TLS No. 147, was built in 1936.
5 Inch Scale
- In the 1950s, Erich Thomsen of Oakland, California and Bill Daney of Pueblo, Colorado brought a new standard to “Grand Scale” modeling: the standards for modeling 5-1/2 inch scale equipment on 15 inch gauge track. By representing a narrow-gauge (3 foot) prototype, 5-1/2 inch scale brought bigger equipment well suited for commercial operations such as Thomsen’s Redwood Valley Railway in Berkeley’s Tilden Park.
From "Narrow Gauge" from Master Railroad Builder by Steve Booth:
- The Search for the perfect park railroad gauge and scale had been going on for decades when Erich Thomsen go together with Live Steam veteran William L. Daney of Pueblo, Colorado, back in the early 1950's. At the time, Erich was operating his 12-inch Tilden, South Gate & Pacific Railway, and Bill had a 3-inch scale, 15-inch gauge park railroad at Pueblo. Neither of them were really happy with what they had because both railroads had a seat width of 27-1/2 inches, not wide enough fro two adults side by side. They agreed then that the choice of the ideal scale and gauge "should begin with the width of the average adult fanny multiplied by two."
- When the two men sat down and measured themselves, they found a seat 36 inches wide would accommodate them easily. With two inches added for each car side, the overall width dimension of a car came out 40 inches, exactly 5-inch scale of the full-size, 8-foot wide cars commonly used on 36-inch gauge, which scales down to 15 inches. What a happy coincidence! Also, such nice round numbers.
- It was then that 5-inch scale was born as an answer to the problems of track curvature, rolling stock stability and passenger-carrying efficiency, factors of great importance to park system operators who are faced constantly with the bottom line - if it doesn't make money it can't succeed. Soon, Bill Daney started building a 5-inch scale Consolidation for Guy Stillman's new Paradise & Pacific Railroad on a ranch at Scottsdale. Erich Thomsen began planning the conversion of his Tilden Park Railroad to the new scale and gauge, and he started construction of No. 4, the diamond-stacked 2-4-2 he out-shopped in 1965 with a string of 15-inch narrow gauge cars.
- In Colorado, Lee Merrick converts miniatures of standard gauge prototypes to narrow gauge. His first locomotive, built originally by the Texas & Pacific Railroad Shops in Big Springs, Texas as a 4-6-2 and later sold to Bill Daney, now runs on the Paradise and Pacific at Scottsdale's McCormack Railroad Park. The line was given to the city by Guy Stillman and rebuilt across the road from its original location.
- It's with the originators of the scale, though, where most of the activity has been. Bill Daney has built a whole stable of engines for the P&P, and Erich Thomsen, who always has more than one locomotive in some stage of construction, is building a stable of his own narrow gauge thoroughbreds for operation on the Redwood Valley Railway at Tilden Park, what was originally the TSG&P. It's the Redwood Valley that shows how successful the scale is, how much potential it has for both commercial and private use. With the Redwood Valley, Erich has refined his designs and construction methods and turned out what can only be called a gem of a railroad.
- William Daney, male, head of household, 1ge 41
- Birthplace: Colorado, About 1899
- Home in 1940
- 612 Euclid
- Pueblo, Colorado
- Wife: Isabel Daney, age 35
- Son: William Chester Daney, age 5
- Son: David Earl Daney, age 2
- William L. Daney
- Born May 12, 1898
- Death May 6, 1996
- Waco, McLennan County, Texas 76710