American OO Today

The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update: A Pair of Graceline Coaches

Back a couple years ago I posted on two coaches of mystery, see this article for the “before” photo. I had puzzled over them for a while, but finally realized that they were pre-war Graceline cars.

Clearly the cars were built up and painted and then rebuilt by prior owners. The rebuilder before me I think wanted to turn them into pseudo old time coaches with a truss rod frame. The look did not work at all, they were clearly steel cars. I think that person probably knew the look did not work either; there was no evidence that trucks had ever been put back on the cars.

I made a decision to make the frames much more standard. I was able to use some Graceline parts from the parts supply but I did not have a main frame member that was the correct length for this car so I improvised there.

For decals I opted for the Union Pacific because I had two similar Graceline cars decorated for the UP, the diner and RPO seen at the beginning of the Graceline 101 article and also a Nason Hudson I decorated for the UP. The vintage decals I found matched those on the other cars almost perfectly, although the paint color is a little different. I have enough for another car and plan to decorate a S-C baggage car for the UP the next time I am painting things Pullman green, it will make a nice little train. The trucks are Scale-Craft.

One final “mystery” not shown in the photo is each car has sides that don’t match. The photo shows one type of side and the other side of both cars has paired windows. Not sure why they don’t match but both sides appear to be standard Graceline sides, not by another maker. But at least the cars are together and operable vintage cars now; getting more cars such as this together and operable has been a summer goal.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Note for Sellers: What is American OO Worth?

People come to the American OO Today site for a variety of reasons, and one is to scope out values of vintage models in our obscure gauge and scale.

First, thank you for visiting! It is not like American OO is the most visible scale today. As an aside, I was told recently that the new TCA museum has not a bit of American OO on display! Please surf around the links a bit and get up to speed, models in American OO were in production and available from the early 1930s into the early 1960s and there were a lot of enthusiasts in the gauge, especially before WWII. It was manufactured in large commercial quantities by Lionel and Scale-Craft in particular.

Values are a topic I have not addressed much in this site. In part that is due to Lionel having price guides. If you are selling Lionel, start there! My main article on Lionel OO is here.

So what if it is not Lionel? Right or wrong, an otherwise similar Scale-Craft item (die cast and similar quality level) is worth something like half of the Lionel equivalent. My main article on Scale-Craft OO is here.

Speaking generally most OO is probably worth half as much as Lionel, but there are major exceptions due to rarity and such. Some items are hardly ever seen for sale and when they show up there can be a bidding war. I know too, from the website stats that people will research up on things after they see unusual listings. So as a seller rest assured if it is an interesting item it will probably sell at a nice price, there are enough people looking for unusual OO items.

That said some stuff is relatively common, especially Scale-Craft. Most of their line was manufactured in large commercial quantities for a long while. The bad news being that common freight cars in so-so condition are probably worth $10 or less, especially with postage cost being part of the equation for buyers.

Kits are an interesting case. Lionel kits sell sky high. Other brands, not so much. It is not that they are undesirable but not many people are actually looking to build them either. Rarity does kick in a bit though, kits for example like these pre-war Hoffmann cars at left almost never show up for sale. People are curious about the unusual.

Trucks are another interesting topic. Speaking generally trucks could be around half of the value of the item they are associated with. But easily could be worth more, if the trucks are more desirable or in good shape. One big problem being that a sizable percentage of Scale-Craft bolsters have shrunk/distorted over time, leaving those trucks inoperable.

I quietly sell some things from time to time. I can understand the reasons to not price too low, I don’t want to give stuff away that I took the time to list. I list at what I think is a fair price though, and that is all any of us can really ask.

In short, American OO does have some value, don’t throw it out! Give eBay a shot if you are a seller but with reasonable expectations. Most OO will not command nearly the same pricing as seen for mint Lionel OO models, but most will sell for enough to be worth your time to list it and will be appreciated by the buyers.

Friday, July 25, 2014

American OO for 56-57: Part II, More Schorr Brass Imports

The really interesting new products of these years are all Schorr. His Ma and Pa 2-8-0 was first advertised in the March 56 issue of RMC and then, in August we see the first listing for his 4-6-0 model as well. Both ads are seen below.

It must have helped a bit that RMC was based in New Jersey and that area was the hotbed of American OO activity, as Fred Schorr gets specific mention in the RMC September 56 “Dispatcher’s Report” column, where they note that there is “more new OO equipment lately than there has been in over ten years.” See his ad in this issue as well as it is the first to mention his caboose, which must also be a new model for 1956.

One extremely interesting document that made its way to me is a price sheet which must date to 1957, based on the models listed and not listed (the RS-2 being first advertised in 1958, for example). It consists of one page of text, and works through the models in the line at that time. It begins,
The 2-8-0 Maryland and Pennsylvania Locomotive in “00” gauge 4 MM. scale is a very proud little locomotive. No. 26 of the Maryland & Pennsylvania, Baldwin built in 1912. Detail you have never seen before and the tender is equipped with the best you have ever seen in arch-bar trucks in any gauge. Built up painted and ready to run 12 volt DC. 2 rail, $45.00.
After that are a group of testimonials, the most interesting one being from J. B. Foster, owner of a competing firm, the Guild of the Iron Horse. He says “Honestly, I think she is one of the cutest little consolidations I ever saw, just smells of the backwoods branch line and old time railroading. Those arch-bar trucks are what ‘00’ has needed these many years. They are detail and perfection.” Other comments confirm that “Both the 2-8-0 and 4-6-0 are swell items.” Continuing with the rest of the line,
And so it goes with all replies. Not one single kick. The same applies to the new 50 ton hoppers with Bettendorf trucks $4.00 eash, and those Bettendorf trucks sold out so fast I am now waiting for more of them along with the new arch-bar trucks. $1.35 a pair in lots of 6 pair.
And that 4-6-0 camel back. It’s a beauty for one that likes the type. Only a few of these left at $42.50.
And those RDC cars No. 1, 2 and 3 are still in demand that I am 6 weeks behind on deliveries. Still $19.95 less power but ready for the track with trucks. Power trucks for the RDC cars with Pitman DC 71A motor $18.00.
That old style wood caboose, (Central of Vermont) built up in brass and painted RED with arch bar trucks $6.95.
70 Ton triple pocket hoppers, less paint, and couplers, with Bettendorf trucks $4.00, built up in brass with the high rounded ends.
High side gondola cars built up in brass, less paint and couplers, but with those famous Bettendorf trucks $3.50.
The flyer ends with a survey of sorts to ask customers what models they might be interested in. In particular he was floating the idea of a NYC 4-6-0 model, Budd streamline cars, and streamliner trucks. Of those, only the trucks made the market, seen in this article which has a few more notes from his son Ed Schorr on these imports.

To close, apparently a second run of camel back 4-6-0 models were imported in 1961. The black and white photo of that model above is not only the model seen in the 1956 advertising, it is also one Schorr sent out in 1961 to promote that run (clearly marked as such on the reverse). Click on the photo for a better view of the model. I don’t own one of these and would not have any idea how to tell the two runs apart (if there is a way), but if a reader has several you might want to look them over and see what you can tell, I would be happy to share that.

Quite a good number of Schorr models were imported in this timeframe. But here was even more on the market these years, and when the series continues it will look at other products.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

American OO for 56-57: Part I, Articles in 1956

The first OO photos of the year seen in the hobby press are of the Moale trolleys in February, 1956 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. The view is almost exactly the same one as I featured in a prior article, just with different trolley cars on the track. See this article for more.

Turning to Model Railroader, we have some controversy! The poll results published in their February, 1956 issue says there are no OO Gaugers! A follow up note in April states that “space requirements” did not allow the OO results of the poll. In 1950 OO had been 2.1% of the result, and in 1956 they were down to .6%.

Which is not very good but still there were some active folks out there, which brings us to the March, 1956 issue of RMC. Starting with the cover, it shows Newton Guerin and his layout! Note in particular the nicely scratchbuilt Alco S-2 or S-4 switcher and the mixed train combine/caboose. The latter would have been built by his friend George Crowley. I have at least one model from his layout, a Morris and Essex 0-6-0 seen in this article. And for a bit more on Guerin and Crowley see this article.

Back a bit further in the issue you get to the feature article on the OO layout of Pierre Bourassa. One photo scanned from that article may be seen in this prior article, and to that I would add this one offering a view of his locomotive roster. According to the article, the layout had been under construction since 1948 and had the following roster:
Motive power is largely a combination of Fred Schorr diesels and steam power by Nason, Lionel, and Scale-Craft. The roster consists of 3 hudsons, a pacific and an consolidation, 2 northerns, and a jubilee…. There are also 5 F-3 diesel units, an E-8, and 2 diesel switchers. A gas-electric car, 30 passenger cars, and 80 freight cars complete the roster. 
Pierre loved to build cars and locomotives, the ones done when he was younger being I think the best. I have a number of them now still in operation, and in the category of "true confessions" I am as I write this stripping the paint off of two of his F-3 models, maybe two that were on his layout in 1956 for all I know. They were nicely built up but either Pierre or a subsequent owner had partially stripped them and started in on some modifications, I think looking to do a full repaint. Those engines actually may be seen in this article, a bit out of focus (helping to make them look better than they are). After a lot of puzzling over it all I decided to go ahead and rebuild. No need for them to stay looking beat up, in a box; they will emerge from the shops here as Santa Fe engines, me doing my best to apply a sharp paint job and them running again as he meant them to.

Back to the 1956 photo, five engines are seen clearly. The one at the back is Lionel, the second and fourth ones in are S-C 4-8-4 models, and the others are kitbashed heavily enough I can’t really say what they started out as from a photo.

Speaking of locomotives, there is a neat article on some custom OO locomotives built by Jerry White (Superior Models), in RMC for August of 1956. They were built for Major McCoid, an enthusiastic OO gauger and a name that has been mentioned already a couple times in this website. More on those in this article.

There were also articles related to American OO in 1957, but before turning to them the next topic in this series will be the great brass models being imported by Fred Schorr.

Continue reading 1956-57 Series 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

American OO in 1954-55. Part IV: More Old and New Products

Railroad Model Craftsman had the most positive spin on American OO products and the modeling situation in general. Starting right off in the January, 1954 issue, they note that “OO used to give HO quite a run for the money … still a lot of OO equipment around and enough manufacturers for the boys to keep them going … The OO gaugers still swear that 4mm scale is tops.”

In terms of products, RMC began a series of articles that are very interesting for our purposes, looking at the history of American OO. Their October, 1954 issue contained their “Model Steam Loco Directory” for all scales, which included the Scale-Craft 0-6-0, 4-6-0, and 4-8-4 (presumably sold through Kemtron) and the Johann 2-8-2. This is the listing of that model, but also in this issue is a great note in Dispatcher’s Report. “OO gaugers should look up the Johann 2-8-2, a beautiful job which we saw here in the office for the first time recently and which has just been released. Who says OO is dead?” More on the Johann 2-8-2 may be found here.

The Diesel loco directory ran in November of 1954 and included the Schorr F-3 and the Kemtron GP-7. The RMC freight car directory ran in two parts, and in January of 55 we find the only OO listings – for just three models, the Eastern boxcar, gondola, and reefer. They had not advertised in years but the model was still available. More on Eastern may be found here.

As noted in the 1953 series, M. P. Davis (Cussewago Valley) probably had models on the market by that year, at least the E-7. The M. P. Davis sales flyer dates to 1954, for more on that see this article. I also have a copy of the Cussewago Valley sales flyer for the P5 electric, seen here.  The only published reference I have found from the time is a letter in the November 1954 issue of RMC from Major McCoid, pointing out that the former Nason P5-A was available from M. P. Davis. It was a large and unique line of models, especially the articulated locomotives and the circus cars, this article giving my best general coverage on all of it. Also I would note that his unique streamlined caboose definitively dates to 1955; see this article for more.

Another OO firm that was active was the Guild of the Iron Horse. The initial Guild products date to probably to 1954. In later Johann sales literature he makes reference to using the Guild tender. Also there is a 1953 MR reference to 4-4-2 dies being purchased which must be the Nason dies going to Guild, as mentioned in the 1951-52 series.  It is all rather vague as he never advertised and does not seem to have developed any printed matter related to his products. For more on the 4-4-2 (their most commonly seen model) see this article.

The one line not yet mentioned that is not vague at all is MHP. They advertised every month over this two year span in Model Railroader. The first ad in January of 1954 says their passenger car diaphragms are available in “all popular sizes.” That ad had been running for some time, but starting in February they switched to a new ad that specifies that they make them for HO, OO, S, and O gauges and starting in April they ran a second ad in every issue, seen here, that made clear that their product was “now available in OO gauge.” For more on MHP see this article.

So while there was not a lot out there, there were products enough around to keep a good number of folks busy in the “dead” scale of American OO. When the series returns the topic will be the years 1956-57.

Return to the beginning of the 1954-55 series

Continue to 1956-57 Series

Saturday, July 5, 2014

American OO in 1954-55. Part III: The First Schorr Brass Imports

For those who are only familiar with Lionel and Scale-Craft OO, one of the more startling things to learn is that there were some great Japanese brass imports in American OO. Brass imports were starting to come in in other gauges (especially HO) and a man had an idea. Described by his son Ed as “a die-hard 00'er till the end” (there is more background in this article), Fred Schorr knew from his marketing of his F-3 model that there was a demand, and he ultimately invested quite a bit of time and money to develop an extremely interesting line of OO brass models. The groundwork must have been done in prior years, but in terms of the model railroad pubic these models came out in 1955.

The first Schorr ad seen in our timeframe this time is in RMC in March of 1954, the “Everything for OO gauge” ad that has been seen before. The next month, April, he changed the ad to this one, and the interesting products to note are the Dalman trucks (Nason or M.P. Davis products) and arch bar trucks (could be Kemtron?).

That ad ran for a while, off and on, in RMC. Then in January of 1955 a new ad ran that mentions they have four and six wheel gearboxes. I believe the latter must be intended for powering the M. P. Davis E-7 model (more on this model here). That ad ran periodically.

Finally, in September of 1955 we get the big news of the year, the first advertisement for the Schorr RDC cars. This was covered more fully in the November issue of RMC in Dispatcher’s Report. The editors note that “…there is a constant parade of new products being made in all gauges. OO gauge fans are now receiving delivery of full scale Budd rail cars.” And in December we see this item.
OO gauge has a flock of new kits, these being released by Fred E. Schorr, Jr. His Budd RDC-1 now has a companion RDC-2 and 3. These are all brass with clean and clear detail and power trucks are available. The kits are in the custom built class. Also coming are all-brass triple hopper and high sided gondola cars, completed and assembled. Others are to come ….
Those two freight cars I can totally understand importing early on, there had never been a triple hopper on the market and none of the gondolas to that point were great products (more on the gondola comparison here). But why an RDC? It was though an extremely up to date model and I am glad to own one of these great models (mine may be seen in this article).

When the series returns we have a few more old and new products to look at.

Continue in 1954-55 series

American OO in 1954-55. Part II: Products in Catalogs

The most interesting catalog of these two years is certainly the 1st Kemtron master catalog. Dated on the cover as being 1955, the first ad I have spotted that mentions the new catalog is in Model Railroader in June of 1955.

In terms of OO, the catalog features their GP-7 model, seen here, and the Scale-Craft line. HO Seeker has a scan of the entire catalog online, and I would point readers to jump over to these pages for more:
One very notable item would be the Kemtron streamline passenger car truck seen on page 29. It was a wonderful item, lost wax brass. It was probably not new this year, as will be seen a little later in this article. For more on that truck in general see this article.

Besides the master catalog, Kemtron had help in marketing their OO line from Pacific Fast Mail, a firm much better known for their brass imports. The first ad I have spotted mentioning that they have Kemtron OO parts is in the February, 1954 issue of Model Railroader. The following month in MR their ad features the Kemtron OO GP-7, “one of the most beautiful and best constructed models in any gauge.”

The first ad I have spotted that mentions this relationship in RMC I spotted in their June, 1954 issue.  Under the heading “NEWS – OO – ON3” we read the following:
Your name on a postcard mentioning gauge will keep you up to date on OO and On3 new items.
SCALE-CRAFT: We have complete “OO” stock except drivers. New ones in process.
KEMTRON: 100% complete stock. Locos, parts, rolling stock all gauges.
There is a bit more to be found in RMC proper as well, in the Dispatcher’s Report for August 1954. But business relationships come and go; in the September 1955 issue of MR Kemtron ran an ad specifically to mention that they are no longer involved with Pacific Fast Mail.

But where this is all heading is PFM put out a catalog of some sort that includes at least four pages of OO coverage. The PFM info over at HO Seeker starts with a 1955 catalog that contains no OO. But in my files I found four pages of OO listings in what appears to be a PFM, loose-leaf format catalog from 1954. The first page features the Kemtron GP-7. The second page has trucks including the Kemtron passenger truck (scanned here) and the full line of S-C trucks. This is the earliest printed reference I have found to that particilar Kemtron truck. The third page has power trucks, the “Teaspoon of Power” unit with the motor built into it that is similar to but shorter than the unit intended for the Kemtron GP-7 and also the S-C Gas-Electric power truck. The last page features the “666” drive truck that was for the Kemtron GP-7, seen in the final scan. It was by Lindsay and PFM was marketing it for OO or On3.

They spent a bit of money on advertising and may have sold a few OO models but again, it was a short lived relationship and PFM went on to fame as an importer of brass models.

Moving on, I have the 1954 E&H Stores catalog excerpts, mentioned in 1953 series, and what I take to be 1955 excerpts are found in the article on Kemtron and late Scale-Craft.
They were one of the few sellers to mention OO in advertising and, ominously, in their August 1954 MR ad they mention that they have a “special clearance” going on for OO gauge. There were deals to be had for sure, but the bigger picture was they were a business and OO could not have been making them much money. The “special clearance” item ran in their ad steadily until January of 1955. The rest of the year mention was made of OO in their advertisements (such as “we stock OO”), but that run ended in January of 1956 and after that point E&H stores makes no mention of OO in their advertising.

While mentioning catalogs, remember the great Model Railroad Equipment Corp. Catalog that was covered in this article, with great OO coverage? They had a new catalog out and it was HO only! That was where the market was.

The biggest thing to happen in American OO these two years in terms of products is not listed in any catalog. When the series returns the topic will be Schorr.

Continue reading 1954-55 series

Friday, July 4, 2014

American OO in 1954-55. Part I: Articles and Features

While not often seen in the hobby press, a good place to start with this look at 1954-55 is with some American OO layouts. If there were no layouts, why have products?

The layout that I have the most coverage of for this year is by far the Greenbrook Lines of David Sacks. It was featured in Railroad Model Craftsman in June 55; I have more on that article here. In addition to that coverage, it was also featured in newspaper articles in 1954 and 55, which I look at more in this longer article. He and his friends in the North Jersey club were very active in this time frame.

But they were not the only OO club in New Jersey, there was another one known as the ABCOOR (Associated Bergen County OO Railroads) group. We get a glimpse of them and the layout of George Jones in an article in the April, 1954 issue of RMC, in an article on a self-powered section car.
ONE can hardly believe that this OO gauge unit is self powered as it scoots around the layout at a scale speed of about 25 miles per hour….
The unit was built for George E. Jones of Rochelle Park, N. J., by Ralph W. Green who estimates that the entire job took about 50 hours…. George uses 24 v. DC current on his two rail OO gauge pike and the high 24 volts (rather than 12v) provides a very smooth power with barely any arcing of the wheels. An idea of the minute size of the section car can be gained by comparing it with the diesel A unit, a home built job by Mr. Jones….
George’s Union Pacific Lines measures roughly 8x10’ and consists basic of two loops, one of which circles over itself on 2% grades. At a recent meeting of the ABCOOR (Assd. Bergen County OO RRs), we saw a four unit diesel pull a 53 car freight drag up and over itself for nearly three hours of continuous operation without a single derailment. For a gauge which many people have already given a formal burial, we thought this a singularly outstanding achievement. Altogether the ten members of this group own and operate over 100 locos, 200 passenger cars, 550 freight cars in addition to one of the most terrific section hand cars we’ve ever had the pleasure to see.
Note that freelanced, FT-inspired diesel in the photo, which is very similar to the E-Unit seen in this article (especially note the roof and front profile of the models). And who wrote the article? It does not say but it seems that the editors of RMC wrote it (note the use of “we”), which may be why RMC will be the magazine with by far the most OO coverage for the coming years. They had personal relationships with OO gaugers in the part of the country that was the hotbed of remaining OO gauge activity! They knew it was not a dead scale even if there were hardly any products advertised.

Probably not coincidentally a letter in the June ‘54 issue of RMC from Bill Johann mentions the North Jersey club as well. My understanding is there was a friendly rivalry between the two groups, although they certainly socialized and I am told ultimately, as numbers dwindled, they merged into one group.

In the September, 1954 issue of Model Railroader there is an article on custom builder Jerry White. Among other scales he worked in OO, and several OO models by White may be seen here. Later in the same issue in the “Bull Session” column there is a note from OO gauger Jim Trout of Los Angeles, who described OO fans as “rugged individualists who keep working in OO in spite of the lack of supplies and publicity.” That certainly describes the tone of the time for OO well.

Finally, there is this nice photo in the April, 1955 issue of MR of one of the Moale trolleys. My main article on the Commander may be found here. From the caption,
These fine cars are part of a 62-model collection built by Comdr. Edward S. Moale, USN Ret. …. His goal is at least one model representing a prototype for each state. He has five cars to go. All models are OO scale and built from scratch. The foreground model is of a Columbus, Delaware & Marion parlor car that was sold to IT, and the first interurban ever air-conditioned.
With that the next topic in this series on American OO in 1954-55 is products seen in catalogs.

Continue to Part II of 1954-55 series

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Some Marketing Missteps in Lionel OO

Many good points could be brought up relating to the somewhat flawed rollout and marketing of the Lionel OO line, and Dick Kuehnemund recently shared with me a few quick thoughts on the topic.
Hi John = Just looking at catalog errors relating to the "00" Lionel trains could be interesting:
1 - In '38 they cataloge a "kit" version of the 001 Hudson - similar to the "O" ga. 700K "kit" Hudson; I don't think any were produced;
2 - In '41 they showed a "Reading" hopper & black "Sunoco" tanker; again, I don't think any such cars were made;
3 - Again, in '38, they showed switches, X-ing & "odd" length 3-rail tracks to make a figure "8"; I've never seen or heard of any such items unitil made as the "later" designs from '39 - '42.
And, to close, a significant thought on the track packaging.
Hi again - In yet another masterpiece of advertising & packaging wit & wisdom(?) - attached is a photo of a pkg. for TEN "00" 3-rail curves. Nobody told them it took TWELVE sections to make a circle... No Harvard MBAs need apply; back to Math 101!  
Or could it have been genius? Make the public buy two boxes of track to have enough for a circle…

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Newspapers visit the Green Brook Lines, 1954-61

Working on the history of American OO it is such a mixed bag of what information exactly has come to me. At this point I am not even sure the source to thank, but a fascinating snapshot of OO history may be found in a series of three newspaper articles on the layout of David Sacks, the Green Brook line.

The first article was published in the New York Herald Tribune on Friday, Dec. 31, 1954. The photo (too muddy to reproduce here) shows the same Neil Vuyk that is seen in the cover photo of the issue of Railroad Model Craftsman (June, 1955) that has the first of the Greenbrook articles in the model railroad press (more here). Vuyk is in a similar location, but with Sacks.

What I love about all of these articles is the breathless, newspaper text. The title of the article is “Schedule Crisis for N.J.M. Railroad” (“Its President May Move”) by Robert L. Moore. It begins,
PLAINFIELD, N. J., Dec. 30. It was reported this week that the entire Green Brook Lines Railroad, from Somerville to Easton, may be out of operation for two years if its president, David M. Sacks, moves to a new home.
Last night, in the basement of Mr. Sacks’ home at 231 Hillcrest Ave., nine grown men contemplated somewhat glumly, in spite of an ample supply of beer, how they were going to keep the North Jersey Midland Railroad running on schedule while Mr. Sacks laboriously puts his Green Brook section back together in whatever house he moves to.
There was an article on the North Jersey Midland club in Model Craftsman in February of 1947, which I describe further here. The newspaper goes on to tell that the members of the group range in age from 27 into their late forties and meet every Monday night. The layout was reported to be 25 by 15 (but the track plan I have says it is 18 by 14) and ran using timetable operation. They used a fast clock, with each hour being five minutes.

We also learn a few details about members of the club as well. Former president Newton Guerin (seen in the final color photo below) was owner of Tri-State Engineering; William Johann was a design draftsman; David Sacks was a machinist; Howard McPeek was a police captain. “Others are cabinetmakers, draftsmen, clerks, and one runs a women’s apparel shop (Doop’s, in East Orange).”

Next up is the gem of this trio of articles, which ran in the “Sunday News” on 2/20/55. Titled “BIG Little Railroad” (“It takes 12 men to operate model trains”), the photos are from a different photo session. My copy is a color Xerox, and the scans are spread out over the current article. Click on any photo for a better view. The article has no author credited and begins,
THERE’S a saying that men are just grownup boys. You’d have no trouble agreeing with the adage if you could see the group of men in Plainfield, N. J., happily playing with a model railroad that’s believed to be one of the finest in the East.
The trains, all OO gauge and known as the Green Brook Lines, are housed in the basement of David M. Sacks of 231 Hillcrest Ave. He and his pals are members of the North Jersey Midland Model Railroad Association. 
The article goes on that Sacks started building the layout in 1940. A number of statistics are given quickly, the most impressive being he estimated that he had “spent $12,000 on his hobby.” The layout boasted 525 feet of track, 18 locomotives, and 95 cars. Actually both articles mention a “refrigeration unit” as well; I guess for the beer? The article concludes,
There’s one slight drawback. Sacks can’t run the outfit alone. When he wants to play with his trains he has to call in about 11 of his gang to help operate his system. Between them, the men have loads of fun as railroaders.
The last article of the set is dated Friday, May 19, 1961. The newspaper is not specified but it seems to be another local paper. By Francis Jones and titled “Green Brook Line to Send Last Train Out of City,” the article begins,
The Green Book Lines, Plainfield’s most noted model railroad, will make its final run from Plainfield to Easton Monday Night.
Area commuters will be unaffected, however, for the line operates on track less than an inch in width and run a distance of 55 feet, all in David M. Sacks cellar at 277 Arnold Ave. 
The article states that it is “perhaps the largest in the state constructed by a single man,” but it was being dissembled because the Sacks family was moving to Orange, CA, on July 1. As noted in the earlier articles, Sacks got into OO gauge in 1940, and he expands on that in this article.
“When I bought my first set of trains and track,” he recalled, “the clerk in the hobby shop predicted it would be gathering dust in a corner within a week. If only he could see it now.”
The article relates that Sacks was a machinist and die maker at Zimmer Machine Co. He was up to 130 cars by then. The locomotives are almost all steam and the setting is pre-war. “Only a few diesel switch engines run on the Green Brook tracks.” Then they get to the question of why call it the Green Book lines. According to the article
“The Green Brook is our largest waterway,” he noted solemnly.

The article notes that “King Features did a page spread” on the layout, which must be the article with the color photos above, and that it would be the topic of an article soon in Model Railroader. That article may be seen in their August, 1961 issue. This layout was a large home layout, an L shaped island with an overall size of about 35’ x 20’. That article will be a topic I come back to, but I would note that I see a Kemtron GP-7 lettered for the Greenbrook, so he had more than diesel switchers running alongside steam (and it looks like there are Greenbrook passenger diesels in the color photos as well). This final photo is from the MR 1961 article, taken from the same angle and cropped to imitate the very muddy photo in the newspaper article. The main difference is that in the newspaper photo it was set up so that Sacks is to the left, putting a steam locomotive in a box as if packing for the move (Bill Johann is in the MR photo).

The final section of the 1961 article speaks of his future plans in California and gives a bit more of his personal story. He was born in Somerville and is married with a wife and daughter. In conclusion he told the paper “Model railroading is a wonderful activity…. beats sitting around watching television.”

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John Ericson firmly believes everyone needs a hobby. TCA 01-52672