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

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The best OO wheel sets ever, and the indispensible tool

Mentioned in several posts now are the OO gauge wheel sets produced by Ultimate Screw Machine Products Co. This company placed one advertisement in Railroad Model Craftsman, on page 5 of the June, 1968 issue. So far as I know this was the last advertisement placed in the model railroad press by an American OO gauge manufacturer. The ad reads:
the ULTIMATE scale
American Made by American Craftsmen
at American Prices.
Diesel and steam locos available soon.
Write us your needs.
OO division,
Ultimate Screw Mach. Prod. Co.
125 N. King St., Magnolia, N. J. 08049
I know that the wheel sets they manufactured were available until the early 1980s as I purchased some directly at the time from the owner of Ultimate Screw Machine, Alfred “Bud” Spice, Jr.

These are great wheel sets! They are RP-25 contour of nickel-sliver and plastic and were available to fit S-C and Lionel side frames. In the photo the pair on the left are tender wheel sets and the pair on the right are for freight cars.

Besides the wheel sets the most notable items produced were his versions of the Schorr F-3A and B (this model is fairly commonly seen today), the Nason P-5A and BB electric, and of the Davis E-7A and B in either sand cast bronze or aluminum.

I should also note with this post that Bud Spice obtained the residue of several OO manufacturers including especially M.P. Davis and Guild, and dealt in used OO and un-built kits. I purchased my Schorr F-3s and a hybrid S-C/Nason 4-6-0 from him back in the day.

Returning to wheel sets, working on many projects the past few weeks I have also made a lot of use of this handy tool, the NMRA OO/On3 standards gauge, which was introduced in 1981.

There is just no way to get your layout running well without this gauge. While the Ultimate wheel sets were great, many OO wheel sets are not well in gauge. In the photo I have included an example, a Nason tender truck. This particular one was very free rolling until I tried to correct the too narrow gauge of the wheel sets. When I had them out to gauge the truck would not roll! I will need to drill out the side frames a bit more or work on the bolster mounting. Problems of this type are common on classic OO models.

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