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

Friday, January 30, 2009

More on E. H. Bessey

In my earlier post on E. H. Bessey I outlined their OO production. Since then I located and scanned a photo I took some years ago of a partially completed Bessey OO boxcar in the collection of Bill Chapin, with box and instructions, which is below.

The other update is to give a bit more detail on the rest of their product line. Like Picard, Bessey was actually in production during WWII as their products were all wood and used no critical war materials.

While Bessey was an OO gauger, OO was not all he manufactured. The flagship items of the line, based on the detail given in the 1947 catalog, were structural shapes and bridge kits. The only OO bridge was the Pratt Truss bridge, which was available in O, OO, and HO scales. They note it was “Made from our Famous Precision Shapes in Wood. Kits contain all necessary channels[,] angles, columns, and other materials.”

They also produced a plate girder bridge in O and HO, a single or double track Howe Truss bridges in HO, a double track O gauge semi-cantilever bridge, and also an O gauge B & O signal bridge. A wide variety of related wood shapes and ties in all three scales were marketed as well.

As to cars, they do not appear to have marketed O scale cars but they do show three different HO scale items in the 1947 catalog; a composite gondola, a Great Northern express reefer, and a HO version of the “Old time S. P. wood box car” of which the photo above is a photo of the OO version. This sold in HO for 60 cents and in OO for 75 cents. All are listed as body kits with no hardware.

Finally, I should also note HO and O novelty siding and stair stringers in HO, OO, and O scales. The stair stringers were different for HO and for OO, which was unusual for the time as a number of firms marketed structures as HO/OO, with the idea that they would be suited for both. This is a topic I will come back to in a future post.

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