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

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: The Scale-Craft 4-8-4

One classic OO gauge model I have not yet posted on is the Scale-Craft 4-8-4. This excellent die-cast model of the C&NW class H 4-8-4 was produced 1939-42 with the model number K1988 and listed from 1947-54 with the model number OOL620.

One reason I have not written about it yet is it was produced with two different types of frames and I am not totally in a position to document when the transition occurred. However, Scale-Craft greatly reduced the number of bronze castings in models after the war and I believe the new frame was supposed to come to production in 1947 based on catalog descriptions (the Hollywood catalog is from 1947). Another reason I have not posted about it is I don’t have a complete model, just a bit over half of the parts for a late production locomotive, the major parts of which are seen in the photo. Click on it for a larger view.

However, an article also noted in the previous post in the January, 1989 issue of The OO Road (on the Stephans' Railroad Directory) pointed me to a review of the late production kit in the November, 1950 issue of Model Railroader. From it we learn,
Scale-Craft’s latest kit release is an amazingly faithful reproduction of the C&NW class H 4-8-4….

Die-cast parts include pilot, couplers, air pumps, cylinder block, smokebox front, boiler and cab, tender body, frame and truck frames, and loco pilot and trailing truck frames. Each piece is well detailed and carries only slight flash. Most of the drilling and tapping is done….

The frame is made up of two formed, drilled and tapped steel sides with brass spacers between. Driver axles 1, 2 and 4 are sprung….

The superstructure is complete except for the installation of handrails, headlight, number plate, ladder, cab back, grab irons, whistle and generator.

The locomotive is powered by a seven-pole universal motor. It drives the number 3 axle through a gear box mounted to the frame. A flexible rubber coupling connects the gear box and motor shafts. Reversing is by a hand-reversing switch located in the tender. A reversing rectifier could be installed in place of the hand-operated switch at very small cost.

Tender assembly is simple. Steps and couplers are held in place by screws, and the necessary loco-tender hookup wiring connections are soldered….

We think this is a fine kit. The care the manufacturer went to in producing the class H 4-8-4 is evident in the detailed, clean-cut, well-fitting parts. The headlight and bell bracket are overscale; otherwise the model is an exact replica of its prototype.
This is the photo from the review and I like very much that it appears to be the model built up in the review. They built it up with the tender reversing switch and note the sand cast Boxpok drivers.

As originally produced this model had a sand cast and machined bronze frame. Ownership of Scale-Craft after WW II changed from Elliott Donnelley to Doug Douglass and back to Elliott Donnelley. In a sense the statement in the review that this is “Scale-Craft’s latest kit release” is a little over stated, but on the other hand this model had been off the market since WWII (Douglass does not appear to have shipped out any of these, despite the catalog listing) so it was one OO gaugers were anxious to be able to buy again. Also of note, this may well be the last review ever published of any American OO model in any major model railroad publication.

This is a classic model to keep your eyes peeled for. Someday I do hope to complete this model. I don’t have a tender but will keep my eyes peeled for the big S-C tender on this model.

UPDATE: More info on the two versions of this model here.

UPDATE 2013. The text above was updated preparing for the 1950 series of history articles and I would also note I still don't have that model running but I do have most of the parts now (including a tender) and also an additional model in parts, projects for a future day.

No comments: