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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bronze Garco Baldwin Diesel Switcher

Harry J. Garrett & Co. (Garco) of Dallas, Texas marketed beginning in 1947 a sand cast bronze model of a Baldwin-Westinghouse diesel switcher. This model I was told by at least one older timer in OO was sold as "HO (or OO)." It is over scale for HO and has certainly been converted for operation in OO a few times.

This photo is of a trio of Garco Baldwins in the collection of Bill Chapin, photographed some years back. My recollection was that at least two of these had been converted to OO drives. However, so far as I can tell this model was actually only marketed as HO.

The HOSeeker site has a section of information from Garco, who also marketed models as Custom-Model Railways and sold hobby supplies with the name Garrett-Boyer. The page that links all their Garco materials (including instructions) is here, and the 1947 price list is directly linked here. If I can find a print material that points to actual marketing of this model as HO/OO I will update, but for now it remains an interesting model that you may find converted to OO.

It is worth noting as well that Garco produced in bronze or aluminum a "Vanderbuilt" tender in HO and also EMC passenger diesels (A and B units) in HO and O. This was an E unit of unspecified model. More information on both may be found here.

UPDATE 2013. I was lucky to obtain a nice example of the Garco Baldwin from Bill Gilbert. I had long been wondering exactly how it would scale out compared to a HO model and this new photo lays it out pretty clearly. The HO model is an Athearn S-12 (that I decorated for a freelance line when I was in high school), which should be the same length. The Garco model is however clearly larger in every dimension.

The prototype is the Baldwin VO1000, which was produced between 1939 and 1946. Over 1,000 of the prototype locomotives were produced, so it was a fairly popular model. The Garco version is of the late style carbody. (The S-12 in the middle photo being a successor model of Baldwin switcher, produced from 1951-56).

The last photo shows the drive. Comparing it with the instruction sheets in the HOSeeker site this is the original drive but modified for OO. Love that big motor and the flywheel is a nice feature for a model from 1947. The quality of the body casting itself is very nice.

As to the scale of the model, I would like to say it is OO scale, but it actually is not. I would estimate the scale to be somewhere around 1/80. Why so over sized? I am not sure, but my guess is to better fit the big motor and flywheel inside the heavy bronze casting that is the body. In any event, I plan to complete the model above for OO operation (the windows being the last big challenge to do, most of the rest of the work was done before the model got to me) and I think it will turn out very well. This is certainly a model to keep your eyes peeled for.

For a bit more on this model and a comparison with the Fleischmann Baldwin switcher (also overscale) see this article.

Friday, March 20, 2009

“Scale Models Chicago”

More than a few people over the years have been confronted by a classic American OO gauge die cast 4-6-0, 4-4-2 or 4-6-4T model and have wondered what company made it. The only marking on the locomotive itself is “Scale Models Chicago” as in the photo below. The words are on a builders plate below the smokestack; click on the photo for a larger view.

I remember wondering why this Scale-Craft model was marked this way when I first got started in OO. The answer is actually pretty simple. When Scale-Craft introduced their OO gauge line in 1937 the Chicago-based company was officially known as “Scale-Models, Inc.” They produced “Scale-Craft Working Models.” Even at that time the line was known primarily as Scale-Craft, and later the name was officially changed to Scale-Craft, but the dies remained unchanged and these locomotives are marked with the more obscure Scale Models Chicago marking. But rest assured that these are Scale-Craft products.

UPDATE: See the comments below for a few more notes.

Saving old decals

I have used a number of old decals, and with the reduced number of modern manufacturers of decals use of those decals is even more important today. Over at the Old Model Kits Blog I note two posts on the topic very worth checking out:

Save Those Old or Yellowing Plastic Model Decals

More on Using or Restoring Old Decals

Both articles include notes on making new decals from old decals. This is something I hope to look into more in the future.

UPDATE: As this article comes up on searches, my personal experiences on actually using old (pre-war!) Scale-Craft (Walthers) decals may be found here, from which this photo is drawn as well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The original Scale-Craft OO refrigerator car, and Blow-Smoke, part 3

In the opening editorial of the September, 1938 issue of Blow-Smoke (Vol. 1, No. 4), Elliott Donnelley related,
SUMMER is ending, and its closing days bring many personal regrets. Regardless of this, however, I’m mighty glad to see it over; summer is the dormant period of the model building year, and this summer was exceptionally slow. But it’s over now, and we’re all set for a grand start on the 1938-39 season.

You probably know by this time, that we have issued a new catalog. We feel that it will establish a new standard of excellence for all similar publications. Revolutionary changes and additions have been made; cars are shown in their full, natural colors—you can visualize them as they really appear on the right-of-way. Black and white illustrations never conveyed such realism to the purchaser! Choosing a car will now be a simple matter. Helpful, illustrated instructions for building layouts have been freely included in this great catalog, and while its cost has been heavy, the service it will render will more than justify the expense.

Many new cars are listed in the new catalog…. In our “OO” line, we are introducing for the first time the Scale-Craft refrigerator cars, of which there are ten different styles.
The featured new OO item in this issue is the new refrigerator car. Five of the new cars are illustrated, including one of the same style as this nicely built up example. They note that,
These colorful “OO” gauge refrigerator cars are remarkable reproductions of their prototypes….

The construction method in preparing these kits is not the usual die-casting process. Reefers differ in construction to meet the demands of ownership and service. To portray these differences we use wooden sides, ends, roofs and floors, and supply all necessary castings and stamped metal parts. Your work consists of actually building the model, not just merely painting a die-casting. Skillful model craftsmanship is developed by working on these kits, and when the cars are finished, you’ll be proud of them, because you actually made them.
In the three photos with this post are seen four different examples of these early Scale-Craft refrigerator kits. Scale-Craft sold two distinct versions of this car, one with sand cast doors and roof hatches and a later version with stamped brass doors and smaller, die-cast hatches.

One detail that was new is the new ladders which are stamped brass. These were also introduced as a new, separate sale item in this issue of Blow-Smoke as follows:
Small details on a model freight car can make or break the general appearance of the job. The model railroader has often wrestled with the task of making neat and durable side ladders for his house cars…. Scale-Craft presents a new offering to its patrons in the form of a new Side and End Ladder…. It is true to prototype, very durable, and low in price. A set of these precision made ladders will save many hours of tedious work, and insure that professional touch on car corners.
Three of the four built up cars in my photos have these new ladders, which were popular and show up on many other cars of different manufacture. Click on the photos for a larger view. They also have on the ends matching stamped brass brake platforms and supports for the end of the roof walks.

One other unique detail of these cars is the frames. The later version of the refrigerator car had a full frame the same as used on the boxcar. But the initial version had a “skeleton” frame that was placed on the wood floor, as seen in the photos. As used on the car the trucks are set in too far from the ends of the car, as with other early Scale-Craft production.

Built up this car is fairly common but kits that have not been built up are rare. The cars in the photos all have their original Scale-Craft decals. I like these cars a lot; they have a great, classic look.

UPDATE: See this article for information on the post-war Scale-Craft reefer.

Continue in Blow-Smoke series

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An outside braced boxcar

Regular reader Ed Havens provided photos of a nicely built up outside braced boxcar, with the question who made it?

First, taking a look at this angle view, it is a nice car any OO gauger would be proud to own of an unusual design. Only two makers made a car of this type in OO so far as I know, Graceline and Hawk. The Graceline model would have had pressed card sides; the first impression is then that this could be Hawk, with wood sides, but not the stock version as the Hawk car is single door, not double door.

A couple details that can be seen right away are the ladders and the support brackets for the roof walk. Those are common Scale-Craft parts. Which makes some sense as the only metal part supplied in the original kit was the frame. The ends look like they could be pressed card however (Graceline? Eastern?), and the double doors look a bit home made. And the coupler pocket looks rather like a Selley part or maybe Graceline. S-C trucks and couplers maybe? Hmm.

Turning it over we can see a very distinct feature that I think confirms the Hawk ID: that is a Hawk frame for sure. So it appears as if someone took a Hawk car and tricked it out a bit for their layout.

Hawk did not make trucks. From the bottom we can also see easily that the trucks are either Famoco or Eastern products, which are identical, not Scale-Craft. The brake details look like HO detail parts from a bit later era; someone must have built this sometime after WWII. The brake line is a nice touch.

Going to the straight side view, I come back to the doors. The open doors are a nice touch. The Hawk car only had single doors—the car I described in the previous post on Hawk is closer to stock. The roof photo is fuzzy but also matches the roof of the Hawk car in the earlier post.

Click on any of the photos for a close up view. Time was taken to make a great model out of this unique kit. Outside braced cars are unusual in OO; this Hawk car is one to keep your eyes out for.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Selley OO parts

One line that stands somewhat uniquely in the classic American OO market is the Selley Mfg. Co. of Brooklyn. Rather than sell a line of cars Selley sold a line of parts in HO, OO, and O gauges. The line was first advertised in 1941 and they remained active well into the post-war era. For example, the text of their advertisement in the June, 1944 issue of Model Railroader makes clear the basics of their production:
SELLEY CAN STILL SUPPLY FROM STOCK ALL PARTS LISTED IN CATALOG NO. 14. Send 5c for your copy NOW. All Illustrated. 130 HO Parts. 207 O Parts. 60 OO Parts.
Besides the HO, OO, and O gauge train parts they also note in the ad that their catalog of boat and airplane parts is also available for 5 cents.

I don’t have a Selley catalog for reference. But a version of the line of Selley OO parts was marketed starting in the late 1980s by Bowser under the name English's Model Railroad Supply. This photo is of several of these parts I purchased from them; the 20041 reefer underframe, 20046 boxcar doors, 20044 Dreadnaught ends, and 20049 depressed center flat sides. A listing for the line with illustrations may be found in the July, 1986 issue of The OO Road, with additional items listed in the July, 1987 issue. The following were marketed by Lew English (then a OO SIG member) from the original Selley line; the image (click for a larger version) is from their listings for Selley (thank you Dick G. for the scan):

Passenger car ends and accessories:
20001 Pullman or coach ends
20002 Blind baggage ends
20003 Coach ends
20004 Solarium ends
20005 Diaphragms
20006 Vestibule doors
20007 Vestibule partitions
20008 and 20009 Steps, type A and B
20010 Rear emblem plate
20042 Coach or diner ends
20043 Caboose ends
20044 Dreadnaught ends
20032 Ladders
Brakes, valves, reefer and freight parts:
20012 and 20025 Triple valves, type A and B
20013 and 20026 Air valves, type A and B
20014 and 20027 Generators, type A and B
20028 Brake cylinder
20029 Globe valves
20030 Steam traps
20031 Pullman vents
20045 Plain ice hatch covers
20011 Reefer doors
20033 Reefer end sills
20034 Box or reefer end beams
20050 Flat car end sills
20051 Reefer end, channeled
20052 Reefer or box car ends
20035 Double doors
20046 Doors with plate
20037 Gondola reinforcement strips
Couplers and underframes:
20021, 20022, and 20023 Couplers, types A, B, and C
20049 Depressed center flat car sides
20016 and 40 Box car underframe
20017 Tank car frame
20018 Centersill and crossbeams
20019 Crossbearer
20020 Bolster w/coupler pocket and cover
20041 Reefer underframe

Several of these OO parts I have are quite similar to Graceline parts but I am inclined to say they are similar but not the same. Really I am not certain on this point, they could have supplied the parts to Graceline or they could have purchased the dies from Graceline and modified them slightly for their own production or they could have copied them. The frame in the photo for example is essentially identical to a Graceline frame except that it is about 1/8 inch shorter in overall length. Shrinkage? Other parts look a lot like Nason, etc.

In addition to these Selley parts several reproduction Lionel parts were marketed by English, including truck parts.

The sad news is that these parts were available until fairly recently but are not today. This was confirmed by a very recent note from Lee English. I am glad I was able to buy a few of these parts when they were available. They could not have been much of a money maker for Bowser; these parts are ones to keep your eyes peeled for.