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

Monday, August 9, 2010

“OO” Railway Notes: F. D. Grimke and his Series on OO Gauge, 1931-32. Part III: Building a NYC 4-6-4

The next installment in the series on OO gauge by Grimke is in the June, 1931 issue of The Modelmaker. This article gives insights into the first locomotive kit marketed in American OO, the Thuillgrim 4-6-4. The article opens,
This month, we actually begin the construction of a 4mm Scale Locomotive. The writer has worked in conjunction with the Thuillgrim Models in developing the locomotive.
With that teaser, let’s leave the article for a second and turn to inside the back cover where we find this advertisement. Thuillgrim had at this point readied section one of eight sections needed to construct a NYC 4-6-4 in 4mm scale. Ed Morlok told me that his understanding was that this model was never actually manufactured but if you follow the text of this series and the advertisements I am inclined to say that they must have made at least a handful of these models. I don’t know of any example in existence but one was on the cover of The Modelmaker back in March, 1931 so at least one complete model was out there back in the day (see this post for the photo). But perhaps Morlok had other information now lost to history.

As to the article itself, Grimke notes first of all that a decision was made “to use no material which could not be readily purchased in any large hardware store and also not to incorporate anything of foreign manufacture.”

The frame is built up from brass bar and channel. Grimke goes into some detail and includes this drawing. Click on it for a larger view. He notes that the frame extension will vary depending on the motor you use. This is when we get to the great quote about the Mantua Midjet Motor I referenced a few weeks ago,
The only motor worth considering, and one that can be easily adaptable, is the one manufactured by the Mantua Toy Co. The Senior or Midget can be used. For this type of locomotive the Senior motor is recommended. It will not be worth the trouble to adapt the motors of foreign manufacture.
Grimke then notes that the countershaft blocks, visible in the drawing, “will require the most accurate work.” These held the worm in place over the middle driver and would be another spotting feature if a model is found to exist today.

This drawing of a complete locomotive was also published in the first installment on the locomotive I believe to give a sense where the project is heading. There are drawings with every installment, and the Thuillgrim advertisement in every issue also notes that another section of their 4-6-4 model is for sale. Clearly they had the drawings covered for the instructions. As to an overview of what the following Modelmaker articles covered,
  • July: Wheels and trucks
  • August: Cylinders and third rail collectors (outside third rail was the only method proposed)
  • September: Installing the motor and wiring (AC)
  • October: Boiler and cab
The articles look pretty complete with great drawings of the parts but you would need to be a very skilled machinist to build a model from the instructions. Jumping all the way to the end of the October article, Grimke notes that
It will be seen that when the locomotive is completed, that no additional weight will be necessary in order to secure better adhesion. If all the work has been properly done, the locomotive is now ready for a “steam test.”
Reflecting on the text of the five parts of the series devoted to building a locomotive I am inclined to think that Thuillgrim must have made and sold several of their 4-6-4 models. They ran advertisements for over two years, so one would think that they must have sold something to pay for the advertising, and clearly they pushed the 4-6-4 model and each section being ready now and such in the middle of the advertising run. I certainly don’t own one but if you have a 4-6-4 that is mainly sheet brass and perhaps still has its Mantua Midjet motor it actually may not be the scratchbuilt model it looks like it might be--it could actually be Thuillgrim. That would be exciting to find, but of course it is very possible that none exist today. Those were the very earliest days of American OO when literally there were only a handful of models in existence, probably no operational layouts at all, and only one manufacturer, Thuillgrim.

When we return the next topic is building the tender for our locomotive.

Continue in 1931-32 series.

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