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

Friday, August 20, 2010

“OO” Railway Notes: F. D. Grimke and his Series on OO Gauge, 1931-32. Part IV: Building a Tender

November of 1931 finds us the final part of the series on building an OO gauge locomotive in The Modelmaker. To recap briefly, this series by Grimke was the first published series on American OO in any publication and was from an era when small scale models (smaller than O) were a true novelty. Grimke with a partner had formed a firm called Thuillgrim that was the first American OO manufacturer and pretty much defined the gauge and scale. The tender described in this post is I believe in fact the tender that would have been shipped out with their 4-6-4 kit, the first locomotive marketed in American OO--a full seven years before Lionel came out with their version of the same model, which had by that time also been produced in sand cast bronze by Nason.

Being first, Grimke had to figure out how to make it work, and this part of the series in particular gives some great insights. He begins by noting
The Tender, after having built the locomotive, will prove to be comparatively simple and easy to construct. Prior to beginning a description of the construction, a word is necessary to describe the use of the blueprints for the tender.
This drawing is in the article (click on it for a better view) but it is only one of a series of blueprints that Thuillgrim was marketing, I believe with an eye to marketing models of all of them. To continue,
It was found out, that for all the different type of steam locomotives, actually three different types of tenders would be all that is necessary. The three types are as follows: six wheel, large four wheel and small four wheel. For purposes of distinction we have made the following classifications A, B, C, D, and E.
Grimke goes on to explain about type B having a water scoop etc. In any event, each type had four “prints” available that included underbody details but also “The Last Print shows the drum type reversing switch, and collector.” Moving on to trucks,
The truck are of the six wheel type. The middle pair of wheels are dummy, and are formed by the sides of the brass channel which is used as a stretcher plate.
This would be a good spotting feature to use if you find a Thuillgrim tender truck. Another feature is the frame.
The Tender Underframe is a heavy die casting. This weight is necessary to keep the tender on the track when moving at scale speed. It will be necessary to smooth up the sides and ends.
Details like this really scream the idea that this is not an article on scratchbuilding this model; it is an article on building their kit. It was three rail and assumed outside third rail operation. Note the following.
The Collector is made in the same manner as the locomotive collector.

The Collector is insulated by a fibre strip, which is bolted to the underframe by the 2-56 screws previously mentioned. The bolt which holds the collector to the fibre strip also serves to hold the water scoop.
The prints also provided templates. Note:
If the templates are used, there will be no difficulty encountered in cutting and shaping the sheet brass. This brass is the same gauge as was used to make the cab, etc. If the body is carefully fitted together, it will just fit on the underbody.
Mention is also made in the text of a “train control box.” This was a manual reverser that was located in the tender. On this they explain that
The Reverse switch can be of any conventional type. We recommend the drum type, with a vertical control handle. (This will project slightly above the “coal”). Briefly this reverse switch is the equivalent of a double pole double throw knife switch, which changes the relationship of the armature leads to the field lead and the ground.
Also in the electrical category we also learn what voltage they intended their model to operate at. “It is recommended that a track voltage of 24 volts be employed, because some of the locomotives will be six volts, some ten volts and others fifteen.”

Finally, after touching on painting we learn what they recommended for coal back in 1931.
The “Coal” is the well known roofing slate, painted black. A hole is cut so as to allow the reverse control handle to project thru it.
So there we have it, our 4-6-4 is done! Their ad in the December 1931 issue indicates that the final section, section 7, was ready for this model which again I think must have been produced but in no great quantity. There is only one more part in our series of articles on this important early series on OO gauge, and when we return it will be on the topic of freight cars.

Continue in 1931-32 series
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