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

Friday, September 10, 2010

The first American OO tank car

Lightning quiz--what manufacturer made the first OO gauge tank car? Lionel? No, theirs came out in 1938. Scale-Craft? No, it was not advertised until late 1937. The correct answer is Limco, The Long Island Scale Model Co.

1937 was a really big year for American OO. I have recently been reading through the year in Model Craftsman and Model Railroader and it has really put some things in perspective which I will be writing more about in future articles. Such as even though really early on OO had more press than HO (for example the Grimke series in 1931-32) by the time 1934 ended HO was probably already leading the market for small trains. But that did not mean there were not some people that had been bitten hard by the OO bug, especially in the area of New York City, and by 1937 several makers besides Nason were trying to reach this market, in particular Star-Continental with their new 4-4-2 model and Limco.

This advertisement appeared in the March, 1937 issue of Model Craftsman and is the largest of several different ads that Limco ran featuring this model. It is a car that should stand out in a collection today and certainly a few must have been sold. From the description here we can tell it had a die cast frame, dome, and ends that combined with a tank of brass with embossed rivet details, and it also included die cast trucks. "Easily assembled in a few hours. The Only tank car in OO Gauge."

A curiosity I have is with the die cast parts what needed drilling and machining?  The drilled and machined kit sold for $4.60 and the casting kit sold for $2.75. Not cheap when you consider that Nason  freight cars sold for only $1.00. But again, it was the only tank car model on the market in March of 1937.

Jumping ahead to the July issue, their smaller advertisement there proudly states that "Our New AAR TANK CARS are going fast. Have you ordered yours?" Limco also in this ad pushed their $4.95 die cast coach kit (which was a variation on the MP54 kit featured in this prior article--also see here to see the sides) and their Western Fruit Express reefer body kit which sold for $1.00 less trucks.

The last Limco ad I see in 1937 is in the September issue of Model Craftsman and so far as I can tell they never advertised in Model Railroader at all. November 1937 saw the introduction of the Scale-Craft OO line and it is possible Limco was already out of business. If they were not yet out of business, they would be soon as the Scale-Craft coach and tank car kits were certainly of a much higher level of quality and priced better.

Again, it should be pretty easy to spot one of these Limco tank cars if you have one. I would love to follow this article up with a photo of a built up model.

UPDATE: See this article for a photo.

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