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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1934, A Tale of Two Bound Volumes, part 4: Bad Times for The Modelmaker, and a “00-Gauge” Refrigerator.

Economic times were down and a sign of those was that The Modelmaker temporarily suspended publication after their July/August issue, not to return until November. So for this installment we turn to The Model Railroader and also The Model Craftsman.

After the OO coverage earlier in 1934 in The Model Railroader things slowed down a bit. One item that caught my eye was in the September issue, on the New York Society of Model Engineers. They met every Tuesday evening in the Knickerbocker Building in New York City, and in addition to a large ¼” scale layout they also had an OO layout. This is the first mention of this layout and as things lead up to the big product releases of 1937/38 having this OO layout in this prominent location by 1934 can’t be overlooked as a reason why Lionel in particular went into OO instead of HO.

Turning to The Model Craftsman, I only own three issues from the year. In the October issue they had an interesting article by William D. Hillary on “An 00-Gauge Refrigerator Car.”

Before looking at the article itself, I need to digress a bit. The title of this 1934 article has OO as 00, zero-zero in other words. In The Modelmaker and The Model Railroader they were pretty consistent that it always be OO gauge as in letters instead of numbers. I personally obviously am pretty comfortable calling it OO in print and advocate that use today, but actually "a large train collecting organization" in the United States consistently calls it 00 in their publications when the topic comes up. I am really not looking to pick a fight but it is a topic that someone back in TCA history must have been pretty wound up about. 00 was/is used commonly in Europe but it goes against the grain of almost everything published on the scale in the United States during the period it was most popular. I suspect that it was probably mostly a visual thing for American readers that OO won out over 00. In any event, for me when I do see a reference to 00 it does stand out a bit.

Hillary in the article tells how to scratchbuild a refrigerator car. “The method to be described demands a certain amount of care with regard to accuracy, as this gauge is too small for much leeway in this matter.” After this full size scale drawing (above) he goes into the practical aspects of building the car from wood and Bristol board, building an underbody of wood, scribing the sides by hand, etc. The last sentence has me interested to see the next issue, which I don’t own, “The construction of the trucks will be taken up next month.”

UPDATE: I own it now! More here.

When we return to this series on 1934 it will be to finish up what was a good year for American OO.

Continue in 1934 series.

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