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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

OO in The Modelmaker, 1925-30. Part I: The First Mention of OO

When I started writing what has turned into a fairly substantial series of articles on OO by the years I began actually not with a big series in mind but really just a look at the OO series by F. D. Grimke that was published in The Modelmaker in 1931-32. But OO was in fact seen in the United States before 1931, and this new series on OO in The Modelmaker between 1925 and 1930 takes us back to the very roots of OO and HO the United States, a story that it will be seen to be is as much about early HO as much as it is about OO.

The Modelmaker began publication in January of 1924 and was aimed at “those interested in making working models.” Initially bi-monthly, it was not until the May, 1924 issue that I see anything on model railroading. In the Foreword to that issue you can tell they must have been getting some inquiries on the topic, including this item from Grimke. The editors were very familiar with him as he had a series of articles in the first three issues of the magazine on building this ½ H.P. marine steam engine.
Mr. F. D. Grimke has shown some samples of a very ingenious rail chair he has designed. Its application is very simple yet effective. The cost for the steel dies is considerable so before putting this work in hand he would like to hear from prospective customers. Address him c/o THE MODELMAKER.
No gauge or scale is specified, they are likely not OO rail chairs, but it shows even back then he was interested in more than building marine engines for power boats from scratch. This photo of the Grimke marine engine is from the cover of the March, 1924 issue.

In any event, after that issue the hobby of model railroading was featured regularly in The Modelmaker but OO would not show up mentioned in print until December of 1925, in the form of a review of the contents of the November, 1925 issue of Model Railway News, a British publication. It is a one sentence item, which must have been the title of an article: “A Reversing Clockwork Locomotive Gauge ‘OO’ Scale 4 mm.” The following issues in 1926 have similar mentions of British OO articles.

And thus it began. When we return to this series we will look at the first American prototype “OO” (HO) models to be featured in articles in The Modelmaker, built by E. P. Alexander.

Continue to Part II.

No comments: