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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

OO in The Modelmaker, 1925-30. Part III: OO that is not really OO, 1928-29

As noted in the previous segment of this article, scale and gauge nomenclature was not clear or settled in the early years of our hobby, and there were not many products out yet either. 1928-29 is an interesting case study in this. In January of 1928 there is for example an item on rail.
Mr. C. Holt writes that he has had an active demand for his brass rail, which he has in three sizes suitable for gauges from “OO” to 3 ¼”. We have seen samples of this rail, and can recommend it as first class.
The Modelmaker tended to plug their advertisers and Holt was one. Curiously, though, in his ad in the very next issue there is no mention of OO rail, just O and ½ inch scale rail.

In the March issue a reader wrote in expressing an interest “in model locomotives for small gauges” looking specifically for “scale drawings of an ‘OO’ steam locomotive, American Type.” Later in that same issue we hear again from F. D. Grimke. It is in a report on the February, 1928 meeting of the New York Society of Model Engineers, where were learn that he had “exhibited some ‘OO’ commercial clockwork and electric locomotives and cars which he had repainted.” Finally, at the end of this issue is an ad for the American Model Railway Company of E. P. Alexander that includes two items of interest: “Two OO gauge prints: P. R. R. P54 coach and 70-P tender” each of which sold for 35 cents. These should be HO scale based on what we learned of his early models in part II of this series.

In terms of OO the rest of 1928 is pretty slow. We do see one item in the August issue, brief, from a person in Peoria interested in OO and O gauges model railroads.

Things pick up again in January of 1929 with this ad from E. P. Alexander/American Model Railway Company. It seems that they have a special shipment of OO gauge but it is clearly 5/8” gauge and also clearly of British manufacture. An expert in early British HO/OO could probably guess pretty closely what it is, but suffice to say for our purposes these models are not American OO gauge.

In the March issue we read of the annual show of the New York Society of Model Engineers. This time around Grimke displayed a number of 1/8” scale models including a passenger coach, a G. W. R. dining car, and a 1/8” scale switch. So at that point he was working in a smaller scale than American OO. But he was also working on things other than trains, and this photo shows Grimke at the far left with his power boat in July of 1929.

To conclude the year, in the December issue E. P. Alexander also advertised “Many OO Gauge items” in his full page advertisement for American Model Railways. Again, these I would think to be probably British HO/OO 5/8” gauge.

It would not be until 1930 that we see specific mention of American OO 4mm scale, which will be the final topic of this series.

Continue in 1925-30 series

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