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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lionel OO Gauge: A Cover Story in Classic Toy Trains

I recently noted that there had been a forum discussion wondering what year American OO was featured in Classic Toy Trains. Lionel OO gauge was the cover story of their September, 1993 issue, seen here.

It is a great introductory article with great photos in particular of most everything Lionel made. To cut right to the chase, if you are interested in Lionel OO you need this article and back issues of CTT are not particularly hard to purchase. There are probably little things that could be revised, but on the whole again the text is pretty solid (author John A. Grams makes reference to the two part TCA Quarterly series which I wrote with the late Ed Morlok that was published in their October, 1986 and April, 1987 issues, so he did his homework) and it put out the topic of American OO to a broader audience. And did I mention the great photos? It is a must have article for photos of great examples of Lionel OO. For more information on the Lionel OO line see also this article.

It would be wonderful to see American OO featured as a cover story again. The other recent cover story on OO (recent being a relative term) was “The OO Scale Saint Anne” which was featured in the May, 1979 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, a cover story that I wrote about in this article. For me personally this was a very influential article, saying to me that I could make a go at model railroading in this scale. And here I am today.

As to this specific article, regular readers of American OO Today might note one flaw, the idea that it was "too little, too early." Nason had American OO in production by 1934 and Scale Craft was offering American OO gauge train sets in 1937, so in respects Lionel was not too early, they were playing catch up. They clearly wanted in on the scale  model market and thought OO the better bet than HO.

Not so many people are getting into OO these days and a part of it for sure is limited contact with the scale. At the most recent TCA meet that I could get to, the biggest annual one in Arizona, I only saw one American OO item, a lone, orphan Lionel tender. Only a well-read collector would even know what it was if they happened to notice it on the table priced at $65. I love though this short video on YouTube from the Milwaukee Trainfest in 2008 of a 1938 Lionel set in action, it gets the word out in a very real way. I have had ideas toward book drafts and have also several possible CTT or TCA type articles in mind, and I would encourage readers out there to think big too, like in the Milwaukee video. Of course I am biased; I got bit by the OO bug years ago and think it is great stuff, but it is up to all of us to keep spreading the word.


Phil said...

The OO layout was at Trainfest in Milwaukee again this year. Trainfest took place a couple of weeks ago.

John Ericson said...

Great that he is still getting the OO out an running on display, it is very important for people to actually see models in our scale.