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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Nason Hudson Kit

I was able to recently obtain most of a set of castings for a Nason Hudson. For a long while I only had a few parts of this classic OO model, introduced in 1936 (two years before the Lionel Hudson) and produced until WWII.

It has been very interesting to hold this vintage set of sand-cast bronze castings in my hands. On one hand, they really are art! But on the other hand you would have to be a serious home machinist to build this model then or now from these castings.

What I appear to have is, to use the terminology of the 1939 catalog, is casting kit “A” for the locomotive and also section 6 of the full “eazy-to-build” version which is the tender. Starting with the locomotive,
This kit contains all castings (58) as listed for building the Hudson locomotive. No machine work has been done. A lathe is required to machine the drive and trailing wheels. Detailed drawings and construction notes are included…. $18.00
I have 30 of the 58 parts mentioned above but the only significant parts missing are the drivers and the pilot. Many of the parts are marked with 200 series numbers (I have parts with 300 series numbers in my collection as well; these are for the 2-8-0). Under the heading “Specifications” we learn among other things that the locomotive weighs approximately 2 ½ pounds and other highlights including:
BOILER – One-piece cast bronze with all details including running boards, stack, steam and sand domes, feedwater heater, air tanks and turret. The bronze casting facilitates soldering.
CAB – Bronze, cast in five pieces in order to get maximum detail.
MAIN ENGINE FRAME – Two-piece bronze casting. This type of casting together with the 3/16” steel axles insure excellent bearings.
Check out this close up of the trailing truck wheelsets. There is no way I am ever going to try to make those into working wheelsets! At least not before I own a serious lathe and have lots of time on my hands to learn how to use it well.

The tender is a nearly complete set of parts for
SECTION 6 – This section completes the locomotive. All the material to build the tender. Tank and frame as fine castings as you ever have seen. Tender steps, ladders, water scoop, air-brake cylinder, and material for coal. Parts to assemble fully equalized, six wheel tender trucks (no dummies) and paint for the entire locomotive…. $7.00
Elsewhere we read of these parts,
TENDER TANK – Cast bronze in one-piece with exception of front deck which is a separate casting.
TENDER FRAME – Cast bronze with excellent detail.
As I noted in the earlier post on this model,
Hugh Nason and his partners must have been very unhappy when Lionel copied them with their die cast Hudson in 1938. It was introduced as three-rail but was produced in two-rail as well. Pricing depended on when and how you purchased the kit. In the final Nason catalog (1940) a kit that contained only the 58 rough castings of the locomotive would set you back $18, while a complete, machined kit for the locomotive ran $34 for three rail and $38 for two rail. It was also available in sections, with the tender being section 6 that sold for $7. In short a complete kit for the locomotive in a form I would feel comfortable trying to assemble ran something over $40. And the most deluxe OO gauge outfit Lionel sold with a 4-6-4, four cars, and track listed for $42.25 in 1940. The math was not good for Nason.
For sure I think this is a model that the serious Lionel OO collector should own, along with the Nason sand cast boxcar and the Scale-Craft cars that are of the same type but predate the Lionel OO versions (tank/hopper/caboose). It really puts a face on the models Lionel must have looked at in putting together their die cast OO outfit in 1938.

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