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

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eastern OO Gondola Sides

This summer has been one where I got a lot of projects underway (but not as many done as I would have liked) and purchased a couple random finds via eBay, which is where I purchased most of this complete set of Eastern OO gondola sides.

This is the set. I have not yet had the chance to work further on the partially completed gondolas in this post but this is the full run of sides; B&O, C of G, Erie, PRR, Rock Island, and T&P. Click on the photo for a better view. I particularly like the Rock Island and T&P sides as they fit in more with the theme of my layout, they will be built up into cars.

The end of the summer has been busy for me. Early on I did get the OO SIG Inventory in better shape and my own storage/organization systems worked out a lot better and I got a number of new projects underway which then stalled for a variety of reasons. As more are completed I will have them up in the blog, hopefully at some point in the not too distant future including a couple cars with these nice sides.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Many Collect and Operate Model Trains in American OO Today?

I was recently asked “How many people model American OO scale?” and it is a good question.

Short answer: not that many. There are only a few actual operating layouts, I think mine may be the only one west of the Mississippi. In terms of eBay buyers and OO SIG members the number is probably less than 100 but there are a number of others that come at American OO as an extension of a pre-war Lionel collection and those I could not estimate. There are currently 70 members of the OO Yahoo discussion group and any given day this website has around 25 unique visitors, so there is some interest out there.

The low stats however are not a reason to not enjoy working in American OO! I certainly find it a great, classic scale that has a lot to offer. If there are specific things you wonder as readers contact me and I will try to address them, and I have a series of posts in development relating to the early years of American OO, be watching for those as we get toward the fall.

[The Scale-Craft hopper in the photo is from one of the great OO layouts, the Norfolk and Ohio of Carl Appel. More on this model here.]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

“OO” Railway Notes: F. D. Grimke and his Series on OO Gauge, 1931-32. Part II: The Wheel Problem

Turning from the topic of track as covered in part I of this series, in May of 1931 F. D. Grimke wrote,
And now the most important problem to solve in the majority of model railway problems is the Wheel Problem.

It was discovered that there were not suitable wheels on the market. The ones that one can pick up in England are not suitable to conditions on this side of the ocean. It is true that one can obtain both driving and car wheels, but more often than not they cannot be used. Therefore it was necessary to manufacture them.
Following this Grimke outlines the sizes most needed, three sizes of drivers 79” (23.5mm), 63” (20mm) and 56” (18mm) and also 36” (12mm) and 33” (10mm) wheels for trucks (that last metric number catching my eye as a misprint, 11mm would have been correct). The drawings by Thuillgrim Models that were published with the article in the May, 1931 issue of The Modelmaker are these, which show wheel and flange standards and also axles (click on the scan for a bigger view). On making axles and wheels he wrote,
The Axles are made from 3/16” and 1/8” Drill Rod with 1/8” and 1/16” shoulders respectively….

The 12mm and 10mm dia. wheels are turned from round brass bar stock, and if the usual methods are followed, there should be no unusual difficulties. These wheels should be oxidized by sulphur. This will turn the color to that of tempered steel, and incidentally will give a better factor of cohesion between the wheels and the rail.
In short, to build 4mm scale models in 1931 you would have needed to have been enough of a machinist to make your own wheels following the plans in this issue.

On the inside back cover of this issue is an advertisement by Thuillgrim Models which lists as available seven different standards sheets. The scan in this post would seem to be the A7 sheet and these were also referenced in part I. Priced at 25 or 50 cents each, the full list was:

A1 Single Track Standards
A2 Double Track Standards
A3 Track Standards
A4 Frog Standards (see part I)
A5 Crossover and Switch Stanadards
A7 Wheel and Axle Tolerances
A8 Wheel Standards

When we return to this series we will get down to the business of building a locomotive.

Continue in 1931-32 series

Monday, July 12, 2010

“OO” Railway Notes: F. D. Grimke and his Series on OO Gauge, 1931-32. Part I: OO, HO, and Track

One problem in looking at the early history of American OO is that the extremely useful Model Train Magazine Index starts in 1933 (Model Craftsman dates to 1933 and Model Railroader to 1934) but OO and model railroading as a hobby was around before that. I had seen references to but had not until this summer been able to read a series on OO gauge that was published in The Modelmaker in 1931-32. This series of articles was by the single person most responsible for the development of American OO (4mm scale, ¾ inch gauge), Frederic Drayton Grimke.

The very first article in the first issue of The Modelmaker in January, 1924 was “The Construction of Model Marine Steam Engines” and it was part I of a series by Grimke. He was a frequent contributor in early issues and was also an early officer and later Chairman of the New York Society of Model Engineers, which was organized in 1926 and still exists today (check their website! More on them another day). Grimke was well versed as a machinist and worked with speed boats and model trains. A letter to the editor from Grimke that was published in the September, 1929 issue reveals some of his professional background: “For over six years I have worked in the electrical engineering department of a public utility corporation, and every day of that time, I have handled blueprints and drawings. It has been proven that a person cannot check his own drawings.” His interest in accuracy of scale drawings is evident in his articles, and in this series I will be featuring his drawings as published with the original articles.

While much could be said about Grimke and Thuillgrim, the first OO manufacturer (active from 1930-32), the specific topic I want to focus in on is the series of articles on OO published under the title “'OO' Railway Notes.” Grimke and his firm Thuillgrim had been given a big boost as they were the cover story of the March, 1931 issue, as related in this prior post. The series as it plays out reveals that he really was on the very cutting edge of the curve that created and defined American OO and HO scale as constructed in the United States.

The first article in the series is in the April, 1931 issue and is largely on the topic of trackwork. A first important note that would not be obvious if you had not been looking for it is that to this point in the run of issues of The Modelmaker there had not been a single reference to HO scale. In this publication to this date whenever any scale smaller than O was mentioned it was always called OO, but some of the early references to OO models are certainly of models we would call HO models today. It seems to have been their editorial policy. Grimke was very aware of this and sets out to clarify the matter right from his opening paragraph and lays out his process for choosing OO.
Gauges smaller than the Quarter Inch or Seven Millimeter Scale have been built and successfully operated. The two principal smaller gauges are the 5/8” and the ¾”. The Scales are 3.5 and 4.0 mm. respectively. They are known as the “HO” and “OO.”…

Before the 4.0 mm Scale was adapted, plans, side elevations, and cross-sections of locomotives were drawn to the following scales: 1/8”, 3.5mm, 4mm, 3/32” and 3/16”. The drawings were superimposed on each other. The 1/8” and 3/32” were discarded as being too small. The 3/16” was discarded on account of the slight difference from the ¼”. That left the 3.5 and 4.0 Scales. Which of the two?

In England, the question is still open for debate, and there are arguments both for and against each Scale. Looking at the question from a practical point of view, there is much to be said in favor of the 4.0mm Scale. There is the difference of 0.5mm to every foot. Thus a much larger locomotive, both in Length, Height and Width, can be designed. There is a difference of 3mm in the track gauge. The “HO” is 16mm Track Gauge. The “OO” is 19mm Track Gauge. The actual difference between 19mm and ¾” is only 0.00197”. And so equipment will operate as equally well over a 19mm or a ¾” Gauge Track.
Grimke then turns to some specifics on track, suggesting a mainline curve radius of three feet and a minimum of two feet. There were no existing standards, and in his drawing with the article he defines standards for switch frogs. He suggests the use of cast frogs rather than building them up each time. Presumably these were to be produced by Thuillgrim, but they are not specifically mentioned in any advertisement although they did sell brass rail. Note that the smallest is #6.

The next segment of the article in the May issue has a couple more notes on track, as some information we might find interesting today had obviously been cut from the previous issue.
The Author regrets that the Editor was not able to use the various Standards Sheets, kindly supplied by Thuillgrim Models, to illustrate these notes.

They were standards for single and double track, crossover, wheel and axle standards.
He explains also that all the standards developed are metric for simplicity. As operation will be by outside third rail the May issue does have a few notes additionally about third rail supports.
The Supports as designed were not successful, and #3 R. H. Brass Wood Screws ½” long were substituted. The only alteration needed is to widen but not deepen the slot, so that the Third Rail just fits in without having to force it in. After the Third Rail is in place, it should be sweated to the screw.
When we continue the series will turn to the very important topic of wheels.

Continue in 1931-32 series

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Mantua Midjet Motor

I have recently been reading through The Modelmaker from Volume 1 Number 1 (1924). One item that caught my eye a couple days ago was the original advertisement for the Mantua “Midjet Motor.” Partially it stood out just because it was for something different than I had seen much of to that point (the big advertisers in The Modelmaker early on were lathe manufacturers) but it also looked very much like the motor in this early model by Temple Nieter (which in part one of the same article he states is Mantua). Doing a quick Google search I found an article on in the Railstop.com site on Mantua, which is an upgraded version of an article by Russ Larson that appeared in the November, 1984 issue of Model Railroader. The whole article is worth reading but this part quoted below is especially important to us in OO.
The Mantua story began in 1926 in Mantua. (pronounced Man-chew-ah), New Jersey, Two friends, James P. Thomas and John N. Tyler, formed a partnership with the purpose of manufacturing wood and metal sailboats. John, an electrician, had recently emigrated from England. In 1927 the partners made a 3-foot model of a cabin cruiser they owned. The unique aspect of this model was the small electric motor that powered the boat. Fellow boat owners admired the electrically powered model and encouraged them to build more boats to sell. With all this encouragement, the partners decided to produce the battery-powered boat in quantity.

The model boat proved to be popular but as the orders for the boats increased finding enough good quality motors became a big problem. To solve this problem the partners decided to design their own motor. The result was a dandy - being both rugged and inexpensive to build….

John Tyler had been interested in model railroading since his boyhood in England where the hobby developed much earlier than in the US. Mantua's motor development soon led to a motor small enough for use in 00 scale locomotives. John was aware of the growing interest in 00 and HO scales in England and the US so he placed a small ad for his motor, dubbed the "Midget Motor," in the March 1930 issue of The Modelmaker magazine. The number of orders received was a pleasant surprise so they continued to run the ad.

The Midget motor measured only 1 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 1 5/16 inches. Soon a second small motor was added to the line. - The Midget Senior. It was more powerful and only 1/4 inch longer. In a June 1931 article on building a OO scale locomotive appeared in The Modelmaker magazine. In the article, F. D. Grimke wrote, "The only motor worth considering is the one manufactured by Mantua Toy Co. Either the Midget or Midget Senior can be used."

In 1932, a friend from England showed John Tyler a British-made HO locomotive. He informed John that British model railroaders were going crazy over these small-scale model trains. However, there was a problem. The current motors were only powerful enough to haul short trains. This must have started John thinking as he immediately began experimenting with a motor for HO scale engines. It would be some time before an actual product was announced

Sales of Midget motors to the OO scale model railroad market continued to grow and Tyler and Thomas directed more effort towards products for this market. In 1933, Increased business prompted a move from the town of Mantua to a new, small shop the partners built in Woodbury Heights. By 1935, when Mantua's first ad appeared in Model Railroader, they had an additional line new line of motors for 0, and larger scale locomotives called "Right of Way."
The article also notes that the Mantua Midjet [the correct spelling!] Motor was “the universal type with a field winding that could be operated from either AC or DC.”

This motor clearly was the right motor at the right time to spur the development of American OO as basically it was the size that you could put it inside the superstructure of a 4mm scale American prototype locomotive but too large to power a 3.5mm scale American prototype locomotive. The available motor dictated the scale and gauge. Only later, when smaller motors come on the market, did 3.5mm (HO) scale models become practical.

Just because it fit did not mean it worked well for OO—those early models were quite heavy and I believe would have stressed this early motor design. I quote Red Adams on his struggles a couple years later in this article; he says that he did not find a really good OO motor until 1937.

Note also the mention and quote in the Larson article of F. D. Grimke. He has been called the father of American OO, and he figures very prominently in the pages of The Modelmaker right from Volume I Number I. The quote is from an article in a very interesting series on OO in 1931 on page 109 and was actually shortened in editing. The full quote is
The only motor worth considering, and one that can be easily adaptable, is the one manufactured by the Mantua Toy Co. The Senior or Midget can be used. For this type of locomotive [a NYC Hudson] the Senior motor is recommended. It will not be worth the trouble to adapt the motors of foreign manufacture.
I plan to come back to Grimke and his 1931 series on OO in a follow-up post soon.

UPDATE: I got to it right away. The first post is here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Scale-Craft 0-6-0

Back a few posts ago I noted that in advertising in December of 1941 Scale-Craft was pushing their new 0-6-0 model. These are uncommon, I have not seen many of these for sale, but I hesitate to say they are rare as they were in production for a good while before and after the war.

As to the prototype, they are based on a chunky, modern design made for the Chicago, West Pullman, and Southern by Baldwin in 1938. It makes some sense the design would have caught the attention of Scale-Craft as it is a local prototype and also the boiler diameter is large which allows easy application of one of their standard motors.

This model I have had for some years and occasionally get it out to ponder my options, which is why it is in pieces. The body is brass and it is difficult to mistake this for any other model. It was shipped with a standard S-C tender and compared to prototype photo in the Train Shed Cyclopedia No. 22 the locomotive is a pretty good representation of the original prototype, the cab however being somewhat elongated (to accommodate the motor).

I would love to get this model running someday and would prefer to use a standard DC motor. Which is the main problem; it is pretty much designed around that big motor and the standard S-C transmission. My model appears to be an early example as at some point S-C did a redesign of the model after the war. In the last catalog it specifically says “power is supplied by a Pittman per-mag motor through a worm gear.” That sounds good to me!

As implied above there have to be a couple variations of this model out there. One other difference I have noted is that in the Round Lake catalog it states that the model has boxpok drivers but mine above does not.

Organizing some paperwork a few days ago I noted that I had printed out an eBay listing of what was stated to be the factory pre-production prototype model. The listing closed in January of 2002 and I don’t know if it sold but the starting price was $575.

All in all this is a Classic and uncommon model to keep your eyes peeled for.

UPDATE: And this model is running again. See this article for more notes on the rebuilding.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More on the Moale Trolleys

Back in January I posted on the Moale trolleys, and how a photo was to be found in the February, 1956 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. The description of the photo there was
Cmdr. Edward S. Moale, U.S.N., Ret., started building his collection of OO gauge street car models in 1936. Today he has 62, all scratch built using blue prints he picked up in various cities in which he was stationed. The Moale layout has 5 scale miles of track, most of it trolley wire; some 3rd rail track for his SIRT and BMT cars. The careful visitor will notice a few discrepancies, such as running PRT and Panama cars on standard gauge track. The Cmdr. now lives in Washington, D.C.
With the OO SIG inventory were a group of photos of the Moale layout or layouts. I am fairly sure they actually show two different layouts but are both Moale. It is a puzzle to piece together but in particular this photo caught my attention as it is not only one of the sharpest but also it is of the same pose as the photo published in RMC in 1956 but with different trolley cars on the curved track and with more of the layout visible. From the mounting this photo was printed in 1958 but was certainly taken in the same photo shoot.

Click on the photo for a closer view of the details, details that are even clearer in the original print. Let’s start at the front. There are three tracks before you get to the trolley. The first one is probably tru-scale and the second and third are Mantua. All have had a center third rail added made from heavy gauge wire soldered onto screw heads.

The track with the first trolley is to the left side tru-scale and to the right I think hand laid. Note the overhead wire was over the two tracks with Mantua track but there is no wire over this track. Also note the trucks over to the right. I can’t determine the maker.

Next we have two trolleys on the curve, the one on the left lettered for the Newport News and Old Point and the one on the right lettered for Milwaukee Electric Lines. Then we are to the town. I don’t know enough about vintage buildings but the houses look like factory items. The hotel is the Tuscawilla Hotel.

Way in the back is a yard full of passenger and freight cars and an industry, “The Cone and Ball Company.” Can’t make out too many details but the overhead is in place back there.

After the Morlok auction I was able to purchase one of the Moale trolley cars on eBay. I picked out this one as it is for Kansas City Railways (car no. 1123) and if I build a bigger layout someday I would like to build something like a terminal on the edge of Kansas City.

The car was a bit damaged when it arrived. The current state though allows a view into how it was made. It is all wood and is wired to operate from the overhead wire. Also if you look closely the trucks are by Red Ball, so they are actually HO traction trucks modified for OO. The paint job is a bit heavy but typical of the day. It has some interior details on the end that does not have the motor, including a motorman figure.

The sad thing is the motor is missing one brush so I don’t think I will ever get this model operational again. For the time being my plan is just to stabilize it and get it back together. I am sure the Commander enjoyed his trains, and it is to be hoped that some of them will roll again someday.

UPDATE: Continue reading here for Part III on the Moale trolley and interurban models, with views of his layout in color. Also, the car above is back together. I was able, amazingly, to find a new brush holder and brush to fit the motor in the parts supply, so the car is complete. However, it is also three-rail (it ran off a live overhead) so I have not worked on it further to set it up for operation, it is just a great shelf model for now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Full Trains of Passenger Cars and Yet More on Zuhr

OO gauge enthusiast and early manufacturer H. L. “Red” Adams, in an article on building passenger cars in the December, 1940 issue of Model Craftsman, noted
I have always like passenger cars and trains better than freight, switch drags, or work trains. I don’t mean this just as pertaining to my individual preference in travel, but rather to the matter of watching these trains, and of course specifically in building scale models of them.
Later in the article he also notes that
First of all it would be advisable to decide what passenger cars you eventually intend to have on your railroad. Rather than build a number of cars at random, I believe making a complete train at a time will prove better….

A good train consisting of various different type cars would be a baggage-mail, a combination, a coach, a diner, a Pullman sleeper, and an observation, either open platform, or solarium type. Some of you of course will want one of the popular all-coach trains, others all-Pullman extra fare jobs,--make ‘em to suit yourself. That’s the nice thing about our hobby, you choose your own gauge, your own prototypes; it’s your labor and your money, and your enjoyment. Don’t let somebody else tell you what type of equipment to build or what gauge to build it in.
As mentioned previously, this summer I am working on two groups of passenger cars. One group is mostly pre-war Nason heavyweights, and the other is mostly Zuhr streamliners.

Below are two of the cars, both recent eBay purchases. One is an RPO body, and the other their combination Pullman.

I had the model numbers of the various Zuhr cars as are listed in this prior post but I was not sure from descriptions what the long car was just from looking at. In my files however I found something from Donald Fraley that completely cleared up the question. Yes, that Donald Fraley that wrote the big book on Lionel. He was looking for more information on Zuhr and in 1999 sent me a nice note and Xerox copies of the sides of every model type Zuhr produced. Basically he set them on a Xerox machine and shot them in groups. In total there are four 11” cars (the 001 coach, the 005 baggage-coach combine, the 006 U.S. Mail and the 008 baggage) and four 13” cars (the 002 diner, the 003 18 roomette Pullman, the 004 combination Pullman, and the 007 observation). I don’t think I had much to add to what he wrote about in 1999 but I am glad to still have his information on file.

As to building the cars up, the Pullman was built up and really can’t be taken apart easily so I will leave it as it is but have replaced the crazy original trucks it came on (Varney F-3 trucks!) with Schorr trucks. The RPO I will have to work up a floor and doors for which won’t be that hard. I have end plates. I am debating a color scheme for the Orient and also to remove the bottom skirt off the RPO or not. Pierre did this on his and it is not only a nice look but it is also easier to build up the car with a removable floor. But then you do need correct underbody details. I will probably follow the lead of Pierre and go for a representation only of the correct details but I may try HO parts such as these.

Speaking of that Pierre car, a few months ago I featured it, a very nice Canadian RPO. It must be part of a longer train; if anyone out there has the matching set of cars for this model, let me know, I would like that model to be part of a full train again instead of an orphan.

UPDATE: My completed Zuhr OO train is here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Four Custom OO Locomotives by Jerry White

In a recently purchased magazine I noted a spread on p. 43 of the August, 1956 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman on a group of five locomotives build for Major C. B. McCoid by Superior Models/Jerry White. They caught my attention not only as they are OO but I was sent photos of four of these a few years ago from when they were on auction at the New England Toy Train Exchange in 2006. The locomotives are all New Haven prototype and custom built; 4-6-2, 2-8-2, 2-10-2, 4-8-2, and 0-8-0. The write up in RMC notes
The five New Haven locomotives at right, built for Major C. B. McCoid, U. S. A., by Jerry White of Superior Models, are all custom built. Built in OO gauge to a scale of 4mm. to the foot, they are all fully sprung and have all drivers flanged, even the 2-10-2. Major McCoid is unable to build a layout at present; runs over the trackwork of other OOers wherever he may happen to be stationed; Coronado, California, at present.
As to the models, enjoy the original write-ups below with the models as they appeared in 2006. Click on the photos for a better view. Note the custom carrying cases.

New Haven 4-6-4 No. 1353, with one of the most beautiful Vanderbilt type tenders we’ve ever seen on a model. The loco is DC-71A powered with a 35:1 gear ratio; hits a scale speed of about 80 miles per hour. Engine hauls ten metal coaches over hills and around curves with ease.

New Haven No. 3000, a hefty Mikado, handles thirty cars on level track at top speed of about sixty scale miles per hour. Engine is DC-71A powered with a 30:1 gear ratio. Detailing on this hog is excellent.

New Haven 2-10-2 No. 3217, an engine that saw plenty of pusher service before being edged out by diesels. Model does a top speed of 45 MPH; can handle about 50 cars at about 40 MPH over grade, thanks to small drivers; 30:1 gear ratio, and powerful Pittman DC-90.

New Haven No 3553, a 4-8-2, has a full working 3-cylinder valve gear; hauls thirty-five freights at a scale mile-a-minute over grades and curves. Motor is a DC-71A, geared 35:1. Detail is truly outstanding.

For a biography of Jerry White read this post.

UPDATE: A reader pointed me to a great four page article on Jerry White in the September, 1954 issue of Model Railroader. According to the prices given in the article the above models were built for roughly $300-400 each and
Usually, the only commercial parts Jerry uses are motors, couplers, light bulbs, and a few types of trucks. Jerry cuts his own worms from steel, his gears from Vulcoid, a composition material similar to Formica. He has made patterns for many of the driver types he uses. Jerry is now tooling up for lost-wax processing of certain parts.
At the end of the article he is quoted "I will probably never be able to drive a Cadillac on what I make here, but I am doing what I like best to do and that's what really counts."

Monday, July 5, 2010

OO Variety in 1941, Part VIII: Several OO Dilemmas

To close this series on American OO in 1941 first we turn to the June issue of Model Railroader for poll results.  Overall OO is holding up over the past three years but HO has a lot more people active in the gauge. In short for the years 1939, 40, and 40 OO had 16.9, 13.6, and 14.8% of the results and HO had 39.3, 46.3, and 45.6% of the results. Also we learn that in OO “Two-rail is practically universal,” confirming again that Lionel made a poor initial choice in making their line three rail.

Next up in our survey is the December issue of Model Railroader. It presents a view of the problems OO was having commercially at the time.

On page 656 OO is mentioned in a brief piece titled “Dilemma.”
For years our editorial department has been between the horns of a dilemma. Is OO pronounced oh oh, or double O. You see, it makes a lot of difference, for if it’s pronounced oh oh we must say an oh oh system, but if it’s pronounced double O we must say a double O system. We’ve picked double O and made a double O our standard usage. For the first time this month a reader has called us on it. Interesting thing, grammar!
More importantly, two full columns of Trade Topics were devoted to a rundown of what was at the time available in OO. The article “OO Gauge Review” opens,
A number of our readers are under the impression that a OO gauge model railroad has a lot of advantages but that not much in the way of variety in the way of equipment is available from the manufacturers. So they hesitate to buy! Frequent requests as to where various supplies can be obtained have prompted us to publish this general review of the OO gauge model railroad supply situation.
Before going into the list, the question has some merit as really, you scan over almost any issue of Model Railroader in this era and certainly you have the impression that O and HO are where the action is at. And if you get into the specifics of the biggest OO lines they offered too many models that are essentially the same model made a little different which speaks to a lack of variety and a lot of those models were pretty expensive in relation to the HO of the day which did not help.

As to the manufactures they review in the article, all should be familiar to those who follow American OO Today. In order Trade Topics mentions Scale-Craft, Lionel, Nason, Graceline, and Mantua and runs through their OO product lines.

[The photo here showing a S-C 4-6-0, taken from a September MR article on working semaphores; the layout is by Richard Houghton and was second prize winner in the 1941 MC layout contest].

There were, of course, a lot more makers active then (Famoco/J-C/Picard/etc.), but hardly any others were visible in that issue. Suppliers like Polks had very little OO in their big advertisements. With any advertising you have to sell enough of something to pay for the advertisement or you stop advertising. The very small ads for Nason speak to the idea that OO makers on the whole were not making a lot of money. Scale-Craft did have a full page spread inside the front cover of the December issue with their new 0-6-0 and gas-electric models, and they did sell a few for sure, but in relation to HO and O the dilemma was clear, OO looked a bit like it was on the way out. The big picture being that HO and O ruled.

Turning to the other major magazine, The Model Craftsman, there is another dilemma evident. Basically, while they did cover OO fairly well, MC in 1941 was an uncomfortable marriage of articles on the topics of model railroading and gas racing cars with a bit of airplane and boat coverage. In the July issue they referred to gas racing cars as “America’s newest hobby” as it had only got going in 1939. Model railroading was also a relatively new hobby too, but the magazine really was trying to cover too much.

The war changed everything. It will be a few months until I return to this history series, but when I do the topic will be the war years.

[This article was updated in 2012 to serve as final article of 1941 series]

Return to the beginning of the 1941 Series

Continue to 1942 series