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

Friday, September 23, 2011

OO in 1938, more than Lionel: Part IV, More Makers Jump In

To start on a down note, the July issue of The Model Railroader reports that the pioneer OO firms of Rockhaven Models and The OO Gauge Model Co. are out of business. But quite a few new products are going on the market in American OO gauge; more than filling any void those firms might have left.

First up we have Mantua. They were of course primarily a HO firm but they advertised their new “ready laid” track on back cover of MR for August of 1938, this image being a portion of the advertisement. A type of early flex track, it was available 18” long straight and flexible sections in HO and in OO gauges. To see a photo of some of this track see this prior article. It is a product only aimed at the two-rail OO market.

Our next new line is from Hoffmann’s of Philadelphia. They introduced their new line of OO cars in the September, 1938 issue of MR. The line included a Reading gondola, a Reading flat, FGEX and ARLX reefers, and was expanded in their ad in the October issue to include a caboose. I have a brief, older article on the topic here that I hope to expand in the near future as I now own boxed kits for the reefers and the gondola. In short though these kits are completely original kits with printed sides and were not duplicated by other makers later. UPDATE: More on Hoffman's here.

While we are in the September issue of MR, also in I note the new S-C 4-6-2 model in OO (with a full page ad and photo) and in October S-C has out a new reefer and Nason rolled out a new gas-electric! This model had been out a little while, actually, as it was advertised in the April-May 1938 issue of Miniature Railroading as well. Also, while on the topic of Nason, by June they offered their entire line for two or three rail operation, so it would be compatible with S-C products.

Turning to The Model Craftsman, their September issue has this very interesting photo of a model by Ted Menten. Why it is so interesting is he was the owner of Famoco and this is a model they later produced, their Roundhouse Goat; this model looks very much like the production version and is set up for three rail operation from an outside third rail. If this model was actually in production yet I don’t know but later, in December issue of MC we do find that the initial, bronze version of their GG-1 is available. Thus, Famoco was certainly in the OO market by the end of 1938 and we will be hearing more from then in 1939.

Our final new line of note this year is Page Model Co. of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. This is a firm I have long been curious about and it took literally years to finally track down an advertisement. The line is referenced in other advertising in the October issue of MC and in December they ran this ad; click on it to see all the details of the new line. So far as I can tell these box cars and reefers are outwardly the same as the Nason Easy-Built cars (with the same sides) but have a solid block body. My guess at this time is it was an attempt to put out a lower cost version of the Nason line and perhaps also to attempt to give an impression of things really picking up in OO, with a "new" line of OO entering the market. I have a bit more on Page here (updated tonight, as well), and this is a line that I certainly still have a few questions about.

With that I have one more article to post on 1938 with some specific notes on the launch of the Lionel OO line, be looking for more soon.

Continue in 1938 Series

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