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Saturday, February 18, 2012

American OO for 1940: Part I, Nason

To start this look at 1940, we have this advertisement from Nason Railways that was published in the January, 1940 issue of The Model Craftsman.

Note that a big point of the ad is to promote that they have new resources, facilities, and management, and also they highlight that they have “…prompt Service, quick delivery, and guaranteed high quality.” Those may have not been the norm for them in 1939. Nothing kills a company quicker than poor service and inconsistent quality.

The first major OO manufacturer and one of the big three of the pre-war era, 1940 was their last big year. As the 1940 Nason catalog was their last catalog it will be the major focus of this article.

Based on magazine advertisements I would date this catalog to the middle of 1940. This particular copy came to me from the late David Sacks years ago. Inside the cover it notes that this is their sixth anniversary catalog and has an interesting drawing, promoting OO gauge with an owl and slogan. That image may be seen in the Nason 101 article.

The foreword of the slick paper, twenty page catalog makes clearer their situation and hopes for OO gauge going forward.
REORGANIZATION and the placing of our company on a firm financial basis has caused a necessary delay in the appearance of our catalogue.
The QUALITY IDEAL of Nason Railways will be kept intact and in fact, everything possible to make Nason Products the finest obtainable will certainly be done. In addition, we are better prepared than ever before to give prompt service. Since Nason Railways is owned by the employees, every member is only too anxious to have more and more satisfied customers.
Double O gauge (OO) is, in our opinion the logical gauge for those who do not have room for the larger and more expensive sizes. It gives full realism, full scale characteristics, a wealth of detail and the possibility of real efficient motors which start slowly and pick up to full speeds. Its cost is well within reason.
Several new items have been added to our catalogue which we are certain will be of interest to our customers, and several new ones are under study. We have added a Locomotive where almost all the work has been done for you. We have kept the weight of rolling stock very low – as low as it is possible to still give you sturdiness, scale characteristics and detail. We have added a few cars of aluminum of slightly greater weight for those who need an occasional heavier car to balance a train. These cars make beautiful models. Our new track together with switches either built up or in kits will be found not only convenient, but we believe will give the most satisfactory results possible as well as having great beauty and realism.
Turning to the catalog itself, every car or locomotive listed in my Nason 101 article was listed, with two of the items listed there still being considered in development. The aluminum cars mentioned above were actually some of their earliest models but must have been out of production for a period of time. The “Locomotive where almost all the work has been done for you” is their 4-4-2. It was available from Nason starting in the later part of 1939 and had originally been produced by Star-Continental. Priced at $25 for three-rail and $29 for two-rail, in the catalog they say “the Atlantic is a redesign of the Pennsylvania E-6 and embodies a simplified method of assembly.” In short everything was drilled and tapped, and there were “only five simple soldering operations” needed. It would have been easier to build than any of the other locomotive kits they offered to be sure.

One curiosity is the diesel advertised as available in 1939 and described in my article on Nason in 1939 is listed as still being in development, as seen in the photo presented above. On that same page two other models are listed that give a sense of where they were looking as to new products. Sadly, neither the streamlined passenger cars nor the 2-8-2 were ever produced. As always, click on the photos for a better view.

Finally, only one new Nason model was produced after this catalog and it has been featured in a prior article, their gondola. It hit the market not long after the catalog went to press and was reviewed briefly in the October 1940 issues of The Model Railroader, The Model Craftsman, and Miniature Railroading! All were trying I believe to help out their long time advertiser. It is a unique and rarely seen item, from the end of Nason production.

Overall, while Nason put their best face forward the sense you get is they probably were not making much money and for sure they were fighting an uphill battle against HO. HO had a lot of new and affordable items hitting the market at this time that were advertised heavily, but OO gauge not so much. Not to mention if you were a Model Craftsman reader you would have to fight your way through all the gas car articles and advertisements to even notice much of anything on OO gauge.

When we return to this series the topic will be the 1940 OO lines of Scale-Craft and Lionel.

Continue to Part II of 1940 Series

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