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

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Vintage OO Streamlined Car

Back a couple years ago I had an article on a vintage streamlined train that I had recently made operational. That train came to mind as I was recently reviewing magazines from 1940, in particular an article in the April, 1940 issue of The Model Craftsman by H. L. “Red” Adams. A prolific writer of the time and early OO manufacturer who has been mentioned a number of times in American OO Today, Adams was a fan of passenger trains.

In the April, 1940 article Adams opens by noting that “Up to a few months ago, being of a somewhat conservative nature, I had confined my passenger car building to the conventional steel type cars now in general use.” But he had recently constructed two cars of an earlier vintage design. He continued,
Both of these cars turned out all right, but I decided to forsake the past for the present. I built a strictly modern Pullman streamlined roomette, such as used on the Century and Broadway Limiteds for the past year….
For you men that want the ultra-modern cars that are steadily increasing in numbers on our main lines, here’s the method I used:
First of all, procure your wooden parts, which are a roof, a floor, a pair of ends, and the small pieces of quarter-round molding which carry the streamlined effect under the body. If you use wooden sides, as I did, have them cut at this same time….
I had all these parts cut to my drawing specifications by a model company in my city [Chicago] for a very reasonable figure. It would be wise to have all the wood parts cut for whatever number of cars you eventually intend to own, as the charges are primarily for “setting up” the machines, and the cost of five or six cars is little more than the cost for a single car.
There are a number of other details in the description. One is that he likes 1/32” pine for his car sides and also that he uses real glass for the windows. The photo of the finished car in the article confirms also the paint scheme described in the article, with a “dull black” roof.

What caught my eye was how much the car in his photo looks like the car seen here on my layout. The only major, visible difference is that it has had O-gauge size stainless steel fluting added to the sides. This car and the three companion cars, seen in the earlier article, all are of the same construction described in my earlier article on them. They are nicely built up with full interior details, with wood sides and glass windows.

What I have long wondered is if these cars are examples of the Newark Electric streamliner. This advertisement in the August, 1940 issue of The Model Craftsman gives the two most relevant details as they are 1. in Chicago and 2. the wood parts for these cars were “Made exclusively for NEWARK by a reliable scale-model car manufacturer." The car kits included “all the wood parts necessary to build a complete car.” So far as I can tell this was the only wooden streamlined car offered commercially in American OO.

If the set of cars I have (postal, diner, Pullman, and observation) is Newark or not I don’t know, but it is an interesting theory anyway that this train of mine might be an example. The parts are well made and consistent with what I would think a “reliable scale-model car manufacturer” might produce, with parts perhaps made from the same cutters used to make the parts for the car in the Adams article.

The Newark Electric streamlined passenger cars were advertised in HO, OO, and O gauges; there must be a few around somewhere still today. If anyone can add to the history of these cars feel free to comment.

UPDATE: I should have also noted that after the war Exacta produced a fluted side streamline train and Zuhr a smooth side train, both in metal, with the Zuhr cars being seen fairly commonly. Check the links for more information on these.

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