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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

OO Variety in 1941, Part VI: Track, Buildings, and Parts


Besides Lionel sectional track and the line put out by Mantua, both already mentioned in this series, there are two more major lines of trackwork available in 1941.

First alphabetically is Midlin. In addition to the existing line of track and switches, Midlin advertised a line of scale figures, a new # 6 crossover, and background panels. Midlin advertised steadily in all magazines; they had a quality product that must have sold well in HO and OO scales. This is reflected in an article in the October issue of The Model Craftsman, which has a brief history of the company, with Fred Chemidlin visible at the bottom left in the photo. The article gives a great view into the hobby industry of the time.
The story of Midlin Models, like so many other manufacturers in the hobby field, is that of a small beginning and a rapid and phenomenal rise to success. The owner and founder of Midlin Models is Fred Chemidlin. Mr. Chemidlin had long been connected with the hobby industry in the capacity of an employee, until three years ago when he entered the manufacturing field for himself. 
Faith in a single idea, perseverance to see it through, regardless of the difficulties encountered along the way, is probably the real reason for Mr. Chemidliln’s success. In 1937, with only one hundred and thirty dollars, a patent for an automatic track making machine, and the necessity to support a large family, Mr. Chemidlin started his now extensive business. At first, his was a one-man manufacturing plant. He was the one man.   
… Now there is a staff of ten men. When the rush season sets in, the crew is increased to fifteen.  
… At one time … (t)o obtain the rail at a price to make a profit, he convinced his banker to purchase the rail for him and hold it as security for the amount of money necessary to buy it. Each evening he had to trudge a mile and a half to the post office to mail out the kits that he had finished that day. The weight of several of those kits was considerable at the time, but now, looking back, Mr. Chemidlin feels they were quite light because each kit meant a satisfied buyer. Those same buyers comprise the foundation of his business.
Another line of OO track was introduced to the market in 1941, Tru-Scale. The first ad I have found is in the January issue of Model Railroader, basically just promoting that a product was on the way. By March they rolled out the line more clearly and by August they had upgraded to an ad with a photo, the ad seen here. A photo that shows a samples of Tru-Scale, Mantua, and Midlin track may be seen here.

Turning to parts, K&W (already described in this series in 1939 and 40) still had various parts out such as a water column and a signal bridge (and couplers).

A more extensive, new line was by Selley. The first ad for the Selley Mfg. Co is in The Model Craftsman for March 1941. “A complete line of model railroad cast metal parts from one service.” After this point they advertised steadily in MR and MC. This scanned ad is from the August issue of MR. A lot of the parts are very similar to Nason and Graceline parts. For a longer overview of Selley see this article.

Next we get to another new firm that put out some great advertising, Staples. For example in the January issue of MC they had a full page ad (also seen in the February issue of MR) on their dummy switch machine. My favorite ad though is this one, from Model Railroader in October of 1941.  They had out a new OO signal and it looks like a beauty, especially so next to that Scale-Craft 4-6-0 steaming into focus. That this signal is not HO/OO is also a big plus for us, although it might have sold better if also marketed to HO fans of the day. It was reviewed in the December issue of MR where they noted that it was about 3 1/4" tall and that "The ladder detail is neat and strong." [UPDATE: A photo of one of these signals mint in box may be sen in this article.]

Finally, as to buildings, Skyline and Ideal have out extensive lines of HO/OO buildings. See this article for a good introduction to Skyline, and this article for more on Ideal.

There are still two more installments to this series! When we return the topic is scratchbuilding and layout photos.

Continue in 1941 Series

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