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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

American OO for 1942, Part II: Production by Major Manufacturers Ends


As noted in part I, all the major manufacturers of model railroad equipment had to cease production for the hobby market by June 30. The three months leading up to that deadline are the focus of this installment of the series on the history of American OO gauge.

In short, even a casual reader looking at the hobby magazines of the day can tell that the war had a serious impact on everyone. Manufacturers were enthusiastic about their niche of the hobby market, but they were needed by the war effort. The larger ones retooled, expanded, and shifted toward products for the war effort during these few months. The smaller ones closed or ran more or less as one man shops offering products made without use of critical materials.

First up are the April issues of The Model Railroader and The Model Craftsman. Advertising by lines that made or had made OO products was certainly down. Looking at MC, Mantua had track available, Selley had a smaller ad (and in Trade News it is reported that Selley has been in business since 1909!), Midlin had a small ad, and Nason had this small ad, “keep them rolling.” Over in The Model Railroader, Scale-Craft had a full page ad but it was devoted to telling how they had shifted to war work. It is almost as if they kept running ads for two reasons, to keep their name out there but also to keep MR going with some ad revenue. Other companies in other gauges had similar tactics. Oh, and another familiar name from the pre-war era is seen again: Howard Winther. He won first prize in all the OO categories at the NYSME show.

The May issues of both major magazines have photos of OO gauge layouts, MR having the best views. They are of the layout of Richard Houghton, a name seen a couple times earlier in this series. His layout had been seen back in 1940 as well, also in an article focusing on scenic techniques. But note the overhead wire and that neat scratch built box cab electric in this photo.
As to products in May, note this Picard advertisement in MR. They have express reefers “manufactured expressly to fit those attractive Champion sides” that we saw mentioned in part I. Also Trade Topics has a review of the new Picard hopper kits, and the parts “fit together like a glove.” Unlike most other model railroad manufacturers, Picard was in an excellent position in 1942; essentially a one man shop with a great product that used no critical war materials. My overview of Picard is here, and there will be more on Picard when we get to part III of this series on 1942.

Also the May advertisement from Nason in MR states that they are “now stocking decals.” Looking at their prior catalogs, while it sounds like an obvious thing for them to market, decals were not a product they had ever listed for sale. Recently I was able to pick up a set of these Nason decals on eBay. The set itself inside looks usable still after all these years, and certainly these are not often seen.  The decals themselves look to my eye to be smallish, as in maybe actually a HO product repackaged as OO.

As to the June issues, it was summer so model railroading always slowed down a bit, but I think especially so this year compared to other recent years. Model Railroader had their poll results for 1942, with OO dropping in popularity and HO now going over 50%! Oh my, that was not good news for OO gaugers. The theme of the full page Lionel advertisement in MR was a sentiment of the time, “We must fight, first,” and we all know that there would be years of fighting still to come. When this series returns we will look at the rest of 1942, the first six months after the end of production of most model railroad equipment for the duration of the war.

Continue to Part III of 1942 Series

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi John. My dad was a very quiet and modest man. He never mentioned his 1942 NYSME awards ! I learn a lot about him from your blog. Thanks.