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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

American OO for 1943, Part II: A Layout Contest and Other Notes


To begin, the OO gauge cover photo of the year was found on the March, 1943 issue of The Model Railroader. The featured model is a Scale-Craft 4-8-4 nicely built up by Sidney Wells. Note especially the re-detailed front end with dual air pumps and feedwater heater. His layout came up recently in another article, as it was mentioned in a note from Temple Nieter and had been seen in The Model Craftsman in 1941 and 1942.

In the March issue of The Model Craftsman an article by Red Adams on scenery shows four photos of his new OO layout. One of those photos and an extended quote from this article may be found here, and there is more to be found from Adams in the April, 1943 issue as well, on building observation cars.

Leon “Doug” Douglass sponsored a layout contest in The Model Railroader in 1943. Those who know post-war OO history know that Doug Douglass later was an owner of Scale-Craft, but as of 1943 he owned a hobby shop in Hollywood. His contest was announced in the May issue and this winning design by F. L. Jaques was featured in the September issue, along with a number of other entrants. In May it was explained what was wanted.
Mr. Douglass has a garage with a specially built room on the second floor in which he wishes to build a OO gauge model railroad. The space is 24x28 ft. and he wishes to have the spectators’ area so arranged that the whole railroad presents a complete picture in itself….
The type of layout where one walks in between various scenes does not appeal to Mr. Douglass, as it seems unrealistic to him. He very much prefers to see most parts of the layout from the distance. This was done in the large layout at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and 1940….
Mr. Douglass is not particularly fond of mainline operation, but it is permissible to have a loop of main line around the room, most of it hidden, from which a branch or branches can diverge. The layout should be adaptable to control by one man from a single board. No. 6 switches and 36” radius curves are the minimum ….
The principal line should be held to one per cent grade and others to two percent. His present motive power includes a 4-8-4 and a gas-electric, which should be kept in mind in planning the layout.
Within those guidelines the winner hit on many of the ideals and certainly it is a beautiful illustration, be sure to click on the photo for a better view. We will hear more of Doug Douglass after the war.

This next photo from the June issue of The Model Railroader is an interesting one, not showing a lot of detail but it is of a club visiting an OO gauge attic layout in Lima, Ohio, and how about all those suits! That was a different era of model railroading, and note that “The club plans to build its own OO gauge layout after the war.”

In the July issue of MR we find this very interesting photo. I believe it is the first published photo of the Yorkville and Western layout of Fred Schorr, who was a post-war OO manufacturer. According to his son Ed, when Fred moved from Pottsville this specific layout was given to an uncle who was also an OO gauge modeler.

In December the year ends with an interesting article in MR on building an OO gauge layout using Scale-Craft sectional track. This is probably the only article ever published on this topic specific to Scale-Craft pre-war sectional track, and it includes this photo of the layout in progress. The layout had been designed in 1939 by Linn Westcott for B. E. Padorr of Chicago, to fit a standard ping-pong table with an extension. Turning to the article,
Padorr liked scenery, bridges, trestles, overpasses; and his young son, shown in the photo on page 541, liked to run fast limited trains and switch freight in the yards. Scale-Craft sectional track was to be used. If you are not already familiar with this track, it may interest you to know that the radius is 26” on curves and each curved section is one-sixteenth of a circle. Straight sections are 10” long….
Before Mantua introduced the flexible track that you bend in any desired direction, one had to buy sectional track, or pay higher prices for custom-built work unless one had the time and desire to lay his own rail. Most people laid their own; nevertheless, a great deal of model railroad track is purchased in sections of fixed length.
More on this line of OO sectional track may be found in this article, with a comparison to the more commonly seen Lionel sectional track.

Overall, in the big picture of things, some hobby activity continued in 1943 but there was of course a war going on. Next up in our series we turn to 1944 and a year where things were starting to look up in the hobby.

Continue to 1944 Series

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