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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blueprints for the Nason P5A

For several years there has been a post in the Train99  blog about a Nason P5A, the owner wanting to track down the instructions for this classic model. 

The article is very worth checking for the several great photos of his model (link here). Myself, I recently saw the article again in the stats for this website and clicked over. And I realized that not long ago I had actually been given a set of the blueprints that were shipped out with the Nason P5A.

The big photo is of the blueprint itself. It is in a word huge, a real blueprint and roughly the size of eight sheets of paper.

With the big photo as reference, the first scan is from the top of the blueprint. My own Nason P5A was left incomplete by a prior owner and seeing the top view especially I am thinking I need to get it done, even if the HO pantographs I have for it are a bit small looking compared to the drawings and the photos in the Train99 blog.

The last two photos are more highlights of the blueprint, scanned. Click on any image for a better view. One shows a part and all the drilling and tapping required, and the other shows the bottom corner where we get the details on the drawing itself.

The draftsman's name is lost to history most likely but the “F.W.” who approved the drawings must have been Frank Waldhorst, the early business partner of Hugh Nason. A photo of Waldhorst may be seen in this article. Note also the dates and the revision date which is almost illegible. More on the history of Nason may be found here.

A PDF of scans from the blueprint may be found in the files area of the OO group on Yahoo. To which I will add, I don't actually have the written instructions for this model. The model should have a 6-8 page document that covers construction. If you have a copy I would love to see that.

With that, I hope to get to the 1950 series soon and best wishes for a great new year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Scale-Craft Plug Door Boxcars

Fans of American OO will know right away that actually Scale-Craft did not make or even advertise a plug door boxcar. But the below certainly have the vintage S-C look and are plug door.

The story on these cars is that I had two more of these bodies than I had sliding doors or guides to complete. Not being wild about how the original pre-war die cast S-C boxcars looked either I got to thinking out of the box. The idea came up to cut HO plug doors out of an appropriate car and size them to fit the Scale-Craft door openings.

The source cars used for the doors were purchased very cheaply, junk Tyco HO cars at a train show. It is not a difficult conversion at all. I dressed them up a bit more with upgrade brake wheels and brake hardware as well. To complete the cars I used reproduction Lionel trucks with vintage Ultimate wheelsets to complete the package (and Kadee whisker couplers, my current favorite type for SC cars).

They are most effectively seen on the layout as in this second photo. I like a lot how the lettering came out and how they look in general in a train. Lettering them for my freelanced Orient made the most sense as they are not really scaled correctly to any prototype; I can just say that the Orient had a class of plug door boxcars of this type.

I have never seen this conversion done previously and really, it exceeded my expectations. I will likely do this one again a time or two more. These are great cars for my later 1950s operating sessions and will be rolling out some miles in the coming months.

Tomorrow the last post of the year will feature a rare Nason paper item.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cars from the Work Train

To kick off a series of short articles for the end of the year, first up we have four cars from the work train.

Three of these were scratch built by William Gilbert and are lettered for his Grand Island. X75 is a low side gondola (really a flat car with gon sides added), X76 is a bunk car, and X78 is a tool car. All are riding on Schorr trucks, very sharply made and neatly painted and lettered. All are 36 foot models; I especially like the truss rod details on the gon and the bunk car and also note the gon sides are built up from individual boards. Besides the Schorr trucks and bolsters the only other common OO part seen on these cars are the Eastern K type brake cylinders. These three are way above average in the world of American OO models. As always, click on the photo for a better view.

That leaves one more car to describe. It was with some materials obtained from Gilbert but I don’t think was a project of his. Someone had put together this old-time hopper car using metal hopper bottoms from a HO car and the rest was wood. The body was broken (perhaps from shipping) and some parts were missing on the sides; also, I don't believe it had ever been lettered. I replaced the missing parts with close duplicates and added a brake wheel, end beams, Schorr trucks/bolsters, and Kadee couplers. It is not as sharp as the other cars, with some mismatched details and weights visible in the area where the load would ride. It could use a few more details really, but my goal was not to get too heroic and get a broken car together and running. And like the Gilbert cars it is a unique car that fits in the context of a work train or could be used in an early 20th century setting as well.

I don’t run these often of course but I do enjoy having these in the mix of things I can operate. Tomorrow two Scale-Craft conversions will be featured.

UPDATE: The mystery car was made by Ed Schorr (son of Fred Schorr) as a youngster! He wrote and relayed that info -- I am glad to have it running again.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Some Pre-War Graceline Reefers

Graceline was an active in the American OO market 1939-45. My overview article is here, and with recent looking at Graceline models and parts I pulled these four cars for light restoration.

The three without ends came in a lot purchase years ago. I believe a prior owner had parted them out, using the ends and trucks on other projects. These cars are all early Graceline production with the hand painted sides. First up are these two examples of ARLX 16096, Armour Refrigerator Line. The sides are thin brass stock and were painted at the factory as you see them today. The one with the ladder was stamped out differently than the other if you look at the bottom of each side, one has tab extensions and the other is flat. Also you can easily see variations in lettering between the two cars, in fact only that one side has the periods in A.R.L.X. Click on the photos for a better view.

The other two cars are Northern Pacific cars. The Northern Refrigerator car has no ends and the tabs at the bottom of the sides. The Northern Pacific herald is printed on thin paper. The other car is missing its heralds, but you can see where they were and that they were the same heralds. That final car, lettered for the Northern Pacific itself, is in the worst condition but has the original ends and has a different roof design—I would take this to be later production. Note also on this one that Graceline did not highlight the doors with paint. This was a good idea as the doors are too wide. No ladders are present on either of these cars, but all four have their original Graceline frames.

Finishing up a painting project I had a bit of spray paint left so I fished two sets of reproduction Graceline ends out of the parts supply. These were cast by Temple Nieter, and I will be casting a couple more in his molds (more here) to complete this set of cars. The final photo shows these ends and how they fit on the cars. Note that there are fins cast on the back of the ends that fit the car like a glove.

I will be adding to these cars Scale-Craft trucks as I don’t have enough viable Graceline trucks to finish this set, and I don't plan to fill any of the paint chips. Hopefully they will be rolling again by new years. And speaking of new years, between travel and other things keeping me busy I probably won’t be posting again here until the end of the month. I am looking forward to getting these rolling though, and hope as well that readers might also get a few more cars rolling over the holidays.

Want to see another of these rare cars? Check this article for a Graceline Baby Ruth reefer.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Graceline Passenger Cars Coming Back Together

About twenty years ago these two cars came to me in a lot purchase. And they will come back together soon.

With the recent finishing of two Graceline freight cars I was digging in the Graceline parts and noted these bodies, without sides. Thinking that probably I would never find Graceline sides to use I dug in the J-C parts to see if there were sides that might work. I had these sides there, which I took to be modified J-C sides, tried them on the cars and realized this was the original plan here! The project the prior owner had was to use these sides which are in fact original Graceline sides on these bodies in parts. They were even nicely painted already.

The material used to make Graceline sides is very similar to J-C and the rivet patterns are very similar. What is different is the doors are not part of the sides, they are to be separately applied, and also the ends not only have end castings but also have bulkhead castings. Also for one more spotting feature, the roof stock is flat on the bottom, not hollowed up like J-C. (And the Pullman is shorter than the comparable J-C car, about 75' long).

Probably mostly from that same purchase are these Graceline parts, and after taking the photo I found a few more to use. Note the frame casting that will go on the Pullman, the steps, and the ends and bulkhead that will go on the combine. The only part I am lacking really are those side doors, I don't have enough and actually another Graceline car is missing a couple as well. I could attempt to cast some duplicates but the part is simple enough I think I will just fabricate similar doors from plastic.

In any case it is exciting to finally figure out what this project was and get it going forward. Graceline passenger cars are uncommon to be sure. I will note in closing I actually have boxed examples of both cars as kits so I will be able to get these very close to all original using those for reference.

UPDATE: The finished cars may be seen here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Two Graceline Boxcars Running Again

One thing I enjoy is getting vintage cars running again. Today these two cars made their way off the workbench.

They are both pre-war Graceline cars, which are now obviously layout ready! The car further away from the camera is their wagon top boxcar. This particular one was seen in an article two years ago and has been sitting on the workbench waiting. I thought about a heavier rebuilding (with the caved in roof in particular) but opted to just get it set up for operation. Closer and in sharper focus is another Graceline boxcar, a wood car with a steel door. This one is painted for the CB&Q and was on the workbench as it had a door missing.

This side view shows the door I found and opted to use. I suspect it is a HO part but the right size and of similar design. In normal lighting the paint matches a bit better than in the photo. This view shows better the early Graceline trucks I used. These can be tuned up to operate (see this article) but can be touchy. The CB&Q car has wheelsets with very heavy flanges that actually bump on spike heads a bit but for sure it won't derail! The B&O car trucks are more like S-C wheelsets but are original Graceline as well. The trucks are fairly free rolling and do the job.

This final photo is a highlight focusing in on the hand painted lettering on the CB&Q car. In person you can easily see the guide lines used by the person who lettered these cars by hand at the Graceline factory. This article shows a couple more examples of these hand lettered cars, and if you focus in on it you can see for example that every "C" is just a bit different, etc. I should note, too, that the CB&Q herald on the other end of the car is printed on paper and glued on.

Neither car had Graceline couplers previously mounted and I am not a big fan of them either, so both now have Kadee couplers, attached simply with a screw. Mostly I run newer cars but the CB&Q car in particular has a charm with that hand lettering, I do enjoy getting these out from time to time.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Scale-Craft 0-6-0 for the Orient

Another project through the shops recently was this great Scale-Craft 0-6-0. This was the certainly the best option for a switcher in American OO, and this model turned out great.

The locomotive itself came to me nearly finished, unpainted and I believe it had never been run. It is nearly stock except that the builder had modified the smokebox and left off front end part that was to be in front of the stack. I filled the hole and got that all together. Originally it was to be set up for a working headlight, but the present headlight is a dummy. It is not very visible in the photo but I opted for a silver smokebox front which looks great with this freelanced model.

The tender I built up myself from parts on hand. The tender body itself was selected as it was a clean stock version but also, if you look very closely, it has a few holes drilled in the top, I believe to ventilate the area for the rectifier. Also note I added a rear facing light so the crew could see in both directions. The coal load is shiny, as I masked it before giving the decals their overspray of dullcote. From the top too you can see it is a husky model. The cab is a little oversize, I believe to accommodate the motor.

Looking from the bottom, you can see some of the wires which go to a modern rectifier (more here) and note also that I used Nason trucks for better pick up. The model runs very well with the big motor and the original S-C drive and the rectifier. The only thing to note really is that it draws a lot of current and with a few laps around the layout the tender body begins to feel warm.

Whenever I get around to shooting another video this model will be featured. It is most interesting to me to see this vintage model run, makes me wish I had a large yard to give it a workout! Perhaps someday ….

1949 and American OO. Part IV, Layouts

A common thread among those that would remain active in American OO after the war is that many if not most had layouts. A lot of time had been invested in laying track, tweaking cars for operation, etc. And reality was that, if you wanted to, there was little to stop you from building a layout in the minority scale of American OO.

In the 1948 series some coverage was given of the layout of H. R. Treat, but I will note here that Model Railroader in February of 1949 is where you can find his track plan.  The feature article of the year is found in the June issue of MR, on the layout of Rowland King. King was destined to be a true OOldtimer, as if you want to look ahead there is a photo of his large layout in the last article by Temple Nieter, published in MR in November of 1984!

The beginnings of his Jersey Coast & Western were a laid out in the 1949 article. It was started in December of 1939. Of the original layout he wrote,
Rolling stock consisted of a Lionel Hudson loco, box car, tank car, hopper, and caboose. It ran on Nason rail laid on top of a 4 x 8 ft. plywood table. The road grew fast during the next two years. More track was laid. More rolling stock was added, mostly freight cars….
The JC was just a Christmastime pike in those days, and the rails took a beating each December when the road again went into business. Every fall a new layout was drawn up and built on the same 8 x 10 ft. plywood platform. By 1944 the platform looked like a piece of camouflaging from the war. The innumerable holes for wiring and fastening down track boards, as well as all the different colors that had been applied to it, gave the plywood a weird appearance.
The author finally acquired a permanent place for the JC&W in the fall of 1944 in the attic of his father’s home….
He continues to describe the space and the layout. It was an insulated space about 15 x 24 with an extension on one side – the track plan is in the article. “It wasn’t until June, 1946, that rail was acquired to build freight yards,” and the text details the troubles building the mountain range, etc. Then we get to this very interesting text, about his one locomotive!
The JC&W operates on A.C. from a Lionel Type V Trainmaster transformer. The board of directors would like to change over to D.C. Its members feel that the Hudson is getting old and noisy and might possibly operate smoother on D.C. 
The 4-6-4 has been in the backshops only once for a major overhauling. In 1941 its reversing unit went haywire, and the loco had to be sent back to the factory…. So far, the Hudson has to do all the work. Some board members want another Hudson, some a Ten-Wheeler. However, all agree that Wayne yards need an 0-6-0 switcher. The versatile 4-6-4, used both as a roundhouse goat and fast passenger power, has to go to the backshops once a month for a thorough grease job on its worm and gear.
The Jersey Coast & Western will probably never be finished, for new ideas are always cropping up about changing something.
But it is all in the hobby – and what a hobby for the father of three daughters! 
The photos above are two of the four views found in the MR article. It was a very nice layout, neatly built with a lot of kit built cars. The end of a train with three hoppers may be seen in both photos.

The other layout seen this year is that of Pierre Bourassa. His name is familiar to those who have read much on this website (a brief bio is here), and the November issue of RMC has two photos which are probably the first published views of his layout. From the caption, this photo “shows a Lionel Hudson with a Vanderbilt Tender on a Westchester turntable …. Since these photos were taken, this section of the layout has been given a complete scenic treatment.”

People who had built layouts like this would drive the OO market for the next 20 plus years. In particular New Jersey became a hotbed of OO activity. The club directory published in the March issue of Model Railroader does not show a lot of OO activity except for New Jersey, where four OO clubs are listed. The story of American OO is far from over, as is told clearly with this last image, which could be subtitled “when Pierre met Rowland.” Found among things I received from Bourassa, Pierre almost certainly visited Rowland King in 1981 and brought home this pass and tickets as a souvenir of the visit.

Writing this series and looking at the several years right after the war, I was getting a bit down. I feel as if I experienced some of what the OO gaugers of the time must have also felt. But now in 1949 things are turning around for OO, there were some great models produced in American OO in the 1950s and even 60s. In particular there were a number of interesting individuals active in the scale, and those individuals had no desire to switch scales! There still was a market to serve, and 1950 is the topic of the series when it returns.

Return to beginning of 1949 series

Continue to 1950 series

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Found: Examples of the Nason Flat Car and Gondola

After years of looking I was excited to recently purchase examples of two rare Nason cars, their flat car and their Gondola.

The flat car is the earlier of the two, having been introduced in 1937. The catalog photo shows the C&NW version of this model, but this example is the other version offered, for the B&O. In the photo the model is seen on top of the comparable Scale-Craft flat car, which was not introduced until 1939. The Nason model in a number of ways is more finely detailed. Note the rivet details and the more finely scaled stake pockets, for example. The printed lettering is very clean and on the same type of cardboard stock used for their box car and reefer sides.

Turning the models over, you can see the frame area is much more realistic on the Nason model as well. This is the bronze frame at work. Note that as sold to me this model has Scale-Craft trucks; I will convert it over to a set of proper Nason trucks soon. The couplers are Nason couplers, but cast in aluminum rather than the more commonly seen bronze.

Compared to the instructions the main detail missing is the deck. There should have been a “black scored material” supplied with the kit; the builder opted to leave it off, simply painting the (flat) deck (the wooden frame of the car) black. They also opted not to put on the brake cylinder, which I may opt to add.

The other model to feature is the gondola. This model was mentioned in their 1940 catalog as a model under development, and it was released in late 1940. It was not the first gondola produced, but it was quite a bit better looking model than the earlier (and quite rare) 1938 Hoffman gondola. In the photo my Nason gondola is seen with a Graceline gondola. This model was also introduced in 1940, and it and the very comparable gondola cars by Eastern (postwar) are seen here.

The Nason gondola has printed sides for two roads, PRR and B&O. The most notable feature is that the sides are printed and had alignment marks for the side ribs, which you can see in the photo as the marks are a bit wider than the ribs. These are brass and were attached top and bottom with pins. This particular gondola actually presently has Hoffman trucks on it, which will be replaced soon with a good set of Nason trucks. And note the Graceline car has Schorr trucks, much more finely scaled.

Looking from the top you can see the sides/ends, how thick they look with the wooden body and also the ribs and their pins. This was actually a mistake on the part of the builder, the instructions describe how the ribs were to be notched in on the top and then the top edge of the car covered with a “moulding” cut from “the tuscan red 3-ply cardboard.” Actually also the builder left off the brake platform and wheel, so both cars are missing a couple details. This car presently has Scale-Craft couplers, the underframe setup is complete, and this all in all is a nice example of a very rare model.

Speaking of underframes, I have several more Nason underframes for the flat car. With a complete, original car now in hand I am pondering using them for kitbashing projects, hoping to match the proportions of this car, perhaps using lengthened Tyco sides. A project for another day -- for now I am just happy to have tracked down examples of both of these rare cars.

UPDATE: Digging around in the Nason parts supply I discovered that I had an uncompleted model for the Nason flat. The first photo shows the bottom (click on either for a larger view) and the bronze frame and the original wood parts are very visible. Also note the builder followed the instructions and there is a screw that you would use a nut on to hold the trucks.

From the top you can also see the remnants of the "black scored material" that was to be the deck. The sides are gone and I think the builder was probably not pleased with the model. As to me, at some point I will add some sides and a top to what remains.

One other note being both of the cars featured above are now on proper Nason trucks with good wheelsets! Ready to make an appearance on the layout.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Video: American OO at Trainfest 2013

November 9-10, 2013 you will find American OO in operation at Trainfest in Milwaukee, "America’s Largest Operating Model Railroad Show." The event link is here, but a preview of the layout is below! (Direct video link here).

The layout is by Mike Slater. He has displayed the layout before (see this article for two older versions), but this year it looks to be in especially fine shape. In particular it is great to see this 1938 set running, both just to see how nice a product it was but also to allow people to see these vintage models in motion. Seeing such models run at a train show will catch some attention!

The models run nicely, this is a video well worth watching for any American OO enthusiast. If you are in the area of the show be sure to stop by and see it running in person.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

1949 and American OO. Part III, Buy it by Mail

Mail order was an option for OO gaugers of the day, and two different catalogs from 1949 give a clear perspective on what you could buy new at the time.

First up is the clearly marked 1949 catalog from The Electronic and Hobbycraft Stores. Inside may be found one page of OO gauge listings. It is hard to say if these items are old stock or new stock, but I believe they actually had them on their shelves:
  • Famoco – single and dual motor GG-1, turnouts, track layer, freight trucks
  • J-C Models – baggage, combine, coach, Pullman
  • Midlin – track kit and turnouts
  • Scale-Craft – 4-6-0, 0-6-0, stock car, flat, tank, caboose, hopper, reefer, box [50’], Pullman, observation, diner, coach, baggage, power truck, freight trucks, four and six wheel passenger trucks
Then later in the year we get to a very interesting catalog. I have Xerox copies from two different sources. One has it marked as Polks 1946, but based on what was in it I knew it could not be from 1946. The other copy has it labeled as “Model RR. Equip. Corp. Catalog 1950” and with a bit of detective work that is correct. From the content I knew it had to date from probably late 1949 and it turns out that it was first advertised for sale in the December, 1949 issue of Model Railroader, making it fit with our narrative at this point. UPDATE: But noting after finally tracking down a copy that the copyright does actually say 1950. But certainly the catalog was put together in late 1949.

UPDATE: This is the cover of this catalog. This was an exciting one for OO gaugers, as the cover features an image of the OO scale Norfolk and Ohio layout of Carl Appel! The same image as published in MR in 1948 may be seen in this article (scroll down). Click on it here for a better view. The locomotives in the background of this realistic scene are a Nason 2-8-0 and a Lionel Hudson.

The section on OO begins with an article by Famoco owner Ted Menten, “Alive Again … 00 Gauge,” which has already been quoted in full as a “bonus article” in this series of articles on American OO in 1949. One of the hooks used to advertise this new catalog in a series of advertisements in Model Railroader in 1950 were these short articles by figures in the hobby industry.

As to the catalog content itself, it is divided by type of model rather than by manufacturer. In locomotives we have:
  • Scale-Craft – 4-6-4t, 4-6-0, 0-6-0
  • Famoco – GG1, single or twin power
  • Super Scale – EMC Diesel switcher, 600 HP or 1,000 HP with or without booster
The first locomotive listed is a good case study for us, as (spoiler alert) Scale-Craft would be back under the ownership of Elliott Donnelley in 1950 but the 4-6-4t was not listed in the 1950 (Round Lake, IL) catalog. Was it old stock? Did Douglass Scale-Craft ship some of this model out? As to the others, 1949 is pretty much the end of production for the Famoco OO GG-1 but it was the first year for the Super Scale NW-2 (the 1,000 HP model that is listed—the SW-1 dating to 1948).

Next up are box cars. There were three (really two) models available. The most expensive was the Scale-Craft 50’ car at $5.45. Then we have the listings for Eastern and Famoco boxcars. As described in the longer listings with both manufacturers here in this website, these are essentially the same models in every way except for having different frames and most (but not all) Famoco cars have die cast ends. The sides are the same, built up the cars look pretty much the same. But the price was certainly not the same! The Famoco cars sold for $2.95 with trucks and the Eastern cars sold for $4.40 with trucks and $2.95 without. Which one would you buy?

Refrigerator cars are the next listing and it is the same story, there is the one Scale-Craft car and all the listings of Eastern and Famoco models with the same printed sides but Famoco much less expensive.

Under the heading “other freight cars” we have the Eastern gondola and the Scale-Craft tank car, hopper, and caboose. From the listing, “The only available caboose in 00 gauge is the Pennsylvania type illustrated here. Model has excellent detail cast integrally with the major body parts.” The photo used was this one, a stock photo used in S-C catalogs for years. Following that is quite a list of parts, including a number of Selley OO parts and what would appear to be Picard bodies.

Next up are “Passenger Train Cars” from four manufacturers:
  • Famoco – baggage, baggage coach, coach, Pullman
  • J. C. Models – baggage, baggage coach, coach, Pullman
  • Scale-Craft – baggage, coach, Pullman, diner, observation
  • Zuhr – mail, baggage, coach, 18 roomette, bedroom, diner
The Famoco, J-C, and S-C models are all "standard passenger train cars" and the Zuhr cars are "streamline passenger train cars." In all of the above I use the terminology as presented in the catalog and note too that the catalog mixes 00 and OO gauge in their copy. The J-C cars I am thinking are old stock but the Zuhr models are brand new for 1949.

Following that are listings for passenger car parts (including again Selley parts), track materials by Midlin, Eastern, and Tru-Scale, and switch controls. There was certainly enough available to build a nice layout -- if you wanted to work in OO there were supplies out there. To close this look at 1949 we will turn to look at a few of those layouts.

Continue reading 1949 series

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1949/50 Bonus: “Alive Again … 00 Gauge” by Ted Menten

Model Railroad Equipment Corporation put out a large catalog of model railroad supplies (144 pages!) that was first advertised in the December, 1949 issue of Model Railroader. The image below is from their June, 1950 ad and shows the cover. The catalog contains not only listings of models in all scales but also articles by leaders in the model railroad industry. Of particular interest to us is an article on page 69 that was presented as a prelude to their OO listings, written by Ted Menten, owner of the Famous Model Co, Inc. (Famoco). In the context of post-war American OO this brief article is very significant and well worth quoting in full. I will have a few more notes after the article.

After eleven years of manufacturing model railroad equipment and having passed through many “Battles of the Gauges,” I still feel that 00 Gauge has much to offer which the other gauges lack.

For many years, there existed the feeling that prices were considerably higher for 00 equipment than for similar equipment in the smaller gauges. Today, locomotives and car kits are offered in 00 Gauge at prices no higher than the smaller gauges, and with the advantage of size, which permits quieter and more secure traction.

Particularly interesting to note is that although 00 Gauge requires only 14% more space for a layout than HO, it has 50% more space in its locomotives, which permits the use of considerably larger and more powerful motors. This added power of 00 Gauge allows for smoother operation. And the additional weight found in both locomotives and cars permits quieter and more secure traction.

There has been an acute shortage of 00 Gauge equipment since model railroading again became active after the close of the war. However, the situation is changing. Four new manufacturers are starting production of 00 Gauge, three of whom will offer locomotive kits, and the other a string of aluminum streamline cars. Within the coming year, our company will be releasing over twenty new reefers and express reefers. The release of this flood of new kits should provide the variety for which the fans of the gauge have been waiting these past four years.

In conclusion, I have a suggestion to offer those about to take part in a fascinating hobby. Before deciding upon a gauge, purchase a single car kit in each of the gauges in which you feel you may have an interest. Assemble the kits. Then compare, the cars, side by side, for detail, the price paid for each and the space you have available. You should come up with the right answer. However, even if you don’t, you will still have fun with model railroading.

There are many interesting details in the above. Menten states that Famoco planned to introduce express reefers, but those were never produced. He also states there are four new manufacturers and three are introducing locomotive kits. Two of those are certainly Super-Scale and Schorr, but it is not very clear who the third would be. The article concludes with this biographical sidebar on Ted Menten, with this great photo.

Ted is a man with a mission—to convince the world 00 gauge is the ideal size for model railroading. To sustain his crusade, he will labor far into the night on military contracts or turn out an occasional HO locomotive to help pay the freight. Both he regards as merely an end to the good fight to build 00 gauge. Ted has been a model railroader since 1935 and a manufacturer since 1937. The Famoco trade name in 00 is recognized as tops in the present market. Years of making precision military instruments has been experience which has resulted in finer Famoco locomotive kits.

His OO line dates to 1938, which confirms the date of this article as 1949 in relation to his "eleven years of manufacturing model railroad equipment." (But UPDATE noting that the actual copyright in the catalog is 1950). When the series returns the focus will be on the items listed in this catalog (including an important note on the cover image!) and also the catalog of E&H Stores.

Continue reading 1949 Series 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1949 and American OO. Part II, New Products!

As could be determined reading the letters cited in part I, there was a demand for some new products in American OO in 1949, and these three manufacturers stepped up to answer that demand!

First up was Super-Scale. Their NW-2 is a 1949 addition to their line, being first mentioned in their January, 1949 ad in Model Railroader. Their SW-1 model dates to 1948, so this was a logical expansion. As I note in my longer article on Super-Scale,
According to their advertisement in the January, 1949 issue of Model Railroader; these more complete models were to be ready January 15. They referred to them as being either the 600 HP model or the 1000 HP model, which would translate as a SW-1 diesel (600 HP) or a NW-2 diesel (1000 HP), the latter of which if I am understanding their language was available as a cow or calf. They offered in addition to the two switcher locomotives a “1000 HP Booster Loco” and a “2000 HP Two Unit Loco.” The SW-1 at that time ran $14.50 “less paint, decals, trucks” and the most deluxe NW-2 cow-calf combo would put you back $28.50.
See this article for more on the somewhat modified but beautifully built up example of this model seen above.

The next new OO scale model seen in 1949 is an iconic one, the Schorr F-3. The first ad I have noted for this model is in the November issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. It may actually have been advertised there slightly earlier; not sure, I am missing the previous three issues from my collection.

The first MR advertisement for this model is found in their December issue. Note that he has by this time tweaked the font and the look to make it stand out a bit more. The main elements of the model are made clear to the potential buyer. The body castings are bronze and a dual power drive was available. See this article for a view of the raw castings as later produced. 

Due to how this website was laid out info on Fred Schorr is spread out somewhat, but in this article from his son Ed I learned
Fred Schorr was born in 1902 and died in 1976 and according to Ed “was a die-hard 00'er till the end.” He got started working in American OO around 1938. He worked for Pennsylvania Power & Light for 53 years and retired as Chief Systems Operator. His personal road was the Yorkville and Western, a name he registered with the NMRA in 1942.
I have three operational Schorr F-3 models in my collection at present, the trio being described further in this article. Click on the photo for a better view. They make a very impressive rumble running on the layout and pull like crazy! They were and are not easy models to build up but have a great payoff in the end and were a perfect model to have on the market in 1949. And Schorr would have more for his OO gauge friends soon.

Our final new model to feature today are the streamline passenger cars by Zuhr. These models were first advertised in the December issue of MR. The longer article on Zuhr introduces the line of smooth side, aluminum models in some depth. To this I will add as a teaser, I am not sure there actually was a person named Henry Zuhr! The letter that you would have been sent had you replied to the ad states that the owners are Hildegard Schuler and Herbert Swan. The letter also makes clear their motivations, as it opens,
Dad-blame it !!! Something had to be done. Well ----- We did it ----- !
Here is what you have been waiting for. One of the first real pieces of equipment that has been added to "OO" gauge in years. We give you ----- All Aluminum Streamline Pullmans and Coaches (smooth sides).....
Keeping with the Canadian theme of the first photo, this is a modified Zuhr RPO, described further here. And there was even more on the market in 1949, which will be outlined more fully in part III.

Continue Reading 1949 Series

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Surprising 1937 Star-Continental Find

Star-Contiental Models of Brooklyn, NY introduced their OO scale 4-4-2 model in 1937. As noted in my longer article on this model, "The model is not quite a PRR E-6--it is actually a freelance version of PRR K-4/K-5 Pacific, but built as an Atlantic." The model was later (1939-WWII) produced by Nason Railways.

In a group of papers that arrived this week was an instruction sheet, the first page only, for of one of four sections of the Nason version of this 4-4-2. What Nason did was drop their name in on the instruction sheet, but otherwise they are the original Star-Continental instructions, dated 1/16/37.

Next to my bed on a night stand I had put up what I thought to be sort of a random, novelty train printing block, as a display item. Then I noticed it looked familiar, like an illustration I had just seen. Getting out that sheet again, it was the same, it is of the same locomotive illustration as on that instruction sheet, complete with numbers and a bit of text. The numbers matched the key on that page, but the print itself was a different size.

Having a hunch, I got out my file for Star-Continental and it turns out that the printing block I have is the illustration on page 4 of their 1937 catalog. At least I think so! It matches perfectly except that it is just a bit off in length, about 10 mm shorter than my Xerox copy of the 1937 catalog. I am thinking it is old Xerox (probably 20 years old) and the image was stretched by the machine.

The first image in this article is the printing block compared to the Xerox print of the catalog, and the second image is the printing block itself, but a reverse image of the scan so that it looks like the print. Click on it for a better view.

How I got this block I have no idea. It came with some OO trains and parts, and some chain of ownership took it from Brooklyn in 1937 to Arizona in 2013. I am very happy to have seen the connection! A very rare, one-of piece of American OO history.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

1949 and American OO. Part I, Put a Fork in It?

Looking at the big picture, in terms of advertising and magazine coverage, OO might seem dead in terms of commercial viability. Kicking the year off in fact, in the January issue of Model Railroader there is an interesting interview with Irving Shull, who was “manager of the Lionel New York Service Station.” One of the questions MR posed has to do with “if Lionel would again produce its scale model OO gauge Hudson and train set, inasmuch as we had heard that all the dies for the OO equipment had been destroyed.” Shull “informed us that the company would very much like to resume manufacture of OO gauge scale model equipment, but at today’s cost of manufacture, the outfit which formerly sold at under $40 would have to retail for more than $100.” They unfortunately “could not hope to sell a sufficient quantity of them at that price” and the article concludes,
Mr. Shull said that the rumors we had heard about the discontinuance of the OO gauge equipment because the tools had been destroyed were unfounded. “On the contrary,” he wrote, “the tools have been safely set aside until the time comes when we can again place them on the market.”
That was a time that never came for Lionel. However, there was a real public out there that were established in OO gauge and would not give up so easily. They are the shaping force for all the models yet to be produced, and to set that larger context I would like to start this look at 1949 with a look at their letters.

An interesting series of letters in particular was published in MC/MRC/RMC. Under the heading “OO the Best Bet” in the March issue of Model Craftsman we hear from a reader in North Carolina that
I don’t have every back copy of The Model Craftsman, but I’ve got a lot of them, including many of your latest ones. But the old ones I like the best. I still look up those old copies and reread those car construction articles by Hugh Richard Nason. Back along then is when I started in model railroading and I’ll bet you don’t have to be told what gauge I went into. So today when I picked up your September edition from a news stand you may bet that I was reminded of those old times when I hit that article by H. R. Treat. More power to Herb and M.C. I hope there will be many more articles like it and by Herb, of course. I’m back of your magazine a hundred percent and I want to see it grown and grow and grow.
A photo from that article may be seen here in the 1948 seires, and the first photo above is another view of the OO layout of Herb Treat, published in the December 1949 issue of RMC.

Another letter also reacting positively to the models of Herb Treat may be found in the May issue of Model Railroad Craftsman. Model Railroad Craftsman? Model Craftsman had become 100% model railroading in 1948 and was changing their name to match the content. The April, May, and June issues were published under this MRC banner, but the more familiar Railroad Model Craftsman was adopted in July. A reader from Rockford, Ill wrote, “Sure would like to see more of Mr. Treat’s articles and perhaps a story, plans and pictures of his layout. I really go for his stuff…. Let’s go OO, Maybe a little boost for us, eh?”

In the June issue of MRC we find a reply illustrated with this neat little graphic from a HO gauger in Detroit. The mixture of 00 and OO gauge is original to the text, perhaps an editing glitch.
I was just going through some of my back copies of the Craftsman and came across a letter in last August’s Safety Valve about the tremendous possibilities of 00 gauge. To me this is a laugh. The writer of that letter should go into any hobby shop and take a gander at the shelves—note the absence of 00 gauge equipment. When I set out to build up a locomotive in HO gauge, it is no longer a major operation. There is a large variety of materials on the market that will fit most any prototype. In 00 gauge you are too limited unless of course you have a veritable machine shop in your basement…. I’m all wrapped up in HO gauge myself but can still see other modelers’ viewpoints – but when it comes to OO, that’s another matter!
In the following issue, the first issue of Railroad Model Craftsman, we hear again from the reader in Rockford, Ill. This time under the heading “Still Plugging 00” we read
Here I am back again, still plugging. I am one of a minority group, however small we are, but I still feel that we are the only true model railroad builders of the present day. Kits are few and manufacturers fewer in our gauge, consequently nearly every piece of rolling stock and trackside structures to gauge are homemade and home-planned. We are in this gauge because we still think it is the finest of any of our present day popular gauges. It takes a lot of work and things are pretty slow at times but we do have fun railroading knowing that we build with our own hands….
Things I would like to see some one come out with for 00 – a good power truck for both four and six wheel diesel units or even some full scale plans to work from. Some freight and passenger trucks also some streamline passenger cars.  
Those things would actually all be coming soon. Our final letter for the year is from the December issue of Model Railroader, written by a retired Major and published under the heading “OO Gauge Parts.” He wrote,
I would appreciate it if some effort could be devoted to solving the problem of securing OO gauge material and parts. 
Most of us in OO gauge hope to see, with each new issue of MR, that some manufacturer has taken up where the other manufacturers let us down. Many of us purchased heavily in the past and are still in need of plenty of parts to complete what has been under construction since the war stopped production.
OO gauge may be dead to most model railroaders in the other gauges and may not be a profitable venture for new manufacturers, but there may be enough OO gaugers left in the air to justify someone’s making enough parts to keep us going until we finish the things we started. 
It may be necessary for those of us who are left in the gauge to form a guild in order to secure parts. What do OO readers think of this idea?
Finally, the last photo in this article is from the June issue of MR, of the Miniature Railroad Club of York, PA club layout. Note the extremely interesting locomotives including in particular that scratchbuilt FT Diesel. This model predates the introduction of the Schorr F3. The fact that OO club layouts existed such as this and the letters above all reflect that there was a market for more OO models! As we will see in Part II of this series on 1949.

Continue reading 1949 series

Saturday, September 28, 2013

American OO for 1948: Part IV, H. R. Treat and Other Notes

One of the more visible OO gauge enthusiasts in 1948 was H. R. Treat of Teaneck, NJ. Magazines seem to have been looking for good photos and he was taking them and sending them in! For we find,

  • MC February -- a Lionel 4-6-4 on a bridge
  • MC April -- circus combine model
  • MR May -- circus baggage car
  • MC September -- article on building a dining-lounge-observation

There had been views of his models published in 1947 and would be even more views of his models in both magazines in future years, so this is a good point to jump ahead a little in our narrative. In MR in February of 1949, under the heading “Track Plan of the Month” there is an article on his layout with a number of interesting details. Turning there first, the layout is mostly nestled in one end of a large room (20’ x 30’) with a single track looping around nearly three walls. The curves are super-elevated and 36” radius, with one section of 2.75% grade on the mainline. The layout ran on 12 volts DC and was divided into four cabs, but also “a d.p.d.t. switch tucked away under the benchwork enables AC operation when required for unconverted foreign locomotives, a feature not found on many roads.” This type of setup allowed for running Lionel locomotives for example on the layout, and is a feature that I have pondered adding to my layout. Finally,
Operation consists of making up and running fast mail, coach or Pullman passenger trains, peddler freight and switcher runs, plus the usual engine terminal maneuvering. It is possible to run long trains on the B&T – six- to 8-car passengers and up to 25-car freights.
This photo (from the September MC article) is captioned “The main yards of the Barbaraton and Theapolis Railroad,” and in it you can see a Lionel Hudson (probably converted to DC operation, as it is decorated for his road) and also another locomotive that I would guess to be a Scale-Craft 0-6-0. The earlier photo in this article is of a Lionel Hudson "carrying the Fast Mail" on a bridge, the latter described in the caption as being “designed for Cooper E-60 loading.” It is a layout I could have enjoyed and was in ways ahead of its time with around the wall design. Besides having an interest in sharing them I think part of what got his photos published was that he had, as he states in the September article, “a yen for the unusual.”

Moving on to a few more random items, one item worth mentioning is in the May issue of MR is found a report on the annual NYSME show -- Howard Winther won OO loco prize for his Erie Berkshire. But it was not a new model, if the same one already seen in print as far back as 1936. 

With the big slowdown of products some people were moving on to other scales. In MC in August Edmund Collins is mentioned as a “clearing house for the narrow gaugers” and he had moved on to On3. He had a scratchbuilt OO locomotive on the cover of MR in 1941. The article itself has one other item of note for the OO gauger, the On model locomotive is built on a Nason 2-8-0 drive.  And in another case of moving on, Richard Houghton authored a long series on building an S gauge layout that was published in MR. A 1946 view of his OO layout may be seen here and an earlier view of his OO layout in 1940 is in this article.

With that I will conclude this look at 1948. Things were really slowing down, and in terms of being a commercially viable scale American OO was at best on life support; not enough product was moving for a real manufacturer to make money. But there were some very enthusiastic followers of the scale who soldiered on, and as the series continues a focus will be those individuals, their layouts, their products.

Return to beginning of 1948 Series

Continue to 1949 Series

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Difference of Decades IV: Caboose 58 and More

Up today is another "difference of decades" photo, this one again from the layout of Pierre Bourassa. In those days before the Internet he was a great letter writer and sent many photos out. This photo came to me second hand but has at least two and probably four items in it that I own today.

The photo is dated 2-11-89 and is of his layout. As always, click on the photo for a better view. Taking in the overall look at it, there are six cabooses visible and ten locomotives visible. Looking at the locomotives first, working our way across there are four Schorr RS-2 models in the group, three more modern diesels kitbashed from HO models, a Kemtron GP-7, and a pair of Schorr F-3's. The cabooses in the back are more difficult to ID but I think there are three Schorr cabooses and two are Scale-Craft. There are also two passenger cars that are hard to ID and then the freight cars up front. The gondola is definitely Schorr, the 50' boxcar is Scale-Craft, and then we get to those great outside braced boxcars and caboose 58.

Here are some of those are today. Caboose 58 is a Nason model that has been kitbashed and may be seen in two more views in this article. The roof is removable and it has lights, a very nice model. The outside braced car I don't think Pierre built. It is scratchbuilt and has Scale-Craft doors. It came to me on Scale-Craft trucks too but it was such a nice car I upgraded it with Schorr trucks. In the back are two Schorr F-3 models. I can't be sure these are the same ones as in the 1989 photo but they might be and certainly are very similar. They don't run now and are a bit worse for the wear of years than the freight cars. Those I am still pondering, they are right on that edge, condition wise, between models I would restore as is and models I would think about stripping and repainting--they look better in the photo than they are in reality. No rush anyway for now. These I think Pierre built up and in particular the windshields are a difficult feature to add and are nicely made from I believe real glass.

So where are the other items now from the first photo? Who knows, but I hope they are still out there and being enjoyed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

American OO for 1948: Part III, Smaller Makers Keep Things Rolling

While a fairly slow year, there were two significant, new items in OO for 1948.

First up alphabetically is Eastern; their new gondola car (more here) was a bright spot in the OO world for 1948. A steady advertiser in MR, they ran a teaser ad on the new car in the March issue and introduced the new product in the April issue. This was a good product (the best gondola kit offered in OO—all the different cars are discussed in this article), and their small line of freight cars would be on the market for years and years. My overview of Eastern production is here.

The other new item for 1948 was the SW-1 model by Super Scale, first advertised in the April issue of MR as seen in this article. This was available in multiple scales; multiple views of an example of this copper (brass) model in OO scale as built up by Carl Appel may be seen in this article. (With one of those views below as well). I have a copy Super Scale of price sheets dated 2/8/48, and besides the "EMC 600 HP Diesel" (the SW-1) they also list three more models being available in OO, models I have never seen and possibly not produced, but who knows? The three models are a Baldwin sloping back tender, a NYC 3 Power loco (GE) and a NYC T3 Terminal Electirc loco. Perhaps there are examples out there?

Moving on to other firms, the Famoco GG-1 listed pretty often in advertising for sale by mail order firms. Among their last advertisements is one featuring their Famoco Flash newsletter and discount prices for kits in the May issue of MR. The flyer itself may be seen in this article, and actually the prices are more like close-out prices in reality. The last direct advertisement ran by Famoco related to OO was in the July 1948 issue of MR. Looking ahead, by 1950 they were a HO manufacturer and out of the OO market, although some items still show up in listings that I take by then to be old stock.

Another classic OO line was Picard. They advertised little but the line was still available. The line was fading into model railroad history, though, and I believe their last advertisement may be found in the November, 1948 issue of MR. See this article for more on the firm.

It also should be noted there was plenty of track material on the market to build a layout of any size easily. Tru-Scale, Midlin, Mac Johnston, and Bob Peare “Trackmaster” had products on the market. New in 1948 were the Trackmaster products for OO, described more here. OO switches in particular, they I believe had some crossover market in the time as On3 was becoming a player in the hobby and the track guage was (and is) the same as OO.

Finally, Jerry White advertised custom building in all scales including OO. This article has a scan one of his ads from 1948 and he clearly did make some great models in OO around this timeframe (such as seen in this article).

UPDATE: Mentioned above is Mac Johnston, and this is his OO product. The points are marked with his logo and also his name, making clear which turnouts were his handiwork.

To close this look at 1948 the series will continue with a look at some models by H. R. Treat with other final notes on the year.

Continue in 1948 Series