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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

American OO for 1945: Part II, June-August


Kicking things off, the big news for June was that War Production Board order L-81 had been cancelled. In the June issue of Model Railroader we read in a headline that “Manufacturing Permitted as Long as Materials and Labor Can be Obtained.” In the article we read “All restrictions on copper and brass have been removed, and this should make possible an early return of brass rail to the market….” However, they also report that the war is not over and there are labor shortages in some areas as well.

Also in June we see very hopeful advertising from Scale-Craft in MR and MC. The ad is here, and it is clear Scale-Craft was still sold on OO gauge. They considered it “the best of the smaller gauges” and they were “working on plans for a greatly expanded line” of OO models. How this plays out will be seen over the next few years.

Working on this now long series of articles there are always some surprises, and turning over to The Model Craftsman, their June '45 issue has a feature article that was especially surprising and interesting to see. For featured is a LARGE OO scale layout used to train recruits at the Ordinance School at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland!

The write up shows the layout fills 360 square feet of space and was operated in a completely prototypical manner, breaking up trains so that they may “be unloaded systematically and returned to the main lines promptly.”  The two-rail layout has 70 automatic switches and operates on 32 volts DC. From the article,
The rolling stock of the miniature line includes models of real roads. Assembled from standard commercial kits by the men under Lt. Usinger and bosses before him, the 45 flats, 20 gondolas and 45 boxes carry well-known names…. Since the training model demonstrates only the handling of freight, no passenger or special equipment cars are used on the system.
Three locomotives furnish the motive power. The “king-bee” of the line is a heavy freight engine bearing the mark of the C. & N. W., completely to scale, down to such details as rivets, whistle, bells and piping. A 6-wheel light switch engine and a home-designed Diesel engine round out the driving equipment.
The layout was valued at $2,500, serving well to “orient ordnance men in the control of railway equipment within large depots. Instead of expensive trips to real depots, students see a demonstration of the correct methods of classification, dispatching, switching, spotting, unloading, and control in the short period of 1 or 2 hours.” And it was in American OO! Click on the photos for a better view.

To close out this overview of these few months of 1945 I would close with text from the August Scale-Craft ad in MR. We read there we read “Let’s face the facts. While the government has rescinded order L-81 which prohibited the making of model railroad equipment … materials are not plentiful.” Scale-Craft hoped to get some models in production in the late fall, the topic of the final post in this series on OO in 1945.

Continue in Series on American OO for 1945

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