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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

American OO for 1945: Part III, September-December


To kick things off, in the September issue of The Model Railroader we find this nice photo (below) of an OO layout in Little Rock, Arkansas. The builder, W. Irving Skipper, has done some nice work with the scenery and among the equipment visible (mostly S-C, but note the light colored Lionel boxcar) take a look at the scratch built diesel switcher hiding behind the freight house.

Just a few pages later we get to an article that deserves a close look. The facing page is a Polk’s advertisement which lists the complete line of J-C passenger kits and also Lionel OO caboose kits, “just a few left” at $2.75. With that as context, the article is titled “Model Supplies by Christmas” and is an overview of post-war plans, a “preview of what may be expected on the model railroad market within the next few months.” In the introductory text we learn that “Scale-Craft is moving to a new building designed especially for model railroad manufacturing and will resume normal production of its O and OO line of cars and locomotives here.” Continuing down in the text we find these interesting and specific notes from three prominent pre-war OO manufacturers.
Scale-Craft & Co.: According to Elliott Donnelley, president, it looks now as if it will be the first of the year before Scale-Craft can get back to normal production of its large O and OO gauge line of cars and locomotives. “Of course it is a little early right now to predict,” said Donnelley, “for few of our suppliers know just yet exactly how cancellations will affect them. Material supply is adequate, but the making of new tools and dies will be our worst bottleneck. Moving to our new building will not cause any delay.” 
Picard Novelty Co.: Production of “Pappy” Picard’s wood freight car bodies depends on lumber supply, which he indicates will be available soon. Because the demand for existing body kits is so great, plans for new kits have been postponed. 
Graceline Model Railroads: This firm, headed by John Devore, has changed its production items to O gauge and will drop its OO gauge line.
In the October issue of MR there is a half page ad for Graceline but with the simple note for us that “OO Gauge is discontinued.” And a few pages later this sad advertisement.  Anybody want to buy some dies?

Turning over the The Model Craftsman, Red Adams builds a GG-1 in their October and November issues. Or does he? My October copy is missing the beginning of the article (and my set of issues of MC is incomplete for the year), but so far as I can tell there are no photos of the finished model; I believe it is more of an article how to build one based on his experiences, an assignment given him to fill pages -- he may not have actually built one.

Scale-Craft had two different plant locations in Libertyville, neither of which I have a street address for. In this prior article we had a good view of their first plant there and in the November, 1945 issue of MR there is a drawing of their "new $75,000 building near its present plant in Libertyville, Ill." It is noted that they "will move into it shortly after the first of the year." Click on the photo for a better view. Having gone up and down the most likely streets online all I can say is of the buildings I can see I can't find the new plant either, if it was built to look like the drawing. Maybe it is the building on the end of North Avenue just outside of the Google street view. Of course, it could be right there along the same street and modernized several times since 1946 so much that it is unrecognizable. Or by now a newer building could have been built right on top of either or both of their factory locations.

UPDATE: The addresses were finally located, see this article for more. The building above burned to the ground ca. 2006.

Turning to December, there is a helpful article on rail standards in Model Railroader, which was reviewed briefly in this prior article. More interesting for us however are two specific advertisements. First up is a classic OO firm that we have not heard from for a long while in this series, Nason Railways. In a simple ad offering Christmas greetings we read “We are ready to serve you on a limited basis now, but our complete old line and many new items will come in the near future.” Sounds pretty good! And then we get to this ad from a brand new firm, Transportation Models. Graceline turned around the dies pretty quickly and we will be hearing more from Transportation Models in 1946. For part I of an overview of their production see this article. 

When the series returns the topic will be 1946, a year that saw many changes come in the model railroad market.

Return to beginning of 1945 Series

Continue to 1946 Series

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