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

Friday, June 21, 2013

American OO for ’47: Part I, Nason

To start this look at the year our first maker will be the oldest OO manufacturer still in business, Nason Railways.

Nason was struggling in 1946, and 1947 was not a much better year for them. Since the writing of the article on Nason in 1946 I was able to track down a bit more firm information on ownership changes at Nason, which have been incorporated into the longer Nason 101 article. In 1947 the owner was the same as in ‘46, Edward Kelly. Hugh Nason had actually not been with the firm since about 1941, which clarifies much.

I don’t have the complete year of The Model Craftsman, but it appears that Nason ran the same ad in Model Railroader and Model Craftsman each month up to a point around mid-year when they dropped the MC advertising. As the year starts the focus by month was:

  • January -- rail, spikes, Hudson frames
  • February/March -- parts, steel rule, reefer and boxcar frames, roof stock
  • April -- caboose, reefer, and boxcar kits less trucks
  • May -- Consolidation tender parts
  • June -- worm bearings, Atlantic drivers, Fibre gears 
  • July -- Pullman roofs and floors (pine)

One theme of advertising in 1946 was that trucks were coming soon. Finally, after many long months, Nason has trucks available, Dalman freight trucks “newly designed” in bronze, the ad featuring this item running in August and September

And in October, finally, they advertised as available complete box and reefer kits with trucks. In November the same ad would run again, and then the trail runs cold. Nason Railways would fade into model railroad history. I know of no further advertising by the firm.

Certainly their kits were priced right. $3.25 a kit, complete; the comparable Scale-Craft cars in 1947 listed at $4.95. But the fact was these were tired, pre-war kits, undoubtedly mostly pulled together from old stock, whose time had passed.

However, the year was not quite done! This post card was postmarked November 29, 1947. Nason had an idea to market the Westchester line of HO-OO buildings as OO. The second post card below shows another part of the Westchester line in the same marketing campaign. The line is briefly described in this prior article and besides these two cards I have two more sheets of Westchester buildings with "Nason Railways, Inc." rubber stamped in the margins.

The very last Nason advertisement I know of ran in 1950, for packages of parts for the Hudson locomotive and the Consolidation (more here). A couple elements of the line were disbursed to others, in particular Guild purchased the rights to the 4-4-2 model (more information here) and M. P. Davis also marketed a bit of former Nason product on his own (more information here) including the P5-A and the sand cast box car and passenger cars. Davis was apparently the final owner of the Nason toolings, and I am pretty sure I own one small Nason master pattern that came down through his ownership, for the passenger car diaphragm (see more here).

While 1947 was the pretty much the end of the line for Nason, 1947 still was a big year for American OO, and when the series returns the topic is the biggest OO manufacturer, Scale-Craft.

Continue to Part II of 1947 Series

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