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

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Commander Moale on his OO Trolley Models

One of the more unexpected American OO models you will run into occasionally in the model press were the OO trolley and interurban models made by Commander Edward-Semple Moale. I own one of these models today and have featured them previously in this website three times:
As mentioned in two of the other articles, there were a group of original photos of the Moale trolley layout in items associated with the OO Inventory of the OO SIG. I believe they came to the inventory via Edward Morlok, who owned the last of the Moale layouts and all the cars at his passing, before they disbursed on eBay (photos of two models that I took at his home are featured in the first article above). I would like today to feature the last four of the original Moale photos that are sharp enough to post along with most of the text of an article by Commander Moale. The article was published in Traction & Models in October of 1975 with the title "Over 60 'OO' Scale Cars" and gives great insights into the commander and the models and layout seen here. He begins,
Here are a few photographs; some in black and white and others in color. They show some of the more than 60 "OO" gauge models which I have been building since 1937. Some of these were built at sea, on board ship, some in Iceland while in command of the Naval Ammunition Depot at Hvalfjiord, and others while stationed in Washington, where I was able to buy a house with a magnificently spacious attic. The latter enabled me to build a layout of 5 scale miles (4mm=1 foot), which I called the STONE HILL RAILROAD, in memory of a wooden non-scale clockwork outfit built for me by my grandfather in 1898 in Seattle. 
Upon retiring after 37 years of active service, I moved here to Charleston, S.C. This, of course, necessitated abandonment of the Stone Hill Railroad. A very sad discovery was the fact that the attic in the house which I bought here is as hot as the proverbial gates of his satanic majesty's realm in summer and frigid in winter. This being the case, I must use a moderate size room in the centrally air conditioned part of the house for an Electric Railway library, locomotive and street car picture gallery, and city street car layout. The extremely tight curves on this type of layout, of course, preclude the use of interurbans, so that these must be relegated to the humble category of non-operating mantle piece display models.
My copy of the article is an old Xerox but the scenes in the article are very similar to the ones in these photos, with a couple identical items visible. Such as for example the two truck trailers on the interurban line seen at the right. The caption of the similar photo says "My great invention that didn't pan out."

The other car that is definitely visible in the article and in these photos is the Spokane Inland Railway car visible in the last photo. He made a wide variety of trolley and interurban cars and built them to operate.

Three of the photos are dated in the mounting as may be seen here to 1955 and 56. The first photo is a long view of the layout. The second view is the location seen in the distance in the first photo, and the third and fourth photos are of a location to the left of that in the second photo. Much can be gleaned from the photos (click on them for a larger view), including his operation of a steam railroad as well with a Scale-Craft ten-wheeler and various S-C, Nason, and Lionel cars also visible. The US Navy tank car in the last photo is also a nice touch in relation to his long Naval career.

More than anything though I wanted to feature today the text written by Commander Moale, briefly describing his layout and model building in his own words. Layouts such as this will almost certainly never again be seen in OO, but certainly the unique models built by Commander Moale are ones to treasure today.

UPDATE: Another published photo from 1955 of a Moale trolley may be seen here (scroll down).

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