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

Thursday, July 4, 2013

American OO for ’47: Part III, Eastern, Famoco, J-C, and “Borrowing”

Continuing this look at 1947, our topic will be three related makers, Eastern, Famoco, and J-C.

While their pre-war locomotives were not advertised in 1946, Famoco advertised their GG-1 right off the bat in the January 1947 issue of Model Railroader. The copy states that the body is “of heavy gauge brass,” so it should still be the sand cast version of this model that was in production, and they ran the same ad again in March (which this is a scan of--as always, click for a better view).  This model had been introduced in 1939, and the photo is the same as was used in advertising in 1939. For more on the early and late (what I would think of as post-war) versions of their GG-1 see this article.

Then in the February issue of MR Famoco advertised their new box car and reefer kits. These were a brand new product for them, but they were not actually a brand new product on the market. This is where things start getting confusing. Back in 1946 Eastern had introduced a line of box cars and reefers. Then in 1947 Famoco introduced their own line of box cars and reefers. As I have it worded presently in the longer Famoco 101 article,
Both of these models came with exactly the same printed sides for a variety of roads. The wood parts, stampings, and most castings are identical to Eastern. The primary differences between the Eastern and Famoco versions of these cars are Famoco cars often (but not always!) have die cast ends and also the frames are different and clearly marked. 
The early versions of these cars have pressed cardboard ends. The version with cast ends would be perceived as an upgrade over the Eastern product. For a comparison of the early and late version of the Famoco kit see this article.

Sticking with February, the next scan is of the Eastern advertisement. As noted, they sold essentially the same cars as a competitor but at least Eastern had “more coming.” And there would eventually be another car in their line, but it was not out in 1947. One problem of their trucks and frames was the trucks were insulated on one side, and if one truck was oriented opposite the other it created a dead short in two rail operation. The solution: Eastern advertised in the August MR that their “freight trucks now have all the wheels insulated.” Famoco, on the other hand, at some point switched to a split, two piece frame to solve the same problem.  My Eastern overview is here.

The June Famoco ad is an interesting one as it tries sort of a reverse psychology approach. Under the banner “Nothing new!” they note “Not unless you mean these new, completely detailed, die-cast ends which we are now including in our freight kits. OR The new passenger car kits, complete with all hardware and trucks that we hope to have ready when this ad breaks.”

It was not until their November advertisement that they formally introduced their “new” line of OO passenger cars. If I am interpreting history correctly actually this is a reintroduction of these cars which were also produced in the pre-war era. And also it is another example of “borrowing” by Famoco, as their cars were based on the same parts as the cars sold by J-C Models. Turning again to the present wording in the Famoco 101 article,
These cars utilize sides and wood parts that match those of J-C Models perfectly. The distinguishing details are the cast ends and other die cast parts which were not supplied with J-C kits. The exact relationship of these two firms is unclear, as the models were actually on the market at the same time. The thinking may have been for Famoco to market the upgrade version of the model but J-C kept selling the simple version (and was able to keep selling it all through WWII). 
Before leaving Famoco, they ended the year with a contest! Announced in their December advertisement, the prize was a GG-1 locomotive, to be won by  “the person sending us the best 20-word statement on ‘why I prefer OO gauge.’”

To close, a brief look at J-C Models as well. They advertised their four OO cars that have been made now for years with periodic advertisements in MR, such as for example this one in the October issue. Also the cars are listed among items for sale from mail order places; their OO cars were easily available 1947 and were priced right compared to the reintroduced Famoco model. Which leads me to a  question, what about J-C kits in 1948? Looking ahead from this October ’47 ad the next one I see is in the June, 1948 MR, and it features their new HO “Silver Side” kits. So it is possible the “new” Famoco version of this car at this point reflects them actually buying out the OO model from J-C and J-C exiting the OO market. But it still does not explain the pre-war production of the Famoco model, and clearly there were still J-C kits OO being sold as new for a while from existing stock. In either case though, the J-C kit had run its course; most everyone active in OO had built several of their kits during the war and did not need more. The main article on J-C Models is here.

When the series returns the focus will be on another of the new postwar lines, Transportation Models.

Continue reading in 1947 Series

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