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Sunday, November 9, 2014

And Then There’s Vanden Boom. Part II: Other Freight Cars

Vanden Boom offered much more than the line of OO gauge reefers described in Part I. They listed the Lionel OO line in their catalog too and also several other unique cars of their own  manufacture.

First up is the 00C1 Standard caboose in wood. This first illustration is of an advertisement for this car. Note that no scale is listed in this ad from the September, 1940 issue of Model Railroader. It would seem their thinking was that people would write asking if it was available in their favorite scale and the answer would be “Yes!” as they sold it in HO, OO, and O gauges. But reading the ad I am inclined to think most would think it to be an O gauge kit, and that is clearly a prototype photo, not a model in any scale.

It is of a very distinctive model and if any example exists in OO today it should be really easy to spot with that metal “cupalo.” It is based on a Union Pacific design. Their catalog notes that they specialize in Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and “Western Railroads,” which was a good niche market to serve with many lines of models being very eastern road centered.

This second illustration is from the instructions to this kit. All I have is this page and also a photocopy of the box lid. The box is marked as the OO kit and the instructions say it is a drawing full size for OO. However, the Vanden Boom logo in the instruction page has an “O” in the middle. In the 1940 catalog the middle of the logo reads O, OO, or HO depending on the section of the catalog it was used in.

The logo seen here for comparison is from the OO section of the catalog. It is possible they provided an OO drawing with the O gauge caboose, but also very possible they simply dropped the wrong logo into the drawing.

Finally, this is the caboose as listed in the catalog. The photo is clearly of a model but I am inclined to think perhaps the O gauge version, judging from the trucks.

If that were not enough, there were even more cars! Next up alphabetically is the 00F1 40’ outside braced box car, which was illustrated as below in the catalog.

As with the caboose, I have to wonder is that really the OO model? They also sold the Lionel OO box car and the photo used is clearly a prototype photo. Plus, this model was also offered in O and HO gauges. For the caboose and box car I am not sure the photos are of OO models, but for the wreck train below I think they probably are the OO models as different illustrations are used for the O and HO versions.

Finally we get to the last really interesting group of models, the “W” cars. They are all part of a wreck train; most are actually illustrated in the catalog. The list is:

00W1 Open end passenger car
00W2 Combination baggage and coach
00W3 Blacksmith car
00W4 Crane (non-working)
00W5 Tool car
00W6 Flat car

This first photo shows the caboose again and the coach, and the final photo shows the blacksmith car, crane, and tool car. The blacksmith and tool cars in particular look to be on Nason trucks. No other OO maker sold these models and if any exist today they would certainly stand out from the crowd!

For those finding this article looking for info on their O gauge models, there is an article on Vanden Boom by Keith Wills in the May, 2000 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman that goes into more detail, but all of these OO models were also listed in O and HO gauges and their most extensive listings are of O gauge models. The 1940 catalog is over 50 pages long and well worth searching out for more information.

Advertising for that catalog ran sporadically in Model Railroader into early 1942 at least, and I also found via Google some classified ads they ran, including one on this page of the March, 1944 issue of Model Builder.  It simply reads, "MINI-TRAIN CATALOG--Send 25c in coin or stamps, VANDEN BOOM'S, 3823 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo."

They were located at Broadway at 38th St. in Kansas City, MO. Google street view shows no building resembling the one in their catalog at that location today.

I don’t know if I will ever track down any Vanden Boom OO. It must be very rare, and the line was certainly not well advertised or known back in the day. Perhaps some collectors have some though--if you have more info to offer on the line I would love to hear from you.

Return to Part I

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