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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An OO Gem: The Famoco GG-1

In the article on OO gauge track in the October, 2008 issue of The Train Collectors Quarterly Ed Morlok mentions the Famoco GG-1 as one of the “gems” of American OO.

I don’t own one of these but I did scan from my archive this photo of a model and instructions. I took this photo some years ago at the home of Bill Chapin. Click on the photo for a larger view of the model and instructions.

Note: The rest of this post was updated with the assistance of Dick Gresham. He notes that my photo is probably a prewar version of the die cast model with the AC-DC motor and vertical drive shaft.

The model was originally introduced in 1939 in sand cast bronze. The “Famoco Flash” flyer, reproduced here (thank you Dick G.), introduced an updated version of the die cast model as follows:
Now the famous FAMOCO GG-1 is powered by the powerful Pittman DC-71 PERMAG Motors, geared directly to all drivers! The single motor loco has all six drivers of the power truck pulling --- in the twin motored loco, all twelve drivers are working! … The FAMOCO GG-1 is without doubt, the most powerful OO engine today.
Click on the image to see a larger version. This pulling power was a great thing to have as OO cars are, as we all know, typically somewhat heavy and not especially free rolling. The GG-1 was also available with two of the DC-71 motors, which would have made it quite a puller.

As implied in the flyer, this model is seen today with several different motors. This photo is from Dick Gresham, which is an incomplete model of this version.

Dick also shared a pair of photos of another, older GG-1 in the collection of Dick Kuehnemund. This sand-cast model has a different motor with a horizontal drive shaft and a spring driving the power truck. There is an access plate on the top. He believes that this hole and access cover was added by a previous owner, and he is not sure if the motor in this GG-1 is an original Famoco motor or not.

I have a copy of a Famoco catalog that dates to I believe 1939. This catalog lists a three pole motor as being in the standard kit and a seven pole motor was supplied with the deluxe kit. At the time of the catalog the model was still bronze, with prices ranging from $37.50 for the deluxe, machined kit in two rail to $25 for the semi-machined kit with a three pole motor. By the date of the Famoco Flash flyer the price had gone up to $44.50 for single motor and $56.50 for twin motor.

Finally, it should be noted that Famoco after the war shifted out of OO and produced several models in HO. At the HOSeeker site on this page there is a link to the instruction sheets for their HO GG-1 and also B-1 models. These were introduced ca. 1950, being advertised as new models in the January, 1950 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman for example. The advertised price is a rather more affordable $34.50.

This model is definitely an OO classic to be on the lookout for. As already noted, I don't own one, but it would certainly be an impressive model to see in operation today.

UPDATE 2014. Working over the photo files on my new computer I found this great photo of a built up example of this model. I don't have any idea who to credit it to, and I suspect I have had this photo around since before I launched this blog. An impressive model, one that should be in any OO gauge collection.

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