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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bronze Garco Baldwin Diesel Switcher

Harry J. Garrett & Co. (Garco) of Dallas, Texas marketed beginning in 1947 a sand cast bronze model of a Baldwin-Westinghouse diesel switcher. This model I was told by at least one older timer in OO was sold as "HO (or OO)." It is over scale for HO and has certainly been converted for operation in OO a few times.

This photo is of a trio of Garco Baldwins in the collection of Bill Chapin, photographed some years back. My recollection was that at least two of these had been converted to OO drives. However, so far as I can tell this model was actually only marketed as HO.

The HOSeeker site has a section of information from Garco, who also marketed models as Custom-Model Railways and sold hobby supplies with the name Garrett-Boyer. The page that links all their Garco materials (including instructions) is here, and the 1947 price list is directly linked here. If I can find a print material that points to actual marketing of this model as HO/OO I will update, but for now it remains an interesting model that you may find converted to OO.

It is worth noting as well that Garco produced in bronze or aluminum a "Vanderbuilt" tender in HO and also EMC passenger diesels (A and B units) in HO and O. This was an E unit of unspecified model. More information on both may be found here.

UPDATE 2013. I was lucky to obtain a nice example of the Garco Baldwin from Bill Gilbert. I had long been wondering exactly how it would scale out compared to a HO model and this new photo lays it out pretty clearly. The HO model is an Athearn S-12 (that I decorated for a freelance line when I was in high school), which should be the same length. The Garco model is however clearly larger in every dimension.

The prototype is the Baldwin VO1000, which was produced between 1939 and 1946. Over 1,000 of the prototype locomotives were produced, so it was a fairly popular model. The Garco version is of the late style carbody. (The S-12 in the middle photo being a successor model of Baldwin switcher, produced from 1951-56).

The last photo shows the drive. Comparing it with the instruction sheets in the HOSeeker site this is the original drive but modified for OO. Love that big motor and the flywheel is a nice feature for a model from 1947. The quality of the body casting itself is very nice.

As to the scale of the model, I would like to say it is OO scale, but it actually is not. I would estimate the scale to be somewhere around 1/80. Why so over sized? I am not sure, but my guess is to better fit the big motor and flywheel inside the heavy bronze casting that is the body. In any event, I plan to complete the model above for OO operation (the windows being the last big challenge to do, most of the rest of the work was done before the model got to me) and I think it will turn out very well. This is certainly a model to keep your eyes peeled for.

For a bit more on this model and a comparison with the Fleischmann Baldwin switcher (also overscale) see this article.

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