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

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blow-Smoke, part 4--the S-C 4-6-4T and “Why Have a Hobby”

Volume 1 Number 5 of the Scale-Craft Blow-Smoke newsletter (November, 1938) featured another new locomotive in their OO line and an interesting editorial by Scale-Craft owner Elliott Donnelley on the topic of hobbies.

First, the locomotive, which is a somewhat rare item today and quite an interesting model, the 4-6-4T. The model in the photo is in the collection of Dick Gresham. The description of the brand new model is quite interesting and lays out details of the model well.

This brand new Scale-Craft “OO” Gauge 4-6-4 Tank Locomotive is the happy answer to that oft repeated prayer for a short-coupled locomotive of sufficient power to handle trains over short radius curves on layouts without room for turntables. This highly interesting little power unit was taken from the Central R.R. of New Jersey’s suburban locomotives, handling runs out of New York. It is the design of one of our own men at the shop, who is a model railroader of long experience. We were deeply impressed by its performance when it rolled over our layout for the first time! We decided to make it available in kit form to the model public; it was a sure winner--as we all saw it. The instant response from our many patrons in the form of orders has proven the wisdom of our decision.

The job is built up from our standard 10 wheeler casting, and all additional brass stampings and machined parts for the tender are furnished….

Strict adherence to any one prototype has not been the rule in the preparation of this unit. It might be termed a free-lance in the true sense of the word, but this fact renders it suitable for any layout. There is such a general similarity between tankers, that slight variations in external details are lost in the general view. This latest addition to the Scale-Craft line is getting an enthusiastic reception from our patrons, and we look forward to a heavy run on our supply of kits.
It sold as a complete kit for $21.50 or in two sections for $11.75 per section and at least as initially produced used their DC motor. I would be interested to know if this changed during production of this model, which was discontinued during WWII.

As noted in an earlier post, Scale-Craft owner Elliott Donnelley (1903-1975) was a son of R. R. Donnelley, was very involved with the large commercial printing firm R. R. Donnelley and Sons, and had a number of interests besides trains including for example his work with Trout Unlimited and more. He is described in this short biography as being a man of “boundless energy and devotion to a range of concerns” and he lays out an interesting argument for the value of hobbies in his lead editorial in this issue of Blow-Smoke, “Why Have a Hobby”. Some portions are in italics in the quotes below, and the italics are original to the editorial. Donnelley wrote,
Whether you realize it or not, you are missing a lot of the fun in life unless you have at least one hobby.

And much more than just fun. Most people look upon a hobby as a sort of aimless amusement--a means of killing time. It is a great deal more than that. A hobby may be, and usually is, a world of fun to the hobbyist: but you miss the point almost entirely if you do not realize that it is also a form of recreation, and antidote to the grind of daily work, a relief to strained nerves, a form of self-discipline and of self-culture, and, often, a means of bringing devotees of the same hobby together in lasting friendships.

When a physician finds a patient with worn and frazzled nerves, with health impaired by too constant attention to an exacting business, what does he prescribe? Very likely, he will recommend a rest and a change of scene--a temporary break with the routine which has proved so wearing. And the wise doctor also knows that in prescribing a change of scene he is only doing what the patient would have done for himself had he been an ardent rider of some hobby.

Hobbies are most helpful when they tap deep-seated interests….
After a long discussion of the hobby of model railroading specifically he concludes,
It is said that once the miniature railroad bug bites one of its happy victims, he never is quite the same again. But what of it? Did you ever hear of a model railroad enthusiast who had a nervous breakdown? No, and you never will!
Continue in the Blow-Smoke series 

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