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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Custom OO by Superior Models/Jerry White

In the previous post I mentioned that the OO scale item that sold for the highest dollar amount at the 1991 Miller auction was a custom built 2-8-8-2 locomotive and tender by Jerry White.

I have personally only seen one model built by Jerry white, this Exacta streamliner described further in this previous post. I did not see it in the list at the Morlok auction but it must have been sold to a lucky buyer, an unremarked treasure in a box. Click on the photo for a close up view of this gem. It is on Schorr trucks and has full interior details.

Jerry White was over the years a manufacturer and custom builder of model trains and especially locomotives and passenger cars. I have seen a few of his advertisements, and as an example this is a scan of his ad in the February 1948 issue of Model Railroader.

As stated in the advertisement text he worked in all gauges, but it seems that today he is best remembered for his work in O scale. In recognition of this, he was inducted into the O Scale Hall of Fame in 1997. White was born in 1914. He was very active in the NMRA and was Master Model Railroader #139. As a custom builder he sold models in TT, HO, OO, S, and O scales. By the 1960s he was basically specializing in O and On3.

On his retirement White sold his business to Rod Miler, who continues to custom build. In his site he has this bio of Jerry White, which I will in conclusion due to its significance quote in full. His OO models are ones to treasure.

Jerry White grew up in Keene, NH, which was serviced by the Boston and Maine railroad. While he was a high school student in the mid-1930's he built his first model, the B&M railcar that provided local passenger service. The engineer was so impressed he bought it from Jerry. Thus started Jerry's career in railroad model building.

After graduation he developed and manufactured 2-8-0 and a 4-6-0 O scale locomotive kits.

Attempts at sharing equipment with other modelers led to his strong interest in standards in order to facilitate inter-operability. He was an early member of the NMRA in order to support its standards efforts. He served as technical chairman of the NMRA for four years, and is an NMRA Master Model Railroader.

Prior to World War II he worked for Rollin J. Lobaugh, one of the early manufacturers of O scale locomotives and rolling stock. After WW II he started Superior Models in Redwood City, CA, where he scratch built models of steam locomotives in TT, HO, OO, S, and O scale. He also scratch built some diesel locomotives, and many passenger cars including complete trains such as the Western Pacific's California Zephyr and the New York Central's Mercury.

In the 1950s Jerry designed and manufactured HO scale models of the PS-1 boxcar under the name of Kurtz Kraft. The bodies were injection molded, had separate free standing ladders, hand grabs, etc. The kits were available painted and lettered for several road names.

Over the years, he concentrated his model building activities on O scale, which was his personal favorite. He also developed a lively drive systems business as people who purchased imported brass locomotives discovered they left a lot to be desired in both smooth running and pulling power. Today an import locomotive with a Jerry White drive commands a premium price.

Jerry's locomotive building business and products were featured in an article in the September 1954 issue of Model Railroader magazine. In the February 1963 issue of Model Railroader magazine he was interviewed on the subject on locomotive performance. He also wrote an article on model locomotive gearing that was published in the August 1976 issue of the NMRA Bulletin.

Jerry presented clinics on model building, drive systems, and gearing at numerous NMRA and O Scale meets.

In 1995 Jerry retired to Napa, CA. Jerry passed away in October 2007.

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