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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The First American OO Gauge Locomotive Produced

While Thuillgrim Models advertised and displayed some locomotives earlier, the OO Gauge Model Co. of Harrisburg, PA was the first firm known to have put a locomotive into production. Operational from 1934-1936, the firm was run by Howard A. LeVan, Jr. A photo of an example of their 0-4-0 with the blueprints may be found on page 28 of the October, 1986 issue of The Train Collectors Quarterly and the model in that photo in the Quarterly article just sold (out of my price range) on eBay this past week, as did a second less complete model, both from the Morlok collection.

Ed Morlok was very interested in this firm. As best we could tell their production, very limited, included the following models:

0-4-0, PRR A-5
4-4-2, Reading P-7, sand cast boiler
4-6-2, CNJ, sand cast boiler

This advertisement is from the January, 1936 issue of The Model Railroader. The residence of owner Howard A. LeVan, Jr., was the Halderman House, which was the home of the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1823-1829 and was later maintained by the PRR as the residence of its General Superintendent from 1896-1926.

While Thuillgrim did make a few parts and certainly at least a sample of their 4-6-4, The OO Gauge Model Co. 0-4-0 is the first locomotive actually produced in OO with examples known to exist today. Who knows when the next one will turn up for sale; it is an extremely rare model to keep your eyes peeled for.

UPDATE: From site statistics I knew that this page is among the more frequently viewed, and thanks to the current owner I am now able to post these two photos of the same model featured in the TCA article noted above which I authored with Ed Morlok. Click on either photo for a larger view.

First is this view of the boiler and cab. Note the size of this compact model and the card with it.

This second view is of more parts, including another boiler and the frame and motor. Morlok purchased the model from Ed Schwobli, who had worked with Hugh Nason early on.

One final thing to mention as I have a bit more space, I have always been fascinated by the name choice of this company. "The OO Gauge Model Company." Sounds big! They were in early, had some plans for sure, and their models are among the rarest ever produced in American OO.

UPDATE II: And the model featured in the third photo in this article is I think pretty likely an example of their 4-6-2 model.


Ted said...

My dad's 0-4-0 was a freelance model - a tank engine with a Belpaire firebox, but not a PRR A-5. I believe all PRR A-5's had tenders

John Ericson said...

Ted, Thank you for your note! The comment is in relation to a link from this post Ted is a son of Howard Winther.