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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

American OO in 1933, part I: The First Nason Advertisement and Trucks and more by Howard Winther

As noted in the final installment of the article on the Grimke series on OO 1931-32, the year ended on a down note as his series on OO ends abruptly and Thuillgrim quit advertising their early OO products. There are no other articles or advertisements to be found in The Modelmaker related to OO for the rest of the year.

January of 1933 starts on an up note however as inside the front cover of this issue of The Modelmaker we find the first advertisement I have spotted for Nason. It is not, however, for an OO gauge product, it is for paint! And, judging from the text, it is a product they were aiming at O gaugers. But Hugh Nason had a firm going and soon enough it would be the leading early OO manufacturer.

The February 1933 issue of The Modelmaker has the first published article not by Grimke on OO gauge. It is by Howard Winther and is on the topic of “Small Gauge Car Trucks.” At this point in time so far as I can tell no manufacturer was actively selling OO gauge trucks, and Winther describes in this article how he makes his own from scratch. Most notably, in principle the trucks are of a design similar to that later adopted by Lionel, especially in terms of the method of attachment of the bolster.
This type of truck frame for small gauge cars was designed to eliminate screws and tapped holes and provide a flexible truck that is simple to construct and free from trouble in use.
As shown in the illustration, the main feature of the side frame is a cylindrical lug cast into the inner face of the frame. The bolster is a length of strip brass with the ends bent down, having a punched or drilled hole in each vertical leg. The lug in the frame fits into this hole. It is fastened by a U-shaped key which fits into shallow vertical grooves cut into the side of the lug.
The writer has made a number of trucks of this type for “OO” gauge cars. The frames are die-cast in a home-made mold…. To cut the grooves for the key, use a template the same thickness as the bolster, having a hole to fit over the lug, then with a few strokes of a hacksaw cut the grooves.
The drawing published with the article is at right. Winther notes that the key is made from spring brass wire and that “Several of these trucks have been in use for ten months and have proved to be trouble free.”

From this article we learn several things but the most important one really is that a few people were actually out there building Amercan OO models in 1932, as other 1933 sources confirm.

For example, the Fifth Annual Exhibition of the New York Society of Model Engineers was in February, 1933. According to the report on the event in the April issue of The Modelmaker two people exhibited OO gauge models, Mr. M. Brownstein who displayed a 0-6-0, a 4-4-4-4 electric locomotive and trackwork and Mr. H. Winther who displayed the following OO models: a 2-6-2 "Electric Freight Locomotive," an Erie 4-4-2, a PRR A5 switch engine, three box cars, one hopper car, and a refrigerator car.

Of those the one model that stands out a bit above the rest to me is the PRR A5. If he was scratchbuilding his own trucks he could certainly have also scratchbuilt this model, but this model was actually the first OO locomotive kit that I know was produced in enough quantity that a handful have survived until today. Two sold on eBay this year for good prices. Could Winther have displayed in 1933 an example of the PRR A5 produced by the OO Gauge Model Co.? Today there is no way to know.

[UPDATE: Actually, there is a way to know, see the comments on the linked article above.]

I will come back to Howard Winther in future articles as he was very active in OO gauge. When I return to this look at 1933 we will focus in on editorial confusion over the question of HO and OO gauges in The Modelmaker.

Continue to Part II

UPDATE: This article focuses on the 1934 layout of Howard Winther.


John Ericson said...

Ted wrote: "My dad was Howard Winther. My brother has all of his original models, including a beautiful Erie Berkshire ( which was a blue ribbon winner at NYSME) and a beautiful Erie ten-wheeler. He also scratchbuilt an Alco RS-2, his only condescention to diesel power."

John Ericson said...

That is great that these models are still in the family and I am also very glad you found these articles. Click on the tag Howard Winther to see all related posts, he was an important early OO gauger.

One note I would add is while I am sure he was capable making a scratchbuilt RS-2, Schorr also imported this model from Japan in brass. See: