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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

American OO in 1936, Part VI: Some Good Press but HO is Winning the Battle

To close out the year of 1936 for OO we have good news and bad news. The good news is some good press in The Model Railroader in the form of a two part article “Adventures in OO Gauge” by Robert LeMassena.

LeMassena relates to open that he was working in O gauge at the time he started college in 1932 but over time it was just not the right size. He sold all his O gauge equipment in 1935 with the idea of getting into HO or OO gauge. He shared that
Since I knew absolutely nothing about either HO or OO gauge, I read every article on them in The Model Railroader and in The Modelmaker. I got numerous catalogs and studied them minutely. And when I had finished the research, I decided that I would go to work in OO, but combining the methods of both to suit my taste. I decided not to follow anyone’s methods of this or that, but to invent my own ways based on what all of those before me had done. As an aid I had three years of mechanical engineering at Stevens and am now adding a fourth. I obtained lots of help from my professors, who aided me considerably in choice of materials and in the design of mechanical details.
For his box and flat cars he decided that wood and cardboard construction was the better method, with part one of the article focusing on the topic of how to build those cars. Part two focuses on the trackwork and the electrical side of things. LeMassena opted for two rail distribution over three rail. To insulate the wheelsets he opted for using Bakelite rod for the axles.

Also in this issue of MR they went to an effort to point out that they were “not an HO magazine,” the underlying point being that some perceived that they might be an HO magazine. Why would that be?

The November and December issues of The Model Craftsman give a clue and relate to the bad news of 1936 for OO gauge. MC arranged their advertising by scale and it is obvious that there are twice as many HO advertisements as there are for OO; the scan with this article is of the group of OO ads in the December issue. And really in both magazines HO has more coverage overall. If you go to the Model Railroad Magazine Index and search HO and OO in the time frame 1933-1936 you will see the same result, about twice as much on HO as on OO. The advertising is the real kicker though: money talks.

To close I have one final random item. Their OO line was still nearly a year away but Scale-Models, Inc. (Scale-Craft) in their advertisement in the December 36 issue of The Model Craftsman noted that “SCALE-CRAFT Train Models are NOT TOYS—They are perfectly scaled replicas of the most famous American trains.” Big things were coming in the scale model train world in 1937; more on that year soon.

Return to beginning of 1936 Series

Continue to 1937 Series

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