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

Friday, March 25, 2011

OO in 1933-34 Extra: A 4-6-4 and More from The Model Craftsman

Recently I received five more early issues of The Model Craftsman from 1933-34 and was pleasantly surprised to see fairly extensive coverage of OO gauge in four of the issues.

The Model Craftsman began publication in March of 1933. Volume II of their publication begins with the September, 1933 issue. On page 21 of this issue is found an article with the title “The Apartment Railroad” by Charles G. Cunningham. When I first looked the issue over I actually went right by the article but on second reading I saw that this article was actually part two of a series on building an OO gauge NYC 4-6-4! This installment focuses on building the frame and setting up the motor, as seen in this illustration from the article. It reads as if he is writing from experience.

I have been looking at OO history for a while; have run into lots of references to small manufacturers. However, in this issue is also found an advertisement from a manufacturer I have never previously heard of, Kingsbridge Scale Model Shop. My guess is they are selling parts to build the locomotive in the series of articles by Cunningham but it is also possible that they are selling some parts related to the then defunct Thuillgrim line or of their own manufacture.

Moving to the October issue of MC we have not one but two articles related to OO. The first is by E. E. Thorp on building an OO gauge double span rolling lift bridge. Thorp is listed with the editorial staff as a boats advisor and he has another article boat related article in the same issue. Reading it I have to think why a double span rolling lift bridge?? It is not exactly the first project anyone would do in a pretty new scale and I suspect it may relate to the NYSME layout. More on that in a minute.

The second OO article is part three of the series on building the OO 4-6-4 locomotive, this time focusing on the drive and wheels. This installment begins as follows, giving no indication as to where or how you obtain the driver castings (Kingsbridge?) and with the assumption that anyone building OO locomotives has ready access to a lathe.
These driving wheels are a bronze French sand casting that will require little machining as there is no hard crust to take off…. When you center them in the chuck do not remove any metal. Use a fine tool and take LIGHT cuts or you will bend the spokes out of position.
Moving ahead, the next issue I have with OO coverage is the January, 1934 issue. In this we have again not one but two articles on OO, both by Charles G. Cunningham. The first is on wheel standards for OO gauge and includes this illustration. From this article we can glean several things.

1. People were out there following his OO series. “To the many of you that have been building the Hudson locomotive, (and my editor, the genial soul, says there are many) I have scribbled this article.”

2. He is a fan of hump yards and is an operator. “As for a switching locomotive I use a small industrial locomotive that pulls eight cars and staggers around with eleven. She is a 0 4 0 and gets around any curve I can get a freight car on.”

3. He is active in the New York Society of Model Engineers. “The writer has often noted that at the New York Society of Model Engineers when two trains are running on parallel tracks and abreast each other they will come to a stop if they both have the same voltage motors. This is due to voltage starvation.” The standards here should represent the practices of the NYSME.

This issue also includes part four of his series on building a NYC 4-6-4, with a focus on building up the boiler. He began though by noting again the buzz out there about OO and his practical approach to building. “From the many letters I have received you seem to like the idea that I have used flat stock instead of castings whenever possible.”

The last issue I will cover in this article is from February, 1934. This has again several items related to OO gauge but we get also into the land of confusing articles. At least one is for sure about what we would call a HO layout today and the article on building a coal chute says it is OO but it was built for an American prototype layout in England so it is hard to say. W. K. Walthers in an article on track design states that OO is an English gauge but lists it as 19mm gauge which is American OO. But there is also an article that is advance notice on the upcoming 6th NYSME show which notes that “a complete ‘00’ gauge track has been added.” Later in the issue in the club news section there is a note on the NYSME that gives more details on the OO group within the NYSME and is a great place to close this article.
The railroad division of this organization is busy completing an enlarged and more complicated railroad system. During the last year there has sprung up within this organization a group of “00” gauge enthusiasts. It cannot be denied that there is a definite fascination about this lilliputian railroad—and yet of sufficient size to permit the regular operation of a fine model system.
Continue to 1934 Series

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