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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

More AHM Stock Car Conversions

As a last project of the year (I like to alternate harder and easier projects) I had in mind to finish up three HO stock car conversions. These were inspired by the overscale AHM HO model I described in this article. There we learn it is based on a NYC prototype and is 15” too wide in HO. In OO it ends up as being 36’ long, a bit short in length but OK for freelancing as I am.

This photo shows my set of four. The NYC model is the one in the earlier article and was made by Bill Gilbert. It is on Schorr trucks and is a handsome car. He also replaced the roof walk, a step I did not take in the spirit of keeping the conversion simple. This was one of those projects where I kept reminding myself, no heroics! Just make a simple, clean model.

For my conversions I tried a couple different truck types on the cars but felt that Scale-Craft trucks gave perhaps the best look of the alternatives due to the wheelbase and the look. The UP car is just the stock version of the car on S-C trucks, and the Orient cars I think came put pretty well. They would look even better if they were 40’ long, and it does not help that the Scale-Craft stock car is 42’ long (as are most vintage OO box cars--two of my S-C stock cars may be seen in this article). Still, the area of the setting of my layout was a major one for cattle shipping and there will be a place for these cars on the regular running roster. And they were again a nice and relatively easy project to end the year with.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

E-Z Mate Couplers on Scale-Craft OO Cars

Standard size Kadee HO couplers have been the de facto standard for American OO operators for many years. They are compatible (manual operation) with Scale-Craft and Lionel OO couplers and are rugged and reliable. As such, I have been a dedicated user and even frequently use the older style #4 couplers when possible; they are great on cars with a wood floor. If not those then I have used the #5 mostly, and the long shank version when necessary (such as on passenger cars).

#5 couplers however don’t install easily in die-cast Scale-Craft coupler pockets such as on the flat car, tank car, stock car, reefer, and boxcar. The typical installation was you assembled the box and then filed it down enough to fit. Not that hard really, but a few extra steps. As a result I have also made some use of their new Kadee whisker type couplers with the built in spring, which can install as a drop in on most Scale-Craft cars. What you do is use only the small lid in combination with a screw and the existing coupler pocket.

With the #5 coupler supply running low and no suitable whisker couplers at the store I finally purchased a set of Bachmann E-Z Mate Mark II couplers for trial. They are plastic and have the centering springs molded on. The result is as seen, compared to the typical #5 installation. Fast and easy, all that is needed is the original screw and a washer.

This does not leave an easy mounting solution for the hopper car which has a different coupler pocket. My personal standard has been to cut the pocket off entirely and install a #5 coupler in its box on the car. I believe with a bit of care and a shim or washer the E-Z Mate will work, but maybe the whisker type better. I don’t run a lot of hoppers, so I leave it to readers to work out this further. But for the standard pocket on all the other Scale-Craft cars E-Z Mate couplers will be seeing use, I will be getting more of these.

To the flat cars in the photo, you may have noticed the trucks. They are what I call “Morlok method” trucks, described further in this article, converted from TYCO or Mantua HO trucks. All of my S-C flat cars are on these trucks, visually and operationally they work well on this specific car type, they have an offset bolster that puts the trucks the right place and also they are not as visible on this car type. More may be found here on the comparison of early and late S-C flats and their truck mountings.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

American OO on Hold in1944: Part IV, Making Big Plans at Scale-Craft

To close this look at 1944 I would like to focus in one final article which gives quite a window into wartime operations in the hobby industry.  The article is “What’s Cookin’,” which ran in the April, 1944 issue of The Model Railroader. The topic overall is “What Manufacturers are Doing to be Ready for Business after Victory,” and “Boomer Pete” visited with several manufacturers for it including Gordon Varney, Rollin Logaugh, M. Dale Newton, Bill Walthers, Megow, and Mantua Metal Products. But the article opens with one of our favorite manufacturers, Scale-Craft.  The photos below are from the Scale-Craft 1941-42 catalog (with yet more views here), and the text of this portion of the Boomer Pete article is too interesting to not quote in full.
The model railroad manufacturer is the forgotten man these days. Without much of anything to sell he has receded some from the model fan’s horizon – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t plenty busy. I’ve visited some of the manufacturers from time to time and their present activities, while very different, are every bit as interesting as what went on before the war.
I went to Libertyville, Ill., on the North Shore one sunny afternoon, and walked across the east edge of town to Scale-Craft & Co., located in a medium-sized brick building which, along with several other industrial plants, backs up against the Milwaukee Road tracks. Probably 50 automobiles were parked outside and the place was obviously humming with activity. When I came in I was greeted with that now-familiar request in war plants, “Fill out this information slip, please, and I’ll give you a badge.”
Tall, dark Elliott Donnelley, boss of Scale-Craft for the last eight or nine years, invited me into his pleasant corner office, decorated with framed originals of old-time railroad lithographs.  (Donnelley, incidentally, has one of the finest collections of these in the country.) Several OO gauge model locomotives decorated the window sills. After getting my hat and coat off I was invited to take a look at the plant, and then the fun started. Donnelley asked the phone girl to ring for the “gestapo,” the local nickname assigned to the county deputies who guard the plant. When the officer arrived from his guardhouse at the back entrance, there was a long conversation about whether or not I should be allowed into the sacred precincts. It ended with Donnelley loudly expostulating, “Who’s running this place, anyway?” [Donnelley is to the left in the 1941 photo, K. M. Boyd on the right.]
Out we went through rows of assorted machinery – milling machines, turret lathes, screw machines, engine lathes, grinders, drill presses – to the steep stairs which lead to the mezzanine floor above the tool room in the rear of the plant. That mezzanine has always been the headquarters of the model railroad engineering department. And it still is, I’m happy to say. An experimental OO motor of new design was just being finished and lots of new designs of all kinds were on the drafting board. Scale-craft is really enthusiastic about what it will be able to produce after the war, with all the equipment and production lessons which can be learned in doing more or less special jobs of unusually difficult specifications. 
Motioning me out over the crowded machine floor and cautioning me to look at the machinery and not at the blond in the yellow sweater, K. M. Boyd, advertising manager, said, “Using this right, we can supply model railroad materials for every fan in the United States, and intend to have products that they’ll all want.”
How those goals will play out over the next few years will be seen. Scale-Craft advertised steadily, the ad here being from the same April issue of The Model Railroader, and clearly they had big plans for the OO line.

Looking ahead, 1945 looks to be a pivotal one for OO scale and model railroading in general. The Germans surrendered in May and the Japanese in August. People were ready, really ready, to move on from the war and the hobby market would boom. Be watching for the series to continue in another month or so.

Return to the Beginning of the 1944 Series

Continue to 1945 Series

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Revisiting the S-C 24 volt DC Motor

After years of not owning any models with the early Scale-Craft 24 volt DC motor I have for almost two years had two on the running roster. It finally occurred to me recently to run these on the “large scale” setting on my power pack (Ed Morlok had noted this possibility years ago), and in this mode they run even better. A great product! Clearly some operators adopted it as their standard at the time (Red Adams comes to mind) but it was a voltage level that was out of step with market.

Was it “ahead of its time?” I found an interesting editorial in the May, 1944 issue of The Model Railroader that makes that very claim. It is on the topic of “Food for Thought” relating to the then proposed change of the HO standard from 6 volts to 12 volts. Editor Frank Taylor notes though that in an ideal world
Perhaps all three gauges should be on a 24-volt standard instead of 12. If 12 volts is four times as good for HO, 24 volts would be 16 times as good, and it would improve the OO and O gauge situations as well….
Very small motors are practical at 24 volts. This was proved some years ago when Scale-Craft brought out a 24-volt OO gauge motor which unfortunately was ahead of its time. Would the advantages of a change to 24 volts all around be worth the temporary confusion it would cause?... We pose the question. Too much is involved for us to presume to answer it.
The photo is from this article, on re-motoring my original S-C 4-6-0, and also one of these motors may be seen in operation in this video, in an S-C 4-4-2. When I run these models it makes total sense why Scale-Craft would try to buck/change the trends of the time, as this motor does run well, especially so on the higher voltage available with the large scale setting on a modern power pack.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

American OO on Hold in1944: Part III, Layouts and More

Starting the year out with a bang, three different OO layouts were seen in the January, 1944 issues of The Model Craftsman and The Model Railroader.

Turning first to MC, first up is a familiar figure, H. L. “Red” Adams. His article is on the topic of track and scene building, but includes the first published track plan for his new layout and six photos, of which these four give the flavor (as always, click on the photo for a better view). The new layout he wrote depicted “a single track main line located along the Cascade Line of the Espee. This line has heavy traffic both freight and passenger, uses heavy power and hauls long trains.” He reported that he in the past year he had nearly completed the layout. The article itself is geared toward how he laid the track and constructed the scenery. Although not listed as such in this issue, it is also notable that later in the year he was listed as an Associate Editor for The Model Craftsman.

A few pages later in the same issue we find this layout built by L. and Ruby Johnston of Vallejo, CA. It was the sixth contest winner featured from the MC railroad layout contest. The article begins “The Little Journey & Return R.R. was started eighteen months ago. Up to that time I was in O gauge, but the lack of space to build and operate true to scale, caused me to switch to ‘OO.’” Johnston reports also that “The running rails were bought from the Scale-Craft people” and the motive power was two NYC 4-6-4 locomotives and also a “2-8-2 Converted N.Y.C.” The scale of the photo is too small to pick out much else with certainty, but that the locomotives are Lionel is a safe guess.

Add caption
Turning to MR, their January issue features an article on scenic backdrops by Richard Houghton. The focus is not on OO gauge, but this photo clearly shows a portion of his OO layout. I wish the detail were better, but pretty clearly visible is a Scale-Craft 4-6-0. Another photo of the layout is seen in the February issue that contains the conclusion of article. His layout had been previously featured in MR in 1940, another view may be seen here.

If that were not enough OO coverage to begin the year, in February MR featured an article on the third prize winner in their layout contest, an OO gauge layout by Mel Kirch. The view published (below) is mostly scenic and “the entire layout was built in 12 weeks, working nights and Sundays.” He had started out in O gauge but “O gauge was too expensive and also too large.” He continues, “OO gauge two-rail looked good, so I bought a flat-car kit and a few feet of track for a trial. Just the thing! From then on my wife and I assembled car kits and house kits….” Soon also he purchased “a Lionel Hudson, a lot of Midlin track, and two switches.” Quite a bit of work went into the layout to be sure, and “the trestle, made from a kit of 222 pieces, is quite an attraction.” The reefer behind the locomotive looks to be a Nason model.

Moving forward to May, in The Model Craftsman we learn that Howard Winther won first prize for locos at NYSME show for his Erie 4-6-0 #67. Is it the model seen in this article?

So far in this article we have seen four different OO layouts in print, which brings up the question of how many people were active in American OO gauge in 1944. The Model Railroader published their Annual Poll results in June 44, and there were 409 actual respondents that were OO gaugers out of 5,105 total. That translates out to only 8.0% but it was still a pretty substantial number of people. Assuming that well less than half of the people active in OO at the time responded there must have been thousands of active OO gauge enthusiasts in 1944.

A long-running feature in MR was their “Along the Division” column, with news items from various model railroaders. One listing that caught my eye was in the September, 44 issue where Bud Spice is mentioned, his OO layout having two Lionel locomotives and 26 cars. Bud Spice will be heard from again, as he among other products later produced the best OO wheelsets ever made! Check the link for more.

The OO layout of the New York Society of Model Engineers has been mentioned a number of times earlier in this series. Due to a move they tore it down, but for a time the layout lived on. According to the October issue of MR the Niagara Falls Model RR. Club “took over the OO layout” of the NYSME when they moved last spring.

Speaking of clubs, they also had club listings in the November, 44 issue of MR, and to my eye the most notable was the North Jersey Midland Club of Irvington, NJ. Newton Guerin is listed as the contact person. The North Jersey group was the largest and most active OO club in the post-war era. I have more on the group here for those who wish to look ahead.

Much more could be reported, but for now there is only one more segment of the series on 1944, be watching for that soon.

Continue Reading in 1944 Series

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Pair of Fleischmann FA-2s re-gauged for American OO

A few years back I posted an article on the Fleischmann FA-2. It is a collectable HO model, but one that is substantially over scale for HO, approximately 1/82 scale, longer and wider than HO for sure but HO in height. In that article multiple views of the stock model are posted in comparison to HO and OO F and E unit models.

A colleague had his eyes out for one of these that was not as valuable as a collectable, and this pair came up for sale. The drives were out of the models and damaged, the fuel tanks were missing, and a prior owner had put on an overspray as well. This left the windows a little fogged but on the plus side for my purposes that overspray had preserved the decals, which tend to flake off. And I am a fan of the Santa Fe.

The model itself is a handsome one, even if the Santa Fe owned no FA-2 locomotives. The body is all metal and has screens in the sides that you can see through, a nice detail. The pilot skirting does not extend back as far as the prototype, probably to accommodate the original drive.

This model has been converted to OO operation before. Another conversion of this model may be seen in this article (third photo down) by Bill Johann. He seems to have kept the original fuel tank area on his models, and it is not at all obvious from the photo how he managed the drive conversion.

In my case the fuel tanks were missing and the stock trucks were unusable. In terms of the fuel tanks I referenced a scale drawing and came up with a good approximation of the prototype. Also note the steps in the middle. Having these parts was either destiny or pure luck, but the parts I used are vintage Kemtron lost wax castings that were in some parts obtained from the late Pierre Bourassa.

The drive also was either destiny or luck. I had on hand a pair of drives that would serve very well in the pair. I had purchased them at a meet inexpensively as they had been modified to power boxcars! The prior owner had converted his steam locomotives into free running models with no motors, and the boxcars pushed them around (and pulled the trains). This pair has huge can motors and used Athearn drive parts, which are easy to convert to OO. One of them I had taken the drive parts off of (to use on these AHM S-1 conversions) so I had to rebuild it with fresh drive parts off yet another meet find. That drive is visible in the last photo, as is the inside of that body shell.

For sideframes I could have used Athearn U-Boat side frames, I have some on hand, but I felt that they were too finely scaled and noticeably small in OO. Instead I used AHM sideframes, which are heavier in size and have as a bonus a feature that they block the wheelsets. Why this is a bonus in our case is the wheelsets are undersized, so it is nice that they are a bit hidden by the sideframes.

Both models got extra weight added up in the roof area so as not to block the view through the middle of the model. With the big can motor and the flywheels and the extra weight these models pull like crazy, easily pulling around a 12 car train of Scale-Craft die cast cars on Scale-Craft trucks. That is some pulling power, they will pull anything that I might want to put behind them.

I don’t know that I will ever convert any more examples of this model but for sure this model is fun to run and will log many miles for me on OO gauge track. The only limitation is that while I was able to compensate for the height a bit with the mounting of the body to the drive I still feel if you put a full height boxcar behind them they do look a bit short, and you also can’t MU them with say a dummy Schorr RS-2, the RS is noticeably taller. But if one was modified with usable trucks these Fleischmann models would match the Hallmark-Lionel F-3 model very well, they are also a bit short in OO but otherwise close to scale.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The 6-8-6 PRR S-2 in American OO; Hallmark and Davis compared

In my article on the OO scale Hallmark-Lionel F-3 I mention other models in the same line, including the Hallmark - Lionel Lines 671 Turbine Steam locomotive. This model has actually been produced twice in American OO.

In the article on the Hallmark F-3 I quote Ed Morlok on that model, but the origins of this 6-8-6 model are the same, it is a miniature version of the famous O-gauge toy train.  As he put it, the Hallmark version of the “locomotive is 60% of the size of the O gauge model. Thus it is … exactly OO gauge. But it is an unpowered model, sold only with a display case.”

The bronze boiler in the front of the photo was made as part of a large line of large OO locomotives by Myron P. Davis. A built up example of one of these may be seen in this article, and it is full to scale for OO for the same prototype. The Hallmark version is of course a 60% size version of a semi-scale toy locomotive, and it really shows. Still, it is interesting to wonder in the category of “what if” about if Lionel had retooled their OO line after the war as semi-scale toys? But, alas, they did not. [Update: A few more thoughts here, Lionel struggled with the scale market].

As to these models, I may never get so far down my list of projects to build the Davis model (the only part I have is the boiler, and I need a bigger layout to run it on first, too), and the Hallmark locomotive does not have much to offer us either. But the tender I believe is however VERY usable in OO gauge. It is about the same size as a Scale-Craft tender and you have to admit looks quite a bit better. It will hit the rails sometime soon I think.

As with their F-3 this model comes with a nifty display case! I put it to use with a favorite pre-war Nason Pullman, described further in this article, and now on display in my office.

In short, for the right price this Hallmark-Lionel model is worth picking up, if only for the tender and the display case. And I still marvel at what M. P. Davis did in developing all those big bronze models for what was certainly by then a very small market in American OO.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Difference of Decades, and Scales

These two models were completed decades apart by me. For a project underway I needed to pull up another set of sideframes from a HO scale AHM RS-2. This led me to dig out the engine in the back. While it looks the same generally due to the effect of perspective, actually the engine in front is a Schorr RS-2 in OO scale and the AHM HO model is in the rear.

I probably completed the HO model sometime around 1982, so it is (gasp) some 30 years old now. I put a bit of effort into it, as I modified the long hood slightly, built up new footboard areas, and made new handrails. The black lettering for the Orient is unique, it is the only model I lettered in this manner, all following models have large yellow lettering. I have been working with the Orient theme since late high school (more here).

The OO RS-2 is described further in this article. It was imported by Fred Schorr in the 1950s from Japan, and this particular one I also had to rebuild to a similar degree. The scale comparison is probably more interesting than the trip down memory lane, but it has been interesting digging this bit of personal model railroad history out again.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

American OO on Hold in1944: Part II, New Products

So far as I can tell there are only two new products in 1944 that are fairly widely seen today, and there are also a couple very interesting new items that are items of mystery.

First up is the Picard cement hopper. A very nicely built up example may be seen in this article (scroll down) and the first advertisement I noted trumpeting this product was in the February, 1944 issue of The Model Craftsman. It was a good product, and for a market starved for new products I am sure it was a popular one.

As with their other body kits this model was in HO, OO, and O gauges. I found it interesting too that actually even Picard apparently had supply problems to keep production going in 1944. In their ad in the November issue of The Model Railroader we read this NOTICE:
We are now in a position to accept orders on our Car Bodies, and shipments will shortly go forward as in the past. Fortunately we can now obtain wood, and expect to have within the very near future a complete stock to take care of your demands. Anticipate your wants well in advance, that we might give you as good service as possible.
The other new item seen fairly often is the line of Graceline comprestic kits. I recently added a photo of three of these kits to the Graceline 101 article (scroll down to the end). As I noted in the update there,
By early 1943 Graceline was out of production, but not out of ideas. While Graceline started out in OO, in 1944 they added a line of O gauge freight car kits and retooled production of the OO line. By January of 1945 the price list makes clear they only offered what they called "comprestic" kits in either scale…. Comprestic was their name for the material the sides, ends, and roof were pressed from. This was good idea as a wartime product, as it used no critical materials.  Their troop sleeper is the most notable model produced in this style of packaging and material.
The first ad saying this part of their OO line was available was in the April, 1944 issue of MR, seen here. I have not located a price list from 1944 but clearly the troop sleeper was new and available in 1944, described further in this article. I did find a listing for the line in an ad in the December, 1944 issue of MC, but compared to my 1945 price sheet I believe it is a listing of their O gauge line. The topic of Graceline will be one to look for again soon in this series.

There are two other new products that sound really notable but where are they today? Were they actually produced?

First up is what in my notes I call “the 4-4-2 place.” First advertised in the March, 1944 issue of The Model Railroader, a company called Model Products Co. has a “limited quantity” of PRR E-6 locomotives. “More later.” The next month they had a bit more text in the ad, that this model was the “Dream of every model railroader.” What you don’t get from the advertising is what the model was made of, etc. You get the impression that it might not be the old Nason/Star model, but maybe it is just a model worked up from old Nason stock, they were both in the NYC area. The May advertisement, reproduced, here, gives some more clues, but what exactly this model was remains unknown to me.

Our other product of mystery for 1944 is first advertised in The Model Railroader in November. E. S. Spargo of Flordia had this ad for a PRR. M-1a Mountain. The ad makes it clear that the model (or partial model, not all parts seem to be there) is die cast in “sparson” alloy. What that is I can’t say but my guess it is a zinc alloy, as he also sold rail of the same material. Zinc was used as a wartime substitute material for rail, but it really did not work that well and had very limited use.

With that we are half way through what I have planned on OO in 1944, more will be coming soon.

Continue in 1944 Series

Friday, November 23, 2012

Two Approaches to Troop Sleepers in American OO

According to the Wikipedia, “in late 1943 the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation contracted with the Pullman Company to build 2,400 troop sleepers, and with American Car and Foundry (ACF) to build 440 troop kitchen cars.” With these distinctive cars on the wartime rails there was also a desire to own these in model form, and at two different routes were taken to model them at the time.

The first tactic was to scratchbuild the model. Frequent Model Craftsman author H. L. “Red” Adams saw a good topic and was on it with an article that was published in their May, 1944 issue. His article gives a good overview of the prototype and of how he built his model. He begins,
Well, boys, here’s about the latest piece of rolling stock to be delivered to our busy railroads. At first you may be reminded of the old song, “you ain’t a goose, you ain’t a swan, you’re nothing but a swoose.” This particular car is also a “hybrid,” part freight car and part passenger, and goes under the nom-de-plume of “troop sleeper.” Before we build the model, maybe we should give the prototype the once-over. 
This car is built by the Pullman Standard Car Mfg. Co., for the Defense Plant Corporation, so you and I and all the rest of us own a couple square inches of it, purchased with our taxes and war bonds. As we all know the present war has thrown a terrific load of passenger and freight traffic on our excellent railroad systems. Possibly the hardest hit was the passenger division ….
Therefore, it was decided to use the 50 ft. steel box-car frame and body, put in windows and side doors, toilet facilities, bunks, lights, insulation, etc., use high-speed trucks, with the end doors and diaphragms for inter-car communication….
Well now we have given the prototype the once over, suppose we try our hand at building the model. Of course I built mine in OO gauge, for use on my own Beverly Western R.R., but the method is the same for HO or O gauge. 
As in building any of our models, there are two basic methods of construction; you can buy commercial kits and remodel them to your particular type, or you can start from scratch and make everything yourself from raw materials. I usually make all my own models entirely from raw material, if at all possible, and sketches accompanying this article will show sizes to cut your wood parts. However, I must confess that this time I bought a Picard 50 ft. wood box-car kit, and remodeled it to suit the prototype, using 1/16” thick pine sides and passenger car vestibule ends….
You could build up a nice train of these cars in a short time, say a dozen or so, and use them – along with baggage cars – for a “troop” train, adding flats and box cars, etc., if they happened to be moving their equipment along with them. These “troop sleepers,” however, are also used singly and collectively in regularly scheduled passenger trains, either right behind the baggage cars, or at the end of the train, depending on how soon they will be switched off that particular train.
What his article did not say was actually there was also kit offered for this model by Graceline. Graceline was a pre-war OO manufacturer who by 1943 had pulled their line from production. However, in 1944 they retooled their line to offer simplified, war-time kits in OO and also in O, which was a new product line for them. They had their new O gauge version of this car advertised prominently in the February, 1944 issue of The Model Railroader, and later that year had out an OO gauge version. This photo is of a built up example of this kit, for which they produced “troop trucks” as well. I am not certain the origin of this photo actually, but I think it was sent to me by the late Edward Morlok. It is clearly on a good sized OO layout [UPDATE: It is I believe the layout of Tony Cavanna, found a related photo from Ed Morlok] with Tru-Scale track and must date to sometime in the 1980s. The focus is soft but this example looks to be on Scale-Craft passenger trucks. Red Adams had opted to use Scale-Craft freight trucks on his car, hoping that "the Service men riding my railroad don't object too much."

This last scan is of the Graceline O gauge model in their initial advertisement, with a good photo of the model. According to their price list dated January 1, 1945, by that date only comprestic kits were available (with no wood parts), comprestic being the name for the cardboard material the sides were produced from. I also have the instructions that came with the troop sleeper, the drafting dated 1-10-44. The instructions are scaled for the O gauge car kit with wood parts, but a hand-written note on the instructions states “Measurements apply to O ga. only.” As this came to me with other OO items my guess is this instruction sheet might have been sent out with an OO version, that no OO version of the instructions was produced. If anyone has an OO version of the instructions I would love to hear from you.

Finally, for another view of one of these Graceline OO models built up beautifully as rebuilt as an express boxcar see this article, and this article has a master pattern for a troop sleeper end that it would seem perhaps Nason considered producing. This is a distinctive model, one to keep your eyes peeled for in American OO.

UPDATE: And I now own one! Photo and description here. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

American OO on Hold in1944: Part I, What Could You Buy?

When thinking about a title for the series on 1944 the idea of a hobby on hold [**see UPDATE] came to mind. All the wartime restrictions were still in place, and while the overall national mood and outlook was better, really not much is different than in 1943 in the world of model railroading in terms of products. But it is not a year without hobby activity, and there are many specific insights into American OO in the hobby press.

Hobby supplies really were running low. An editorial by Frank Taylor in the September issue of The Model Railroader sets the tone. Under the headline “Sell Those Spare Parts” we read,
A canvas of the hobby stores indicates that many model railroad supplies are not available. In fact, most prewar stocks have been depleted for quite some time and the possibilities of restocking depend on unpredictable conditions. In other words, modelers who would like to obtain kits and parts today are almost sure to be disappointed, especially if they want electric motors, Zamac die-castings, bronze sand-castings, or any of a host of parts made of critical materials.
Confronted with the lack of materials, many find their enthusiasm for model railroading on the wane. This isn’t a healthy situation for the hobby, to be sure, for intense interest is kept aflame only by the actual modeling of railroad equipment to scale. Therefore, it is important that these interests be kept alive, somehow, till the time when the hobby stores can again carry a complete stock.
The remainder of the editorial relates selling parts and kits that we have saved, so that others may keep the hobby alive. Stepping back, how different is the situation in American OO at this time? Myself, I am going to start selling a bit more of what I have that is duplicate or I don’t imagine I will be working on. The editorial ends,
In addition to using good judgment by selling equipment we have no immediate need for, let us not lose sight of the fact that we will also be helping to keep our hobby alive. The man who has the time, and is able to buy a kit now, has no reason to feel frustrated or dejected – no reason to feel like giving up the hobby. His interest is kept alive and we, too, will benefit for the more model railroaders there are after the war, the better and cheaper the kits, parts and supplies. Don’t hoard equipment you have no immediate need for. Sell it!
Reading the magazine advertising in this context, using that editorial to “read between the lines,” the big picture is that most any pre-war product that had much demand for it had been sold already. Thus it is pretty telling that a number of dealers featured Lionel OO in their advertising. Quite a bit of it, apparently, was still sitting around unsold, and even with hardly anything else out there to buy there was little demand it seems. For example the Polks advertisements in the February Issues of MR and MC both push that they have “just 70” Lionel OO 2-rail locomotives, “the timely ‘OO’ offering of the year” at $24 each. Lionel 3-rail would seem to be a particular slow mover by this point and I note that TRYMO Hobbycraft had 3-rail Lionel locomotives for only $20 in June, along with a smoking deal on caboose kits. This scan is a portion of that advertisement in The Model Craftsman.

Another interesting item this year was a four page ad by Scale-Craft in the January issue of The Model Railroader. It is a listing of all the parts they still had available. Notable among the OO items is they still had their OO sectional track at .25 each piece, many of the parts for their long-discontinued SP P-13 4-6-2 were still available, as were most of the parts for their 4-8-4. Actually a couple different suppliers listed in their advertising a “castings set” for that 4-8-4 as being available. It was not complete but it would get you started and must have seemed to them to be a viable product to put out there on the market.

Other dealer ads leave a distinct impression that there was quite a bit of S-C, Nason, and Lionel out there, old stock that could be purchased as new. This scan is of a portion of the ad in the February, 1944 issue of The Model Railroader by the Columbus Model RR. Shop in Ohio. The track kit it is hard to say what it is exactly (it sounds a bit problematic--probably Tru-Scale with undersized HO rail) but the list of other items is pretty impressive for this point in the war. The problem was though that if you were an OO gauger you probably had most of those models already, and even if you didn't the problem for the dealer was that you could probably pretty easily buy those items used.

And most of what was listed as available in the 1943 series was still available, in particular J-C, Picard, and Tru-Scale. J-C added a line of HO cars this year, in fact, so they were expanding their line to meet the market. Tru-Scale had a new owner, August Kniff, who according to an announcement in the July issue of MR had “assisted in the business until the death of Mr. Tostado last year.”

I should also note that the Champion advertising I found this year has no reference to their OO line, only to HO and O products, so they may have dropped their OO line by now. OO was clearly in decline, but even then and with all the ongoing wartime restrictions there were actually a few new products that hit the market, the topic of the next article in this series.

**UPDATE 2013: I just learned that the idea of the hobby being on hold has been articulated by others, specifically the term is used in an installment of the "Collector Consist" series by Keith Wills that was published in the October, 1986 issue of RMC. He uses the term to refer more to all of the wartime years, but in my case I think especially in 1944 the hobby is really on hold.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

501 Articles on American OO! But More Could Be Done

Friday last week I was looking at the site stats and realized that the previous article was the 500th article in American OO Today! With this being the 501st article this is as good a point as any to reflect and look forward a bit.

Thank you for your searches

Without repeating my thoughts from the article on the third anniversary of American OO Today, there are a number of regular readers and people do follow the site, but some articles certainly are more popular than others due to how they come up in searches. So for example there are many articles that have been viewed hundreds of times individually. Searches also land on the pages that are the view of an entire month of articles, which skews the results downward for individual pages. But then last week I noticed in the stats this article from 2009, on an Scale-Craft flat car by Ed Havens. I enjoyed the article and like the model, but as of last week it had only been directly viewed three times! There are a few like this in the site, mostly from the earlier years of the website.

I am sure quite a bit of traffic to this website comes from image searches unrelated to American OO. This makes the site an initial contact with the scale/gauge for many people, which in turn has led to some recent updates to the informational sidebar.

 “Model Railroading is Fun,” but also melancholy

The first part of the heading above is the familiar quote from Model Railroader, and the second part relates to how I feel working in OO at times. Great models, I think a very interesting history and an engaging story. Fun stuff! But for sure most of the people who worked in it in the classic era have passed on. I have some of their models, and there are not too many people out here now that work in the gauge, particularly people with operating layouts. At times I feel like the last dinosaur.

Educate, and buck the trends

Part of the challenge is to keep knowledge of American OO going. My recent TCA article I believe helped the cause, and I have another underway. Too many people who are generally knowledgeable about model railroading seem to have never even heard of American OO, with obvious vintage OO items much too often showing up listed as HO or S gauge on eBay.

The trend toward HO over OO started long ago. The strong trend in HO today is toward prototypical modeling, a trend that would be extremely difficult to keep up with in OO. The vast majority of vintage American OO models out there were made in an era when most model railroaders were content with a good general representation of a train model. In my own model work I am very OK with a “good enough” modeling philosophy (I was reminded of that term last week, reading p. 135 of the November, 2012 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist) and I also embrace the general concepts of retro-modeling and collecting.

I would like to think I am not a huge outlier to the modern world of model railroading. In the end I go back to the phrase “Model Railroading is Fun” and hope others might consider exploring the American OO end of the big tent of the model railroad world. As I note in the current sidebar quote from Louis Hertz, "Never pick a gauge because the others are doing it."

And I plan to keep on writing

500 articles is a lot, but then again, on the French horn related website I co-founded I have posted well over 1,000 articles. I think I probably have another 500 in me.

As with any good topic, the further you go in your studies the more you realize you don’t know. The OO history series is very interesting to me, as in writing every article I find things that are totally new to me.  It is what keeps me going, and I enjoy my OO models and the website a great deal.

Going forward I will focus more on the history series, with a goal being an E-Book on American OO in maybe five years. I have a lot of history to sort out still, but I have a general vision and outline of what I want to write clear. I just turned 50 so hopefully I have some time to pull the large project together.

What can you do?

One idea I have tossed about is that of having an American OO appreciation month, a month to remind people to spread the word on American OO. But what month is appropriate? I would propose that maybe March is the most notable in American OO history, as the first magazine cover story on the products of the first OO manufacturer, Thuillgrim, appeared on the March, 1931 issue of The Modelmaker. But then again, a month to promote American OO is probably a waste of time, and going back to the topic of searches, this blog is already doing more for awareness than an awareness month could ever do.

The big picture being that we do need to see some new people follow this vintage scale. Sure, OO lost the battle of the gauges, but that does not mean it is not a great scale, and it is not as hard to locate or work in as many would initially think. Spread the word.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Guild of the Iron Horse, a OO Gauge 4-4-2, and More

The Guild of the Iron Horse was a post war OO gauge manufacturer run by Jerome Bailey Foster of Winchester, Mass. I have been told that he was an architect, and in my OO Checklist draft I noted that his locomotive models were
Sheet and spun brass kits of basic parts only. These basic locomotives were probably manufactured in Japan. Few, if any, advertisements and limited production; the 4-4-2 would appear to be the most common item. Also supplied tenders for Johann. A 4-6-2, ATSF, of similar construction as Guild exists, but it is not certain to be of that origin. 
Sue McNamara, daughter of Jerome Bailey Foster, recalled in a note published in the March, 2004 issue of The OO Road that “During the early 50’s, he started manufacturing a brass locomotive kit on a small scale, [but with] the introduction of plastic, he felt the market was changing, and didn’t do much more with it.” Foster was a very active OO modeler who died in 1968. According to McNamara, the molds associated with this kit (presumably the 4-4-2) were sold at that time to a Mr. Fry in New Jersey.

I had been told that the 4-4-2 was based on the similar Star-Continental/Nason model. However, recently I was excited to obtain one of these Guild engines, and comparing them the Guild version owes nothing at all to the older model; it is completely new in every way. [UPDATE: See UPDATE III, it seems Guild sold two different versions of this!]. In the photos the most easily comparable Star/Nason parts are seen (I have complete parts for this model as well, another project) and the differences are obvious, the boiler and tender are quite different. Plus also note that the Guild engine is an accurately scaled  PRR E-6 and the Star/Nason model is in effect overscale, as it is based on the PRR K-4 and K-5 Pacific, but built as a 4-4-2.

The theory is that these Guild engines were actually made in very limited runs in Japan. Their 4-4-2 is uncommon but by far his most common model. My guess would be that the others were probably imported in runs of perhaps ten or less each. They were kits, but essentially were complete and gave a builder a good start. The box these models came in may be seen at the end of this article.

It is great to have this classic model, it is a sharp one and I believe I will have it running in not too long. There are some details to puzzle over first to be sure, and with that raised lettering engraved into the sides (similar to that done by Oscar Andresen in his pioneering pre-war models) I may never paint it, but I believe I have all the parts I need and it will be a simpler project than getting the Nason/Star engine seen in the photos running.

Looking at these models also reminds me that even though I have figured out a lot related to OO history, actually there is quite a lot I don’t know. Hopefully readers will also be inspired to puzzle over their OO models and their history, there are some really interesting items out there.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Meyers located in his collection a letter from Jerome Foster to Major McCoid, dated March 8, 1956. In it Foster states that he picked up his first OO gauge kits in the fall of 1936 from a clearance sale in Boston, a Nason Hudson and two car kits. Inspired also by the OO models of Oscar Andresen, the letter states in regard to Nason "In 1947 I pestered Ed Kelly who had taken over the line." Quoting now Drew M. and his summary of the letter, Foster "bought the old Star Atlantic rights for $1,000 which included dies, patterns, parts and drawings. Also purchased 'New Haven' and Penn K-4 Pacific."

The above is an interesting footnote in a number of ways as, for one, Foster did not get a lot out of his $1,000 ultimately as his model is not at all based on the original Star/Nason model other than it is of the same prototype. Second, I am curious what he means by purchasing the "New Haven" and the K-4 from Nason. Models in some post-war plans Nason had worked on? Is the "New Haven" the Nason boxcab (which was later definitely produced in a limited quantity by Myron P. Davis)? Some answers but also some questions, ones I will keep looking into as I continue looking at OO history.

UPDATE II: Also note there is a 1953 MR reference to 4-4-2 dies being purchased which must be the Nason dies going to Guild, as mentioned in the 1951-52 series.

UPDATE III (2017): Thanks to new information from the collection of Jeff Barker I can now say with some certainty that actually Guild sold two different versions of the 4-4-2. The original version was based on the Nason model, with some updates; the second version was the completely different model which is seen in the photos above. In the advertising Barker provided there is also this intriguing sentence: "Frankly, this kit should retail through regular markets for $85.00 but the cooperative basis of the 'Guild' allows our modest base price for this model which we believe is 'tops' in quality, looks and operation in any gauge...." The statement explains why the "Guild" name to begin with, his idea was for it to be a cooperative venture. It all seems to have been done with direct correspondence too, no actual advertising, so hopefully other information will still turn up to explain further the line and the sales model. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

American OO for 1943, Part II: A Layout Contest and Other Notes

To begin, the OO gauge cover photo of the year was found on the March, 1943 issue of The Model Railroader. The featured model is a Scale-Craft 4-8-4 nicely built up by Sidney Wells. Note especially the re-detailed front end with dual air pumps and feedwater heater. His layout came up recently in another article, as it was mentioned in a note from Temple Nieter and had been seen in The Model Craftsman in 1941 and 1942.

In the March issue of The Model Craftsman an article by Red Adams on scenery shows four photos of his new OO layout. One of those photos and an extended quote from this article may be found here, and there is more to be found from Adams in the April, 1943 issue as well, on building observation cars.

Leon “Doug” Douglass sponsored a layout contest in The Model Railroader in 1943. Those who know post-war OO history know that Doug Douglass later was an owner of Scale-Craft, but as of 1943 he owned a hobby shop in Hollywood. His contest was announced in the May issue and this winning design by F. L. Jaques was featured in the September issue, along with a number of other entrants. In May it was explained what was wanted.
Mr. Douglass has a garage with a specially built room on the second floor in which he wishes to build a OO gauge model railroad. The space is 24x28 ft. and he wishes to have the spectators’ area so arranged that the whole railroad presents a complete picture in itself….
The type of layout where one walks in between various scenes does not appeal to Mr. Douglass, as it seems unrealistic to him. He very much prefers to see most parts of the layout from the distance. This was done in the large layout at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and 1940….
Mr. Douglass is not particularly fond of mainline operation, but it is permissible to have a loop of main line around the room, most of it hidden, from which a branch or branches can diverge. The layout should be adaptable to control by one man from a single board. No. 6 switches and 36” radius curves are the minimum ….
The principal line should be held to one per cent grade and others to two percent. His present motive power includes a 4-8-4 and a gas-electric, which should be kept in mind in planning the layout.
Within those guidelines the winner hit on many of the ideals and certainly it is a beautiful illustration, be sure to click on the photo for a better view. We will hear more of Doug Douglass after the war.

This next photo from the June issue of The Model Railroader is an interesting one, not showing a lot of detail but it is of a club visiting an OO gauge attic layout in Lima, Ohio, and how about all those suits! That was a different era of model railroading, and note that “The club plans to build its own OO gauge layout after the war.”

In the July issue of MR we find this very interesting photo. I believe it is the first published photo of the Yorkville and Western layout of Fred Schorr, who was a post-war OO manufacturer. According to his son Ed, when Fred moved from Pottsville this specific layout was given to an uncle who was also an OO gauge modeler.

In December the year ends with an interesting article in MR on building an OO gauge layout using Scale-Craft sectional track. This is probably the only article ever published on this topic specific to Scale-Craft pre-war sectional track, and it includes this photo of the layout in progress. The layout had been designed in 1939 by Linn Westcott for B. E. Padorr of Chicago, to fit a standard ping-pong table with an extension. Turning to the article,
Padorr liked scenery, bridges, trestles, overpasses; and his young son, shown in the photo on page 541, liked to run fast limited trains and switch freight in the yards. Scale-Craft sectional track was to be used. If you are not already familiar with this track, it may interest you to know that the radius is 26” on curves and each curved section is one-sixteenth of a circle. Straight sections are 10” long….
Before Mantua introduced the flexible track that you bend in any desired direction, one had to buy sectional track, or pay higher prices for custom-built work unless one had the time and desire to lay his own rail. Most people laid their own; nevertheless, a great deal of model railroad track is purchased in sections of fixed length.
More on this line of OO sectional track may be found in this article, with a comparison to the more commonly seen Lionel sectional track.

Overall, in the big picture of things, some hobby activity continued in 1943 but there was of course a war going on. Next up in our series we turn to 1944 and a year where things were starting to look up in the hobby.

Continue to 1944 Series

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tru-Scale Self-Gauging Roadbed

In the 1943 series last week I again arrived at the topic of Tru-Scale and their line of roadbed in HO, OO, and O gauges. It is high time for a broader overview of this classic line.

The line itself was introduced in 1941, and it quickly became a popular product. One thing that helped them greatly was that the product itself was wood and production was not impacted by WWII material restrictions. So long as you could locate some rail (steel rail being available during the war) you would quickly be off and running as the roadbed was cut with tie plates that gauged the rail properly and the product also was very easy to spike. After the war, the product retained a degree of popularity and for sure many users had their start with this product in that time frame.

Turning to the photos, first up are two views of the product itself. The switch blocks lack tie plates but the straight and curved sections have them. Note if you look closely that in the selections in the photos you can see that three different tie cutters were used. I take the ties that are very narrow (they look like HO scale ties) to be a somewhat later batch than the two types of wider ties. This probably relates to cutters wearing out and changes of ownership. The original owner was OO gauge enthusiast Jaurez (“Joe”) Tostado, who was tragically killed in 1943. From there the firm has had a series of owners (see UPDATE below for info on the second owner) and it remains in production to this day (but not the OO gauge product).

Tru-Scale curves were produced from a radius of 26" and then in 2" larger intervals up to 48" radius maximum. The switch blocks were made in #4, 6, and 8 sizes, plus also a wye and #6 and 8 crossover blocks.

I have some Tru-Scale, enough for a small layout if planned carefully. About 15 years ago I did lay a short test track with Tru-Scale, seen in the final photo. As I wanted to use modern code 100 rail I took the option of sanding off the self gauging feature and spiking the rail down with gauges. It still was quite easy to spike and really this was/is a fine product, one I would personally think about using if I were to build a new layout. I see no signs of warping on the examples I own, and this clearly was a high quality product.

Vintage OO gauge Tru-Scale is not often seen on eBay, at least in part due to shipping costs being high in relation to the actual value of the roadbed. It certainly has a retro look and is a classic to look out for.

UPDATE: The second owner was August Kniff. This bio and photo were published with an article on "The Importance of Roadbed" that was published in the 1950 Model Railroad Equipment Corp. catalog, giving several interesting details on him and his background.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

American OO for 1943, Part I: What Could you Buy New?

In short, everything you could buy new was either old stock from before the war or made of wood and paper. Overall, I am sure it was best to focus on what you could buy instead of what you could not buy. The following manufacturers were active and making products especially useful to those still working on their railroads.

E. H. Bessey had their line of OO boxcars and reefers available, but by June they advertised (in Model Railroader) that they were “closing out” the line of OO freight cars. The line continued in business, but selling primarily wood shapes including during the war wooden rail. More on Bessey here.

Champion car sides were available but not advertised extensively. More on Champion here.

J-C passenger car kits were available steadily at an affordable $1.95 each! Their ad in the April issue of The Model Craftsman mentions they have “new management, plenty of stock,” and another ad in MR emphasized that they were “not rationed.” More on J-C here.

Picard OO car bodies were easily available and would set you back four for $1, a great deal. In their April MR ad they state they have 84 different car bodies in their line of HO, OO, and O bodies, and by November the line had grown further with new gondola car bodies. More on Picard may be found here.

Scale-Craft advertised steadily but with content more along the lines of “buy war bonds” and on their post-war plans. Selley advertised every month, they were able to sell their full line from parts on hand. More on Scale-Craft here, and on Selley here.

The Tru-Scale ad in March of 1943 in Model Railroader states they have a “vast stock in all three gauges.” By June they were running this ad, which states they have plenty of roadbed but are running short of switches. These would have been made from brass rail which was not available for model railroad production. But then there was tragic news in MR in November! Under the headline “Tostado, Tru-Scale Proprietor, is Dead” we read,
Model railroaders of Southern California lost a good friend when, on Aug. 20, Jaurez (“Joe”) Tostado was killed by an automobile while crossing the street in front of his shop. Joe was the proprietor of Tru-Scale Models and the originator of Tru-Scale roadbed. He was a model railroader beyond the extent that he was connected with the hobby commercially.  
In the Fall of 1942 a layout was started in the three-car garage of Joe’s house. As OO had always been his favorite gauge, the layout was planned accordingly. The project took the form of a club with a few friends helping with the work, and every Tuesday evening much activity went on in the big garage. At the time of his death a great deal had been accomplished and the layout had reached a stage where all mainline track had been laid and much of the basic scenery was built.
The article continues that the members of the club had made a rental agreement for the garage and that work on the layout would continue. “The members hope to carry on the model railroad that took form in Joe Tostado’s mind several years ago and try to make it as good in its final form as Joe expected it to be.”

The article was very sad news but it explained a lot about why Tru-Scale made such a good product and in OO specifically. Also just learning the name and by extension the ethnicity of the owner was a surprise in a way; we tend to have stereotypes of what model railroad manufacturers and enthusiasts looked like back in 1943, and he did not fit that stereotype. A real loss for the hobby, but his product line went forward after his passing and some of the line (not the OO part) is still available today.

Finally, there was more available in OO than met the eye in the form of old stock. In particular the Model Railroad Equipment Corp. of New York City advertised in The Model Craftsman that they were “specialists in OO” and for example stated many times in advertising that they had a “large stock of OO kits” including “Two and three rail Nason and Lionel OO locos for immediate delivery,” and what must be J-C passenger car kits. And their big news in August was that they had purchased the entire inventory of Graceline, seen in this portion of their ad.

The January, 1944 issue of The Model Railroader sheds more light on this, as it states that Graceline owner John Devore was now working in an engineering department doing war work. But not to worry, it was not the end of Graceline, they will re-tool and actually have some models back in production in 1944. More on Graceline here.

And, of course, there was quite a bit of used OO out there too, available for example through dealers such as Leonard Blum of Cleveland or as listed in the "Readers' Exchange" advertising in Model Railroader. Enough OO was out there to keep things rolling.

When we return we turn to the topic of layouts in 1943.

Continue in 1943 Series

Sunday, September 23, 2012

American OO for 1942, Part III: Modelers “Keep ‘em Rolling”

As noted in part II, as of July 1, 1942, most model railroad equipment could no longer be manufactured. It was a serious time for the country but model railroading in American OO did not stop.

One hero of this installment will be a now familiar name to readers of this series, OO pioneer H. L. “Red” Adams. First up we have an article in the July issue of The Model Craftsman on “A Turntable for OO,” which they note right away “may be built for any gauge.” As Adams states, “this article describes the small facilities I had [had?? More on that later in this installment] on my OO Mojave Railroad, where we serviced 5 steam and 3 Diesel locomotives in reasonably efficient manner.” He describes in it how a turntable and steam service area works and also how to build a turntable. His in OO was 15” long and made from a piece of 1x2. His roundhouse “was one of those Ideal HO gauge kits. These are very good in my opinion, and my OO required very little trimming for clearance.” As he also notes toward the end of the article, “Try it out boys, if you haven’t already got one on your pike; all parts are available and now is the time to stop howling about what we haven’t got, and build those things that we definitely need to finish that railroad!”

The next really notable OO article of the year was by, you guessed it, Red Adams. This time the article is in the September issue of The Model Craftsman, on the topic of building a typical 1895 passenger train in wood. He opens with some interesting background though as to the times and other projects underway.
Well, fellow members of the home guards, at this time I had hoped to be describing the intricacies of constructing a Challenger type steam locomotive for you, but due to complicating factors relating to bronze castings and motors and gears, this project has been tabled for a short time. Most of my patterns are finished, however, so it won’t take long after bronze is again available, before one of these giants will be snaking around the curves of my layout. At least I hope it will get around the curves. After the bugs are ironed out of it, I’ll give you the lowdown. 
However, our railroading is versatile and we model rail builders can “keep ‘em rolling” as far as our building goes, and do it without writing our congressman for special privileges to get critical materials. How about forest products? If we are curtailed on our other products why not resign ourselves and use what is available. If we can’t build locomotives, how about cars and scenery? There’s a lot more to a model railroad than the locomotives. The first scale model I ever built back ten years ago was an O gauge passenger coach; my locomotive wasn’t finished until 18 months after this, so why can’t we start some cars now and in 18 months we will be able to get locomotives again, and then our cars will be ready for them.
Adams used sugar pine to build the models in the article, and decorated them for his Sierra railroad. At the very end he describes the locomotive seen in this photo as well. It was “the only kit job” on his roster, a Scale-Craft model with working marker boards and headlight plus a scratch built Vanderbilt tender. “This is a very good locomotive in my opinion; it runs smoothly and quietly and will haul up to 10 passenger cars if the boiler ballast is used.”

Speaking of wood models and moving over to The Model Railroader, one firm that served the home front model railroad community well was the Picard Novelty Co. Very commonly seen in OO collections today, their entire car body line was available without interruption, and this great photo and short spread are found in the October issue under the heading “Meet Theodore Picard.” It turns out that he made all the car bodies himself!
Theodore D. Picard, who supplies wood bodies for cars in the three popular gauges through his Picard Novelty Co., at Westerly, R.I., has had a varied career in the transportation business. He first went to work in his father’s livery, taking it over after his father died. When it became apparent that the horse was on the way out, he sold the livery and founded the Picard Taxicab Co. This flourished until the advent of everyone owning his own car, and then Picard sold this out and went into the wholesale gasoline business with the Picard Gasoline Co. This was a good thing until the depression, when he bought a complete Delta shop and made furniture and novelties in his spare time. This explains the name of his present business.
The present model railroad car body business is the outgrowth of a request by a customer for a few car kits. All materials are selected and sawed by Mr. Picard himself; his only helper is his brother, who tends to the storage of stock and the shipping of orders. 
Apple of Mr. Picard’s eye is his daughter, Lt. Ruth Picard, who is a nurse with the 7th Evacuation Hospital, U. S. Army.
This reminds us again that there was a war going on. One other company I would highlight in this time frame would be Scale-Craft, who according to their ad in the November issue of MR were 100% defense production. Their production had turned in 1941 toward defense production, and “By the time that War Production Ruling L-81 went into effect” they were “on a full time War Production basis.” They continue,
And now, still greater production is demanded. Three shifts, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, man the machines at Scale-Craft. Hour after hour the big screw machines and millers bite into tons of steel, under the glare of fluorescent lights. Armed guards pace the runways and property lines, and the Stars and Stripes float in the glow of flood lights above the building. This is War – not model railroading!
…We still have a great many kits and parts available, and can serve our many friends as long as these materials last. But when they are gone, we will have no more model equipment until we have licked our aggressors.
Some product was going out. One random item I have in my files is a receipt dated 10-18-42 from Graceline for a gondola kit, two reefers, couplers, and wheelsets. Clearly they could still supply some kits and parts as listed in their catalog.

To close our look at 1942 we turn back to Red Adams. Turns out in the December issue of The Model Craftsman we find out that his layout was also the first prize winner in OO gauge in the 1941-42 Railroad Layout Contest! And it turns out that the layout, as implied in the wording of the article quoted earlier, had been dismantled. A number of new details can be gleaned from the article about the layout (such as he used 24 volt DC Scale-Craft motors), and a full roster of his equipment is given, but the end of the article is the most interesting in the context.
This layout was in operation over three years with reasonably good success, and a great deal of enjoyment. Naturally, it was not the perfect layout, as the one I am starting now will try to make that grade, but the Mojave gave a great deal many modelers inspiration, in that it was completed within a reasonably short time – was not high priced in any way – and occupied a small space. Yet could reproduce any small division town movement, a change of locomotives, simple switching operations, water stop, etc.
This track plan is essentially the same as the one published in 1941 in Miniature Railroading, but a bit cleaner and gives a view of the final version of this layout.  It is the sort of layout that I would be happy to have, perfect for exercising trains of OO models with that double track mainline.

In short the war had disrupted the hobby industry greatly, but many on the home front still participated in hobbies as time and materials allowed. When this series returns the topic will be 1943 and beyond.

Return to the beginning of the 1942 series

Continue to 1943 Series

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Building a OO Gauge FM H16-66 Diesel, Part II

Back in 2010 I started in toward completing a project started by Bill Johann, that of converting an Athearn HO Trainmaster diesel into an OO scale H16-66 diesel. He described it in an “extra issue” of The OO Road in 1993, and in part one I outlined the general project and how elements of the large HO model translated perfectly to OO as the slightly more compact “baby Trainmaster.”

Fast forward to today and I am pretty excited about how the H16-66 project came out. The big picture details came out great and it has exceeded expectations on several levels.

My fear was that with all the effort to make this model it would not be effective, as the badly damaged conversion that had been done by David Sacks clearly looked to me like an HO model on OO trucks. The fear was unfounded; this model has the visual heft of a full scale OO model. In the Part I article scroll down to see it before painting and for other details of the conversion. It really looks quite good, two key "big picture" details being correct make the model pop. Those details being the hoods are the correct height and width, and from the side the major details such as the frame height and cab size are dead on correct for OO. The cab in particular I credit with making the biggest single visual difference over the old Sacks conversion, as he kept the original HO cab on his model.

The result is that this model does not at all look like a miniature, under scale model, and it looks great sandwiched between a Kemtron GP-7 and a Schorr F-3, as seen in these photos. The pairing with the Schorr F-3 has been particularly effective. Both have flywheels and the F3 of choice has a big can motor. The pair runs and pulls great on the layout. One test was assembling a train of thirteen die cast S-C and Lionel cars, a very heavy train and no problems pulling them around. The F-3 is a very heavy bronze casting (more on this Schorr F-3 model here) and the H16-66 has extra weights added and 12 wheel drive. The pair has much more pulling power than anything I have ran previously and the pair will crawl around the layout beautifully together. [The Kemton GP-7 in the first photo is described in this article.]

A quote from a very recent Tony Koester "Trains of Thought" column in Model Railroader (September, 2012) in regard to locomotive conversions comes to mind regarding this FM diesel; “…then it will at least temporarily assume the role of ‘New Best Friend.’” For now it is a favorite model, and I believe I will run this engine quite a bit in the coming years.

With this project out of the way, I have all the parts I need to make two examples of another project laid out by Bill Johann in that same extra issue of The OO Road, an EMD SD-40 prototype. When time allows I will start in on that. The biggest challenge will be the cab, but if I can get that looking right the rest of the model should fall into place.