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Saturday, March 24, 2012

American OO for 1940: Part III, Smaller Manufacturers

Continuing this look at American OO in 1940, more than a dozen other manufacturers were active in the OO market in 1940.

Alphabetically we would start with E. H. Bessey. A brand new line to the OO market and produced in California, the line is described fully in this previous article. The line was rolled out with advertisements to be found in The Model Railroader; 2/40 features the new boxcar, 5/40 their express reefer, 6/40 their stock car, and 10/40 has their reefers (a signature model of the line) with a small advertisement packed with text, reproduced here. Of these cars I have only actually seen examples of the reefers and the boxcar, and I own two of the kits for the reefers. The sides of these all-wood cars were factory painted and beautifully lettered. These kits were a very fine new product.

Famoco was still in business but was pretty invisible. One of the few references I find is in the Polks advertisement in the February issue of The Model Railroader, where they advertised that they had their 0-4-0 kit available (2-rail) for $18. More on the line of locomotives and equipment produced by Famoco may be found here. Their catalog in my collection that I would date to 1940 also lists their line of passenger cars, which are essentially an upgraded version of the same models produced by J-C Models. Their freight cars are a post-war product.

Graceline was excited about their new automatic coupler. It was reviewed in Trade Topics in The Model Railroader for February, 1940, where they say it has "the contour of a regular coupler and have working knuckles and lock pins. They have a husky shank and are nicely detailed." I have several of these couplers, which I suspect did not work automatically that well but are still usable in manual mode today. An advertisement in October says they have over 60 new OO items, but what they are I am not completely clear. More on the passenger and freight cars produced by Graceline may be found here.

Roland Haddaway of Los Angeles had out a new line of track. From the ad it would be a type of self gauging roadbed. The product should be similar in principle to the later and better known line by Tru-Scale. This ad was in the August issue of The Model Railroader.

K&W still had their couplers available, seen in 1939, and this ad in the October issue of The Model Railroader features a great photo of another part they sold. Their advertisements in other issues speak of parts they sold being “For HO and OO,” which I would generally take to mean that the same part was to be used in HO or OO, and they did sell HO kits, but in this case there actually is a different part casting for HO and for OO.

Little Gem Models had a string of advertising in Model Railroader for their HO-OO building kits. I have a bit more on this line in this article.

Mantua still had their line of track and the advertisement in The Model Railroader for September and The Model Craftsman for October of 1940 notes that they also sell their Belle of the 80s model gauged for OO. This was also listed in their 1941 catalog; for more information see this article.

Maxwell had advertisements for their line of structure kits in The Model Railroader for 1/40, 2/40, 3/40, and 4/40. For more info on this line see this article.

Midlin had many advertisements for their line of track, which was as noted in other articles was a popular line with OO gaugers of the day. More on this product may be found here.

Next up alphabetically is a company I know next to nothing about. The Model Lumber Co. advertised OO bodies in the December issue of The Model Railroader. Beyond this ad I know nothing of their products, but there must be a few random bodies out there that came from their shop. I find it interesting that they offered these in OO, O, and Standard gauges.

UPDATE: Model Lumber Co. is the topic of the "Collector Consist..." column in RMC for May of 2014. Author Keith Wills had tracked down their catalog. Their OO cars were limited to a coach and combine, 62 foot open end passenger cars that could be built with truss rods or a metal frame. They also produced a plate girder bridge for OO; all their other products were for O and Standard gauges. The catalog photo of the combine (marked DISCONTINUED) may be seen in the RMC article, although I suspect it is an O or Standard gauge version of the kit. They also produced a line of twelve freight cars and two other passenger cars.

Newark Electric of Chicago had out a set of wood bodies for streamlined cars. For more on these see this article. I also have a copy of their catalog, which may predate the streamlined cars but is from 1940 I believe. It includes listings for a line of power packs of their manufacture ("Electro Paks"), Midlin track, a track layer by R. D. Denise (a device that drove four pins at a time to spike and gauge the rails), and the full line of Scale-Craft and Lionel OO, in addition to a variety of HO and O gauge items.

The Picard Novelty Co. of Westerly, R.I., was in the business of making wood bodies by 1939, but in 1940 added their line of OO bodies. An item in The Model Railroader for 4/40 notes they are adding OO, October 1940 features this nice advertisement, and also the December issue MR has a nice trade topics item on the line.
The sample O, OO, and HO freight car body kits received from the Picard Novelty Co. fit like a glove. All saw cuts are cleanly made and the wood is of good quality. On some kits the sides are furnished with scribing. A locked joint is provided between the floor and the ends of the car. Reasonably priced.
They had a great product, actually, which must have sold steadily for them until the end of WWII. Approved by the NMRA! For more on Picard read this article.

Strombecker was still going strong and had a great advertisement on the back cover of the February issue of The Model Builder. This is the bottom portion (full image here) which features three of their OO scale items, with even more OO to be seen in the full ad. For my overview of Strombecker production read this article.

Yardmaster had a line of freight cars as well that was out in 1940 only. For the short story of the production of this line read this article.

A final company to mention is Hawk. While I don’t see any 1940 advertisements, based on the dates on their instruction sheets production of their freight car kits dates to late 1940. For more on Hawk see this article.

UPDATE: Also, clearly J-C Models was still going in 1940! My 101 article on J-C is here. They missed this article as first posted though as I did not spot the line mentioned in any advertising this year. Checking back again though, actually I had just missed this in my notes.

AND: I also missed this manufacturer, Vanden Boom. They manufactured a line of reefers, a caboose, a single-sheathed box car, and a wreck train. For more see the series starting here.

To conclude this look at 1940 the focus will be on layouts and other articles on OO. Back with that soon.

Continue in 1940 Series

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