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

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.

No comments: