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

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. 

No comments: