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

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

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