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Thursday, April 4, 2013

American OO in 1946, Part III: Nason Struggles Along

With their OO production dating back to 1934, on the plus side it is great to see Nason Railways advertising steadily all year. I don’t have the complete year of Model Craftsman but do have the complete year of Model Railroader, and it would seem that the MR and MC advertising was identical. By month the year began as follows:

  • January: “Deliveries of brass rail will commence March 15”
  • February: “Bronze castings are trickling in. P5A drivers now available....”
  • March: Drills and taps
  • April: Drills and taps
  • May: “new ‘OO’ trucks are coming”
  • June: Trucks “are advancing” toward production

A promising start, and for sure people were anxious to get some of their OO trucks after the war. The year continues,

  • July: Hope to have trucks “next month” and caboose kits are available now
  • August: Latest arrivals are box and reefer kits, ties, decals
  • September: Famoco motors (!), 2-rail Atlantic drivers 
  • October: Consolidation tender tanks, other parts
  • November: Gears and more consolidation parts
  • December: Consolidation and Hudson driver castings, rail

In the big picture the small monthly ads don’t paint a picture of a company doing well. Clarifying considerably their status I have in the files a letter and price sheet from December, 1946, this image being a scan of the beginning of the letter. It is a form letter that reads,

Dear Sir,

In response to your communication of Dec. 10 we are mailing a copy of our 1941 catalog, which is the only issue available now.

Some prices have changed and many items are unavailable at this time. Enclosed, please find list of items, available for immediate shipment. In addition to the items on the list, we have on hand, many small parts and castings and more are arriving every week. 

Therefore, if you are in need of any special, hard to get items, we suggest that you let us know what they are and perhaps we can supply you.

Trucks will be ready soon and we hope to have our complete line back on the shelves in the near future.

If we can be of any further assistance to you please do not hesitate to call on us.

We thank you for your inquiry, and look forward to serving you further with “OO” quality equipment.

Yours very truly
Edward V. Kelly

Still no trucks after all these months? Who is Edward Kelly? And where’s Hugh Nason? Hugh Nason in pre-war photos looks to be in probably his 50s (see here for example), and it would seem he is out of the picture with a new owner. Which is another element of why Nason Railways was having trouble getting things together in 1946.

To summarize briefly the price list with the letter, it included:

  • Rail, switches, ties, spikes
  • A rerailer kit
  • Model railroad paints, decals, lubricant, drills, taps, screws, scale rulers 
  • Box and reefer kits, less trucks and underframe ($1.40)
  • Caboose kits, less trucks ($1.50)
  • Reverse switches (I am thinking for an AC/DC motor such as the Famoco motor seen in the advertisement)
  • Driver castings for the Consolidation and Hudson locomotives (but notably not the P5A and Atlantic drivers that had been advertised)
  • Box and reefer aluminum underframes (“JUST ARRIVED”)
  • “Arch Type Roof Wood” (for passenger cars)

As you could purchase a few of their kits in 1946 it is a good time to feature this photo of three of their boxcars. The one on the left is a vintage car (seen also in this article) and the other two I built, the Union Pacific car completed very recently. That one has a bit of a story on my end as it is actually one of the first ten OO cars I ever owned. It started life as a junker reefer sent to me by Temple Nieter. I had an idea to convert it into a composite boxcar with wood sides and metal ends. I did some of the work toward that goal in the 1980s and got badly stalled. The car sat around for years. I finally made a command decision to just build it as a nice example of a boxcar and make use of vintage Nason sides and ends. The car came out pretty well, but I don’t think this is a product that people were really waiting to buy more of in 1946. What differentiates late Nason production from early of this kit I don’t know either, but there are clearly some obvious variations of their wood parts over the years, not to mention variations of truck wheelsets and such.

What Nason really needed to do in 1946 was bring out something new. Prototype models are known to exist for Nason locomotives that must date from this time frame, one sold on eBay not that long ago in fact, and I have a master pattern for a troop sleeper end that would seem to be Nason. The spoiler alert being they did not get any new item into production after the war. But that is a story to continue when we look at 1947 in a few months.

On the year there is one other interesting Nason side note in an On3 layout story in the October issue of Model Railroader. The builder had used Nason 2-8-0 drivers/frame to build first locomotives on his layout.  There are probably a few early On3 models floating around out there with Nason parts in the drive.

Nason was struggling a bit, but an optimist would be thinking from the advertising that they are trying to get some product out, and better things must be coming soon in OO gauge.  And there were other companies bringing out new products, who will be the focus of the next article in this series.

Continue in 1946 Series

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