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

Friday, April 26, 2013

American OO in 1946, Part IV: Transportation Models, Eastern, and More

A number of smaller makers were active in the OO market in 1946. Of all the models out in American OO in 1946 among the most vigorously advertised would have to be those of Transportation Models. They advertised steadily in The Model Railroader, this ad from March (full of fine print) being representative; “Hundreds of orders.”

Those orders would have been direct orders and also orders from shops that wanted to get post-war kits on the shelves. Their models are seen in the advertisements of mail order places as well. Clearly they were shipping product, and a good bit of it. They must have had a large supply of Graceline comprestic parts to work with and clearly realized that there was a market thirsting for new products after the war.

The contents of a typical Transportation Models kit may be seen in this article. The boxes marketed these kits to the youth market which must have sounded like a good idea at the time but I don’t think youth were really looking for kits in OO Scale. And while I hate to be so direct I think if a youth actually purchased one of these kits they would quickly find them to not be that good; not real easy to build, castings that were inconsistent quality, trucks that were very fussy to assemble, etc.

They perhaps recognized that, too, when in their June MR advertisement they emphasized that their die castings were in a new, less brittle alloy. “Clearly reproduces the fine detail in the former Graceline OO dies.”  The second scan here being of their August MR advertisement, which emphasized the quality of their line. Also, by late in the year they were selling their trucks built up, which was a good idea as they have so many small parts. I have a couple of the empty boxes for these, so they must have shipped and sold a few to eager OO gaugers of the time.

I would also note that while the boxes of their kits mention a line of passenger cars, I see no evidence in 1946 that they actually shipped out any passenger cars. I will be looking at this question as the series continues.

Eastern started tipping their hand that a line was coming, with their very first advertisement running in the March 1946 issue of Model Railroader. In the July issue of MR they presented the first car of their new line, a reefer kit, and their boxcars were first advertised in the October MR. These cars utilize a number of parts that are identical to those sold by Famoco, and sources indicate that the wood parts were made for Eastern by Westbrook (which, again, appear to be identical to Famoco parts). These were good kits and were "Truly a fine addition on any pike." For more on Eastern see this article.

Exacta also had a new line out that included models in HO, OO, S, and O scales. The first advertising describing the line is found in the April issue of MR. The initial product was a line of “moulded” copper streamline cars. The new line was reviewed in the July issue of MR, where we learn,
The detail incorporated in these electroplated car sides is abundant and has eye appeal. Considerable third dimension is obtained with this process, and the copper sides and ends can be soldered together without difficulty. Windows and door openings are outlined but not punched out. Detailed plans and instructions are included.
My overview of Exacta is here (with notes on their 1946 catalog), these have been built up into beautiful cars that are only rarely seen. A gallery of photos of the HO version of the streamliner may be seen here in the HOSeeker site. They also listed a caboose and other freight and passenger cars, none of which I have ever actually seen in OO. Hopefully some are out there.

Pre-war OO manufacturer Famoco was back with a motor, the first photo of which I see in the Polks advertisement for April. They also had out a track layer that is seen in this ad in the October issue. They have two ads in this issue actually, the first Famoco advertisements seen in years. The product itself is, notably, available for HO, OO, S, and O gauges; Famoco was branching out. And, curiously, I don’t see advertising that would indicate that they had their pre-war products out at this time, but they were coming back soon. More on Famoco here.

Also it should be noted that the great Midlin track was back in production, having expanded their plant, and Tru-Scale was also advertising and shipping products. I should note briefly also there were some new structure kits and accessories on the market, but most are HO-OO products, such as this Windsor Model Railways icing plant for example, as advertised in the April issue of MR. This and other lines of HO-OO (and OO) structures are briefly described here.

To close for now, I did not note any Bessey advertisements, but I do have a copy of their 1947 catalog, so I suspect they had the same OO products available still in 1946. More on the Bessey 1947 catalog here.

When the series returns we have OO layouts and more to look at.

Continue reading in 1946 series

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