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

Friday, July 5, 2013

American OO for ’47: Part IV, Transportation Models

Transportation Models was on the market with their post-war line of OO models and advertised the line for the full year in Model Railroader. They started the year with a survey in their January ad. The questions:

  1. Your favorite freight car type
  2. Your favorite passenger car type
  3. Your favorite method of construction (die-cast, sheet metal, printed side, etc.)
  4. Your comments on OO gauge

I think the take-away is they were thinking about their line and maybe changes to it. In February the topic was “Improved hardware and trucks being developed” and in March we get to an ad noting “new trucks and hardware available soon.” And then in April “They’re new … new patterns, new alloy, new wheel mounting, new spring assembly.” This was an ARR freight truck, and should be the truck seen in a photo in the main Transportation Models article. But also clearly the other feature items are all freight cars that would ride on said trucks, a general theme carried forward for the next several months. The main points communicated over the run of ads are that the new fully spring trucks are easy to assemble and they also have freight car kits.

Their August ad has more text than usual and explains that the first run of their new freight trucks was in April of 1947. “Better insulation” and “true-running wheel sets” are the key features, which probably indicates the major problems of their earlier truck design.

I have in my collection two boxes for the No. 551 assembled trucks. One has two pair worth of parts in it and the other is empty, and both have the word “assembled” scratched out as well. The wheelsets in the box are pretty consistent and in gauge, the insulation is still solid after all the years, but the tread width is a hair under later NMRA standards. I would personally only use them on a shelf model. Built up examples of this truck would be I would think quite good looking, these certainly were the best looking OO gauge freight truck on the market in terms of scaling and detail in 1947.

Also I would mention that the maker was certainly into slogans. On the truck boxes we find not only their “Learn Through Play The Model Railroad Way” slogan (just visible on the box side at the back in the photo) but also on the other side of the box this one: “For Smooth Sailing With a Slick Click Insist On Transportation Models.”

September/October/November brings a very interesting ad: “…help me clear my shelves!” The ad I think reflects pretty accurately what items Transportation models had actually produced to that point; a range of freight cars and also freight trucks. Their boxes listed a very extensive line, but in particular I am inclined to believe that none of the passenger cars listed on their boxes (see this article) were actually produced. From the advertising you would think that probably only the boxcars, reefers, and gondola cars were produced but I actually also have a wood caboose kit by Transportation Models, so there may be others. Would welcome any reader comments on other models produced.

Also the final advertising reinforces the general sense that this was just an individual who saw an opportunity of using the old Graceline toolings to make a line of OO models but also now was struggling to make money with it. Their December ad was a “Seasons Greetings” message. I am thinking that the owner had paid for the full year of advertising already and came up with the ad, a nice thought, to fill space. It was actually their very last advertisement in the model railroad press, and with that Transportation Models would quickly fade into model railroad history.

When the series returns the topic will be a group of other smaller makers active in 1947.

Continue reading 1947 Series

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