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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

American OO for ’47: Part V, Other Smaller Makers

Continuing our look at 1947, we have nine more manufacturers to look at briefly that were active in the OO market. Going alphabetically, first up would be E. H. Bessey. They had a new catalog out in 1947, which is described further here. The main take away at this point is that of their pre-war offerings in OO the only item available still was their SP boxcar body. It may have been, by then, old stock they were still selling off.

To hit a new angle on the topic, this boxcar is one I recently rebuilt and has a Bessey body. I like to work on car projects in groups if I can and this group I thought was of three old Picard scribed wood bodies in need of rebuilding.  When I got to painting them I finally noticed one has thicker side stock and a narrower frame piece and realized that it was actually a Bessey body. They are very similar to Picard but can be recognized from below by those primary spotting features (for a bottom view of another car see this article). Bessey did good work; I wish they had produced more as they put out a quality product. They continued on for a time but in terms of OO production would fade into history pretty quickly after 1947.

Next up is Exacta. The overview article is here, and they made some excellent models that are quite rare in OO.

What is sure is they manufactured a fluted side, Budd streamliner in OO. However their catalog listed many more items and in particular their January Model Railroader advertisement reproduced here features their caboose, which besides OO was advertised for O, S, and HO gauges. I don’t know if the model was actually produced in OO and I am not aware of any existing examples. It might have been a great model, but then again it would have ended up looking rather similar to a Lionel or Scale-Craft caboose and would have been a lot harder to assemble.

Their February MR ad does not mention OO version of streamliner, but they caught it and put OO back in the ad in March. Then in April they have a very nice ad that compares their Pullman and Budd type streamline trains. Probably only the Budd type train was produced in OO, but in the May advertisement they have a price listed for the OO version of the Pullman type cars. But then in June the Pullman is listed only in O and HO! And after this point I don’t believe OO is mentioned in any further advertising by Exacta and they exited the OO market. I have never seen any examples of their OO products other than the Budd streamliner.

Next up we have Garco, who made a nice Baldwin diesel switcher. My overview of Garco is here. The first ad I notice for this model is in Model Railroader for June. The model was in anything I see in print in 1947 marketed as HO, but it was so overscale that at least dealers noticed it had a potential market in OO, as in 1948 advertising may be found that says the model is “HO (or OO).” As noted in my other articles on this model, it is a workable OO model but I believe it to be somewhere around 1/80 scale.

Next up alphabetically is Midlin. Their OO track was available widely, as was Tru Scale. Both advertised steadily. For anyone looking for tips on how to lay Midlin track, there is a nice article on the topic in the August issue of MR.

Picard is another familiar name to readers of this series, with two main prior articles (here and here) providing an overview of their production. They advertised steadily in MR. This ad is from November and features what I think was their best product, the scribed boxcars. An aside being this ad is directly below a product I could have mentioned in an earlier installment, Eastern had introduced a line of “Precision-Built Turnouts” in addition to their freight car line.

Another familiar name was that of Selley, who advertised their line of parts steadily in MC and MR.  More on Selley here. I should also note that Superior Models offered custom building services. While no ad is OO specific, they did build some fine OO models. For more see this article.

Then we turn to a topic I have not covered deeply, that of structure kits and signals and such. Especially the signals, most any HO signal of the era was so overscale as to be more accurately used in OO; some were marketed as HO-OO. But back to buildings, my personal interests are more toward locomotives and railroad cars, so especially in this era I am more interested in those than the buildings I see advertised, as virtually all that mention OO are HO-OO and to my mind are HO models. But in respect to the memory of my OO friend the late Edward Morlok, I do want to highlight one item that he specifically mentioned to me not long before he passed as an update for my OO Checklist. Mountain City Hobby Mfg. of Chattanooga, TN offered among other products an “oil refinery or chemical plant” that was usable in “HO, TT, OO, S.” The other buildings I see from them in for example their ad in the May, 1947 issue of MR are all HO, with all items available as kits or assembled.

With that we turn a corner to a new topic, that of clubs! Several OO clubs were active and New Jersey was a hotbed of OO activity in particular. More on that in the next installment.

Continue reading 1947 Series

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