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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

1949 and American OO. Part III, Buy it by Mail

Mail order was an option for OO gaugers of the day, and two different catalogs from 1949 give a clear perspective on what you could buy new at the time.

First up is the clearly marked 1949 catalog from The Electronic and Hobbycraft Stores. Inside may be found one page of OO gauge listings. It is hard to say if these items are old stock or new stock, but I believe they actually had them on their shelves:
  • Famoco – single and dual motor GG-1, turnouts, track layer, freight trucks
  • J-C Models – baggage, combine, coach, Pullman
  • Midlin – track kit and turnouts
  • Scale-Craft – 4-6-0, 0-6-0, stock car, flat, tank, caboose, hopper, reefer, box [50’], Pullman, observation, diner, coach, baggage, power truck, freight trucks, four and six wheel passenger trucks
Then later in the year we get to a very interesting catalog. I have Xerox copies from two different sources. One has it marked as Polks 1946, but based on what was in it I knew it could not be from 1946. The other copy has it labeled as “Model RR. Equip. Corp. Catalog 1950” and with a bit of detective work that is correct. From the content I knew it had to date from probably late 1949 and it turns out that it was first advertised for sale in the December, 1949 issue of Model Railroader, making it fit with our narrative at this point. UPDATE: But noting after finally tracking down a copy that the copyright does actually say 1950. But certainly the catalog was put together in late 1949.

UPDATE: This is the cover of this catalog. This was an exciting one for OO gaugers, as the cover features an image of the OO scale Norfolk and Ohio layout of Carl Appel! The same image as published in MR in 1948 may be seen in this article (scroll down). Click on it here for a better view. The locomotives in the background of this realistic scene are a Nason 2-8-0 and a Lionel Hudson.

The section on OO begins with an article by Famoco owner Ted Menten, “Alive Again … 00 Gauge,” which has already been quoted in full as a “bonus article” in this series of articles on American OO in 1949. One of the hooks used to advertise this new catalog in a series of advertisements in Model Railroader in 1950 were these short articles by figures in the hobby industry.

As to the catalog content itself, it is divided by type of model rather than by manufacturer. In locomotives we have:
  • Scale-Craft – 4-6-4t, 4-6-0, 0-6-0
  • Famoco – GG1, single or twin power
  • Super Scale – EMC Diesel switcher, 600 HP or 1,000 HP with or without booster
The first locomotive listed is a good case study for us, as (spoiler alert) Scale-Craft would be back under the ownership of Elliott Donnelley in 1950 but the 4-6-4t was not listed in the 1950 (Round Lake, IL) catalog. Was it old stock? Did Douglass Scale-Craft ship some of this model out? As to the others, 1949 is pretty much the end of production for the Famoco OO GG-1 but it was the first year for the Super Scale NW-2 (the 1,000 HP model that is listed—the SW-1 dating to 1948).

Next up are box cars. There were three (really two) models available. The most expensive was the Scale-Craft 50’ car at $5.45. Then we have the listings for Eastern and Famoco boxcars. As described in the longer listings with both manufacturers here in this website, these are essentially the same models in every way except for having different frames and most (but not all) Famoco cars have die cast ends. The sides are the same, built up the cars look pretty much the same. But the price was certainly not the same! The Famoco cars sold for $2.95 with trucks and the Eastern cars sold for $4.40 with trucks and $2.95 without. Which one would you buy?

Refrigerator cars are the next listing and it is the same story, there is the one Scale-Craft car and all the listings of Eastern and Famoco models with the same printed sides but Famoco much less expensive.

Under the heading “other freight cars” we have the Eastern gondola and the Scale-Craft tank car, hopper, and caboose. From the listing, “The only available caboose in 00 gauge is the Pennsylvania type illustrated here. Model has excellent detail cast integrally with the major body parts.” The photo used was this one, a stock photo used in S-C catalogs for years. Following that is quite a list of parts, including a number of Selley OO parts and what would appear to be Picard bodies.

Next up are “Passenger Train Cars” from four manufacturers:
  • Famoco – baggage, baggage coach, coach, Pullman
  • J. C. Models – baggage, baggage coach, coach, Pullman
  • Scale-Craft – baggage, coach, Pullman, diner, observation
  • Zuhr – mail, baggage, coach, 18 roomette, bedroom, diner
The Famoco, J-C, and S-C models are all "standard passenger train cars" and the Zuhr cars are "streamline passenger train cars." In all of the above I use the terminology as presented in the catalog and note too that the catalog mixes 00 and OO gauge in their copy. The J-C cars I am thinking are old stock but the Zuhr models are brand new for 1949.

Following that are listings for passenger car parts (including again Selley parts), track materials by Midlin, Eastern, and Tru-Scale, and switch controls. There was certainly enough available to build a nice layout -- if you wanted to work in OO there were supplies out there. To close this look at 1949 we will turn to look at a few of those layouts.

Continue reading 1949 series

No comments: