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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1949/50 Bonus: “Alive Again … 00 Gauge” by Ted Menten

Model Railroad Equipment Corporation put out a large catalog of model railroad supplies (144 pages!) that was first advertised in the December, 1949 issue of Model Railroader. The image below is from their June, 1950 ad and shows the cover. The catalog contains not only listings of models in all scales but also articles by leaders in the model railroad industry. Of particular interest to us is an article on page 69 that was presented as a prelude to their OO listings, written by Ted Menten, owner of the Famous Model Co, Inc. (Famoco). In the context of post-war American OO this brief article is very significant and well worth quoting in full. I will have a few more notes after the article.

After eleven years of manufacturing model railroad equipment and having passed through many “Battles of the Gauges,” I still feel that 00 Gauge has much to offer which the other gauges lack.

For many years, there existed the feeling that prices were considerably higher for 00 equipment than for similar equipment in the smaller gauges. Today, locomotives and car kits are offered in 00 Gauge at prices no higher than the smaller gauges, and with the advantage of size, which permits quieter and more secure traction.

Particularly interesting to note is that although 00 Gauge requires only 14% more space for a layout than HO, it has 50% more space in its locomotives, which permits the use of considerably larger and more powerful motors. This added power of 00 Gauge allows for smoother operation. And the additional weight found in both locomotives and cars permits quieter and more secure traction.

There has been an acute shortage of 00 Gauge equipment since model railroading again became active after the close of the war. However, the situation is changing. Four new manufacturers are starting production of 00 Gauge, three of whom will offer locomotive kits, and the other a string of aluminum streamline cars. Within the coming year, our company will be releasing over twenty new reefers and express reefers. The release of this flood of new kits should provide the variety for which the fans of the gauge have been waiting these past four years.

In conclusion, I have a suggestion to offer those about to take part in a fascinating hobby. Before deciding upon a gauge, purchase a single car kit in each of the gauges in which you feel you may have an interest. Assemble the kits. Then compare, the cars, side by side, for detail, the price paid for each and the space you have available. You should come up with the right answer. However, even if you don’t, you will still have fun with model railroading.

There are many interesting details in the above. Menten states that Famoco planned to introduce express reefers, but those were never produced. He also states there are four new manufacturers and three are introducing locomotive kits. Two of those are certainly Super-Scale and Schorr, but it is not very clear who the third would be. The article concludes with this biographical sidebar on Ted Menten, with this great photo.

Ted is a man with a mission—to convince the world 00 gauge is the ideal size for model railroading. To sustain his crusade, he will labor far into the night on military contracts or turn out an occasional HO locomotive to help pay the freight. Both he regards as merely an end to the good fight to build 00 gauge. Ted has been a model railroader since 1935 and a manufacturer since 1937. The Famoco trade name in 00 is recognized as tops in the present market. Years of making precision military instruments has been experience which has resulted in finer Famoco locomotive kits.

His OO line dates to 1938, which confirms the date of this article as 1949 in relation to his "eleven years of manufacturing model railroad equipment." (But UPDATE noting that the actual copyright in the catalog is 1950). When the series returns the focus will be on the items listed in this catalog (including an important note on the cover image!) and also the catalog of E&H Stores.

Continue reading 1949 Series 

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