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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

American OO in 1950. Part IV, Articles and Layouts

By 1950 there was not a lot of American OO coverage in the magazines. However, two items stand out from the year.

First up is this photo of the great Norfolk and Ohio layout of Carl Appel. The main article on this layout (here) is one of the better traffic articles on this site, and in the September issue of Model Railroader we find this additional photo of the layout. The caption reads,
One of the scenic wonders of model railroading is Carl Appel’s OO gauge Norfolk & Ohio layout in Allentown, Pa. Colored photo murals on the walls realistically simulate an infinite horizon. Foreground details blend subtly into the background. “Water” in foreground is glossy green paint.
What a fine scenic setting for that Lionel OO Hudson. And if you have the issue it is worth also a quick look as another OO layout is found in the same issue in Trackside Photos, the layout of Verne Jenkins of Tacoma, Wash.

The big article of the year has the simple title “OO Articulated,” and ran in the November issue of MR. By Dr. S. L. Casper of Quincy, Ill., the article subtitle reads “This beautiful engine was constructed chiefly from HO gauge commercial parts by a resourceful OO gauger who succeeded in making HO gauge his biggest asset.” The article begins,
As a long suffering but confirmed OO gauger, I have often felt like a hungry, penniless waif gazing longingly through the window of a lavish bakery when I visited hobby shops and inspected the varied and excellent HO locomotive kits. But rather than change gauges I decided to make up a OO gauge locomotive kit by utilizing HO gauge loco parts.
As shown in the accompanying photographs, I tried out something big to test my construction theory, namely a Union Pacific Challenger….
He used published plans but also credits OO gauger Jim Trout of Los Angeles for additional “snapshots of the prototype,” noting too that “it was his superb workmanship in the construction of various Santa Fe locomotives in OO guage that prompted me to being construction of this articulated project.”

In short what he did was elongate a Scale-Craft 4-8-4 boiler and work out a drive using Varney 72” drivers and other parts. The article is a great read and for me reminds me again that I have a group of steam locomotive projects to work out drives for, I hope to get back to those with a block of time this summer.

To close out this brief look at 1950 I would also note that the MR club directory in their June issue lists four different OO clubs in New Jersey. Even with articles and advertising tapering off there were some very active OO gaugers out there, and as this series continues into the 1950s we will look at a number of those individuals and the products they brought to the market.

Return to beginning of 1950 series

Continue to 1951-52 series 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

American OO in 1950. Part III, Notes on Other Manufacturers

Besides Scale-Craft, in my survey of magazines for the year I note four other American OO manufacturers with advertising in 1950.

Starting with the oldest firm, in the September 1950 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman is found what must be the last advertisement from Nason Railways. If you have been following this series of articles in fact I think you would have guessed that they were completely out of business not long after regular advertising ended in 1947. However, the owner Ed Kelly ran one more, final ad.

This image is the top portion of it, an open letter to OO gaugers, and is actually a scan of the proof sheet of the ad, which somehow made it to me. Besides reporting generally that owner Ed Kelly was in improving health (the address given is a P.O. Box in Miami) we learn that he was attempting to sell "special packages" of parts for the 2-8-0 and the 4-6-4 locomotives. Each was priced at $15 and the 2-8-0 set for example contained
…the following bronze castings: Boiler, Tender, Tender underframe, Cab roof, Valve Hanger, Boiler Front, Tender front deck, Worm bearing, Cylinder block, Main frame, Rear cab support, Reverse Shaft Arms, Links, Side Rods, Main Rods, and the lead truck bolster. Also a headlight, crosshead guides, bell, whistle, handrail supports, pop valves, steel worm, jack shaft coupling, steam turret, couplers, air tanks, chock valves, machine screws and complete drawings and instructions are included.
Next up alphabetically would be Schorr. This scan is of a print of a photo used in Schorr advertising in 1950 for the F-3. The model was advertised regularly, and this photo may be seen in the ad in the November RMC for example. Click on it for a better view, as being an original print more detail can be seen than from the actual advertisements, which were very small format.

Zuhr also advertised regularly, with this example from RMC in May, “now we’re ready with the observation.” The line was reviewed Trade Topics in Model Railroader in June of 1950. There we read,
The Duraliner streamlined cars include a coach, an 18-roomette Pullman, a combination Pullman, a baggage coach, a mail car, and a diner.
All parts are aluminum. Windows are punched in the one piece roof and side side sheet. Ends and floor are 1/8” stock. All parts are cut to size and all holes required are drilled….
Self-tapping screws retain the floor, couplers and trucks. Trucks are Varney HO F-3 diesel freight side frames with OO gauge 36” scale wheels and stamped brass bolsters.
Window strip, sponge rubber diaphragms, roof hatches, and rivets for smokejacks complete the kit….
The printed instruction sheet, although lacking illustrations and dimensional data, covers the assembly well.
My overview article on Zuhr is here.

The fourth firm seen with advertising is Famoco. Famoco however only advertised their HO line with the exception of including their OO tracklayer in some advertising (such as RMC, July).

Other firms had models available. Eastern cars were available certainly if not advertised, for example. Midlin track was available for sure but I am thinking maybe by now their OO line was actually out of production. One other manufacturer perhaps coming in now or soon would be Myron P. Davis. This article has text from a letter he sent to Pittman in 1950, looking for a specific Nason motor. 

One more article is to come in the series on American OO in 1950, this time looking briefly at layouts and other models in the hobby press.

Continue reading 1950 Series

Saturday, February 8, 2014

OO Track Samples by Earle Gardner

With the dispersal of the train collection of the late William Chapin (1927-2013) these track samples by Earle Gardner were mentioned in recent postings in the OO Yahoo group.

As there are five photos, I will keep them all small, click on any one for a larger view. There is an article on the OO layout of Earle Gardner in Model Railroader's Digest in 1940 (more here), and these track samples must date from about that time. Also that year he started in partnership with Eldyn S. Graves the well known GarGraves line of track products.

I was a graduate student and lived in Rochester, NY, from 1984-87. During those years I visited Bill many times, I have fond memories of visiting his basement and took these photos in that time frame. These track samples were items he was clearly proud to show me. He had been friends with Earle Gardner and obtained these from him or his estate. They are track samples for a line of OO switches that was not actually produced.

The first photo shows a No. 6 stub switch, a gauntlet track (as for a bridge in double track territory), and a wye. The second photo shows another wye and a three way switch. The last photo shows a double crossover. This is completely wired up with switch machines and relays for two rail operation.

This is the back of the double crossover, showing the wiring. These samples are really interesting items I think, and as I told him at the time that this crossover especially almost has the look of folk art.

Also note the trackage underneath the double crossover. This is the yard of his OO gauge layout. All that track is Midlin. More on that in a second.

This photo is a close up of the label on the double crossover. Note the four spikes per tie and the standard, OO rail section. And the price! Not cheap for that day I would say.

Photos of all these track sections as they look today may be seen in an album (here) in the Yahoo American OO group. 

Bill had a number of other OO gauge items from Earle Gardner, the one that particularly sticks in my mind being a complete set of all three Mantua old-time passenger cars. I don't have a photo of that set, sadly.

In later years I was back to Rochester several times and lived about 3 hours away for 3 years. This photo was taken in 1992 and shows the train basement of Bill Chapin. On the left is a big, island workbench with test tracks, there is another workbench on the right, and in the distance is the OO layout seen in part in the photos earlier. I don't have any good photos of the layout but the yard was in the area visible in the photo (through that doorway), with the layout featuring wide curves and smooth running on mostly Midlin but also some Tru-Scale track as well. No scenery.

The layout is gone now and most of his collection I am told was donated to the TCA with the layout and some percentage of the parts and such ending up in dumpsters. Hopefully some of the OO models will see the light of day again (I recall drawers full of S-C 4-8-4 models, for example) and this photo is a memory of the only operating OO gauge layout I have personally seen other than my own.

It is worth noting, in closing, that GarGraves produces a line of OO track today. Aimed at Lionel collectors, a sample may be seen at the end of this article.