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

Saturday, July 5, 2014

American OO in 1954-55. Part II: Products in Catalogs

The most interesting catalog of these two years is certainly the 1st Kemtron master catalog. Dated on the cover as being 1955, the first ad I have spotted that mentions the new catalog is in Model Railroader in June of 1955.

In terms of OO, the catalog features their GP-7 model, seen here, and the Scale-Craft line. HO Seeker has a scan of the entire catalog online, and I would point readers to jump over to these pages for more:
One very notable item would be the Kemtron streamline passenger car truck seen on page 29. It was a wonderful item, lost wax brass. It was probably not new this year, as will be seen a little later in this article. For more on that truck in general see this article.

Besides the master catalog, Kemtron had help in marketing their OO line from Pacific Fast Mail, a firm much better known for their brass imports. The first ad I have spotted mentioning that they have Kemtron OO parts is in the February, 1954 issue of Model Railroader. The following month in MR their ad features the Kemtron OO GP-7, “one of the most beautiful and best constructed models in any gauge.”

The first ad I have spotted that mentions this relationship in RMC I spotted in their June, 1954 issue.  Under the heading “NEWS – OO – ON3” we read the following:
Your name on a postcard mentioning gauge will keep you up to date on OO and On3 new items.
SCALE-CRAFT: We have complete “OO” stock except drivers. New ones in process.
KEMTRON: 100% complete stock. Locos, parts, rolling stock all gauges.
There is a bit more to be found in RMC proper as well, in the Dispatcher’s Report for August 1954. But business relationships come and go; in the September 1955 issue of MR Kemtron ran an ad specifically to mention that they are no longer involved with Pacific Fast Mail.

But where this is all heading is PFM put out a catalog of some sort that includes at least four pages of OO coverage. The PFM info over at HO Seeker starts with a 1955 catalog that contains no OO. But in my files I found four pages of OO listings in what appears to be a PFM, loose-leaf format catalog from 1954. The first page features the Kemtron GP-7. The second page has trucks including the Kemtron passenger truck (scanned here) and the full line of S-C trucks. This is the earliest printed reference I have found to that particilar Kemtron truck. The third page has power trucks, the “Teaspoon of Power” unit with the motor built into it that is similar to but shorter than the unit intended for the Kemtron GP-7 and also the S-C Gas-Electric power truck. The last page features the “666” drive truck that was for the Kemtron GP-7, seen in the final scan. It was by Lindsay and PFM was marketing it for OO or On3.

They spent a bit of money on advertising and may have sold a few OO models but again, it was a short lived relationship and PFM went on to fame as an importer of brass models.

Moving on, I have the 1954 E&H Stores catalog excerpts, mentioned in 1953 series, and what I take to be 1955 excerpts are found in the article on Kemtron and late Scale-Craft.
They were one of the few sellers to mention OO in advertising and, ominously, in their August 1954 MR ad they mention that they have a “special clearance” going on for OO gauge. There were deals to be had for sure, but the bigger picture was they were a business and OO could not have been making them much money. The “special clearance” item ran in their ad steadily until January of 1955. The rest of the year mention was made of OO in their advertisements (such as “we stock OO”), but that run ended in January of 1956 and after that point E&H stores makes no mention of OO in their advertising.

While mentioning catalogs, remember the great Model Railroad Equipment Corp. Catalog that was covered in this article, with great OO coverage? They had a new catalog out and it was HO only! That was where the market was.

The biggest thing to happen in American OO these two years in terms of products is not listed in any catalog. When the series returns the topic will be Schorr.

Continue reading 1954-55 series

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