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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

American OO for 1958-59: Part IV, A Super Railroad

The Norfolk & Ohio is considered to be one of the great model railroads of any scale seen in print in the 1950s. I have an overall look at articles on this layout here, with the second feature article on the layout being published in the November, 1958 issue of Model Railroader. That article was reprinted nearly in full in the 1980 Kalmbach publication Classic Articles from Model Railroader, but only nearly in full and the elements not reprinted are worth an additional look.

First up is the cover photo and banner. This was a super railroad in so many ways, obvious seeing that scratchbuilt N&W Y-6b 2-8-8-2 articulated. Flipping inside to the index page you would find this description.

A VISIT to the basement of Carl Appel’s home in Allentown, Pa., is an enlightening experience. MR first took you there to see his OO gauge Norfolk & Ohio back in August, 1948. Since then Carl has expanded his rolling stock roster, built new locomotives and made additions to the layout itself, and thought that – this month – the time was ripe for another visit to the N&O. So on pp. 28-35, we show you – with improved photographic techniques, too – how his railroad looks today. It is, without question, one of the most inspiring pikes in the country.

There are also two more photos of the layout and models that were not reprinted in the Classic Articles book. One is a close up of his scratchbuilt model of a N&W Class J 4-8-4, and the other this overall view of his engine terminal. The caption reads:

The engine terminal at Island Yard is geared to service the N&O’s big, modern power. In the background are an eight-stall roundhouse, power plant and water tank with treatment plant. Up front are the coaling station, sand house and tower, and ash pit with crane for ash removal.

Note also that what makes the scene so realistic is the big yard is not stuffed full of cars like would be seen on the typical layout of the time. He clearly had enough cars to stuff it full, but also had an eye toward creating a realistic scene of modern railroading of his time.

One thing that always puzzled me about the article itself was that there was no reference made to Schorr models but you can see in photos in the article that Appel owned at least a string of Schorr RDCs and maybe a couple gondolas. The answer to that was a very unusual (for MR) formal “correction” that ran in the next issue. In December, inside a red text box, they note that they had “overlooked an important source of OO gauge supplies.” Fred E. Schorr “has 50 and 70 ton hopper cars, covered hoppers, Alco diesels, cabooses and RDC’s.” I hope that correction drove a few new sales to Schorr. This really was not such a bad timeframe to be an OO gauger for the OOldtimers who had stuck it out.

With that, this series of articles would be turning to the 1960s. I will take a bit of a break before posting and plan to take a bit different tactic as to the series of articles in general going forward.

The main thing to note to readers is that the vast majority of the products ever commercially produced for the American OO market had been introduced by 1960. The major items that come to mind are the Ultimate F-3 reissue and Ultimate wheelsets, the latter of which was a particularly great product, one needed by those OOldtimers still in the gauge.

As it will be a little while before I post again in the history series to close I want to thank readers for following along. It has been a wild ride! I have some loose ends to figure out still on OO history, be watching for updates (major ones always being posted to the Facebook page--become a Fan!) as those are worked over.

Return to beginning of 1958-59 Series

Continue to the 1960s Series

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