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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Book on American OO has Arrived

Model Railroading in American OO, 1930-68 is now available worldwide, in print and Kindle versions. At 347 pages, it covers it all! For USA purchasers, the links to purchase or look at sample pages are below, and if not in the USA search in Amazon for your country.

  Print version 

Kindle version 

In 2008 I began posting in this website about the history and operation of models in American OO. My initial desire with this publication (largely put together in the long pandemic summer of 2020) was to present the history content of the site more formally, and in a more permanent format, to the model train collecting community. The actual publication became much more -- it goes well beyond the site content, making many new connections -- with a clear index, so you can find any model produced commercially as well.

This is actually not my first attempt at creating a publication on American OO models. As early as 1982 I had begun work on a series of Xeroxed checklists of OO production, which I expanded in 1997 into a more formal unpublished draft, that being updated substantially in 2004. In addition, over the years I have published five articles on the topic in the Train Collectors Quarterly, two of those written with the late Dr. Edward Morlok, founding editor of The OO Road

As was Morlok, in real life I am a professor at a Research One university, and I often work with students on scholarly research. However, I very much did not want this publication to read like a dissertation or scholarly paper. Instead, it is my hope that this volume reads easily, telling the interesting story of American OO gauge with a focus on the people behind the gauge. In a way, this book is also my own story of discovery. Over a period of more than 40 years I have read virtually every issue of every period magazine in my research process, taking physical notes on all things OO. As I continue to discover more elements of the history of this model railroad gauge, there will be even more to tell in the story.

Those familiar with the American OO Today website know that I love quotes, I love old advertising, and I love old magazines! In the site I quoted these freely, as there is a lot of freedom with what you can put on the internet, and I additionally was graciously given permission to quote by the editors of Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman. However, with the exception of just a few brief quotations, in the new book I am not quoting any content that is copyrighted text or photos from a magazine or book, which would be anything published (as of this writing) after 1926. Rather than limiting me, I think this decision has enhanced the publication, as it forced me to focus in more tightly on the subject and, at the same time, you the reader can always explore as far as you wish into the sources I reference.

Model Railroading in American OO, 1930-68 is organized around chapters focused on key timeframes, with manufacturers examined in the order that they began making models for the American OO market. The overall title refers to the first and the last magazine advertising for American OO products, 1930 and 1968. Sample pages (including the full table of contents) may be found with the Amazon listings.

I should say a word on the price. I wish it could be cheaper, but the plain fact is a 347-page book in color -- even done as soft cover -- can only be so cheap. I set the price point as low as I could (print $49.95, Kindle $13.95), and I hope that those looking only to explore the scale might opt for the Kindle version, which works well on any device. But believe me when I say I could not possibly price this any lower. 

Finally, readers might wonder what will happen with the American OO Today blog. It has become more difficult to edit recently (due to changes in the host platform), but I’m hoping I can come up with some tactics to manage it. Some of the history content will go away, as that is the focus of the book, but as of now the plan is to keep much of the existing content online as a resource for the American OO community. 

If you like the book give it some good reviews (and tell a friend!), and thank you again for keeping interest going in American OO.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Some Exotic OO Scale Reefers


I had hoped by now to have the book on the history of American OO nearly out, and it is progressing, but now I’m looking at more like March as a goal. 

One goal of the book itself is that you can easily find all the common models, with as many car numbers as possible, so that if you do run into something truly exotic it will be clear. These models below are certainly in that category, and will be featured in a special section in the book.


First up is a pair of reefers with Westbrook sides. Westbrook, an O gauge manufacturer, made the printed sides for Eastern, Famoco, and Nason. What makes these two specific sides exotic is that they were not offered with any commercial model that I know of. A working theory is they might have been intended for postwar Nason production that never materialized. These sides are not that rare, they are found in a number of collections, but they are exotic. These two models are recent restorations.


Then we get to this pair of cars. These might be the elusive Yardmaster sides, as the cars match what is found in their price list. Or they could be something even more exotic. Both are by the same maker, the fonts and such match well.


Which brings up this final car. This car is truly exotic. Appears to be a commercial product but by what maker? This is the sort of car that maybe someone printed up a couple dozen sides in 1935 and then the line disappeared. Stuff that gets a collector excited.

More on the book soon! 

I have not been posting much here due to the book project (and difficulties in editing here), but also I've been posting what I'm working on in a different space. If you are an Instagram user please follow me @americanootrains to see my most recent projects and more. If you don't use Instagram, give it a try! It is an excellent place to follow real and model trains, you can really focus it in narrowly on a specific interest.