The O Scale Resource

September October 2019

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The O Scale Resource September/October 2019 12 Saving Our Scale By David Vaughn Two-rail O Scale modeling is a special, satisfying experience. The mass of the models allows satisfying operations. The size of the models allows for more detail and for greater appreciation of each individual engine, car and structure. A train of metal-wheeled two-rail O Scale models clanking across a steel-railed crossing gives an imitation of full-sized railroading which smaller scales simply cannot duplicate. Most O Scale modelers started in another scale and converted. Few – if any – would go back. Two-rail O Scale is just flat out more fun than other model railroad scales. Not biased; just stating facts. Two-rail O Scale has a rich history. It was at one point the dominant scale in model railroading, bigger than HO and all other scales combined. There are generations of excellent O Scale models and O Scale modelers. But two-rail O Scale has been eclipsed by smaller scales (HO and N), larger scales like garden railroading and 1:48 three rail, notably Lionel and MTH. No two-rail O Scale modeler I know would want the scale to die. There is a connection between the models and modelers in the scale which I have not found in any of the other scales. Simple as that. And there are certainly bright spots in the scale, such as the full-service line offered by Atlas, the brass (and plastic) models from Sunset/3d Rail and the growing On30 community. There are excellent, younger modelers entering the Scale. But make no mistake: the continuation of two-rail O Scale as a viable part of model railroading is under threat. More people are leaving the scale – almost entirely as a result of age – than are entering. Attendance at SONCs and O-Scale specific shows has declined. The average age of attendees is not dropping. It may be going up. Secondary market (read "used") prices for O Scale models have fallen significantly in recent years, by simple application of the principle that prices drop when there are more sellers than buyers. While a variety of models is still available, there are fewer new models and new manufacturers. The Scale is a niche – less than 2% of the hobby – sliding toward being an anachronism. Can't happen? Check with your nearest OO or TT modeler. My premise is that two-rail O Scale is worth saving and that, by deliberate and Scale-wide effort, the decline can be turned around. This exercise will be like turning an ocean liner. Takes effort, takes people and takes time. From a selfish point of view, restoring O Scale to greater visibility and support means there will be somebody to buy our stuff (remember that hobby shop of unbuilt kits in your basement?) And honor the hundreds of hours you put into super-detailing that engine, boxcar or structure. But more importantly, turning the scale around will enable us to share the terrific – unparalleled? – experience of working in two-rail O with more people. A larger number of participants and will also bolster the manufacturers, publications, clubs, shows and modelers who make our hobby in our Scale possible. With due apologies to General Pickett, the Scale ain't gonna save itself; and I am gonna lead this charge. I do not have a monopoly on wisdom, let alone tactics. I am going to need help from any and all of you in this effort. Dan and Amy Dawdy – two of those bright lights I talked about – have agreed to provide me with a platform for this effort through OSR. Thank you. True confessions: I am a convert from HO (and some dabbling in other scales). I was sucked into two-rail O Scale in about 1983 by friends who connected with John Armstrong and his ground-breaking Canandaigua Southern O Scale railroad. A testimonial: working two-rail O Scale is just more satisfying than other scales. Not

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