Custom Brass – the first Importer

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SRRL18_fire_Hitzeman

The most prolific producer of brass items for the Maine On2 modeller has been the Custom Brass line of SR&RL items produced by NJ International. The items were imported into the USA at four different times from builders in Japan and Korea, and covered locomotives, passenger coaching stock and caboose’s. The items are regularly available second-hand via private sales, dealers and eBay, and even today (in 2015) can be acquired in “mint condition”, ie not run or “test run only” in the original gold lacquer finish. In addition, Custom Brass also produced wooden kits for a SR&RL boxcar and turntable.

Tony Koester notes that the N.J. in N.J. International stands for “Nick (Riess?) and Jack (LaRusa),” the two partners in N.J. International. They both lived on Long Island, not in New Jersey. I am not sure of the spelling of Nick’s last name, but it was pronounced “Reese.”

When I was editing Railroad Model Craftsman in the 1970s, Wayne Daniels was our advertising manager, and he was and still is a big two-footer fan. Wayne had several NJI On2 models on his credenza, and I suspect he and Jack (more so than Nick) collaborated on this in some way. This was a common practise. Jack may indeed have realized that the limited run of brass models made it feasible to make money on a narrow-interest field (pun intended) like On2.

Jace Kahn writes;- I think Tony Koester is probably correct that his colleague was able to persuade one of the CBR partners to test the market for On2. There were a few specialty basement manufacturers of On2 before 1970, but it was still very much a scratch-builder’s niche.

The first Custom Brass items, the loco #6, caboose, and passenger set, which arrived in 1974/5/6, all came from a smaller builder in Japan calling itself Orion (they also built some of the NWSL brass for Raoul Martin).

By the early 1970’s, Japanese model builders had pretty well reached their capacity, and most, such as KTM were fully committed to the major importers, such as PFM and US Hobbies and Balboa/Westside, and the rising standard of living there and the exchange rate between the dollar and the yen began to really price brass models out of mass-market pocketbook.   

Later entrants, such as NWSL and NJI/CBR had to scramble to find other builders who could still produce the requisite quality at an affordable price, such as Orion. Both Raoul Martin and the NJI/CBR partners had to hunt for builders because they came on the scene after the boom times. Related to this both were among the earliest importers to try to move production to Korea; later CBR imports were mostly by Lhee Do , including the three prairies (each a bit better than the previous one, the long cabooses, and the Eustis locomotives.

What is not commonly known is that originally Raoul Martin of NWSL had plans to import both SR&RL #24 and the “Rangeley”, but nothing came of that until CBR did the #24 and Car Works–much later–did the Rangeley along with other On2 passenger stock.

The SR&RL #6 listed for around $250 – 300 in the mid-1970’s, which was NOT a bargain: it was sort of in-between the price of most HO brass locomotives at the time and comparable O scale brass. As far as I can recall, the Korean made #24 listed at $425 ca. 1983; I think the previous two Prairies (#16 and #18) also made in Korea sold for around $350.

 Chronological order of Custom Brass imports

 Based on the original list “BRASS MODELS IN On2” put together by Walter Orloff & Terry Smith in 2004, and updated Terry Smith in 2013.

Manufacturer

Year

Quantity

Original Retail Price

Brass Guide Number

Combine

#15

Orion

1974

200

Coach

#19/20

Orion

1974

300

$120

30477

Loco 0-4-4T

#6

GOM

1975

350

$250

30820

Baggage

#8

Orion

1975

190

$120

30476

Caboose

#556

KMT

1976

270

$65

30535

Loco 2-6-2

#16

Daiyoung

1979

125

$350

30826

Loco 2-6-2

#18

Daiyoung

1979

125

$350

30821

Loco 2-6-2

#24

Daiyoung

1983

125

$450

30825

Loco 0-4-4T

#20

Daiyoung

1985

50

$370

30822

Loco 0-4-4T

#21

Daiyoung

1985

50

$370

30823

Loco 0-4-4T

#22

Daiyoung

1985

50

$370

30824

Caboose

#551

WooSung

1985

75

37815

 Brass Guide number;-   http://www.brasstrains.com/

 A selection of adverts and announcements.

Custom Brass announced their first On2 models of locomotive SR&RL #6 and caboose #556 with this advert placed in the July/August 1975 edition of the NG&SL Gazette.

loco6x1200ad01

The initial advert was followed closely by this announcement of the wooden boxcar kit in the September/October 1975 edition of the NG&SL Gazette, which also gave advance notice of the turntable.

boxcarx1200ad01

The wooden turntable kit was announced in the January/February 1976 issue of the NG&SL Gazette.

ttablex1200ad01

SR&RL Coaches 19/20 were announced in the March/April 1976 issue of the NG&SL Gazette.

coach19ad01

Followed by Combine 15 in the July/August 1977 edition.

combine15x1200ad01

This was placed in the March/April 1978 edition of the NG&SL Gazette announcing the impending arrival of Baggage Car #8.

cbad07

This was placed in the March/April 1979 edition of the NG&SL Gazette announcing the intention to build models of SR&RL #16 & #18.

cbad01 (612x800)

 

This was placed in the November/December 1979 edition of the NG&SL Gazette announcing the models arrival.

cbad02 (613x800)

 

This was placed in the November/December 1982 edition of the NG&SL Gazette showing the pilot model of SR&RL #24.

cbad03

The advert below was placed in the July/August 1983 edition of the NG&SL Gazette announcing the intention to build models of SR&RL #20, #21 & #22.

cbad06 (800x285)

In the January/February 1984 and repeated in the May/June and July/August editions of the NG&SL Gazette the advert had changed to offering models of SR&RL #20 & #21, followed by #17 & #22. When the models finally arrived in 1985, no model of #17 was imported.

cbad05 (800x284)

The last model imported by Custom Brass was the SR&RL Caboose #551, but was announced by this advert placed in  September/October 1982 edition of the NG&SL Gazette;-

cbad04

 

Updated 23-08-2015

Precision Scale Flex track

tstr10Precision Scale introduced its On2 flex track in one yard lengths in mid-1983.

The track consists of an injection moulded tie (sleeper) base strip of 21 ties of random irregular lengths with moulded spike heads holding nickel silver code 70 rails. The track gauge typically ranges between .508″ to .512″ on measured samples.

tstr14b

Typical rail dimensions.

The tie base material is believed to be a Delrin type polymer. The dimensions of a typical tie are: 1.279″ long x .153″ wide x .103″ thick on .406″ centres (scale : 5′ 4″ long x 7.3″ wide x 4.9″ thick on 19½” centres).

tstr11

This deliberately foreshortened view of the track clearly shows the irregular tie ends. The yellow arrows show the length of one of the tie strips. The dimension from the inside edge of the bottom of the rail to the outside of the tie varies from .377″ to .419″ on one side and from .374″ to .422″ on the other.

tstr12

tstr13

This underneath view shows the single bars connecting adjacent ties. Experience has shown that care needs to be taken when laying this track to ensure that the ties are as perpendicular to the rail as possible, and not angled, to avoid reducing the gauge of the rails. This is especially important on curves, and when running the larger Forney type locomotives.

 

 

……. reaching a major milestone, 50000 viewings

This was originally posted on the 16th August 2015……………..

…………sometime in the next day or so this blog will host its 50000th viewing.

Update: 50000 reached and passed! It was a busy day and we finished the day (16th August 2015) at 50106 views.

Some of the other more general model railroad blogs that I view treat this as a significant milestone, and I have to admit that reaching 50 thousand viewings within two and a half years from start-up on this blog has rather caught me by surprise for such an esoteric minority subject as modelling the Maine Two Footers in US O scale.

I hope that the viewers found what they were looking for and/or something else of interest – and continue to return for updates and new topics.

Thank You to all our contributors, and in particular to Trevor, Matt and Gary Graham for their help behind the scenes.

You can register to receive new topics when they are posted by “following” this blog via email or via RSS. To register as a “follower” by email, look for the “never miss an update” section near the top of the right-hand column of this page. Simply enter your email address, hit the “Yes, Please!” button, and each time a new post is added it will show up in your inbox. To “follow” via RSS, simply use the link below the email follower.

Terry

Editorial announcement – new page – “What’s here?”

We have added a new page titled “What’s here?” which is a listing of all the currently available pages and posts with clickable links to open each page or topic on another page/screen in another browser window.

This will enable viewers to search for topics by their title, and then view the topic in another window.

To go to the “What’s here?” page, click here.

 

Track Schematics – the Wiscasset line

This series of track schematics were produced by Trevor Marshall in 2007 as part of his mid-term re-design for his On2 Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR layout, and were originally published on the groups Fotopic site. Trevor drew them up to enhance his understanding of the operations of the smaller Maine Two Footers and to demonstrate the relative simplicity of their facilities. They are not to scale and where the track work changed over time, they generally represent the largest variant. Note that the original intent of these track schematics was as model railroad LDE’s (Layout Design Elements) rather than as historically or prototypically correct representations.

Click here to view Trevor Marshall’s On2 Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR layouts on another page.

The Wiscasset line operated from 1895 until 1933 between the Maine towns of Wiscasset, Albion, and Winslow, but was abandoned in 1936.

The line began operating to Weeks Mills on February 20, 1895, as the Wiscasset and Quebec Railroad. The line was reorganized in 1901 as the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway, and completed a branch line from Weeks Mills to the Kennebec River at Winslow intending but failing to connect with the Sandy River Railroad at Farmington. This branch line operated from 1902 to 1916 before it was abandoned.

WWF-01-WiscassetLowerc

The Lower Yard was around milepost minus 1

WWF-02-WiscassetCrossingc

This station was milepost 0.0.

WWF-03-WiscassettUpperc

The Upper Yard was around milepost 1

WWF-04-Sheepscotc

Milepost 4.8

WWF-05-TopMountainc

Top of the Mountain was around milepost 6.

WWF-06-HeadTidec

Milepost 9.1

WWF-07-HeadTidePitc

Head Tide Pit was around milepost 10.5

WWF-08-Whitefieldc

Milepost 13.3

WWF-09-NorthWhitefieldc

Milepost 17.4

WWF-10-CoopersMillsc

Milepost 20.4

WWF-11-Maxcysc

Milepost 20.4

WWF-12-Windsorc

Milepost 23.0

WWF-13-WeeksMillsc

Weeks Mills was at Milepost 28.2

WWF-14-Newellsc

Milepost 31.0

WWF-15-Palermoc

Milepost 32.9

WWF-16-Chinac

Milepost 38.0

WWF-17-Albionc

Milepost 43.5

The branch line to Winslow was built in 1901 as an ill fated attempt to connect with the Sandy River Railroad at Farmington, but only reached the Kennebec River at Winslow. The branch operated from 1902 until 1916 before it was abandoned.

WWF-18-SouthChinac

Milepost 31.5

WWF-19-EastVassalboroc

Milepost 36.5

WWF-20-NorthVassalboroc

Milepost 39.1

WWF-21-Winslowc

Milepost 42.7

 

Track Schematics – the Bridgton line

This series of track schematics were produced by Trevor Marshall in 2007 as part of his mid-term re-design for his On2 Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR layout, and were originally published on the groups Fotopic site. Trevor drew them up to enhance his understanding of the operations of the smaller Maine Two Footers and to demonstrate the relative simplicity of their facilities. They are not to scale and where the track work changed over time, they generally represent the largest variant. Note that the original intent of these track schematics was as model railroad LDE’s (Layout Design Elements) rather than as historically or prototypically correct representations.

Click here to view Trevor Marshall’s On2 Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR layouts on another page.

The line was built as the Bridgton & Saco River Railroad in 1882 from Bridgton Junction to Bridgton (town) a distance of nearly 16 miles, and the first paying train ran in January 1883. In 1898 the line was extended from Bridgton to Harrison, a distance of 5 miles or so.

In 1930 after some financial troubles the line was formally transferred to a group of local parties, and was renamed The Bridgton & Harrison railroad. It is ironic that the first train operating under this regime then derailed on its return from Harrison, which caused the Harrison extension to be abandoned.

The line was finally scrapped in 1941 with the majority of the rolling stock being acquired by a wealthy railfan and cranberry grower, Ellis D Atwood, for use on his cranberry bogs in South Carver, Massachusetts.

BSR-01-BridgtonJctc

Milepost 0.0

BSR-02-Scribnersc

Milepost 0.8

BSR-03-Mullensc

Milepost 2.7

BSR-04-GravelPitc

Milepost 5.3

BSR-05-WestSebagoc

Milepost 7.3

BSR-06-TankHouseSidingc

Milepost 7.6

BSR-07-PerleysMillsc

Milepost 9.0

BSR-08-IngallsRoadc

Milepost 10.5

BSR-09-Kennittsc

Milepost 11.3, note alternative spellings of “Kennetts” and “Kennet’s” used by the Maine Central.

BSR-10-SouthBridgtonc

Milepost 12.1

BSR-11-SandyCreekc

Milepost 13.6

BSR-12-Bridgtonc

Milepost 15.9. In 1898 the line was extended from Bridgton to Harrison, a distance of 5 miles or so. The extension was abandoned in 1930. Location of one of the very few 2 foot diamond crossings.

BSR-13-FarmersMarketc

Milepost 16.0, also known as “Farmers Exchange”.

BSR-14-ForestMillsc

Milepost 16.4

BSR-15-NorthBridgtonc

Milepost 19.5

BSR-16-Harrisonc

Milepost 20.8, the end.

 

Track Schematics – The Kennebec Central

This series of track schematics were produced by Trevor Marshall in 2007 as part of his mid-term re-design for his On2 Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR layout, and were originally published on the groups Fotopic site. Trevor drew them up to enhance his understanding of the operations of the smaller Maine Two Footers and to demonstrate the relative simplicity of their facilities. They are not to scale and where the track work changed over time, they generally represent the largest variant. Note that the original intent of these track schematics was as model railroad LDE’s (Layout Design Elements) rather than as historically or prototypically correct representations.

Click here to view Trevor Marshall’s On2 Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR layouts on another page.

 

KCRR-01-Randolphc

The Kennebec Central was another simple line, running the five miles from a terminus on the riverside at Randolph (above) to the National Soldier’s Home at Togus (below).

KCRR-02-Togusc