In 1937 the Cleveland Model & Supply Company C-D) were manufacturers of wooden airplane kits, but decided to enter the model railroad
market. Their scale chosen was 3/16" to one foot on a 7/8" track gauge for a 1:64 ratio, and was marketed as 'C-D' gauge. The designation
"S Gauge" originated at a National Model Railroad Association Convention held in the summer of 1943 where names of various gauges
were officially adopted by a committee. Legend has it that Al Kalmbach noticed the repetition of S in the sixteenths and 'sixty-fourths' and
suggested that "S" be adopted at that convention. As the legend further goes, it was hot and getting late and the committee wanted to hit
the tavern for a cold beer so "S" it was and the meeting ended.
A. C. Gilbert Co. purchased the Chicago firm American Flyer in 1936 but did not use the designation until 1946 when they introduced their
two rail S Gauge line, most of which had been re-gauged from their "3/16ths - 0 Gauge" line, introduced in 1939 after most of the Standard
and 0 Gauge inventory acquired from the Chicago company had been depleted. Gilbert continued "S" production until the company failed
in 1968, whereupon the Lionel Corporation acquired the name, tooling and most of the remaining inventory. Hobby Surplus Sales bought
much of the parts and unfinished inventory.
In 1979, Lionel brought out three brand new cars for AF and that re initiated AF and began a whole new era that continues to this day.
K-line also made items for AF layouts. Most of the modern day S scale manufacturers make AF/compatible locos an rolling stock and
usually provide the same equipment for the scalers.
A far more complete history of S can be found at the NASG website (http://www.nasg.org/articles_1)
|A Short History of S Scale
The Penn Western began in 1952 with a set of American Flyers (4904T). The next year the 5312T set was added. In 1954, I persuaded my dad to let me
have a small layout in our West Philadelphia row house basement. IN 1960 a local hobby shop was selling their entire stock of AF at rock bottom
prices and I managed on my Western Union Telegraph messenger salary (minimum wage) to build up quite a collection. Most of the items have been
sold to provide capital for the scale items added to the PW. I did keep some of the more common items and many of them were converted to scale
using Ace parts and Kadee #5 couplers. Many S scalers did likewise especially during those days when not much was available.
A turn in the Army from 1962-1965 curtailed my model railroading a bit. After discharge, I maintained my AF layouts until I moved to a new house in
1981. At that point I decided to gravitate more to the scale side of S and began the first true Penn Western layout in a
1 1/2 car garage. It was a hirail layout. In the fall of 1988, Classic Toy Trains was in its first year and I got my first ever article published in Volume 1,
No 3. The article won the second annual NASG Perles Publications Award for 1989. The article was republished by CTT in a special booklet called "Toy
Train Layout Tour". Although the PW was now a hirail layout there was still a strong AF influence which gave it an appeal to CTT.
In 1992 it looked like employment problems would cause a move, so the PW had to be dismantled. A new job guaranteed that I would stay in my
house, so the PW was to be re erected. At that point I decided to have a scale layout. I started with an American Models FP7 and hand laid code 100
track and used code 100 Shinohara switches. The PW was featured in a cover story in the Sep/Oct 1995 issue of the S Gaugian magazine. Other S
Gaugian cover stories followed in Jul/Aug 1998, May/June 2000 and May/June 2003.
Two lifelong dreams came true when Model Railroader magazine featured the PW in the Dec 2002 Trackside Photos and a feature article in the
October 2004 issue. Today the Penn Western resides in South Central PA where I'm retired and takes up a 29' X 45' footprint in my basement. That's a
lot of layout to maintain and enhance, and keeps me happily busy. I laugh at those who say that "There's nothing available in S". I like to show the
layout at various NMRA Mid-East Region conventions and show others what you can have and do in S scale.
All About the S/Sn3 Scale Penn Western