What scale was used in the 50's?


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I'm in the market for a train that someone would have had in the 50's. Could someone tell me what scale was primarily used back then, as well as brands that were most likely used? I seem to recall something smaller than some of the big sets I've seen today (like Lionel sold at Christmas shops for example).

Also, if you know of a reputable dealer in the Baltimore area, that would be great.

I'm thinking Lionel for O scale.
American Flyer for S scale (between HO and O scale).
Athearn, Atlas, Marx, and Revell for HO scale.

Some of the Athearn pieces that were available in the late 50's may still be available with few changes.

One of the more interesting American Flyer/Gilbert sets was the "All Aboard" sets which had the track mounted on molded plastic squares of scenery which would snap together to form an entire layout.

Some of the plastic structure kits that would have been used for accessories for train sets are still available from Bachmann (Plasticville HO scale buildings and buildings that were listed as O scale but were almost more S scale).

Some of the Atlas, Aurora and Revell HO structures that were available in the late 50's are still available now as well, though the Revell and Aurora structures that are still available are sold under the IHC name (Revell Mainline station, Revell Freight station, Railroad Hotel, Aurora Colonial house). Some of the Model Power, Heljan, Con-Cor and Tyco line of HO scale structures may also date back to the 50's as old Revell or Aurora kits.
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M.B.Klein.....also called MODEL TRAIN STUFF is in cockeysville maryland north of baltimore. They have a very good reputation, good selection, good prices, good service.


You may be thinking about S gauge trains. O gauge are a bit bigger than S gauge. I don't know if anyone still makes or sells S gauge. HO may be your best option for model trains near that size. HO is a little smaller than S.

Athearn, Atlas, Marx, and Revell for HO scale.
Hmmm in addition to the Athearn and Atlas I would have said Varney, Penn Line, Roundhouse, Ambroid, Mantua. Ohhh there were so many back then.

I would have said Marx & Revell came along with the plastics craze of the 1960s.

Sounds like a research project.

P.S. If it was MARX I can tell you that you really don't want to go there. Marx was the dime store cheap toy brand of the day.
I took a class on communism once, but I failed due to lousy Marx. :p
(sorry couldn't resist)
I think athearn and atlas may be later on?
You have me thinking now...
I have a suggestion based on what I saw last year - I attended my first major train show for Eastern PA - the Allentown Spring thaw. I was amazed at the amount of Lionel and American Flyer that was available. I am sure you would be able to find 20 people at a larger show that would be able to advise you on what to look for. You might even have a selection to browse! I think this time of year is when the shows start to kick in, so have a look. Allentown is hosting "First Frost" in two weeks. I can't tell which part of the country you live - checked your profile. Post back if you need help finding a show in your area.
I was at a train show here last week in the Chicago area and there was one really nice S Scale layout and it wasn't Marx junk. So there is stuff out there in S,
Didn't they use those full size train sets in the fifties? That track must have been REALLY heavy.......I was wee little then and I could not lift it. I probably still could not lift it. :D

(okay....that was silly) :(
My first trainset was a Marx and this was in 1951 and it was HO.
How about Varney, for HO?

Lionel I believe still makes some American Flyer S trains, according to their catalog. S Scale Helper Service, + American Models I believe also make S scale equipment, these days.
There was also TT scale. I never saw MARX HO, but as a kid early 60s' had an O-27 layout, man those marx engines and shortie metal passenger cars...heh. O Scale scale. not the toyish stuff was more popular then, some designs using outside 3rd rail, don't forget the big Santa Fe layout in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. You didnt have G scale but there may have been some lingerings of the old standard gauge scale but by the 50's it was not widely manufactured, it was more about he 20's-30's scale.
My know for a fact FIRST HO set was a Marx, never had a problem with it either. Not sure but my very first train set, 3 rail was either Marx or Lionel. At one point I had O, HO & S ALL on one layout.

My first HO scale loco after the Marx set was a Athern rubber band drive F unit. That cost me a whopping $5 at the local Woolworths. I still love the blue/blk/gold livery of that B&O. I have several F & E units in that livery, in N scale of course. They ran very SMOOTH and quiet!
I had a Lionel set when I was a kid, but also had HO scale in the early 50's set up in the back room of my dads shop. Rather simple on a 4x8 piece of plywood, but it was HO scale. Kept me happy.
The ole 4x8 sheet of plywood layout, I also had one (with HO of course), very popular back in the day. I had built a 4x8 Ping-Pong table in school woodshop which soon became my layout table. I would expect that at least half of us ole timers at least had a 4x8 at one point in time.
Lionel made HO scale trains in the 50s too.
Notice the sprung trucks on this radio active waste flat car.
Just to the right of where it says SEABOARD is the Lionel stamp.

That is an interesting car Ken.

Not a particularly big choice of manufacturers back then but quite a few of the cars did come with sprung truck.
My FIRST train, Lionel(?) was a Christmas/Santa item. That Christmas morning was the best in my life. I entered the living room and WOW! A train, steam of course, set up on the floor, running, it even had a shack with a guy with a lantern that came out when the train went by. I got to PLAY with it, but I think my dad had more fun with it that morning. It had a red caboose of course and one car was a NYC pacemaker (red/gray) box car. Now I have a bunch of them, in N scale.

Maybe this thread should be sub-titled Model RR Memory Lane?