In the 1950's, 60's and 70's All-Nation manufactured or supplied kits and parts to a large segment of the 'O' Scale model railroading hobby.
Over time, All-Nation added to its line by acquiring inventories, parts, tooling and dies of several other prominent 'O' scale 2-rail
model manufacturers and suppliers that went bankrupt. All-Nation Manufacturing was owned by Jim Wilson from 1950 until 1959, with
production based at All-Nation Model & Coin Shop originally located at 182 North LaSalle St. in Chicago, IL. The hobby shop itself dated back
to the 1920's and was once one of the country's finest hobby shops with an extensive line of model railroads in all gauges,
as well as model ships and model airplanes.
The 'O' scale All-Nation line developed with the purchase of Scale-Craft dies for a cast aluminum
C&O hopper, C&O caboose, straight side sill flatcar and an 8-wheel depressed center flatcar.
In the early 1950's, under Jim Wilson, All-Nation acquired General Models Corp., Atwater models and Scale Model Railways
to add to their manufacturing line. General Models Corp., under Joseph R. Matthews, had been selling an extensive line
of 'O' scale wood and metal freight car kits and
developed an EMD switcher in 1948. Atwater, under Frank Libuse, Jr., had developed an 'O' scale F style diesel in 1947. General Models eventually
acquired Atwater. All-Nation also offered steam engine kits in the form of a ten wheeler Atlantic whose heritage can be traced to
prewar Varney offerings and a 4-8-2 Mountain. The Atwater/General Models diesels
that ended up carrying the All-Nation name were not All-Nation's creations. All-Nation bought the bankrupt General Models Corp.
(GMC) in the early 1950's. Atwater Models came with that acquisition, having been a part of GMC, and parts from Scale Model Railways,
previously owned and operated by Bill Lenoir and Jack Ferris also became part of All-Nation. The 4-6-0 was orignally
maketed by Varney about 1946/47,
then sold to GMC Models who added other wheel arrangements. All-Nation picked up this tooling at the General Models Corp.
bankruptcy sale in 1950.
Atwater was the company that produced the dies in the late 1940's for the F units that became part of
the All-Nation Line via the General Models acquisition. These diesels were well ahead of their time and many 'O' Scale modelers still
run them on their model railroads today. Atwater Models developed the F-3 tooling and released the product in 1947. The F-3 loco bodies were
made using pressure die-cast zinc alloy that included lots of detail. It came in 5 tongue-and-groove pieces. Literature proclaimed that
the kit could be assembled with just a screw driver, as all holes were pre-drilled. The engines featured operating headlights, Mars light,
number boards, and marker lights. Die-cast trucks with self-aligning replaceable bronze axle bearings in the truck journals were also featured.
The engines included a Miller Laboratories permanent magnet motor for 2 rail DC operation, with the ability to utilize a rectifier for AC
operation, and a wire addition to facilitate 3 rail operation. They used a hand reverse. The original Atwater-developed under-floor power trucks did
not function consistently. General Models had been buying up other 'O'
scale lines in the period 1946 to 1949 and subsequently acquired the Atwater tooling. General Models Corp. developed a
more efficient power truck for
the F-3. This product was later marketed for many years by All-Nation with the addition of a constant torque transmission. It was offered as a #1000
unpowered A unit for $39.95, a #1015 single motored A unit for $60.45, a #1001 unpowered B unit for $35.50, a #1017
single motored B unit for $56.50,
and a #1919 double motored B unit for $67.50. 100's of the F-3's with 'Atwater' engraved in the dies were
sold by General Models before they altered the dies to reflect their ownership. GMC later created the F-7 variation before
going bankrupt in late 1950. All-Nation offered the F-7 as either powered or dummy unpowered A or B units - $44.95 for a #8000 dummy A unit,
$65.50 for a #8015 powered A unit, $41.45 for a #8001 dummy B unit, $61.50 for a #8017 single motored B unit and $73.50 for a
#8019 dual motored B unit.
A units could not be dual motored as the nose compartment housed the headlight and there was not enough room for a second motor.
All-Nation made improvements
to the original design by implementing a wheel equalization system that distributed the loco's weight across all trucks
over an uneven track all wheels
would remain in full contact with the rails. Truck assembly was now performed using clips so nuts and bolts were eliminated.
General Models Corp. had introduced their 'O' scale EMD 1,000 horsepower diesel yard switcher engine in 1948 and produced it until Dec. 11, 1950
when the company went into bankruptcy and All-Nation Hobby Shop of Chicago purchased their assets. All-Nation manufactured
their 4-6-0, 4-6-2, 4-8-2, and 4-4-2
steamers into the late 1960's, and they also continued to make the popular F-3's, F-7's, along with the EMD switcher as well.
The diesel engine was produced until 1982
by All-Nation when the shop was finally closed. Thomas Industries made a pickup slide for the 'O' gauge 1000 HP EMD diesel
switcher manufactured by General Models Corp. The switcher did not bear any General Models Corp. markings, but the Thomas Industries name
was embossed on the slide, which has confused collectors as to who made this diesel locomotive. It is believed however that the Thomas
pickup slide appears only on models made by General Models Corp. from 1948 to 1950. The switcher was 11⅛" long,
3⅝" high and 2 9/16" wide. It weighed
4½ lbs. It was offered with either 4 or 8 wheel powered drive. The superstructure, truck side frames and accessory detail were all
die-cast in Zamac #3. It featured a turned brass bell, plastic headlight lenses, turned handrail stanchions, preformed grab irons, handrails,
stacks, horn, front and rear bulkheads and pilots. Kit versions were offered for 2-rail ($32) or 3-rail ($41). A custom assembled ready-to-run
version cost $80, and a dummy unpowered unit was $10.95. Over time, All-Nation made modifications to the GMC EMD switcher
by changing the permag vertical motor
configuration to a horizontal implementation and by converting the worm drive to a chain drive system. The early All-Nation
switchers kept the straight cut
brass gears in the worm drive system initailly used by GMC, but later versions were fitted with constant torque helical style
angled gears, prior to the sprocket
and chain conversion.
The 'old faithful' of the All-Nation line was the 4-6-0 (ten wheeler) loco. The kit was offered in many different configurations,
including as complete with mechanism, boiler, cab and tender, or in separate sections, in AC or DC, for 2-rail or 3-rail operation. The
running locomotive required a minimum 32" track radius. It was 11⅙" long, 3⅞" high, 2 11/16" wide and weighed 5˝ lbs. The complete
2-rail kit was $56.25, while the 3-rail kit sold for $60.50. The 4-6-2 Pacific by All-Nation was also offered in 2-rail or 3-rail, for AC or
DC operation, and in either complete kit, as a separate mechanism, or boiler & cab assembly only, or tender only. It
required minimum radius curves of
36", weighed 6˝ lbs., was 12¾" long, almost 4" high, and 2 11/16" wide. Drawbar pull was 20.8 ounces. The complete 2-rail kit was $69.50
while the 3-rail kit was $73.75.
The parts for the All-Nation freight car kits were sourced from various jobbers and suppliers. Truck
patterns for the CB&Q caboose were
modeled by Hank Balinski. The boiler for the 2-6-2 Prairie locomotive was machined by Cary Models. Original art work and paint colors for
the models were provided by the railroads themselves.
In 1959 Jim Wilson and his wife Leighia retired, selling the hobby side of the business to long time employee Bob Colson.
However, Wilson continued to handle all the box label printing for All-Nation Lines. Initially Colson intended only to sell off
the remaining stock but hobby shop owners around the country convinced Colson
to restart manufacturing of the line which included the F units, diesel switcher, Varney derived steamers
and many freight car kits. Colson produced the line through the early 1970's with many additions and improvements including newer motors,
a more powerful transmission unit, and a new ball joint coupling. Bob Colson, along with his wife
Marsha and their sons Terrell and Bob Jr. ran the business until 1972. The hobby shop on LaSalle St. was closed and the business was
relocated in 1961 to 220 West Madison Street in Chicago. In 1965 the hobby shop and the manufacturing business were incorporated
separately. The manufacturing side of the business was relocated to 1020 Busse Hwy. in Park Ridge.
During the 1960's Bob Colson’s All-Nation took over production of Model Structures’ extensive bridge, trestle, and tunnel
portal line. This was a large library of plans and kits for all gauges. It included timber trestles for straights and curves, deck spans,
riveted spans, Howe Truss Timber spans, single and double track through spans, and plate girder spans all modeled from various prototype
rail roads that provided the data and drawings. Also during the 1960's All-Nation issued their Budd Rail Diesel (RDC) cars for 'O' scale.
This kit came as an upainted powered unit for $24.95 or as an unpainted dummy unit for $6.50. 4-wheel RDC trucks were sold separately for $3.25.
This was the first RDC car made for scale model operations in kit form, although it was really a 'shorty', not true scale in length. The body was
made of polystyrine and the underbody detail was plastic. It was 14" long and could navigate 15" radius curves. It included all finished parts,
die cast side frames and passenger silhouettes.
The All-Nation 2-rail 'O' gauge 4-8-2 Mountain locomotive was 26½" long (as long as 3 box cars), 2¾" wide, and
4⅛" high. It weighed 8½ pounds without the tender and had drawbar pull of 27.2 ounces, at average speed of 75 MPH (12 volts).
It could navigate 48" radius curves with ease. It featured sprung pilot truck, sprung drivers, working headlight,
a Pittman Permag DC motor, 70" drivers,
and a Pearce Tool lost wax gear box with ball bearings on the worm shaft. Superstructure details included a die-cast cross compound compressor,
headlight with lucite lens, smoke deflector, window sills, bell, whistle, pop valve, generator, marker lights, air tank, Elesco Feed Water Heater,
hot water pump, cold water pump, injector, power reverse, smoke box front, and firebox backhead. The complete kit #17 sold
for $99.50 ($80 without the tender).
It required the modeler to do the filing, drilling, tapping, soldering and riveting. It was made up of bronze boiler castings. The tender kit #20
was the long distance type and sold for $22.45. It was 11¼" long and 3¾" high, and cast in bronze in separate pieces for the
sides, back, front, top and underframe. The tender truck side frames were the buckeye 6-wheel type, also cast in bronze. For those who did not
want to assemble the loco themselves, a custom assembled version was available from All-Nation for $240. It came built-up, spray painted,
and ready to run with all details included in the kit. Any road name lettering or numbering could be specified.
The 10th edition of All-Nation's 'O' gauge catalog was
issued in 1965 and was packed with every possible locomotive, piece of rolling stock, scenery, scratch-building tools and parts, tools and books.
It showed not only the All-Nation line but also trains and parts from Wagner, Holgate & Reynolds, Tenshodo, La Belle Woodworking,
GarGraves, Tru-Scale, Suydam, Lobaugh, Central Locomotive Works, and Kemtron. The catalog was
104 pages. The All-Nation Hobby Shop also carried products from Boxcar Ken, Roundhouse Products,
Max Gray, Morris, Ken Kidder Traction Models, Walthers, Pacific Fast Mail, Model Rectifier, Permacraft, Unimat,
Cliff Line, Champ Decals, Miller-Atlas, Star Models, Northeastern Scale Models, Crag Distributors, Moody and many others. In 1956 and again in 1962,
the All-Nation Line was recognized by the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) Inc. for its consistent adherence to the standards established
by that organization. Bob Colson was inducted into the 'O' Scale Hall of Fame in 2001.
All-Nation 'O' scale 2-rail Kit-built 40' Steel Box Cars
The 'O' scale freight car kit line was expanded with the acquisition of the Zimmer kit line.
All-Nation 40' Steel box cars came in kits of super-detailed, formed, stamped and embossed metal sides, ends and roof, showing rivet details.
The roof, floor and underpieces were milled basswood. Included were stamped metal ladders, cross braces, stamped roof end
platforms, formed roof ribs,
formed channel underframe, stamped metal dreadnaught car ends, formed grab irons, hand holds, a pressure molded plastic AB brake
set, formed metal door slides,
stamped Ajax brake wheel and housing, die-cast coupler pockets, placard boards, machined bolster mounting block, stamped brake platform, and a
stamped roof walk support. Kits did not include trucks or paints and sold for $5.95. Four kinds of trucks were offered separately.
These were either Bettendorf or Andrews in scale or tinplate, for $1.45 each.
The 1965 catalog also announced the new low priced American Standard 4-4-0 loco kit #21 in 1:48 'O' scale for 2-rail.
It came in a complete kit with tender, cast bronze boiler with cast-in boiler bands, stamped brass cab, and a DC motor.
The motor was mounted in the tender and was connected to the loco via a flexible drive shaft extending from the front of
the coal bunker that was linked to an enclosed gear box at the backhead using a ball-joint. By slight modification the
loco could be made into several different types of 4-4-0's by modelers. The kit included drawings for 3 different
types of 4-4-0 configurations. A detailed backhead and a weight to increase tractive effort were also included.
Literature stated that the loco could pull about 15 cars, and could navigate minimum 24" radius track. The kit
was priced at $47.50. Factory assembled, ready-to-run versions were also offered
as well as a kit without motor and gearing for modelers who wanted to install their own powertrain.
All-Nation did offer 'O' scale passenger cars that they acquired from the purchase of the JC Models of Mattituck, Long Island, NY
Passenger Car line. The six cars could be
acquired as kits without trucks and paint or as fully built up ready-to-run. The cars were a #5000 65' steel heavyweight
baggage coach combine for $8.95, a #5005 62' coach for $8.95, a #5010 60' baggage mail car for $8.95, a #5015 60' baggage
car for $8.95, a #5020 70' coach for $8.95, and a #5025 80' dining car for $8.95.
These cars were made of .010 inch thick sheet metal sides and ends with embossed window sashes, rivets,
belt rail and recessed doors. The roof and floor of each car, as well as detail such as battery boxes, air reservoirs,
cross and main beams, and tool boxes were milled from clear wood. The roofs featured clesrestory windows.
Nylon couplers were included in each kit. Power trucks could be mounted on the cars for creation of a suburban type train.
In later years, All-Nation re-issued Walthers 'O' scale pullman standard heavyweight passenger
car 80' kits.
In 1972 Bill Pope Sr. purchased All-Nation Line Manufacturing Company, as Bob Colson's health began to deteriorate. Mr. Pope was also a
member of the 'O Scale Hall of Fame' having been inducted in 2004. In early 1973 a new facility for manufacturing was set up at 23 West 54th Street
in Wheaton, Il. The company's motto was, "Where you find the very best..." Bob Colson Jr. continued to run the retail store in Chicago until 1978,
although the decision to close was made in September 1977 after the store leases on Madison were cancelled.
Bill Pope continued to run the manufacturing line until his death, but not before he had sold off the steam line of kits in 1990. Afterward,
it is believed that the remaining tooling for the diesels and freight kits sat unused for many years in Bill Pope's son's barn.
Towards the end, Bill Pope added some former Walthers freight and passenger car kits, as well as former
Chester Industrial Arts 60' shorty streamlined car kits of the 1950's. Chester also made full length, low cost 'O' scale streamlined
car kits during that era.
The All-Nation line consisted of the following 'O' scale kits.
#1 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler loco & tender, #7 4-4-2 Atlantic locomotive & tender, #13 4-6-2
Pacific loco & Tender, #17 4-8-2 Mountain Loco & Tender, #21 American Standard 4-4-0 locomotive & tender, #3652 Gas Electric Doodlebug,
#41 Diesel Switcher, #11001 2-6-2 Prairie locomotive & tender, #1015 F-3 Diesel Loco
#3500 Undecorated Wood Reefer Kit, #3560 Pacific Fruit Express 40' Wood Reefer, #3561 Western Fruit Express 40' Wood Reefer,
#3563 Dry Ice Wood Reefer,
#3564 Rath's Blackhawk Ham 40' Wood Reefer, #3565 Morrell's Pride 40' Wood Reefer, #3566 Fruit Growers Express 40' Wood Reefer,
#3567 Burlington 40' Wood Reefer,
#3568 Santa Fe El Capitan 40' Wood Reefer, #3569 Green Bay & Western Line 40' Wood Reefer, #3570 Canadian National 40'
Wood Reefer, #3571 Armour 40' Wood Reefer,
#3572 Oscar Mayer URTX 40' Wood Reefer, #3580 Ralston-Purina 36' Wood Reefer, #3581 Wilson & Co. 36' Wood Reefer,
#3582 Swift 36' Wood Reefer, #3583 Blatz Beer 36' Wood Reefer, #3584 Schlitz 36' Wood Reefer, #3968 Santa Fe AT&SF El Capitan 40' Reefer,
#5417 Grand Union Food Markets 40' Wood Reefer, #5426 Cudahy Old Dutch Cleanser 40' Reefer,
#7370 SLRX 40' Wood Reefer, #7380 Chicago & Northwestern 40' Wood Reefer
#3611 Drop Center Flat Car, #3612 Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Wood Caboose, #3614 Straight Side flat car,
#3620 Chesapeake & Ohio Steel Caboose, #3900 40' Unpainted Composite Reefer,
#3950 Watermelon Car (ventilated box car), #7000 Chesapeake & Ohio Die-Cast Metal Hopper Car, #7100 ACL Prototype 40'
Solid Bottom Composite Gondola.
Steel Box Cars:
#3600 Undecorated 40' Steel box car, #3639 West Indies Fruit 40' Steel box car, #3643 Frisco 40' Steel box car, #3645
Great Northern 40' Steel Tuscan box car,
#3646 Northern Pacific 40' Green Steel box car, #3648 Maine Central 40' Steel box car, #3649 Pennsylvania RR 40' Steel box car,
#3650 Rutland 40' Steel box car, #3653 Southern Pacific 40' Steel box
car, #3654 Cotton Belt 40' box car, #3655 Western Maryland 40' Steel box car, #3656 Boston & Maine 40' Steel box car,
#3657 State Of Maine 40' Steel box car,
#3658 Baltimore & Ohio Box Car 40' Steel box car, #3659 Reading 40' Steel box car, #3660 Elgin, Joliet & Eastern RY 40'
Steel box car, #3661 Rio Grande 40'
Steel box car, #3666 New York Central 40' Steel box car, #3667 Northern Pacific 40' Steel box car, #3668 Union Pacific 40' Steel box car,
#3672 Illinois Central 40' Steel box car (Tuscan Red), #3673 C & NW 40' Steel box car (Tuscan), #3674 Erie-Lackawanna 40' Steel
box car, #3679 Canadian National 40' Steel box car,
#6200 Limited Run Great Northern 40' Steel box car (green sides),
#6201 Erie-Lackawanna 40' Steel box car, #6202 Bessemer & Lake Erie 40' Steel box car, #6203 Santa Fe 40' Steel box car
(Tuscan), #6251 Nickel Plate Road 40' box car,
#6600 Chesapeake & Ohio 40' box car, #6601 Southern box car, #6602 Norfolk & Western box car, #6603 Canadian National 40' Steel box car,
#6604 L&N 40' Steel box bar, #6605 Canadian Pacific 40' Steel box car, #6606 Great Northern 40' Steel box car,
#6607 Union Pacific 40' Steel box car (red), #6608 Akron, Canton & Youngstown (ACY) 40' Steel box car,
#6609 Nickel Plate 40' 2 Rail box car, #6610 Central of Georgia 40' Steel box car, #6613 Lackawanna 2 Rail Box car,
#6614 MOPAC 40' Steel box car, #6616 Seaboard Coast Line 40' Steel box car, #6618 Illinois Central
2 Rail box car, #6619 Penn. Central 40' Steel box car, #6622 Wabash 40' Steel box car, #6623 D&RGW 40' Rio Grande
Cookie box car, #6624 Norfolk & Western 40' Box car, #7400 Northern Pacific 40' 2 Rail box car, #7490 Southern 40'
Steel box car, #8746 GM&O 40' Steel box car
Wood Sheathed Box Cars:
#3701 Great Northern 40' Wood Sheathed box car, #7420 Great Northern 40' Wood Sheathed 2 Rail box car
#5000 65' Combine car, #5005 62' Coach, #5010 60' baggage mail car, #5015 60' Baggage car, #5020 70' Passenger coach, #5025 80' Dining car, #9102
Pullman Standard Heavyweight 80' 12-1 Sleeper Kit (reissue of Walthers Kit) #9177 70' Coach/Sleeper
with Monitor Roof.
Outside Braced Box Cars:
#6500 Unpainted Outside Braced Box car, #6504 Boston & Maine Outside Braced Box car
#3675 Unmarked Steel Auto car, #3679 Canadian National 40' Steel Automobile car, #3681 NYC 40' Steel Automobile car,
#7470 Santa Fe 40' Sectional Panel Sheathed Auto car, #7480 Denver & Rio Grande Western Double Sheathed 40' Auto car,
#7510 D&RGW 50' Double Wood Sheathed Auto car
A.A.R. Stock Cars:
#7300 40' Wood Stock Car
The steam line of kits was initially acquired by George Sennhauser of Babbitt, MN who created the Babbit Railway Models name and
reintroduced the line. Sennhauser continued to refine the products greatly. In 1993 the company was sold again, this time to Boyce
Yates in Kentucky who renamed the line Babbitt Loco works. Yates continued the line under the Babbitt name for several years. Babbitt Railway
Supply Company was located at 715 Barger St in Mayfield KY. The line consisted of the 4-6-0, 4-4-0, 4-6-2, 4-4-2, 2-6-0, and 4-8-2, all using 70”
drivers, cast bronze boilers, NWSL gearing, three different cast aluminum or sheet brass tenders, and brass and white metal details.
Babbit Models was the last supplier of these 6 former All-Nation Steam loco kits and
detail parts through the late 90's. Many 2 rail O Scalers considered these loco kits as top of the line.
As of June 2010 Bill Wade of Bill's Train Shop (BTS) in West Virginia http://www.btsrr.com/ owned
the All-Nation/Babbitt line of locomotives and parts supplies. Plans were being developed to reintroduce the line with new
castings (likely urethane resin).
Original un-built All-Nation kits frequently show up on eBay or in other on-line auctions or at swap meets, and remain popular
with scale model builders and 2-rail operators.