Wm. K. Walthers, Inc., was founded by Bill Walthers (1893 - 1967) in Milwaukee, WI in 1932 -
but really, it started years earlier, when seven-year-old Bill Walthers got his first taste
of the hobby with a small, wind-up toy train for Christmas. He continued with the hobby
and eventually had an attic layout comprised primarily of his own scratch-built creations.
After he wrote a series of articles on building train control and signaling systems, he got
so many letters from other modelers that he began manufacturing the signals and track for
standard and 'O' gauge. An April 1932 ad placed by Walthers in The ModelMaker Magazine offered services to build, design or supply
parts for any type of automatic train control or signal system, or to act in an advisory capacity.
The next ad, placed in the May issue of The ModelMaker, offered a 24-page, 15¢ catalog that listed rail,
couplers, and electrical supplies in 'O' scale. Sales were over $500.00 for the first year, a
decent sum for a country still in the grip of the Great Depression, and the
fledgling company was off to a strong start.
Within five years, Walthers had grown so much that larger quarters were needed to cast, warehouse and stock parts and
to handle the mail order business. Space was
found in the Erie Terminal Building at 241 East Erie Street, where everything - from milled wood parts to metal castings to decals - was
made in-house. Since the real prototypical trains were made from metal and wood, the kits to build the models were also.
Walthers introduced his first 'O' scale car kits in 1933. An 'O' scale steam locomotive was added in 1934. Walthers was
known for a number of firsts, such as: accurate lettering data, twin solenoid switch machines, two-rail signaling circuits
and much more. One of the Walthers items that became very popular was an 'O' gauge wooden model of the Union Pacific's M10000
Streamliner commissioned by Popular Science Magazine.
Walthers was also well-known for their 80' passenger car kits which were built with brass or tin sides with wooden roofs and floors.
Walthers extensive line of 'O' scale passenger cars are still sought after today. Freight cars and locomotives were also made in 'O' scale.
Examples of Wm. K. Walthers 'O' scale Custom Kit-built 2-rail Refrigerator Cars
Bill Walthers developed a system for reversing and uncoupling locomotives (anywhere on the layout) in the
1930's. He used AC for propulsion, half-wave DC for reversing, and full-wave DC for uncoupling. It was more efficient than the E-unit developed by
Ives and then acquired by Lionel in the 30's, as it was fully selective in its control. Other sequence reversing units
were based on current interruption, which could potentially occur at times when the operator did not want to reverse the train. Walther's
approach eliminated this problem. In 1935 Walthers offered its first water-slide decals for modelers.
In 1936 Walthers expanded its 'O' scale line with the first North Shore interurban cars and an Ingersoll Rand boxcab diesel switcher. Passenger cars
now had punched brass car sides, embossed rivets and cast bronze ends including a set of new Hiawatha cars. The ¼" scale kit-built Walthers Hiawatha cars were much more
prototypical looking than the 17/64ths" scale articulated ones issued by Lionel with their 'O72' gauge #250E set in 1935, and
many 'O' scale hobbyists were known to use the almost scale Lionel Hiawatha locomotive to pull their Walthers Hiawatha cars. Many even converted their
Lionel locos for outside 3rd rail pick-up operation with these cars on their scale layouts. The streamlined Milwaukee Road #3549-O Parlor/Observation car kits featured
the unique Beaver-tail design, made of a metal sand casting. Other styles were a #3549-E 2-door Express baggage car, #3459-D diner, and #3459-C coach.
The Parlor car was offered in kit form for $6, while the other car kits were priced at $5 each. Finished cars were $15 each and the finished Parlor car was $18.
From 1935-1936 noted 'O' scale
modeler Bill J. Lenoir worked for W.K. Walthers in Milwaukee. 1937 saw a
new line in HO Scale, featured in its own Walther's separate catalog. Walthers first HO kits were named 'Taylor-Made Models'. Separate 'O' gauge catalogs continued to be issued
throughout the years. Around this time Walthers began to replace rough castings with machine-made lead die cast parts. The HO line
included a Milwaukee F6 Hudson, and an Alco HH600 diesel switcher with a sand cast bronze body. HO passenger cars were made with cardboard
sides, wood sides, ends and floor, and freight cars were made with all-wood bodies. Walthers began to make HO track in 1938.
Wm. K. Walthers 'O' scale Kit-built Milwaukee Road Hiawatha Cars Circa 1936
Bill and his company brought operating layouts to the 1939 World's Fair, which gave the hobby a big boost. Eight specially built locomotives
were supplied by Wm. K. Walthers to the 'Railroads in Building' display which was located beneath the great dome of the 'railroad building'.
This was a ¼" scale model railroad diorama eighty feet in diameter with mountainous peaks reaching twenty-eight feet high (actual measurements,
not scale dimensions). This exhibit was sponsored by The Railroad Supply Industry and presented a graphic picture of the building of a railroad.
A double track mainline encircled the entire exhibit - one track was used for passenger service and the other for freight service.
The passenger train was pulled by a generic streamlined Hudson (the railroad suppliers did not want to show favoritism). The freight trains were
headed by various freight locomotives, including a Northern, Berkshire, Mountain, Mogul and a Climax. One section also featured an M.U.
train that was also built by Walthers. William 'Billi' Bowen, a designer-draftsman for Wm. K. Walthers, designed the 'Building of the Railroads' display.
Wm. K. Walthers 'O' scale 80' Heavyweight Baggage Car Custom Kit-built 2-rail Examples
Another layout designed and
built by Bill Walthers in the late 1930's was the Standard gauge Cape Cod Interurban Railway. Interestingly this layout utilized a 2 rail track system
with an outside 3rd rail. Outside 3rd rail was the most common configuration utilized on most 'O' scale train layouts that were custom built by hobbyists
in the 1930's. By the 1940's the outside 3rd rail approach all but disappaeared. Bill Walthers loved railroads and was known to have frequently travelled
between Milwaukee and NY riding alongside the engineer in
the locomotive cab. The growing possibility of war overshadowed Walther's successes, and raw supplies to build model trains were becoming increasingly
difficult to obtain. Around this time Walthers introduced its own brand of 'Crestline' passenger car kits featuring wood and pressboard sides, and
diecast trucks and in 1940 Bill introduced streamlined 'O' scale passenger cars, based on tooling developed for the World’s Fair layout. The Walthers
Model Railroad Supplies 1940 'O' gauge catalogue was 64 pages and sold for 25¢.
During the war, model manufacturers were ordered to stop production in order to conserve
critical metal supplies. Walthers produced what it could from nonessential materials. Walthers was well-known
for his humorous ads run during World War II and his sense of humor in general. A series of these ads in 1943 saw Bill literally scraping the bottom
of a barrel for materials. A line of 'Tongue-in-cheek' products was issued. This included the #933-5419 'O' gauge Beer Can Tanker Tank Car Kit, which was
a set of metal castings including a chassis, sprung trucks, couplers, wheels, ladders, a spigot and a platform that could be assembled onto any type of
aluminum can (beer or soda pop that you provided) to make a custom tank car. The Walthers motto used on packaging was "fun to build".
Some feel Bill Walthers personally kept model railroading alive despite the wartime restrictions on materials used in model railroading. Walthers boasted
that every freight and passenger car model offered in their line was patterned after its prototype. All parts and patterns were built from the original railroad
drawings with dimensions accurately scaled down.
After the war, Walthers introduced his Polydrive system for powering steam locomotives. Instead of having just one
worm gear meshing with one worm wheel the Polydrive system had a worm shaft with two worms on it. This made every axle
a geared driver. This would drive two worm wheel gears on two axles at the same time instead of just one.
It never really caught on and was gone by the late 1950’s. However Lionel mimicked the Polydrive
concept in 1946 with their first #726 Berkshire locomotive which had a form of the Walthers
Bill believed that the postwar boom would mean rapid growth for the hobby. In the fall of 1945 Bill Walthers was in negotiations to merge with
Ed Alexander's American Model Railroad Company, Inc. Bill believed that as soon as World War II
ended, the 'O' scale model railroading hobby
was poised for a big growth period. On October 25, 1945, they signed an agreement and stock shares and money were exchanged where Walthers
would purchase a 51% interest in AMRACO. Bill Walthers would serve as managing director providing working capital and marketing expertise,
with Ed Alexander supervising production as President and COO. Bill returned to Milwaukee and waited for the expanded line of 'O' scale locomotives
and cars to start rolling out of the factory in Ed's Yardley, PA garage. A year and a half went by and none of AMRACO's
steam loco's or aluminum freight
cars were ever delivered or produced. The AMRACO line had not been produced since before the war, and Ed was now devoting
his time to other interests
custom building, making industrial models, museum models and writing about railroads. In April 1947 Ed and Bill agreed to dissolve the partnership.
In exchange for the money that was paid for the shares in AMRACO, Walthers received the patterns for the New Haven Electric locomotive and a half
dozen or so freight cars. During the next few years Walthers produced and sold kits for the Stock Car (#3862), the 3-Bay Hopper (#3899),
and the container car (#3818). There is no record that the New Haven Electric locomotive or the other freight car kits
(Quad-hopper, flat car, tank car, drop
bottom gondola, and Caboose) were ever made by Walthers.
Wm. K. Walthers 'O' scale 2-rail Kit-built Custom 80' Passenger Car Examples
In 1946 Bruce Walthers returned from active duty with the US Navy and began working full-time for his dad. That same year
Walthers introduced a new line
of paper building materials and a new cartoon mascot named 'Willie'. The William K. Walthers 1946 catalog was 120 pages long and cost 25¢.
The softcover Walthers Catalog for Model Railroaders 1947 Edition was 118 pages long, cost 35¢ and
contained the multitude of items that were now being carried, including the 'O' gauge Polydrive locomotives, the 'O' gauge B-Lectric line, the
'O' gauge Multiple Unit cars, 'O' gauge passenger cars, 'O' gauge freight cars, transfers & lettering in both 'O' and HO gauge, as well as track and
scenery in both gauges, signals in both gauges and miscellaneous HO gauge items. B-Lectric was a line of 'O' scale sand
cast locomotive kits that were the
Baldwin Model Locomotive Works products. Over the years this division's line grew to include an F3, F7, E7, GG-1, R2, FM 2000, and a 160 ton crane.
Walthers only carried the Baldwin line from the late 1940's to the mid 1950's. The line continued under just the Baldwin
name with no Walthers affiliation
for some time after that. The tooling and molds for the Baldwin line eventually wound up in the hands of Clark Benson
in Connecticut, until 1999, when it
was purchased by Bob Stevenson and used to form Stevenson
Bill Walthers was also a prolific author, writing for the Model Railroader, The Modelmaker Corp., and finally publishing under
the Walthers name. Some handbooks that he wrote included the 1940 50¢ booklet on "Automatic Control for Model
Railroaders", containing information
on how to use AC and DC to control model locomotives, the 50¢ 1940 booklet "Signalling For Model Railroaders" which detailed
signal, switch and block control circuits, the 25¢ 1943 booklet on "Rectifiers and Their Application for Model Railroaders", covering
the principle of rectification and the use of rectifiers in power and control circuits, the 1943 39 page booklet on "Couplers, Coupling and
Uncoupling for Model Railroaders", which was a history of couplers from 1836 to 1942, with information on all types of uncoupling methods,
the 25¢ 1943 guide for model car "Lettering and Painting" that contained lettering diagrams for more than 100 different kinds of railroad
cars, and the 1946 "Walthers Freight Car Design Manual for Model Railroaders" that covered car designs of 90 different railroads.
His "Handbook for Model Railroaders" published by Kalmbach Publishing of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1946 was a comprehensive
guide to all things a model
railroader would ever need to know. He was also a co-founder of the National Model Railroad Association in 1935 and was NMRA Life Member #1,
as well as Master Model Railroader #6. Bill Walthers was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry Hall of Fame in
1985 and the 'O' Scale Hall of Fame in 1998 in Marlboro, North Carolina.
Wm. K. Walthers 'O' scale 2-rail Kit-built Custom 80' Passenger Car Examples
In the early 1950's Walthers was producing basic kits that were stamped steel with precarved wood roofs and floors.
Details were cast metal and wood. They sold metal and wood 'Exterior Super Detail Kits' and 'Interior Super Detail Kits'.
These kits could be combined by the model builder to produce award-winning work. The interior kit of the 'Executive Car' contained all walls,
doors, sinks, beds, couches, chairs, desks, toilets, wall pictures, and much more. In the President’s Office, there was a shower with the
secretary caught bathing inside! Around this time Walthers introduced Goo®
adhesive for wood and metal kits and the TS-5 Switch
Machine was unveiled. The post-war years were among the most challenging the company faced. Walthers began selling their line
directly to hobby shops,
thus laying the groundwork for their wholesale operations. Even so, Bill Walthers was ready to fold the company
when the Athearn
line of undecorated plastic models was introduced. The ensuing demand for Walthers decals soared, along with sales of paint
and detail parts. By 1953 the
Walthers catalogue listed more than 3,000 items.
The influx of cash allowed Bill to retire gracefully in 1958 and he turned over the reins to his son Bruce. That same year
the company found a new home
at 1245 North Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. The next twenty years brought great change.
Walthers HO Scale Plug Door Box Cars
Just as full-size railroads were being hard-hit by new technology, so too were model railroads.
Leisure time was spent in front of the TV set, not the train set. Small homes and new families left no room for 'O' scale layouts,
and many modelers moved to HO scale. In 1960, Walthers became a full-line
distributor of other manufacturers' products while continuing expansion of the Walthers lines.
1962 was Walthers 30th Anniversary and that year saw the introduction of several wholesale lines for the first time including
15 Akane, Alexander,
Binkley, Laconia, Cal Scale, Semaphore Hobby Industries, Central Valley, Anderson track, Permacraft, Floquil, Main Line Models,
Kadee, Marnold, Silver Streak and Northeastern Scale Models. The advent of slot cars caused problems with model railroad product
distribution. Under Bruce’s
leadership, the company became the first full-time wholesaler dedicated to model railroad products. 1967 saw the HO catalog
grow to list 40 wholesale lines.
The brass model of an ACF Center Flow covered hopper was announced. At that time this was the only brass car model ever
imported under the Walthers name.
After suffering a slump during the 1960's (along with the rest of the hobby), the company rebounded in the 1970's.
1970 saw the acquisition of Ulrich HO Models. Ulrich Model Kits were produced by Charles J. Ulrich
beginning in 1947 in North Hollywood, CA. Ulrich had started out as an engineer in the defense industry. One day a fellow engineer brought in
a paper model of a freight car. Ulrich assembled it, rolled it across his desk, and was immediately hooked and quit his job to make realistic model
trains. The Ulrich kits were mainly of metal
freight cars and the General Service gondola was unique to the line. Ulrich wanted to produce a simple scale model gondola that worked just like the
real ones. No one else was making one at the time. He also wanted to make a 3-color operating signal, just like the real ones
found on prototypical railroads.
By 1953 he had made and sold 10,000 signals. The Ulrich boxcars and stock cars had wood sides and they also made a line of
1/87th scale die cast highway
trucks. Most notably were the 1950's Mack Cabover and Kenworth trucks with Fruehauf trailers. Ulrich also made a line of expandable buildings.
The Ulrich line consisted of 13 different cars. There were 3 flat cars, 2 gondolas, 4 hoppers, 1 outside braced box
car, 1 wood sided box car, a cattle car and a track cleaning car patterned after a Santa Fe water and tool car, plus 5
different trailer truck combinations.
The track cleaning car became very popular with hobbyists, selling several thousand units. It operated by use of a spring
loaded felt shoe that spread
a light coat of oil-cleaning fluid on the track as it rolled around the layout. The gondola car also became quite popular.
It featured a drop bottom with
8 doors that would open and close with the touch of a finger. Walthers continued production of the Ulrich HO scale model train kits
through the 1980's.
In 1972 Walthers acquired Tru-Scale, who had previously merged with the Silver Streak Line of HO kits.
The Silver Streak line of freight cars was started by Pacific HO in 1946. These kits featured laminated
wood sides with typical wood construction. They also included metal roof ribs and either truss rod or
cast metal underframes. The wooden bodies were prepainted and decorated in prototypical road names and livery.
Brass and metal accessories such as ladders, lights, window frames, railings, and marker lights, as well
as real metal sprung trucks were included. The kits included boxcars, refrigerators, tank cars, gondolas, MOW cars, and
cabooses. In 1964 they had released the Golden State series of plastic mechanical refrigerator cars.
During the years 1971-72 Walthers offered a set of Milwaukee Road Olympian Hiawatha streamlined passenger car kits in 'O'
scale developed from new all tooling. These kits
featured wood floors, Walthers Nystrom High Speed trucks, and metal car sides and roof's that were painted and pad printed.
In 1973 Walthers rolled out its first plastic HO kit, a 50' mechanical reefer under the 'Golden Spike Series'. 1973 saw the introduction of
'Craft Train' kits that were multi-media, non-plastic models. The first Walthers N scale catalog was published in 1976. The company relocated again
in 1977 to a new facility at 5601 W. Florist Avenue on Milwaukee's north side. The last Walthers wood and metal car kits were produced in 1978.
In 1979 Walthers acquired the tooling for the SS Ltd. Line of cast metal details and structure kits. That same year a
partnership was established with European
model train producer Märklin. This was an important first step for Walthers in becoming a major
importer of European made products.
By 1979, the Walthers HO Railroad Catalog and Craft Train Reference Manual cost a whopping $5, was almost 400 pages and
featured products from over 240
In the early 1980's, Bruce Walthers took advantage of an import program to offer a wide selection of models from
around the world. Business was booming again, and Bruce's son Phil joined the company. At that point the company
began making their own products for N scale. In 1981 Walthers acquired the HO-West line of printed paper backdrop scenes, which
were reintroduced as Instant Horizons™. In 1982 Walthers celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the release of the first Walthers brand
plastic freight car which was a 40' composite gondola. That same year Walthers acquired Magnuson Models, and began
production of the detailed structure
kits in resin. A set of plastic models including Ponderosa Pines tree kits, and an FGE insulated boxcar in HO Scale were added to the Walthers line.
Bruce followed his father’s example by turning the company’s day-to-day operations over to son Phil in 1984.
But he remained as chairman of the board and played key roles in Walthers’ transition to the electronic age.
Expansion and diversification continued under Phil's tenure.
In 1984 following Train Miniature's departure
from the hobby market, Walthers obtained a number of freight car molds that had been in Train Miniature's
product line. These kits, box cars, reefers, stock cars, hoppers, and more, represent the first
easy to build non-flat stock injection molded plastic models to be sold under the Walthers name in the
HO scale freight car market. Train Miniature got its start in the hobby market in the late 1960's producing HO scale freight cars,
an Alco FA-1/FB-1 diesel model, a group of structure kits and a line of paints. They became best known for their Billboard reefers and box cars
representing the 1920's and 30's. Originally based in La Mesa, California, they moved
to South Holland, Illinois in the 1970's. Prior to the acquisition, Walthers had carried the Train Miniature line
in their catalog, and Train Miniature had created
some kits that were exclusively decorated for Walthers in certain road names.
Walthers HO Scale RBL Insulated Box Cars
Walthers expanded beyond the former Train Miniature cars and by
the late 1980's had a growing roster of all-new tooling examples on the market. Walthers first Amtrak passenger models,
including Amfleet cars and the GE E60CP electric loco were produced in plastic after acquisition of the tooling from American GK.
The E60 would remain in
the Walthers line through 1989. It was Walthers first modern HO scale locomotive offering in 1984 and came in two versions - an E60CF and E60CP.
The E60CP was first offered by Walthers in three roadnames: Amtrak, Penn Central, and New Haven. Undecorated and a silver body unlettered
was also available. The model was sold in kit form with modeler applied handrails and detail parts. Powered and Dummy versions were
present for all roadnames.
New Jersey Transit livery was added a few years following the introduction of this model. Powered models were retailing for $47.95
in 1988 and non-powered were
$27.95. The E60CF was first offered by Walthers in seven roadnames: Black Mesa & Lake Powell, Penn Central, Milwaukee Road,
New Haven, Great Northern,
Burlington Northern, and Conrail. Undecorated E60CF models were also offered. The model was also sold in kit form with modeler applied handrails and
detail parts. Powered and Dummy versions were available for all roadnames.
The establishment of the Walthers Importing Division added several international lines. The manufacturing plant was modernized. Code
83 track was introduced in 1985, giving layouts more realistic proportions. Also in 1985, Walthers began its HO freight car of the
month releases featuring special 12-pack dealer displays. This popular program would run for the next 10 years. In 1986
Walthers produced its first joint projects with Roco and Arnold in N Scale.
Around this time the first all-new Train Miniature car, the Airslide®
2-Bay Covered Hopper,
debuted at the Boston NMRA convention.
In 1987 the Walthers HO catalogue included a section for G scale models for the first time ever. In 1988 Walthers introduced HO scale
Bay Area Rapid Transit
(BART) cars and Washington D.C. Metro cars that were also made from tooling acquired from Amercan GK. Powered A units retailed for $34.95 and dummy
A and B units sold for $19.95. Walthers introduced its first
major theme train in 1989. It was 'The Great Circus Train' in HO scale, based on the colorful equipment at the Circus World Museum
in Baraboo Wisconsin as it appeared in 1967. The complete series included 20 colorful circus cars, wagons and a brass model of
the Grand Trunk Western #5629
4-6-2 Pacific made exclusively for Walthers by Sunset Models and decorated for Schlitz/Old Milwaukee, corporate
sponsors of the original prototype train.
Walthers HO Scale Quad Hopper Cars
In 1990, the Cornerstone Series buildings were unveiled. Combining a freight car with a related industry, the Cornerstone Series
made it possible for modelers to duplicate authentic operations, enhancing layout realism. N scale Cornerstone products followed in 1992.
Also in 1992, Walthers introduced its first new locomotive since the 1930's with the Fairbanks-Morse H10-44 in HO Scale. The model was built in
Austria by Roco. It featured a plastic body, 5-pole motor with dual flywheels, all-wheel electrical pick-up, and cast metal frame. Powered examples
were the only way to purchase this switcher, which retailed for $84.98. Roadnames included: Canadian National, Central of New Jersey,
Nickel Plate Road, Pennsylvania, and Santa Fe. A first for Walthers, all roadnames included two road numbers. The HO engine line was
expanded in 1993 with an all new SW-1 switcher. The SW-1 was Walthers second import from Austrian Manufacturer Roco.
The model included a plastic shell, separate handrails, interior, Mashima can motor with flywheel, all-wheel pick-up and was priced at $79.98.
The first offering included eight roadnames: Pennsy, Conrail, BN, NYC, SP, CNW, Milwaukee, and C&O-Chessie. And Undecorated SW1 was also produced,
in light gray. After many years of being a
factor and producer of modelling kits, Walthers decided to produce prepackaged HO
train sets. The Trainline® Deluxe Sets and locomotives debuted in 1994. These HO sets featured
the detailing of serious
models and an affordable price - allowing newcomers to get started, and then build-on to their first set,
rather than replacing it. The sets were competitively priced and intended primarily for sale in department and toy stores.
The sets were offered with and without track and power supply. The Deluxe sets sold for $100 and $85 respectively. The
Super Power sets were $150 and $130. Walthers also actively pursued the limited edition and promotional markets.
The former Cox GP9 tooling, first found in the hobby market in 1974, returned in 1994 as the new Walthers
The GP9M was introduced with eight roadnames including BN, CSX, UP, Conrail, Santa Fe, SP, CN, and Norfolk Southern. It retailed for
$29.98 and was also
included in Walthers' Deluxe Trainline® train set offerings that same year. The
Trainline® offerings represented basic, but good quality, models
aimed at the entry level or beginner hobbyist. New locos and accessories were added to
the Trainline® series in 1996 including the GE Dash 8-40B.
The GE Dash 8-40B Diesel Locomotive was the first Trainline® release from all new tooling.
It was issued with both a standard and wide cab version. The model included plastic shell on metal frame with a dual flywheel drive.
The 1995 retail was $59.98 for the powered loco. It was issued in seven roadnames including Amtrak, Conrail, Santa Fe, LMX, Norfolk Southern, CSX,
and Union Pacific. Undecorated standard and wide cab examples were also cataloged. Bruce Walthers was inducted into the Model
Railroad Hall of Fame in 1996.
The third and fourth offerings in Walthers Trainline® were the Alco FA-1
and FB-1 diesel units announced in the 1997 Walthers catalog.
These were the former Train Miniature Alco FA-1 and FB-1 locomotives whose tooling was acquired by Walthers in
1984. The shell remained very similar to
the original Train Miniature release, but the drive was all new from Walthers. Powered only versions were available
for both A and B units and each retailed
for $29.98. Six roadnames were included in the first 1997 release. Those were Great Northern, UP, Pennsy, Santa Fe, Southern, and New York Central.
Undecorated models were also cataloged. The fifth Trainline® locomotive release
is the second all new tooling effort for the line. The EMD F40PH diesel was
released in 1998. There are two known variations of the F40PH. One equipped with a dynamic brake and one non-dynamic
brake version. The introductory group
consisted of 7 roadnames including Amtrak (Phase III with two roadnumbers), Chicago METRA, Boston MBTA, NJ Transit,
San Francisco Caltrain, San Diego Coaster,
and VIA Rail Canada. The models carried a $49.98 retail price tag. The model is a Phase II example of EMD's passenger
diesel and is correct for Amtrak use as
that road's 230-400 numbered units. Additional F40PH models in road names for GO Transit, Southern California's
Metro Link, and Miami's Tri-Rail were issued
In 1999 Walthers introduced the sixth Trainline® loco the
HO-scale GP15-1 diesel. This model was the first HO scale plastic ready-to-run
example of this 1970's EMD diesel. The model retailed for $49.98 and was offered originally in BN, CNW, UP, MP,
Chessie, Conrail, and Frisco roadnames.
Undecorated examples were also offered for both louvered and inerital air filter design bodystyles. In 2000 Walthers added BNSF and CSX roadnames.
Additionally, all roadnames were provided a second roadnumber and a non-numbered version.
Walthers HO Scale 45' Logging Flat Car Kits
A new plastic passenger car line with HO scale Budd 10-6 sleeper 46-seat coaches, 24-8 slumber coaches, diners and a converted Amtrak
1700 series baggage car were produced in 2002. These were the first Walthers cars designed for drop in lighting kits. A new Platinum Line™
of fully-assembled, superdetailed freight cars was rolled out of the Walthers shops in 2003 with new C&O, UP and GTW
style cabooses in HO. By 2004 Walthers was issuing a classic name trains series with all-new models of the legendary Santa
Fe Super Chief cars and a custom-run of Athearn F7 locos. In 2005, Walthers acquired the assets of Life Like Products LLC,
a manufacturer of model railroad equipment, Darda slot cars and Bolz tops. This acquisition marked the company's
first major foray outside railroad-related merchandise, although Darda and Bolz were later sold.
Walthers Reference books, published annually for N and HO scale modelers, have many listings for various model
railroading products and companies.
Bruce Walthers passed away in 2007, the same year that the William K. Walthers Company celebrated its 75th anniversary.
To mark the anniversary, Walthers released all-new models of the Milwaukee Road Hiawatha in early
orange and later yellow schemes, as well as several structures.
The company maintained its headquarters in modern facilities in suburban Milwaukee at 5601 West Florist Avenue.
continued to expand, improve and develop a wide range of products. In 2009 Walthers became the exclusive North
American distributor for Märklin, Trix and
LGB products along with items from over 300
other manufacturers. Walthers was now selling everything from tiny screws to large structures for the hobbyist.
There were literally thousands of products in their repertoire.
On July 16–18, 2010, Walthers was part of Milwaukee's celebration of the National
Train Show, presented by the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) which was founded
in Milwaukee in 1935. Also in 2010, Phil Walthers was inducted into the Hobby Manufacturers Association (HMA) Model Railroad Hall of Fame.
A long-time friend of the entire Walthers family, Michael Stephens returned to Milwaukee in 2010 after a stint at
Athearn and joined the Walthers team as Vice-President of Proprietary Products. In this
role, he helped direct and develop a major overhaul and update of Walthers product branding, creating the new WalthersProto™,
WalthersMainline™, WalthersTrainline™ and Walthers SceneMaster™ brands which had their roots in Life-Like product lines. Michael
also played a significant role in the development and promotion of new Walthers products, including the Hulett Unloader.
In January of 2012 Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc. purchased all 'O' scale structure tooling,
as well as existing 'O' scale structure inventory, from Wm. K. Walthers, Inc. making these structures available from Atlas under the
Atlas 'O' product brand. Also in 2012 Walthers reissued a run of their HO scale EMD F40PH diesels in Amtrak Phase
II, Phase III, and Phase V schemes,
plus a Coaster example. The 2012 edition retailed for $59.98. In 2013 the Hobby Manufacturers Association named Michael Stephens
to the Model Railroad Hall of Fame.
On October 31, 2013 it was announced that Stacey Walthers Naffah was promoted to Vice-president of sales and Marketing
for Wm. K. Walthers Inc. Naffah is the fourth generation of the Walthers family to work for the business founded by her great-grandfather in 1932.
She joined the company in 2009. In 2013 Walthers released an HO model of the Alco DL109 diesel locomotive manufactured using toolings acquired from
the 2005 purchase of Life-Like. The five road names offered were New Haven (green & gold), Rock Island, Santa Fe, Southern and
a never-before offered roadname of a McGinnis scheme New Haven. The release included powered models with an 8 pin DCC plug and
a $124.95 retail price.
Also in 2013, Walthers revived its HO scale EMD SW-1 tooling for a new release. The model joined Walthers' Mainline™ brand and featured a new drive.
It was also DCC ready and carried a $99.98 retail price tag. It was offered in B&M, Milwaukee, Southern, and SP road names.
As of January 1, 2015 Wm. K Walthers ceased to be the exclusive North America distributor of Märklin GmbH products. Also in 2015, Walthers reissued
their HO scale General Electric Dash 8-40B diesel as part of its Mainline™ brand with standard DC and DCC and SoundTraxx Tsunami sound versions.
Walthers 2017 Production HO gauge GP35 Diesel Locomotives In Various Road Names
On May 8, 2018 Wm. K. Walthers Inc. announced that Stacey Walthers Naffah will become the company’s fourth
president, starting in September 2018. Current president Phil Walthers will then retire from day-to-day operations of
the company but will remain chairman of the board and available for special projects. "I couldn’t be more proud and
excited to turn over the leadership of Walthers to Stacey,” Phil Walthers said. “She brings an enthusiasm and vision to the
company that will continue to support our dedicated customers while helping to bring new people into the hobby.”
Stacey is a graduate of Boston College and earned her Masters of Business Administration at Northwestern University’s Kellogg
School of Management, where she studied best practices in operating multigenerational family businesses and entrepreneurship.
She has been with the company for nine years, most recently as vice president of sales and marketing. She is a past president
of the Model Railroad Division of the HMA and is the current president of World’s Greatest Hobby Inc., a non-profit industry
organization which exists to promote model railroading. “I’m honored to carry on the legacy of the hard work of those before me,”
Stacey said. “Model Railroading is truly one of the classic and timeless hobbies. It transcends ages from the young child with
his or her first train set to the adult hobbyist creating highly detailed worlds in miniature.”
As far as collectability of Walthers Trains, the early 'O' scale products are the most sought after. The kits for the Walthers
'O' scale passenger cars were discontinued over 40 years ago making them extremely rare. When these kits were still being manufactured, they were
a favorite with modelers because they were relatively inexpensive, easily and quickly assembled, and they built up into nicely detailed models that
stood up well on close inspection and comparison to the much more expensive plastic and brass imports.
Link to Walthers Web Site.