Quality Craft Models was an American Hobby Manufacturer founded in 1965 by Bob Weaver and his wife Shirley. It started as an operation
producing wooden and white metal Craftsman Kits consisting of buildings and rolling stock, in gauges from 'N' to 'O'. Over time Quality Craft
grew into a major manufacturer and supplier of ready-to-run plastic and brass 'O' gauge 2-rail and 3-rail scale model trains representing American railroad
prototypes from the middle 20th-century to the first part of the 21st century.
The first location for the business was an old, single story print shop located on Wheatley Avenue in
Northumberland, PA. The early craftsman freight car kits produced by Quality Craft were described by modelers as good
looking, easy to obtain, and easy to put together. If properly assembled, detailed and finished with a good paint job,
these models were considered to be on a par with, or better than the brass imports available at the time. Quality Craft
was one of the few manufacturers to put out a line of freight car kits that represented the contemporary style of then current cars
operating on the prototypical railroads of the day. These included C&O 61' well hole flat cars and Milwaukee Road 40'
ribbed box cars. Joe Hayter became President of the company in 1969. Joe was for a time
married to Bob Weaver's daughter. In 1974, a newer, more modern facility was constructed near the old print shop.
Prior to 1980, Quality Craft made trains in HO gauge, but dropped out of the HO scale business.
From that time on many fine scale 'O' gauge models were produced. Locomotives such as the GG-1, Baldwin
Sharks, Pennsy Torpedo, SP Daylight, articulated Class R-2s, and the NYC Dreyfuss Hudson were all issued to scale.
The first plastic injection molded 'O' gauge model produced was the 2-Bay Hopper in 1980. Around this time the name Weaver
was adopted. During this period both Atlas and AHM had been unsuccessful at marketing plastic
ready to run 'O' scale models and the outlook for getting state-of-the art models in 'O' scale was bleak. However, Weaver's entry into the genre
turned out to be a very welcome addition. Bob Weaver believed that his choice of an open coal hopper as his first offering was very fortuitous because modelers
tended to run solid long prototypical trains of these hoppers, and that was good for sales. The hopper was only available in kit form, less trucks and couplers.
It had a one-piece body with all of the grabs cast on, a separate under frame, a brake wheel, brake reservoir/triple valve cluster and two braces for
the hopper slope sheets - 6 parts in all. The kits were originally set-up for 2-rail trucks (Athearn being the logical choice at the time) and Kadee
couplers. But in the early to mid 1980's the hunger for 3-rail trains by modelers and operators was answered by offering
a choice of 2-rail or 3-rail. Weaver was one of the first manufacturers to introduce scale models to the 3-rail market. They developed a 3-rail truck
with a truck-mounted coupler. Bob Weaver knew that the 3-rail market was about three times the size of the 2-rail market. Weaver's lack of fine detail
was a natural fit for the 3-rail market of that day with it's more casual operations. Eventually Weaver offered their own trucks and couplers in 2 and
3-rail, in plastic and diecast. Ready-to-run cars are an imperative for the 3-rail crowd and Weaver eventually offered those too. Soon thereafter, the
kit versions were withdrawn from the market.
Bob Weaver felt that every time he came out with a new freight car he essentially was buying a house, due to the cost of having dies made.
With the expense involved to have the tooling completed for plastic injection molding, it was
decided to get the most out of one mold. Therefore, the 2-Bay Hopper tooling was made in
such a way that the side and ends could be interchangeable allowing Weaver to produce a 2-Bay Offset
or 2-Bay Ribbed car with regular, peaked or rounded ends. The tooling and injection molding was
completed by Train Miniature, located in Chicago. Thus, Weaver Models, a division of Quality Craft
Models, was born, and the Ultra Line was created.
Next to join the Weaver Ultra Line Family was the 40' and 50' Tank Cars. Again, with careful
planning and the removal / addition of sections to the mold, Weaver could inject either size tank
from the same mold. Train Miniature also produced this mold for Weaver. Keeping with the times, Weaver tanks
were offered in 2-rail and 3-rail from the start. This second choice of a car design, the modern tank car, nearly put
Weaver out of business because it dd not sell well at all. The 50' Rail Box and 4-Bay Centerflows were soon to follow.
Poly-X-Co., out of Philipsburg, NJ did the mold work on these two projects. Soon after, Wilhold Company,
located in Sunbury, PA contacted Weaver regarding tooling needs. They did a fine job on the next release,
which was the PS-2 Covered Hopper. Under Joe Hayter's direction, the company evolved and improved the product line.
Fragile plastic freight car trucks were replaced with die-cast metal ones, some superb passenger equipment was made,
and modern refrigerator cars with sound-generating 'refrigeration units' were offered. These cars were 'O' scale. The
3-rail models had Bettendorf side bearing trucks and couplers.
Weaver developed their own in-house pad-printing process to decorate the models. And Weaver developed product
the old fashioned way by speculating on which models would sell and in what quantity. Weaver never adopted the build-to-order
just-in-time business model that became the industry standard. When a former Wilhold employee decided to go into business for
himself an opportunity arose for Weaver. Being located only ½ mile North on the same road from the Weaver plant was
just too convenient to pass up. Besides, he was very skilled at his trade. The 3-Bay Coal Car was his first project for Weaver.
This formed a tooling relationship that would last until Weaver ceased manufacturing operations. Plastic molded freight car offerings
expanded to cover a large variety of rolling stock including troop transports, Milwaukee Road type ribbed side box cars, wood side
gondolas, Northeastern cabooses, and trailer-on-flatcars sporting a great number of authentic and colorful liveries.
Many of these car types (e.g. RoadRailers, 57' Reefers, High-Side Hoppers) were not done in O scale before or since.
Road names for each of these changed from year to year and counting all of the variations would lead to thousands, if not 10,000 or
more distinct products.
The early to mid 80's also welcomed the first plastic 'O' gauge diesel project - the Alco RS-3 Diesel
locomotive. Models of the Alco FA-2/FB-2, Baldwin V1000, EMD E8 and GP38-2, GE U25B, Alco RS-11/RSC-12, and the
huge Alco Century C628 joined the ranks of Weaver diesels over time. These engines were powered by a Pittman motor
and all-axle geared drive. In 1990 connections were established
with Samhongsa of South Korea to enter into the brass 'O' Scale Market.
Weaver's first project was the PRR M1a 4-8-2. Approximately 800 to 900 units of this model were produced,
with only about 50 being built for 2-rail operation. With the lack of other 'O' gauge manufacturers, Weaver immediately sold
every one. A wide range of 'O' scale 3-rail brass locomotives that are still prized by operators and collectors was developed,
including a Consolidation and an 0-6-0. Over time they offered many, many brass steamers, biased towards larger passenger steam,
streamlined steam and, the PRR K4s, T1 and NYC Hudson notwithstanding, representing the less frequently modeled roads like GN, MILW,
NH, NKP, CN, CP, and LV. In addition to brass steamers, brass cabooses, electrics and even brass structures were imported.
Most of these imports were one-time offerings. From 1990 to 1993 numerous brass and plastic model projects were successfully marketed by the Weaver team.
The Samhongsa / Weaver Team also ventured into the plastic market. Numerous plastic diesels were produced:
SD40-2's, the Alco C628's, C630's, the Alco FA's, Alco RS11's/D12's, the GP38's, GE U25B's, Baldwin Sharks and
EMD E8's. At that time, Weaver was releasing 1,000 to 1,500 diesels per style. About 100 to 200 were offered in 2-rail,
the remainder in 3-rail. These locomotives utilized the oft-decried 'China Drive'. The dual motor drive was what was offered
by the Chinese builders and a requirement woven into the culture of the 3-rail community. At about this time, the domestically
produced diesels were transitioned to the China drive as well. QSI DCC Sound was introduced into
the models in late '91 / early '92. In the mid 1990's, Samhongsa made a strong connection with
Mike's Train House. From then on, they would no longer produce anything in 'O' scale
for anyone other than Mike's.
Weaver passenger car offerings included smooth and fluted-side streamline cars in many different road names as
well as the unique offerings like the Pullman Bradley (sometimes referred to as the American Flyer style) coaches and a
Milwaukee Road Hiawatha streamliner with a beavertail observation car. The wartime
Troop Sleeper, Kitchen Cars and Coaches were offered in both passenger and the postwar express car configurations.
These passenger cars were very popular with modelers and scale operators as they featured a high level
of exterior detail, die-cast trucks, metal handrails, opening doors, glass windows, interior lighting and detailed interiors.
In late '92 / early '93 Weaver moved into a state-of-the-art facility located along Route 11
approximately 1 mile North of Northumberland. 1993 also saw the induction of Bob Weaver into the 'O' Scale Hall of Fame
at ceremonies held in Indianapolis, IN for his contributions to the development and history of 2-rail 'O' scale modeling.
That was also the year Joe Hayter officially took control of
Weaver Models by purchasing the business from Bob Weaver. 1995 was also a significant landmark for Weaver as it was the
first time an 'Ultra Line' catalog was officially published featuring models produced in-house.
Prior to that, the few catalogs released featured one or two brass, Gold Edition, imported models.
What started out as an eight page catalog produced one time per year grew into a 28+ page semi-annual
It was not until 1997 that Weaver located a brass builder to fill the shoes of Samhongsa, resulting in the
February '98 release of a brass Union Pacific 49er 4-6-2. By this time, numerous other manufacturers
jumped on the 'O' gauge 'Band Wagon', resulting in a variety of choices for the discriminating modeler.
Weaver's lower production quantities of 300 3-rail (225 with sound and 75 without sound) and 50 2-rail
was evidence of this. From then on, Weaver catalogued and released two to three brass offerings each year with the
Boston & Maine P4 Pacific being the final offering in 2013.
Quality Craft became a batch producer, manufacturing a line of true 1/4" 'O' Scale freight cars and locomotives.
Products were created in limited runs. Locomotives ranged in price from $250.00-$300.00. Weaver also sold Scalecoat
Model Railroad Paint, which was used on all the models produced in-house. Some of the HO kits made by
Quality Craft in the 1970's were picked up and re-issued under the Gloor Craft Models line. Weaver Models released
a scale Milwaukee Road Hiawatha set in 2000, and they also entered into a license agreement with
Lionel to use their TrainMaster Command Control (TMCC) and RailSounds technology. TMCC technology
permitted operation of multiple trains on the same track without complex wiring. RailSounds, provided digital sound effects
to complement the digital control features of the system, and gave the locomotives realistic digitized sounds to accompany movements.
The first Weaver products to use TrainMaster Command Control and Railsounds were the brass versions of the Hudson and the Atlantic.
2000 also saw the release of the C&NW Yellow Jacket 4-6-2 and D&RGW M-64 as part of the Gold Edition Brass Roster.
Weaver did not make track or accessories. They also never produced starter type train sets. A decision was made
by Weaver management to avoid venturing into those aspects of the model train market as there were already several other
manufacturers offering those products. Instead, Weaver concentrated its efforts on developing and marketing products that no other supplier
provided, and to filling the void for what was missing that hobbyists would want to purchase.
Weaver utilized a fabricator in Asia that was also utilized by K-Line at the time, and as a
result, the same tooling was used for producing some of the limited run brass locomotive offerings. One such example was the USRA Light 4-6-2 Pacific's
marketed by Weaver in the spring of 2005. Weaver light Pacific's were available in both 2 and 3-rail versions in 13 road names, not all of which
were in fact USRA light Pacific operators. After first appearing in the spring 2005 catalog they remained in Weaver's advertising until sold out.
Road names offered were ATSF, B&M, CN, C&NW, GTW, IC, L&N, LV, MEC, MILW, N&W, WM, Reading and US Army.
Weaver released the 'O' scale brass model of the Canadian Pacific Empress 4-6-4 in 2007 along with a matching set of
Pullman Bradley deluxe coaches. They also produced a CP Express boxcar in 4 different car numbers for those that prefer a freight
consist over a passenger consist. That same year they introduced their 40' fish belly flat car and the Pennsylvania B60b baggage and
Railway Post Office cars. The company also announced a new joint venture with the European manufacturer ETS to exclusively carry their
European trains product line in the United States.
Weaver was renowned for a high level of personalized customer service. All telephone calls to their plant were answered by a person, not a
machine. The production and assembly of rolling
stock in the United States enabled the ability to quickly deliver on special runs for train clubs and collector societies.
The Weaver PS-1 40' box car became a special favorite with these types of customers. Weaver was also always willing to provide
visitors to their Northumberland, PA plant with guided tours.
In 2015, Joe Hayter of Weaver Models announced his retirement and the closing of the manufacturing business as of June, after 50 years
in the model railroad hobby. Weaver was the last firm that produced or assembled locomotives and rolling stock in the United States. During the
company's years of operation a number of extremely interesting and unique models were brought to the marketplace. Weaver filled a void where up to the
time they actually made a model, it was often overlooked by other 'O' scale manufacturers. Some of the unique and innovative Weaver models included
the Pullman Bradley (American Flyer type) passenger cars, the WWII Troop Sleepers, the Kitchen, the Hospital, and the Express cars, the Milwaukee
Road S3 Northern and F6a Baltic steam locomotives, the Northeastern cabooses and the PRR BP-20 diesel locomotives. While some of these models
may have eventually become available from other manufacturers, it typically was Weaver's initial production of them that motiviated the emulators.
The Scalecoat paint products line created by Quality Craft was purchased by Minuteman Scale Models of
Pepperell, MA and the paint products will continue to be available to modelers. Unassembled Quality Craft kits from the 1960's can still occasionally be found on eBay and
at train shows. In 2016 Atlas picked up and started manufacturing the Weaver 20' container loads in Evergreen, MOL, K-Line, and Hanjin markings. Atlas
also acquired and will be releasing the Weaver troop cars and B&O wagon top box car.