In 1939 Rollin J. Lobaugh offered an 'O' scale model of the 4-6-6-4 articulated UP Challenger locomotive
built and designed using the actual prototype blueprints, but reduced to 1/48th the size.
This was a big engine (31.5" long) that could run on 4 foot radius curves. The loco featured a #4 K&D motor that powered all 12 driving wheels.
Each driver was sprung, and the advertising materials touted that the loco could pull as many as 38 cars over a 3% grade, with
virtually unlimited pulling power on level track. It was priced in the 1939 catalogue at $162.50 for a complete kit or assembled
ready-to-run for $225. This was a pretty hefty price for a model train in 1939. Lobaugh justified his prices based on the level
of effort that went into the development of this model. Engineering staff conducted detailed research
in the design phases and determined that using a 23:1 gear ratio would provide the smoothest starts and highest torque
at low speeds under full load, without impairing the high, free rolling top speed of this locomotive model.
Lobaugh supplied rolling stock and motive power, including one of its 4-6-6-4 Challengers for the operating 2-rail
layout built by Minton Cronkhite and displayed at the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair. Another famous layout that was
designed and built by Minton Cronkhite in 1939 was the 50-by-60-foot 'O' scale 'Museum & Santa Fe Railway' housed for over 60 years
at the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park in Chicago. Lobaugh Scale Models of California built about 30 of the freight cars
that ran on this layout. The cars all had Bakelite wheels and non-operating couplers, and every car was lettered for the ATSF.
Between 1939 and 1941 the Lobaugh line was expanded further to include scale models of 4-6-6-4 Union Pacific, Delaware &
Hudson and Northern Pacific Challengers, a 2-8-4 Chicago and North Western Berkshire, a 4-8-4 J3A Greenbrier, a Baltimore & Ohio 4-6-2 Pacific,
a Boston and Maine 4-4-0, and a 4-8-2 Missouri Pacific Mountain. The Lobaugh Mountains are fairly rare, having only been produced for three years
before WWII. They were also very expensive for the average 1938 model railroader costing $195 for a finished locomotive, and over $100 for a kit.
By 1941 Lobaugh offered an astounding 11 locomotive kits ranging from the
4-4-0 to the 4-6-6-4 Challenger and just about every wheel arrangement in between. Lobaugh also produced a Suburban Tank, and a ten-wheeler.
The 1941 catalog was 76 pages and announced the newly manufactured Baltimore & Ohio 4-6-2 Pacific's and the Delaware & Hudson 4-6-6-4.
It is believed that in 1941 an 'O' scale 4-8-4 Southern Pacific Daylight GS-3 was planned and advertised, but was never actually produced,
as none have ever been discovered. However, in 1941 Lobaugh did deliver the AC-8 Cab Forward around the time of the outbreak of WW2.
There are very few of these models in existence as part production ceased during wartime, making them the rarest of all Lobaugh models (less
than a dozen made).
Lobaugh also made and distributed over 120 freight car kits. Parts were wood and metal with silk screen lithography
which produced clear, detailed and appealing box car and ice car sides. The Lobaugh boxcars and reefers somewhat resemble the original 'O' scale
Athearn products but Lobaugh made his own parts so there are differences. The Lobaugh boxcar roofs are two piece
and the frames include draft gear. For an extra cost, Lobaugh offered factory built freight car models. One unique item was the Lobaugh 65' mill gondola.
Lobaugh 'O' scale cars are sturdy and appear authentic for the 1930's-40's era they were actually built in.
They don't have the exaggerated detail of late 20th and early 21st century Atlas, MTH or
Lionel cars but their thin metal construction makes them seem more realistic. In addition to the freight kits, Lobaugh
marketed two passenger car kits. A Pullman kit that came either hand lettered or decaled, and a Combination Baggage/Mail car. These were
available as finished metal sides, pressed kits, finished board sides or mounting kits. The car ends were bronze sand castings and the sides were stamped steel.
All the other major parts were wood.
Lobaugh offered a 'Warrantee of Fine Craftsmanship' stating, "Any purchaser of Lobaugh equipment who is not satisfied
will, upon return of the equipment within thirty days, receive a refund of the full purchase price, plus a refund of all transportation
costs paid by the purchaser.” Rollin Lobaugh liked to boast that no one had ever taken him up on his offer. Lobaugh also touted itself in
advertising materials and catalogues as "the aristocrat of 'O' gauge" and the "standard by which other model railroad equipment is judged".
The Lobaugh logo emphasized 'Micrometer Precision'.
After World War II train production was resumed, but initially in a limited fashion. The Baltimore and Ohio Pacific was converted
to a more generic USRA design. The 0-6-0 SP switcher was re-made, now cast in lost wax 1/4 inch scale. The Berkshire and 4-4-0 were also
kept in the product line, but all other models were dropped.
In 1953 the company moved to a newly built facility located at 930 Linden Avenue in South San Francisco. 1953 also witnessed
the release of the Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4. Any model
railroader visiting the west coast was invited to tour and inspect the new plant. By this time the company had 45 employees.
Lobaugh 'O' scale model production reached its peak
around the mid 1950's. The 1955 catalogue showed an increase of products offered in the line and was 32 pages long. It
featured the UP 4-6-6-4 #3900 series Challenger now priced at $196 for a complete kit, the C & NW 2-8-4 Berkshire in kit form for $110.50,
a C&O 4-8-4 Greenbrier priced at $146 for a complete kit, the SP 0-6-0 switcher for $77.50 in a complete kit, the New Haven 4-4-0 complete
kit for $69.50, a Climax Logging loco complete kit for $97.50, and a USRA 4-6-2 Pacific offered with either a square ($98.50 complete kit)
or Vanderbilt ($102.50 complete kit) tender. Lobaugh had developed and now offered their own 18 volt AC or 12 volt DC motors in 3 versions,
all with 9 slot-balanced armatures, wound with Formex wire, featuring an enclosed brush design, and oversize Oilite bearings. Drive shafts
were worm type and featured enclosed ball bearings. Traction driver axles were fitted with Bakelite gears on steel hubs. Rolling stock
offered consisted of Milwaukee 50' steel sheathed auto box car kits for $11.25, Milwaukee 40' box car kits for $10, B&O Wagon Top box car
kits for $11.40, 40' AAR box car kits for $10.25, a Santa Fe type caboose kit for $15.90, a Southern Pacific type caboose kit also $15.90,
a 50' flat car kit for $10.50, an H.J. Heinz tanker kit for $11.30, a logging flat kit at $4.50 (3 for $12.50), an AAR class GB Gondola kit
for $10, a 65' Mill-type gondola kit at $13.50, a 50' steel reefer kit for $12, a 3-dome 20,000 gallon tank car kit for $13 and a single dome
12,400 gallon oil tanker kit for $11.50. The catalogue also featured several pages of individual parts such as locomotive valve gear,
machined and insulated driver castings, spoked wheels, diesel locomotive wheels, crank pins, axles, bearings, running boards, cylinders,
bells, generators, boiler assemblies, cab assemblies, guides, cross heads, collectors, headlights, drawbars, domes, caps, hoses, pilots,
stacks, steps, trucks, etc., and the hexagon head screws, nuts and washers they were famous for. Lobaugh even offered 15 different 'O'
gauge cast brass hand-painted railroad figures.
Compared to the detailed imported 'O' scale models of the 21st century many Lobaugh locomotives may seem crude, and they were in regard to fine details,
but they were mechanical masterpieces. Many are still running today. Lobaugh produced models from 1931 through 1965, first under
Rollin Lobaugh himself and then under Al Ellis, the chief engineer, builder and designer who took over the scale model train company in 1956.
Ellis was credited with producing the modern Jabelmann Challenger, the Climax Logging Loco, the suburban tank, a Mogul, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Greenbrier.
Since then the Lobaugh line, inventory and original tooling has passed through many hands over the years, getting split here and there.
An employee of Al Ellis named Jack Campbell purchased the scale model company in 1959. Campbell had been handling sales and shipping orders starting in 1958.
Then in December 1982 the scale model business was acquired by Allen Drucker, owner of Allied Model Trains in Los Angeles. Later in 1983 Drucker
sold the company to Jan Lorenzen and Vince Waterman who split it up. Two thirds of the parts and all of the dies except for the 4-4-0 Climax and
Rollin Lobaugh's drill press went to Lorenzen of the Locomotive Workshop of Avon Lake, Ohio. Vince Waterman of Trackside Specialties of Trafford, Alabama
retained the molds for the 4-4-0 Climax and the remaining third of parts including frames, drivers, lathe, and Rollin Lobaugh's drill
press. However, in 1996 Vince sold the balance of parts back to Jan Lorenzen. Bob Stevenson of Stevenson Preservation Lines of Burlington, Illinois and Boone, Iowa bought all the dies and molds from Locomotive Workshop in 2001.
This last company probably has the most extensive collection of parts and castings and has resurrected the Lobaugh SP Mikado kit, the Climax
Logging engine kit, the SP S-12 0-6-0 switcher kit and the Vanderbilt tender kit.
There are serious Lobaugh collectors and operators in the hobby world
today. 70+ year old Lobaugh trains and brass kits frequently show up on eBay for sale at very high prices. Scale railroading
hobbyists tended to modify and render the scale kits to satisfy their own desires for modeling the railroad prototypes they favored,
so there is great variance and customization in the features, heralds,
paint schemes, etc. of the Lobaugh trains that do come on the market. Modelers who scratch-build locomotives utilize original Lobaugh locomotive boiler castings
or cast parts that show up with drivers, trucks, couplers, cabs, pilots, brass fittings, tenders
and motors originally made by other 'O' scale kit and parts manufacturers such as Varney, All-Nation, Scale-Craft,
Atwater, Megow, Kadee, General Models Corp. and Walthers. More advanced model builders also tended to machine
their own castings, when the ones needed for their custom prototypical builds were not readily available from vendors. These 'mixed breed' scale models tend
not to be worth as much as a complete kit assembled from a single manufacturer, but they provide a degree of railroad realism not normally attainable
Rollin J. Lobaugh was elected to the 'O' Scale Hall of Fame in 1995 at the 'O' nationals in New Jersey.
In 1996, he was enrolled in the Model Railroad Industry Association (MRIA) Hall of Fame and was posthumously awarded the National
Model Railroad Association (NMRA) Pioneer Award in 2013. Rollin J. Lobaugh was one of the pillars of the 'O' scale community.
Lobaugh had collaborations with, at one time employed, or resold and acquired machined parts from many other 'O' scale pioneers
such as Jerry White and Bill J. Lenoir. The Rollin J. Lobaugh Company founded by Rollin J. Lobaugh in 1922 still exists and operates
today in South San Francisco, providing precision machining services using modern day CNC tools.