O Scale Hall of Fame St. Louis – 2005
Founder of Adams & Son Model Foundry
As told by Gilbert L. Adams (& Son)
This is the story of Adams & Son Model Foundry founded in Corsicana Texas in 1940 and later Wichita Kansas. Lindsey had built a 2-4-2 Steam Engine of standard gage for his son. The model was made of mahogany, white pine, cherry and metal. The number he had put on the cab was 2-3-41 which I believe was the date he finished it, as he always dated everything. At the same time he had acquired a Standard gage of the Silver Streak streamliner for my sister. These were run on a layout in a large sunroom. This was the only layout dad ever had.
By 1939 while working for Bethlehem Supply Co. in Texas as a pattern maker he made patterns for his double disc sander and lathe head and had them cast and machined in the shop. Here again it had Lindsey L Adams, 1939 cast on it. I have the sander, lathe head and pattern making tools and chest he made for them.
Also in 1939 he built a two seated race type body car that was front wheel drive and powered by an Indian Twin motorcycle engine. I still have sketches of another car he had planned on building.
While in Texas his shop was only 12’ x 12’ where he made his patterns. It was in this room dad heard that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor and had to keep telling me to be quiet.
I don’t remember what Dad’s first pattern was but I do have the O scale “Pilot” which is my favorite as it is made of so many pieces. (Around 98). I have a door knocker made from the cab of an O Sale Diesel A Unit. I also have a cast silhouette of an A Unit with Adams & Son raised lettering that was used on top of our mail box. I also have a plaque with 48 different castings mounted that dad made, they are HO and O scale.
The first building in Wichita was about the size of a three car garage that was to be used as the foundry and core making area. An area about eight by fifteen was the furnace room for melting the metal. In the foundry there was the molding machine, molding sand and pouring equipment. The molding sand used was fine enough to cast your finger print. In the area where the metal was melt the temperature would get above 120 degrees. Brass was poured at 2000 degrees with aluminum at 1200 degrees. The metal was poured by two men one with two handles who had the control of the pour and the other man had a single handle. During the making of the molds, if a part was hollow, a core was placed in it to make it hollow. The cores were made from a coarser sand that was mixed with linseed oil and baked. After the pour (Called heats) the molds were shaken out and the cores knocked out. Then the parts were cut off the gates, wire brushed and ready for the customer.
The addition of the pattern shop was added and was fifteen by thirty. Dad spent many hours a day in this area sometimes seven days a week. This area had Dad’s double disc sander that he had made and a fourteen inch band saw, a ten inch band saw, drill press, grinder, and his pattern making tools. I still have the band saws, grinder, and his pattern making tools.
There was always a demand for A&S products and still are in demand today but as we know plastic came in the market that was the end of sand casting with great detail and weight.
During the late 40’s and early 50’ Dad’s only O Scale Diesel A Unit ran at the State Fair in Hutchinson, Kansas where the local club had a layout.
After Dad left Wichita he was a pattern maker for various firms. While working for National Automatic Tool Company, Inc. Dad was in charge of a fifty eight station model of one of the nation’s leading automobile manufacture for machining cylinder heads. This model performed all of the functions of the real machine. The model, scaled one inch to the foot was twelve feet long. I have a model of the cylinder head that was used on the model. There were approximately 55,000 to 60,000 parts in the model.
Later when Dad worked for Cooper Bessemer he was asked to carve the company logo of two horse heads and other parts. At this time Dad became sick and had to take extended time off. The company would not let anyone else work on it. I don’t know if it was ever finished.
Dad was ill off and on for eleven years before passing away. Dad was born in Hutchinson, Kansas on January 9, 1910 and passed away on May 12, 1972. Dad was only seventy one years old. The hobby lost a very gifted man.
Gilbert L. Adams (& Son)